Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Confronting and Embracing Change

Rachel Spence, Legal AssistantEvery day at Wise Law Office, we receive telephone inquiries from people who have either lost their careers or partners.

These are people who have poured themselves into their careers or relationships for years, sometimes decades. Often, they've based much of their self-worth and dignity on what they do and who they are with, and are left facing what appears to be a harsh reality before them.

I realize that what I'm writing sounds dramatic, but it is dramatic! I think we can all agree that losing a job or a significant other is not an easy thing to go through.

In such circumstances, we're all left asking the same question:

“What am I supposed to do now...?”
  • Now that I don't wake up and go to the same workplace anymore.
  • Now that I don't wake up beside him or her anymore.
  • Now that I don't have any income.
  • Now that I don't have anyone to share my life with.
While I definitely don't have all the answers, I have realized one thing from working with people in these very heart-breaking situations - they often need to discuss the human side of their changes - even in a legal context - so that they can consider looking at what has happened as a fork-in-the-road that may ultimately lead to a better place.

How does this discussion begin with people facing major life changes?As Garry (my boss) would say, “Is not a science, it's an art,” which means that you have to listen and choose the right time to discuss this perspective with people.

For some, it's just letting them get everything off their chests so that they can move past it. For others, it's reminding them right away (or continuously) that everything really, will be okay (even if it doesn't seem like it now).

Things will never be the same as when you were working for employer X who treated you like crap and eventually terminated you.

Things will never be the same when your partner decides that he or she doesn't want to be with you anymore, or vice versa.

The “same” is dead and it's your choice to either take something positive from it or live within the confines of what was. I've seen people live within those confines and to be blunt, it's an ugly picture.

Every one of us is human and we're all struggling with something. The real challenge is to take responsibility and to remind ourselves that inherent in each ending is an opportunity for personal growth and an improved tomorrow.

Yet another (unanticipated) lesson from the law office, I suppose.

- Rachel Spence, Legal Assistant, Toronto

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