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10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad

10 Simple Hacks To Stay Positive When Your Situation Looks Bad
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Bad things happen—that’s a fact of life. Luckily, although we might feel otherwise, there is always, always something to be thankful for. When it rains, you can be thankful for the plants that grow. When the night is long and the darkness is engulfing, you can be thankful for joy and light comes in the morning. When you hurt, you can be thankful that sometimes you have to go through the worst to arrive at your best.

It is not what happens to you that matters — it’s your attitude to what happens to you that matters. American psychologist Albert Ellis, famous for developing rational emotive behavior therapy, explains that how people react to events is determined largely by their view of the events, not the events themselves. In other words, life is. The rest is interpretation.

Sometimes, you just need to put things into perspective in order to remain positive.

Here are 10 ways to stay positive, even when your situation keeps getting worse.

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1. Spend more time with those who make you smile

Life is about the moments we spend with one another. It’s about relationships. Avoid people who irritate you and spend more time with those who make you smile. Don’t be embarrassed to confide in a close friend or a family member, or just hang out with the people you trust. Voicing your struggles to loved ones can be the best thing to lighten the burden and start the process of recovery. Sometimes, all we need is a listening ear. Besides, speaking what’s in your heart is therapeutic.

2. Look at how far you’ve come

You might be in a very bad place at the moment, but you’ve made it through a lot to get to where you are now. Acknowledge all you’ve gone through, all you’ve overcome, all you’ve achieved thus far. Don’t let your current state blight your achievements. The fact that you are still here is a testament to your strength. You can make it through this current situation.

3. Read widely about your situation

There’s not really anything that hasn’t happened before, and most of it has been recorded. Instead of wallowing in self-pity, read widely about your situation and how others made it through. You will learn a lot and discover that no mountain is insurmountable. Apart from the obvious benefits of gaining new knowledge and perspectives, studies have shown that reading for as little as six minutes a day can reduce stress levels by up to 68 per cent.

4. Let the upsetting emotions in

This might sound counterproductive, but it can work wonders. Acknowledge that you don’t like the situation you are in right now and allow yourself to feel and process the upsetting emotions.

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Robert Frost said, “The best way out is always through.” Get out of negativity by going through your feelings. Cry about your situation if you feel like it.  Let everything that’s upsetting out of your system. You will feel lighter afterwards and be in a better position to do something about it.

5. Re-evaluate the situation and the events that led to it

Did you lose your job? Is it anxiety or stress? Maybe you’re dealing with frustration or depression? What caused this situation or these feelings? Label the cause of your frustration in one to three words, but no more — “lost my job,” “poor health,” etc. Reflect on the situation for a while and decide that you are not going to let it bring you down without a fight. It’s easier to deal with problems once you know the exact source of your issues. Resolve to make changes if you don’t like the current state of things, even if it’s just changing your attitude or perspective. There’s always an option.

6. Seek help from people who are in a position to help

Gather yourself and seek help from those who can help. That may be someone who has been in a similar situation, a professional therapist, or someone you trust deeply. Most people want to help in any way they can. Don’t let one mean person deter you from reaching out for help or support. It’s not selfish to seek help, but it’s a terrible thing to be defeated when help is just a call away. Besides, it’s always nice to know that someone has your back. It can calm your mind and bring back positive feelings of love and hope.

7. Relinquish control and perfectionism

Sometimes changing your present circumstance isn’t possible at the time. Rather than wallow in defeat and try to control everything, accept that some things in life are beyond your control. Perfectionism holds people back. Admit you’re only human, and move on with your life. You might not have that new job you want, but you are working on it. You are taking steps and trying your best. That is what matters.

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8. Expect positive outcomes all the time

You’ve probably heard of the Placebo Effect. According to Steve Schwartz, studies examining the neurobiological effects of placebos have shown definitively that our expectations directly impact our interpretation of reality. Medical subjects who are told they will experience pain experience heightened pain. Subjects who are told that they have been given something to reduce pain, experience a greatly reduced level of pain. The only difference was the expectation each subject had going in.

If you expect bad things to happen to you all the time, you are more susceptible to having bad things happen to you all the time. On the other hand, if you have positive expectations it will cause you to interpret things in a positive manner.

As Schwartz rightly observed, “Experiencing the world with negative expectations is like viewing reality through a muddy waterglass. Your view will be distorted and you won’t like what you see.”

So, try and expect positive things in your life.

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9. Forget about people who judge you in your struggles

Some people can be quite judgmental when you are going through a rough time. No one is immune to pain and struggle in this life. Those who laugh at you are being ignorant. They are not better than you, nor do they know what the future holds for them or you. Don’t waste your energy thinking about them. Focus instead on getting through your current situation, not on their sideshows. Great people go through struggles and overcome. That’s what makes them so great. Oprah Winfrey, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates — all have gone through their own struggles in life. There is no success without struggle.

10. Look forward to looking back on this event with pride

A bad streak in life is an opportunity to demonstrate courage and the human capacity to overcome. Not everything is a crisis. As long as you are alive and trying your best to improve, there is always a chance that you will succeed. Our greatest weakness lies in giving up. When you give up, you forgo your chance to win. However, rising up and trying one more time — armed with lessons from past setbacks — is the key to success. Keep striving for better things. Know that one day you will look back at this event, proud of the wisdom, strength, and compassion you demonstrated when things were bad.

Remember, bad situations make for great, inspiring comeback stories.

Featured photo credit: techzia via pixabay.com

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More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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