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10 Delusions Only Paranoid Would Understand (Yes, They Are Possibly True)

10 Delusions Only Paranoid Would Understand (Yes, They Are Possibly True)
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There are a lot of neat little boxes that people try to put you in—you’re a cautious person, the quiet type, proud, a big talker—but it’s not really a good idea to judge a person based on a single trait.

Take me for example. I am a fairly paranoid person by most people’s standards, yet I see myself as just reasonably cautious. You can chalk it up to all the cheap ninja and secret agent novels I read as a kid, and the martial arts training that I enjoy so much, but as anyone who is labeled as paranoid by others will tell you, a lot of our little “delusions” are actually viable scenarios. Just because something doesn’t happen every single day doesn’t mean that we should be completely carefree and neglect basic precautions. Here are a few common situations which we, the supposedly paranoid people of the world, tend to obsess about, and why we feel it is justified.

1. Leaving a window open at night invites trouble.

Cracking open a window to let some air in is a basic necessity, particularly on those warm summer evenings, but an open window is also an invitation to criminals. I cringe when I see a ground floor window of a house open in the evening, but there have also been real cases when crooks climbed in through a window on the first or second floor. Burglars aren’t as dumb as people like to think. Yeah, it’s not as likely to happen in some neighborhoods, but we paranoid people can’t have peace of mind unless everything is tightly shut.

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2. Weird noises around the home can only mean one thing—burglars!

Even though we are very careful when it comes to security, and double-check to see if the house is on full lockdown before we go to sleep, we see a sudden noise in the middle of the night as signal that a great battle is about to commence. I have a simple, three-step process for dealing with such noises:

  • Stand up and listen intently like a cautious little Meerkat
  • Grab the bedside baseball bat and ask the Warrior Gods to grant me the strength of ten men
  • Lurk from the shadows like a vengeful baseball-themed ghost for couple of minutes before going back to bed

People tease me about it sometimes, but every girl I’ve dated has felt incredibly safe beside me, so I guess there’s some benefits to being cautious.

3. Browsing online is like walking down a poorly lit alley in the bad part of town.

Okay, so let’s get one thing out in the open: the Internet is like a vast ocean of information, cat pictures, memes and funny videos, but there are droves of dangerous pirates that you have to look out for. And for those who skipped “analogy class” in school, I’m not talking about the type of pirate that illegally downloads Katy Perry albums; I mean the kind of people that steal your information, stalk you or try to harm your computer with malware. Since totally abstaining from Internet use is not a good solution, other paranoid people like myself invest a good deal of effort into making sure that our online security is as tight as possible. There have been numerous cases of identity theft, cyber bullying and stalking online, and it only seems logical to us to be careful.

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4. Someone might be waiting behind every corner.

Stepping as far away from the wall of a building as you comfortably can and getting a good look before turning a corner should be common sense as far as I am concerned. Yes, not everyone worries much about some thug jumping them, but even the most carefree person in the world has to admit that just avoiding bumping into people is a good enough reason for taking a half-second to scan the area before turning a corner or walking to your car in a parking lot. We don’t think danger is hiding behind every corner everywhere, but we know that, statistically speaking, there’s a decent chance that it might be hiding behind one of the thousands of corners that we pass throughout our lives, and we’d like to develop a simple habit that could save our lives in that eventuality.

5. Anyone coming up to you in the street is a potential threat.

I believe that the main reason why a lot of people get called paranoid, is a simple lack of effective communication. When I say that I view anyone who walks up to me on the street and encroaches on my personal space a potential threat, I simply mean that I make a mental note to be ready to move if the person is showing signs of bad intentions and I position myself so that I am balanced. It’s a small adjustment, takes hardly any effort and normal people don’t notice anything strange, but bad people clearly see that you are not an easy target.

6. If you don’t sit with your back to a wall you risk someone sneaking up on you.

There is a short ritual that I do when entering a bar, coffee shop or restaurant—look around, get a first impression of the crowd, find a seat where I can have my back against the wall and have a clear view of the rest of the room. In case of a fire or some other emergency, I have an exit strategy, and don’t have to constantly turn around to check behind my back or move my chair to let someone pass, so it’s a win-win situation.

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7. When someone’s late they are probably in grave danger.

Sure, there are tons of people out there who are irresponsible and couldn’t get anywhere on time if their life depended on it, but when a friend’s late and doesn’t answer the phone my first guess is always that their life is really on the line. I have my phone in hand and am ready to call their close family and friends if they are not there within 20 minutes. On the upside, I’m so glad that they’re okay when they finally do arrive, that I don’t get mad at them for being late.

8. Any group of males larger than 1 is probably up to no good.

For me personally, this point is firmly cemented in reality, as my friends and I have had a close brush with a group of drunken guys on more than one occasion. There is safety in numbers, and younger men are teaming with hormones that are supercharged with alcohol and God knows what kind of drugs, which often leads to them acting cocky and mischievous, and becoming aggressive. A good deal of these groups are just regular students or salt of the earth blue collar people, but at that moment they are much more likely to do something stupid, so I feel it’s best not to take chances and just give them a wide berth.

9. Arriving 10 minutes earlier to scan the area is just common sense.

Here’s another one that has always boggled my mind—most people get to a meeting place either bang on time, a few minutes late or incredibly late. People like me who prefer to come about 10 minutes earlier and have a bit of a look around are a dying breed, but if you look at it from our perspective, this approach has several merits:

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  • You never risk being late.
  • You get to look around and find a good place to sit (preferably against the wall and with the view of the entrance).
  • You have the opportunity to spot bad situations brewing and avoid certain areas (not being there is the best defense against mugging and assault).
  • You get some time to calm the nerves and psyche yourself up before a date or serious conversation.
  • You earn people’s respect by being punctual.

Again, it’s something you don’t invest a lot of time or effort into, something that has no potential downsides, but several benefits.

10. A sentence beginning with “I’ve got to tell you something” can only end in tears.

This is something that we can be conditioned to believe through our own previous experiences, but though it may not be true for every single scenario, a majority of “I’ve got to tell you something” or “I have to talk to you” situations end with a harsh revelation, and a long night of drinking and consoling. Think about it, when someone buys a brand new car or gets a promotion they tell you straight away over the phone—enthusiastic screaming is optional—and if it’s a small thing they call you out for some coffee and just start talking to you without stressing the point that a conversation needs to happen.

These are all little things that people who aren’t as obsessive about their safety don’t understand, but there is a clear distinction between paranoia and being careful—truly paranoid people think that someone is always after them and they try to protect themselves against highly unlikely situations, while someone who is careful simply knows that a world is not always a perfect place and has a few safety precautions in place. Even if we do get a bit more protective and cautious or worry more than the average Joe, it’s not without a reason.

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Nemanja Manojlovic

Editor at MyCity Web

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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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