Pupillage applications, Bar School and pupillage itself are all tough and you can lose sight of yourself and your goals during the grind. In my experience, creating and repeating affirming mantras can really help you.
What is a ‘mantra’?
A mantra is defined as ‘a word or phrase that is often repeated and expresses a particular strong belief’ and in this context, the strong belief is that you are special, smart and worthy of success at the Bar. The feeling that one does not belong and is not good enough to be in a certain space is called imposter syndrome and it is very common at the Bar because of how tough the profession is to access.
Mantras can help you beat imposter syndrome at the Bar
There are so many different reasons why someone may feel as if they just won’t succeed as a barrister. Perhaps like myself they didn’t get a first class degree and worry what this says about their intelligence. Another reason can be that the entire journey to become a barrister seems too daunting to begin and they fear that they cannot complete it. Further, they may have a regional accent and worry what this means for their prospects in a career that appears to be dominated by middle class people from the South East speaking Queen’s English. Whatever it is that shakes your belief that you can become a successful barrister, in my view affirming mantras can be extremely helpful.
Only you can save yourself from imposter syndrome
The first thing is to remember that you are manifesting the career you want for yourself. You will be the reason that you go far as a barrister. You will have mentors who help you become better (whether they intend to or not) and every loss and win will help mould and shape you. The caveat is you will only grow and improve if that is what you want for yourself. It is very possible to take the same moments you could grow from (such as receiving constructive feedback on your work) as a reason why you suck and should give up. The only person who can stop that from happening is yourself and that stems from having a fundamental belief that you are worthy and deserve to be there.
Start by looking yourself in the eye
To begin, look in the mirror and say “I can do this and I deserve to be here.” Look yourself in the eyes as you say this. Continue to say it until you believe it is true. Design your own mantras and affirmations that you remember during tough moments (particularly during interviews). Believe them. Take a deep breath before you recite your mantras. You can do this silently or out loud. Write them down and stick them above where you study or make them the wallpaper on your phone.
Affirmations work for many of us
These are all strategies that I have used. When I shared a post about affirming mantras on my Instagram, a friend of mine commented “[b]efore some of my interviews I also did the superman power pose in the toilet” which is a form of mantra. Doing something physical like a pose or a dance can have the same effect. Mantras are individual and unique so take time to understand what works for you.
Good luck and focus on a positive mindset
The positive benefits of affirming mantras are well documented. I certainly think that if you struggle with imposter syndrome then they can help you. Tell me how you feel after reciting your affirming mantras! Send me a DM on Instagram or Twitter if you want to share how affirming mantras helped you in your journey to become a barrister.
Until next time,