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12 Healthy Ways to Keep Your Mind Off Rejection or Failure

12 Healthy Ways to Keep Your Mind Off Rejection or Failure
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Failure is earth shattering.  It can halt all of your momentum, crumble your foundation of faith, and cripple you emotionally. At times failure can be so paralyzing that you feel there is no way out. You might find yourself thinking that the idea of success will always be out of reach.

I know how you feel. You’re not alone. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heartbreak, a firing, or a friend bails on your highly anticipated lunch – rejection and failure deflates your self worth. But, I assure you, every one has experienced this gut-wrenching numbness before. Some worse than others. Before we dive into healthy ways to remove negativity from your mind when failure happens, because it will, I want to encourage you to stir away from two very volatile, very unhealthy tendencies people have:

  1. The “it could be worse” plague: Gratitude for what you have should be a daily trait. In fact, many highly successful people do it. However, there is a major fault in this mentality because it encourages you to suppress your pain and ignore your problems. If you suppress your pain, you will not face it. If you do not face it, you will not grow. Face your pain instead of getting lost in fantasies about how bad it could really get. I’m giving you permission to feel sad, but only for a little while.
  2. Don’t find comfort in external variables: Again, these act as bandages over a gaping wound gushing uncontrollably. While some external activities are healthy (working out, hanging with friends, laughing), many of us, especially those in our early 20’s to mid-30’s try to hide them in unhealthy habits like excess drinking, non-recreational drug use, and overeating, among others.

Now that we’ve narrowed down the two most extreme ways not to deal with rejection, let’s dive into what can make it better. But, first, please take a deep breath (be honest about it) and remind yourself that it will all work out. Be true when asking yourself, “Doesn’t it always?” 

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1. Talk about it

Like I said, we often want to run as far away as possible from our discomforts and shortcomings, but it always helps to talk it out. If you can’t find words to say to someone, write a letter and send it to them. Or, write yourself a letter to reflect on later.

2. Understand that you are not your failure

You have to forgive yourself or, as my mom says, be kind to yourself. You are not the emotions in your head, nor the voices saying you suck, nor your perceived failures. Externalizing these feelings is something that’s very crucial in overcoming them and building a better life.

3. Look at the failures of your heroes

I find it extremely healthy to examine the shortcomings of people you idolize. Don’t do this with scrutinization. Instead, try to understand that everyone goes through uncomfortable struggles in life. If possible, try to reach out to your hero personally and ask them to expand on what you already know about their story.

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4. Examine your definition of failure

Failure and success are both subjective. Sure, there may be a baseline criteria for both that we’ve been told. But feelings of triumph and ones of letdown are often contrived based on what you feel and what you perceive. Again, be kind to yourself.

5. Start a project or revisit a hobby

Keeping your mind busy is often a great way to overcome past failures. Feelings of success, euphoria, and positive momentum often come from small steps towards a much larger goal or ideal. Hobbies and projects, just like life goals, are all about the process, not the final product. It’s beyond rewarding.

6. Volunteer or perform a random act of kindness for a stranger

This is an easy one, I think. There are always people who are less fortunate than us. Again, I’m not inviting these “it could be worse” thoughts, but there’s significant valor in helping others. It will absolutely make you feel good.

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7. Consume media that makes you feel good

Books, music, movies, whatever. There’s no denying that there’s negativity everywhere we turn. The blues on the news, Law & Order type shows that make us think our neighbor is a serial killer, and constant threats from foreign terrorists that we read about in the newspaper will not invite feelings of motivation. Ever. Carefully craft the media you surround yourself with. I mean, don’t you visit this website to feel good?

8. Reconnect with a relative or close friend

Perhaps this is the person you talk it out with. Even if it’s not, reconnecting with someone you care about is another pretty easy way to remind yourself that there are people in this world who love you. More than you probably realize.

9. Take out a piece of paper and give gratitude (the opposite of the “it could be worse” plague)

The first thing I do every morning (after turning on the light so I can see) is write down one thing I’m thankful for. Some days it’s really deep and geared towards me personally. Other days it’s simple, like giving thanks for how intricate and cool ice cubes are. (Pun intended)

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10. Try to silence your mind for 15 minutes a day

Meditation is misconceived as a Buddhist practice, but everyone can do it and they should. Be forewarned: It’s extremely difficult at first. But just try to think about one word or object and completely focus your mind on that and only that for 5 – 10 minutes a day. What will that accomplish? The strength and ability to let go of the negative mental thoughts that weigh you down. In essence, it’s mental conditioning. It also allows you to realign your heart and intuition.

11. Redecorate the place you spend a lot of time in (office, home, ect.)

Where you live and how you decorate plays a surprisingly large roll in your happiness. Are your walls tattered in things that inspire you? If you’re not into decorating, are your walls a color that you like? Something that evokes happiness, prosperity, and hope? Sometimes redecorating the place you spend a lot of time in can give you a fresh perspective.

12. Smile

Life is meant to enjoy. Peaks and valleys come a dime a dozen, and there’s no controlling either of them. I had a wise old friend once tell me that, “We have to remind ourselves that it’s all just a ride.” We have the conscious choice on how to feel. No matter our level of failure or heartbreak or rejection, no one can dictate how you think and feel but you.

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Don’t forfeit that power to anyone, yourself included.

Featured photo credit: Woman Gracefully Falling & Jumping Of Tree In Field/Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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You’re standing behind the curtain, just about to make your way on stage to face the many faces half-shrouded in darkness in front of you. As you move towards the spotlight, your body starts to feel heavier with each step. A familiar thump echoes throughout your body – your heartbeat has gone off the charts.

Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with glossophobia(also known as speech anxiety or the fear of speaking to large crowds). Sometimes, the anxiety happens long before you even stand on stage.

Your body’s defence mechanism responds by causing a part of your brain to release adrenaline into your blood – the same chemical that gets released as if you were being chased by a lion.

Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you overcome your fear of public speaking:

1. Prepare yourself mentally and physically

According to experts, we’re built to display anxiety and to recognize it in others. If your body and mind are anxious, your audience will notice. Hence, it’s important to prepare yourself before the big show so that you arrive on stage confident, collected and ready.

“Your outside world is a reflection of your inside world. What goes on in the inside, shows on the outside.” – Bob Proctor

Exercising lightly before a presentation helps get your blood circulating and sends oxygen to the brain. Mental exercises, on the other hand, can help calm the mind and nerves. Here are some useful ways to calm your racing heart when you start to feel the butterflies in your stomach:

Warming up

If you’re nervous, chances are your body will feel the same way. Your body gets tense, your muscles feel tight or you’re breaking in cold sweat. The audience will notice you are nervous.

If you observe that this is exactly what is happening to you minutes before a speech, do a couple of stretches to loosen and relax your body. It’s better to warm up before every speech as it helps to increase the functional potential of the body as a whole. Not only that, it increases muscle efficiency, improves reaction time and your movements.

Here are some exercises to loosen up your body before show time:

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  1. Neck and shoulder rolls – This helps relieve upper body muscle tension and pressure as the rolls focus on rotating the head and shoulders, loosening the muscle. Stress and anxiety can make us rigid within this area which can make you feel agitated, especially when standing.
  2. Arm stretches – We often use this part of our muscles during a speech or presentation through our hand gestures and movements. Stretching these muscles can reduce arm fatigue, loosen you up and improve your body language range.
  3. Waist twists – Place your hands on your hips and rotate your waist in a circular motion. This exercise focuses on loosening the abdominal and lower back regions which is essential as it can cause discomfort and pain, further amplifying any anxieties you may experience.

Stay hydrated

Ever felt parched seconds before speaking? And then coming up on stage sounding raspy and scratchy in front of the audience? This happens because the adrenaline from stage fright causes your mouth to feel dried out.

To prevent all that, it’s essential we stay adequately hydrated before a speech. A sip of water will do the trick. However, do drink in moderation so that you won’t need to go to the bathroom constantly.

Try to avoid sugary beverages and caffeine, since it’s a diuretic – meaning you’ll feel thirstier. It will also amplify your anxiety which prevents you from speaking smoothly.

Meditate

Meditation is well-known as a powerful tool to calm the mind. ABC’s Dan Harris, co-anchor of Nightline and Good Morning America weekend and author of the book titled10% Happier , recommends that meditation can help individuals to feel significantly calmer, faster.

Meditation is like a workout for your mind. It gives you the strength and focus to filter out the negativity and distractions with words of encouragement, confidence and strength.

Mindfulness meditation, in particular, is a popular method to calm yourself before going up on the big stage. The practice involves sitting comfortably, focusing on your breathing and then bringing your mind’s attention to the present without drifting into concerns about the past or future – which likely includes floundering on stage.

Here’s a nice example of guided meditation before public speaking:

2. Focus on your goal

One thing people with a fear of public speaking have in common is focusing too much on themselves and the possibility of failure.

Do I look funny? What if I can’t remember what to say? Do I look stupid? Will people listen to me? Does anyone care about what I’m talking about?’

Instead of thinking this way, shift your attention to your one true purpose – contributing something of value to your audience.

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Decide on the progress you’d like your audience to make after your presentation. Notice their movements and expressions to adapt your speech to ensure that they are having a good time to leave the room as better people.

