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5 Reasons Why People Who Cry A Lot Are Mentally Strong

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5 Reasons Why People Who Cry A Lot Are Mentally Strong

Unfortunately, not all emotions are created equal.

The most widely accepted emotion, happiness, is a sign of confidence, security, and success, among other things. Even if we have to “fake it till we make it”, we’ve been told expressing happiness is a sure way of gaining close friends and admirers.

Fear is perhaps the most applicable emotion, as everyone has felt it in some regard. We’ve all been scared of something before: leaving a job, asking someone to marry us, confronting a friend about something they did to upset you. And considering the daily fear mongering by mass media outlets, fear makes a strong case for the most felt emotional sensation.

Anger, though rarely welcomed, is another emotion many of us feel and practice daily. Be it in the midst of heavy traffic, at your child for breaking a prized vase, or at an incompetent coworker, anger is, again, widely accepted as a completely normal emotion.

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Disgust is highly suggestive and, for the most part, remains internalized but is still regularly felt. When disgust is expressed, in most contexts, it’s usually accepted and sometimes agreeable.

Sadness, however, is in a league of it’s own, much like in the new feature Pixar film Inside Out. Sadness seems to be alienated, picked on, and persecuted when expressed fully. Outward expressions of sadness such as droopiness of the body and face, slumping, and crying are considered signs of weakness and insecurity. It’s unfair that our culture puts sadness in such a tight box. It’s damaging, unhealthy, and downright unfair to the human life experience.

People who aren’t afraid to express sadness, in fact, are far more mentally healthy than those who suppress it. Here’s why:

They aren’t afraid of their emotions.

If you were overwhelmed with joy, would you hide a smile? If you saw the innards of a squished squirrel while running or biking on the side of the road, would you not grimace? If you had an awful day at work and your unemployed roommate drank your last ice cold beer that you’d been looking forward to all day, would you not be pissed off? If you were trying to find a light switch and didn’t think that your boyfriend was in the room, lurking, waiting to scare you thinking it would be funny, would you not be terrified when he jumped towards you and yelled?

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So if you’re sad, why wouldn’t you cry? Why wouldn’t you slump around? Why wouldn’t you give yourself the right to be sad?

People who ignore sadness cheat themselves out of an important facet of life. Sadness, or crying, isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’re a human and have feelings beyond what you’re told is appropriate to show in public.

They understand the healing properties of tears.

Much like a spit valve releases saliva from a trumpet, your tear ducts releases stress, anxiety, grief, and frustration from your brain and body. It’s soul cleansing, mind enriching, and goosebump inducing, almost acting as a drain for the buildup of negative emotions that result from stress. The healing properties of tears aren’t just restricted to sad tears, either, but happy tears as well. In either case you’re dealing with extreme emotion. Allowing that extreme emotion to back up and stay in the body can be very dangerous both physically and mentally.

Beyond improving move and reliving stress, crying, specifically tears, have scientific benefit because they release toxins, help improve vision, and can kill 90 to 95 percent of all bacteria in just five to 10 minutes.

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They know how therapeutic crying can be.

Recent psychological studies have determined that crying stimulates our brain’s endorphin release, the “feel-good” hormones that also act as a natural pain killer. Crying also lowers manganese levels, a chemical that, when overexposed to, can exasperate the brain and body.

Even though the problem may still persist after you’ve cried it out, there’s no doubt that the act of crying allows for an overall release of bad emotion even if momentarily. This allows us to think clearer about the problem and not be so overwhelmed by it.

They don’t care about gender roles or societal expectation.

Crying is stigmatized for both sexes. If she cries it’s because she’s unstable or a wreck or, the most delusional conclusion, needs attention from others. If he cries, he’s a pansy, a wuss, or, my personal favorite, not manly enough. All of these generalizations encourage both sexes to submerge their sadness to the depths of their soul.

Though it’s an uphill battle that can only be won an inch at a time, we’re working tirelessly to break down social constraints that hang heavy over both sexes. Those who allow themselves to be sad in public are not only brave, but also activists for an emotionally healthier society.

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They invite others to not run from their feelings.

I like to cry. Or rather, I don’t let myself not be sad when I feel sadness. We are all working to overcome some sort of depressing demon that’s trying to tear us down. When we allow ourselves to feel pain when we feel it, we’re also encouraging others, either people we already know or not, to connect with our pain. To know that you’re not alone in thinking, feeling, or even acting a certain way is emotionally liberating and, in extreme cases, life saving.

Those who accept sadness when it stares them in the face allow others to do the same. Recalling the previous point, it’s dangerous when we keep emotions hidden and buried within. Since sadness has negative associations, we often won’t reach out to someone we notice is experiencing difficulty because we’re afraid, not of the person necessarily but of the act of being deeply upset.

When we’re honest to our bodies, we allow it to perpetually run at maximum capacity, even when we’re experiencing tremendous pain.

We’ve been seriously discussing good mental health practices for years now. With the dawn of therapy and heavily prescribed feel-good medications, we should all be more appreciative of our biological ability to cry and take full advantage of the natural anxiety-reliever it is.

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Because crying shouldn’t be perceived as a sign of weakness, but a sign of internal strength and mindfulness.

Featured photo credit: Left Out / Portable Soul via albumarium.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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

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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