Christopher S. Nudo
How I Plan to Kick The Worry Habit Cycle and Thrive
I have this bad habit of going to bed worrying about what I didn’t get done for the day. The thoughts of what people will think if they knew that I didn’t vet their work done today. The deadlines that I might have missed or tailed client expectations. Then I wake up and I try to address my concerns and the cycle repeats itself day after day. There is some level of anxiety all of the time. I learned that I am not alone. About 38% of the general population worries each day. I can make it worse with a couple of cups of coffee (a pure caffeine blast) which can exaggerate my anxiety problems which at times cause nervousness and a feeling of unease. You may be thinking, “drinking coffee, under those circumstances, is not wise” and I'd agree with you, but if you are a coffee drinker, you understand my addiction.
So here is a small list of the things I worry about. How about you? What does your list look like?
- Billable Hours
- What others think of me
- Dealing with opposing counsel
- Ability to meet deadlines
- Client satisfaction
- Ability to bring in new clients
- Prioritizing my Family
- Our family finances
- Can I avoid serious health problems as I get older? Just turned 53 as I am writing this.
Here is the irony: About 85% of things we worry about never happen. It is all a big waste of time. However, when I try to overpower worry it only makes my anxiety and worry thoughts worse and it only intensifies my feelings. So am I hopeless? Well, I refuse to believe that, so here are some steps that I am going to apply to my life in order to overcome!!
These Will Be My 10 Steps to Overcoming Anxiety and Worry:
1. If I Cannot Change It, Then I'll Just Accept It
I know that 99% of the things I worry about are completely outside of my control. I will accept this fact, and not make the burden of these things my burden. When I consciously take this step then I begin to relax.
2. Who Cares What's on Someone's Mind
I have been blessed way beyond anything I deserve. I need to let go of trying to control my image. Admittedly, as I write this article, I am thinking of my image. Don’t get me wrong, it is important to look good in the legal community. But, it is a waste of my time trying to assume what's on someone's mind and a complete waste of energy. I find that my mind gravitates to the negative. I can within a split second create wild and exaggerated scenarios in my thoughts that are completely unfounded.
3. I Need to Just Be Here in The Present Moment
If I just focus on the here and now, the present moment and not the past and future, peace and clarity. Even while I write this article, I am thinking that I need to just be present in the moment.
I could be accused of being a procrastinator when I don’t do things because I perceive that it will be hard, or I am worried about the outcome. It shows up most clearly in my inbox where there are emails from weeks ago that I don’t want to deal with. The fear of the made-up outcome creates my inaction.
None of us want to make mistakes. And it is my profession, mistakes are not acceptable. But in almost 30 years of practice, I have learned that I will make mistakes and that clients understand that I am not perfect. I can't be a good lawyer who is effective and operates at 100% if I am always worrying about the past or the future.
4. Let It Go!! I Have No Control
Regardless of what I think, I know that I am not in control of the world. or even my little microcosm of earth. I need to keep reminding myself that I am not in control of all situations. It has been said, “Someone who needs to control everything is usually fearful.” and I believe that statement. When I accept the fact that I am not in charge, then I can learn how to adapt to the world I am in and its influences and effects. This will instantly create less reason to worry.
5. Let’s Not Be Narcissistic
My son has made the point several times that I can be narcissistic and just twist every fact and argument towards myself. We live in a mostly narcissistic society. Hence, at times I feel it is great since all I do is think about myself. By the way this is not a good thing! Then add to that the fact that I am thinking about what others are thinking about me too. How crazy is it to think that you have time to think about me as much as I think about myself? It’s completely insane. But this vanity is common and adds to my worry and anxiety.
It is my plan to give less importance to the opinions of the world. Sorry if this offends you a little but unless you are my wife, kids or parents, your opinion of me may not be that important. It’s time that I develop a healthy self-image and in my self-indulged way. focus on my best features and assets. It’s time we all stop thinking about what others think of us.
6. Have an Andy as A Good Friend
When life gets me down, I turn to a good friend. It is usually by buddy Andy. He and I can share our concerns together I know that he will not judge me for being concerned about things that honestly I have no control over. I strongly recommend that you find the Andy for your life. Many times when you share with someone, you realize that worry has blown things out of proportion.
7. Social Media Is Not Healthy
I can confirm that Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Instagram, and other forms of social media do me absolutely no good. Okay, I get the irony in this. You're reading this from my social media page. But honestly, most social media posts just make me unhappy. It just makes me compare myself to others and have a want for something I should not have or need. It can also make me feel inadequate, which is nothing but me wasting my time with things beyond my control, AGAIN. I have committed to NOT let my life revolve around social media and I will focus on my own reality instead.
8. Journal Your Worries
I know this to be helpful. If you journal your worries, it really helps give you good perspective. I am not great at this, but when I do it, it brings a calming effect. For me it’s just easier to use a pen and paper. You don’t even need to keep it. but just taking the time to work on it with pen and paper will help calm your nerves. Surprisingly, when I do it, there are times that the process produces a solution that I would not have discovered, had I not done the exercise. Writing about 10 minutes helps you to overcome fears and to perform up to your potential.
9. Change Your Perspective
You can choose to focus on the positive rather than negative thoughts. In fact, as you become more positive, you'll be better able to create more positive outcomes.
10. Have Fun
Number 10 is my favorite solution. I live to have fun. When I put worry aside I find that fun rises right to the top. You don’t even have to be doing something fun to have fun. You just need to put aside worry and anxiety.
A change of scenery, sounds, and scents help me to have a better perspective. Standing at my desk vs. sitting, putting on some music. or using essential oils can be just enough of a change to change my current concerns. This exercise of putting away worry and anxiety will create joy in my life. How about yours?
It is your turn now to take the positive steps and put away worry and anxiety and make changes that will give you the opportunity to have some fun.
I can’t be successful doing all 10 steps all the time, but it is a framework. This a process for rewiring my brain and making real healthy change in my life. It is my plan to have a long healthy and joyful life.