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15 Important Life Lessons For Women

15 Important Life Lessons For Women
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Growing up is tough. I still remember sitting in my college dorm and realizing that I actually had to go to the store to buy toothpaste and toilet paper. When I lived with my parents, it seemed that these and many other household items just magically repopulated. Little did I know that buying toiletries was going to be the least of my worries in years to come.

As women, we face particularly unique hurdles in life. We are lucky to have incredible examples of successful and thriving women around us, but it can be easy to let the inspiration from these women sit stagnant. Don’t let that happen to you. Let go of your fear; branch out and try something new.

As you look through this list of life lessons for women, find something that excites you, or even scares you, and then go for it!

1. You Must Be Your Own Advocate

“Young women, unlike our male counterparts, generally have too few people in our spheres that will advocate for us.” – Shelly Porges, of the Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards.

In your career, in your romantic relationships, in your friendships, and in your personal life you should understand what you want, what you don’t want, and what you need. Be prepared to fight for what you need. As far as what you want and don’t want, draw a line as to how far you’re willing to compromise.

For example, it’s easy to get frustrated and upset that women make 78 cents for every dollar that men make. But when is the last time you asked for a raise or even negotiated your starting pay? Sometimes advocating for yourself means having an uncomfortable conversation or dealing with conflict. Don’t be afraid to put on your big girl panties and do what you need to be your own advocate.

Besides, if you don’t fight for yourself who will?

2. You Need to Embrace a Healthful Lifestyle

“To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.” – Buddha

You’ve got one body and one mind – it’s time to start taking care of them. Establishing healthy habits now is not only going to benefit your current life, but will also be an investment in your future.

Start drinking more responsibly, washing your face every night, moisturizing every day, putting sunscreen on before you leave the house, getting enough sleep every night, reading a book before you go to bed rather than scrolling through social media, or enrolling in a class that you find intriguing a few times a year. Find any way you can to minimize stress and maximize happiness in your day-to day-life.This list may be overwhelming, but if you just take one small habit and work on it for a month, you’ll be surprised at how easy it is to incorporate new habits.

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And remember: When setting goals, it’s important to find that balance between improving your physical well being and your mental well being.

3. You Can Be Assertive AND Feminine

“We still think of a powerful man as a born leader and a powerful woman as an anomaly.” – Margaret Atwood

It’s so easy to think that you are allowed to be either assertive or feminine. These two traits are not mutually exclusive! Define what femininity means for you and don’t be afraid to incorporate those manifestations in every aspect of your life. Just because you’re a manager at work doesn’t mean that you’re not allowed to be feminine and just because you’re in a relationship doesn’t mean you can’t be assertive. This balance can be hard for women to master.

Establishing this balance takes time, but being aware of changes that you can make will ensure that you are authentic in all of your interactions.

4. Gossip Isn’t Good for Anyone

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Ladies, we are all in this together. Gossiping is an incredibly hard habit to break, but STOP! Fill your life with enough meaning that you don’t need to talk about someone else’s life to entertain yourself. There’s enough gossip about women in our world already. Be the type of woman that chooses to lift other women up, not tear them down. Although this means that you don’t participate in some conversations (or even feel a little out of the loop), being known as a woman that helps other women is far more beneficial in the long run.

Karma will do her job.

5. Courage Means Asking for Help

“You are never strong enough that you don’t need help.” – Cesar Chavez

We all need a little help sometimes. Asking for help shouldn’t become habitual, but it is important to understand when it is necessary. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help that you need!

6. Life Goes On

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.” – John Lennon

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Sometimes life feels overwhelming. To keep perspective during these times is extremely important. Whether you are faced with a task that feels insurmountable, grief that feels overwhelming, a decision that feels impossible, or a future that feels terrifying, it is important to remember that life goes on. Struggling is a part of the journey. As difficult as these parts of the journey are, it is important to embrace them.

Embracing the difficult times will help you enjoy the best times.

7. Self-Sufficiency Is Necessary

“We gain strength, and courage, and confidence by each experience in which we really stop to look fear in the face…we must do that which we think we cannot.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

The confidence that comes from being self-sufficient will carry you through the hardest time of your life. It’s tempting to let your parents take care of you until you find a partner. But even if this is a realistic option in your life, don’t do it!

Knowing that you can take care of yourself is invaluable. When supporting yourself you’ll find that you are more judicious about your bills. Rather than automatically renewing your car insurance you may want to shop around. It may be time to start buying some of your makeup at the drugstore. And planning a staycation may have more appeal than an intricate vacation.

Assess your current financial state, look for any dependencies that exist, and do what you can to start ensuring you are self-sufficient. Being emotionally self-sufficient is just as important as being financially self-sufficient. If you feel that you need a partner to be happy, take some time to step back and figure out how you can become more independent. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to break up with your current partner, but take small steps to establish habits that will give you the confidence that you need to thrive on your own.

8. You Can’t Please Everyone

“Let me listen to me and not to them.” – Gertrude Stein

As women, we have a tendency to try and make everyone happy. Sometimes people are going to be upset with you – and that’s okay. Trying to please everyone is exhausting and often provides poor results. Most often, by trying to please everyone you end up making a lot more people unhappy. Mastering the art of saying ‘no’ tactfully, being honest with others about how you feel, and understanding that it’s necessary to have uncomfortable conversations are all important skills to master.

Learning early on that you cannot please everyone will enable you to avoid a lot of stress in the long run.

9. Self-Compassion Is Invaluable

“Too many people overvalue what they are not and undervalue what they are.” – Malcom S. Forbes

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Be kind to yourself. Don’t compare yourself to other women. Don’t be too harsh on yourself. Do the best that you can do and let that be enough.

If that isn’t enough for someone, it may be time to remove that individual from your inner circles. The power of positive thinking will work wonders in your life!

10. Friendships Take Time

“There is nothing I would not do for those who are really my friends. I have no notion of loving people by halves, it is not my nature.” – Jane Austen

Making friends and maintaining friendships takes effort and time. It’s easy to be a good friend when convenient, but becomes much more difficult when it is inconvenient. Invest in a group of friends that you want to keep around for a long time. Schedule time to catch up with them, remember their birthdays, and be there for them when they need someone. Social ties have been shown to increase happiness levels and having people that you can count on is well worth the time that you invest.

As women it can be easy to have girlfriends when we are single and then forget about them as soon as we are in a relationship. Although your new relationship may be time consuming, be sure that you continue to reach out to your friends and keep those social ties strong.

11. Mother Knows Best

“A mother is not a person to lean on, but a person to make leaning unnecessary.” – Dorothy Canfield Fisher

Whether it’s your mom or a ‘mom like’ figure in your life, be sure to listen up when they talk. It’s so easy to think that we ‘know better’ and that older women ‘just don’t understand’. Although they may not understand every single facet of the problem you are facing, their advice is worth listening to. If you choose to disregard their advice, you will probably find out the hard way that they were right.

Even if you don’t understand, it’s worth it to listen to and take the advice of your mom. More than likely, you will be happy that you did.

12. Obsessing About Men Won’t Get You Anywhere

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

Create a life that you love and you will be able to attract partners into that life that are the type of partner you want long term. I know this is much easier said than done but it will be SO worth it. If you are continually evolving and becoming a better version of yourself, the odds that you will attract a better version of a potential partner will increase.

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Investing time and energy into an obsession about a future partner is a total waste of time – avoid it like the plague!

13. You’ll Make Mistakes

“If you’re not making mistakes, then you’re not doing anything. I’m positive that a doer makes mistakes.” – John Wooden

One of the best ways to learn is by making mistakes. Focusing on and striving for perfection will result in heartache and frustration. Do the best that you can and be gentle with yourself when you make a mistake. When you make a mistake, be willing to admit that and apologize if needed. Don’t apologize excessively; instead, take action.

Do what you need to do to fix the situation and move right along!

14. It Helps to Let Go of Stress

“Nothing is miserable unless you think it so; and on the other hand, nothing brings happiness unless you are content with it.” Boethius.

Do you stay up at night and worry about things that are out of your control? Are you stressed about potential problems in the future? Being stressed and worrying are survival skills that we need, but that are often abused in today’s world. If you are constantly stressed or constantly worried your body can experience negative symptoms. These symptoms will soon become extremely problematic and cause other health problems in the future.

Learn to manage your stress now. You may need to see a therapist, take some time for yourself, or start participating in stress relieving practices to ensure you can let go of unnecessary stress. It’s a lifelong pursuit.

15. We’re All in This Together

“The success of every single woman is the inspiration for another.” – Dianve Von Furtsenburg

Ladies, we are our own worst critics. Stop talking about the way your coworker dresses. Stop belittling other women to get a leg up. Start encouraging each other, start being a positive force in the lives of other women, and realize that we are all in this together. Remember: The more women out there that succeed, the better off we all are.

Take these lessons one at a time and learn to truly incorporate them into your life. Slowly but surely, you will start to see a positive difference.

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Featured photo credit: Woman hair falling via flickr.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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