If your own focus isn’t beneficial and what it should be when you’re speaking, then shift it to what does. This is also key to establishing trust during your presentation as the audience can clearly see that you have their interests at heart.[1]

3. Convert negativity to positivity

There are two sides constantly battling inside of us – one is filled with strength and courage while the other is doubt and insecurities. Which one will you feed?

‘What if I mess up this speech? What if I’m not funny enough? What if I forget what to say?’

It’s no wonder why many of us are uncomfortable giving a presentation. All we do is bring ourselves down before we got a chance to prove ourselves. This is also known as a self-fulfilling prophecy – a belief that comes true because we are acting as if it already is. If you think you’re incompetent, then it will eventually become true.

Motivational coaches tout that positive mantras and affirmations tend to boost your confidents for the moments that matter most. Say to yourself: “I’ll ace this speech and I can do it!”

Take advantage of your adrenaline rush to encourage positive outcome rather than thinking of the negative ‘what ifs’.

Here’s a video of Psychologist Kelly McGonigal who encourages her audience to turn stress into something positive as well as provide methods on how to cope with it:

4. Understand your content

Knowing your content at your fingertips helps reduce your anxiety because there is one less thing to worry about. One way to get there is to practice numerous times before your actual speech.

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However, memorizing your script word-for-word is not encouraged. You can end up freezing should you forget something. You’ll also risk sounding unnatural and less approachable.

“No amount of reading or memorizing will make you successful in life. It is the understanding and the application of wise thought that counts.” – Bob Proctor

Many people unconsciously make the mistake of reading from their slides or memorizing their script word-for-word without understanding their content – a definite way to stress themselves out.

Understanding your speech flow and content makes it easier for you to convert ideas and concepts into your own words which you can then clearly explain to others in a conversational manner. Designing your slides to include text prompts is also an easy hack to ensure you get to quickly recall your flow when your mind goes blank.[2]

One way to understand is to memorize the over-arching concepts or ideas in your pitch. It helps you speak more naturally and let your personality shine through. It’s almost like taking your audience on a journey with a few key milestones.

5. Practice makes perfect

Like most people, many of us are not naturally attuned to public speaking. Rarely do individuals walk up to a large audience and present flawlessly without any research and preparation.

In fact, some of the top presenters make it look easy during showtime because they have spent countless hours behind-the-scenes in deep practice. Even great speakers like the late John F. Kennedy would spend months preparing his speech beforehand.

Public speaking, like any other skill, requires practice – whether it be practicing your speech countless of times in front of a mirror or making notes. As the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

6. Be authentic

There’s nothing wrong with feeling stressed before going up to speak in front of an audience.

Many people fear public speaking because they fear others will judge them for showing their true, vulnerable self. However, vulnerability can sometimes help you come across as more authentic and relatable as a speaker.

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Drop the pretence of trying to act or speak like someone else and you’ll find that it’s worth the risk. You become more genuine, flexible and spontaneous, which makes it easier to handle unpredictable situations – whether it’s getting tough questions from the crowd or experiencing an unexpected technical difficulty.

To find out your authentic style of speaking is easy. Just pick a topic or issue you are passionate about and discuss this like you normally would with a close family or friend. It is like having a conversation with someone in a personal one-to-one setting. A great way to do this on stage is to select a random audience member(with a hopefully calming face) and speak to a single person at a time during your speech. You’ll find that it’s easier trying to connect to one person at a time than a whole room.

With that said, being comfortable enough to be yourself in front of others may take a little time and some experience, depending how comfortable you are with being yourself in front of others. But once you embrace it, stage fright will not be as intimidating as you initially thought.

Presenters like Barack Obama are a prime example of a genuine and passionate speaker:

7. Post speech evaluation

Last but not the least, if you’ve done public speaking and have been scarred from a bad experience, try seeing it as a lesson learned to improve yourself as a speaker.

Don’t beat yourself up after a presentation

We are the hardest on ourselves and it’s good to be. But when you finish delivering your speech or presentation, give yourself some recognition and a pat on the back.

You managed to finish whatever you had to do and did not give up. You did not let your fears and insecurities get to you. Take a little more pride in your work and believe in yourself.

Improve your next speech

As mentioned before, practice does make perfect. If you want to improve your public speaking skills, try asking someone to film you during a speech or presentation. Afterwards, watch and observe what you can do to improve yourself next time.

Here are some questions you can ask yourself after every speech:

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  • How did I do?
  • Are there any areas for improvement?
  • Did I sound or look stressed?
  • Did I stumble on my words? Why?
  • Was I saying “um” too often?
  • How was the flow of the speech?

Write everything you observed down and keep practicing and improving. In time, you’ll be able to better manage your fears of public speaking and appear more confident when it counts.

If you want even more tips about public speaking or delivering a great presentation, check out these articles too:

Reference

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