You prize your independence. You are the one who can handle your job challenges, problems with coworkers and family issues without running for help. When it comes to your boyfriend, you have some specific things in mind which will fit in with your lifestyle. Here is a list of things you are looking for. These are not set in stone, just a set of guidelines. If your boyfriend fails to meet one or two of these criteria, don’t kick him out. After all, one of your great qualities as an independent woman is your talent for flexibility, compromise and problem solving! You might have to do some work or if you think it is not worth it, you might move on.
1. He gives you your personal space
You love having a little time, space, and some oxygen for yourself. He knows that and loves his private space too. There are no problems if you are away for a weekend or out with the girls. He does not cling and he does not pester you with texts and phone calls while you are enjoying yourself. It is, of course reciprocal because you do not believe in 24/7 surveillance either. But you love those funny messages at unexpected times.
2. He’s there when you need him
You know the type of guy who wants to become your second dad and is overprotective. No thanks! You have learned from early on to be self-sufficient, capable and strong. You want him there though when you need support, encouragement, and advice and he always is.
You know that there is a certain ambiguity in your independence. You always want to show your strength and capabilities but at the same time you feel the need to be cared for emotionally and socially. You can list countless examples when he has taken care of you in moments of doubt, sadness, and even exhaustion.
3. He knows the ups and downs of living together
Are you going to lose some of your independence if you start living together? He probably has been through that himself. Maybe it was a small apartment and the pressure of being together for much of the time ruined the last relationship. He is prepared to examine with you all the pros and cons. He is aware, like you are, of the risks. Most research now indicates that cohabiting or marriage is not the problem. It is the age of the partners and their maturity which really makes the difference. You both know the dangers of mindlessly drifting into cohabitation.
4. He does not feel threatened
You know that some men actually feel a little intimidated or even threatened by an independent woman. They may even feel less masculine when confronted with the woman’s autonomy. But, you know that your boyfriend does not expect you be more clingy and less independent once you become a couple. Your relationship is not about giving up what you have fought for and there is no question of being conquered.
5. He knows your real agenda
Fortunately, your boyfriend is far more enlightened than those guys who think that a woman’s main ambition is to get a partner and settle down! You both have great ideas on how you will work together as equal partners in finding happiness together. Your boyfriend knows that romance is just the icing on the cake. Baking and eating the cake requires commitment and hard work.
6. He knows that no partner needs to dominate
We all know the stories about who is “wearing the pants” in certain households. Fortunately, couples have evolved and there is no need for domination or even power struggles or when making decisions. You both believe in a partnership so there is no need for one of you to hold all the cards.
He respects you and your decisions and you feel safe in his presence. This is a biggie as 95% of domestic violence victims all over the world are women. There are no signs of emotional or physical abuse and that is why you feel totally secure.
7. He understands your goals and ambitions
Problems can arise when your boyfriend may not be ambitious at all at work and does not have any great goals, apart from surviving till Friday! You don’t relate to being not motivated at all and working in a dead-end job. This is where the motivation gap may cause problems because your long hours and getting up early may not suit your boyfriend at all and may lead him to loneliness, frustration and insecurity.
This problem is solved when you both have goals and ambitions and they are not necessarily tied to the world of work. Your boyfriend may be highly motivated in sports or working out and is also driven by ambition. You both understand your goals because you have discussed them a lot.
8. He knows how to communicate
Guess what the number one problem is in most relationships? It is not sex or money but lack of communication. Most couples cannot deal with arguments which tend to start and never finish. You know the ones where you or he threatens to leave or take some other drastic action.
Your boyfriend is an effective communicator because he never brings up old issues or introduces third parties (“Your Mom agrees with me”). He also concentrates on the present issue and avoids exaggerating by refusing to use the words “you always” and “you never”. He knows that these tend to fudge the real issues as you yourself understand only too well. You both know that arguments resolve differences and are not to be used again and again!
Have you been able to tick off all the above points? How did your boyfriend do and did you pass the test yourself?
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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: