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7 Things To Remember If You Love A Person Who Fears Public Speaking

7 Things To Remember If You Love A Person Who Fears Public Speaking

When I watch someone I care about, who has a fear of public speaking, give a speech, I suffer too.

The fear of public speaking can be a challenging fear to cope with. And not just for the people who suffer from the fear, but also for those of us who are standing in the wings supporting the sufferer.

It’s emotionally draining. It’s mentally taxing.

And it can be uniquely frustrating. Because it is the kind of fear that can be avoided — buried, ignored, forgotten. Avoiding situations where you are forced to speak in public is not particularly difficult. And because of this, when we see a loved one put themselves in a position where they are speaking in public and struggle through the experience, a part of us is proud and another part is thinking: why are you bothering?

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Here are seven things to remember if you love someone who suffers anxiety from public speaking.

1. The fear of public speaking is very common

For 30% of Americans, public speaking is their worst fear. Think about that. Nearly 1 in 3 Americans have a significant fear of public speaking. This is a common, everyday fear that many, many people share.

It does not feel the same stigma as other fears because it is so common. It doesn’t get the same attention, despite its prevalence, because avoiding public speaking is relatively easy.

For some sufferers, however, public speaking is something they need to do. Perhaps their job or career requires it. Perhaps they simply cannot let the fear go untamed. Regardless, they meet the challenge head-on. Presenting when you fear public speaking is uncommonly brave.

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2. This fear is hardwired deep inside our “Lizard Brain”

The fear of public speaking is a natural, human reaction. It is, in fact, the result of our evolution as a social species.

We fear rejection by the group because being cast out of the tribe in primitive times meant certain death. As a consequence, we are hardwired to seek social acceptance. Standing in front of a group and putting yourself out there threatens that. We all suffer from this fear to a lesser or greater extent.

3. It is not about just needing to relax

Stress and adrenaline are synonyms for physiological arousal, which is actually a good thing. It gets us going. It is needed for peak performance.

Sufferers of public speaking anxiety struggle to control and contain their reactions to this physiological arousal. The major sources or triggers of speech anxiety are:

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  • Lack of preparation
  • The fear of making mistakes
  • Concerns about appearance
  • Projections about a lack of audience interest, and
  • Lack of previous experience public speaking

Taming the anxiety of speaking in public is not really about relaxing. It is about developing coping skills, particularly coping skills targeted at these key triggers.

4. Sufferers are aware that their fear is sometimes irrational

Being aware of how irrational their reactions to public speaking are does not, in and of itself, stop the adrenaline from pumping. Of course, if it was simply a case of realizing that they shouldn’t be nervous or afraid, then millions of people would not suffer from this fear.

Because of this, pointing out the fact that the fear is irrational, or that a sufferer doesn’t need to be afraid, doesn’t help.

5. Sufferers are grateful you care – they are just not interested in your advice

That doesn’t mean that sufferers do not appreciate or benefit from your concern. Compassion, understanding, presence, and support are all hugely helpful. But advice on what to do or how to cope, more often than not, misses the mark.

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If you feel a need to be more actively engaged, focus on supporting the sufferer to cope with the key triggers of anxiety, such as a lack of preparation or a lack of practice and experience.

6. The anticipation of speaking can be as bad as the speaking itself

For sufferers of public speaking anxiety, the run-up to the speech itself can be when anxiety levels are at their peak. Sufferers can be at their most vulnerable and most anxious before the public speaking event even starts.

Often, the moments right before a public speaking event are where you can help the most by providing companionship, distractions, or by just being there.

7. Facing the fear is tough – and this is how it is overcome

At the end of the day, giving a speech when you suffer from a fear of public speaking is a particularly brave act. There are steps sufferers can take to learn to cope with the anxiety (adopting the right mindset, preparing well, visualizing success, humanizing the audience). But, ultimately, facing the fear is how the fear is overcome.

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Last Updated on September 20, 2018

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

7 Powerful Questions To Find Out What You Want To Do With Your Life

What do I want to do with my life? It’s a question all of us think about at one point or another.

For some, the answer comes easily. For others, it takes a lifetime to figure out.

It’s easy to just go through the motions and continue to do what’s comfortable and familiar. But for those of you who seek fulfillment, who want to do more, these questions will help you paint a clearer picture of what you want to do with your life.

1. What are the things I’m most passionate about?

The first step to living a more fulfilling life is to think about the things that you’re passionate about.

What do you love? What fulfills you? What “work” do you do that doesn’t feel like work? Maybe you enjoy writing, maybe you love working with animals or maybe you have a knack for photography.

The point is, figure out what you love doing, then do more of it.

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2. What are my greatest accomplishments in life so far?

Think about your past experiences and the things in your life you’re most proud of.

How did those accomplishments make you feel? Pretty darn good, right? So why not try and emulate those experiences and feelings?

If you ran a marathon once and loved the feeling you had afterwards, start training for another one. If your child grew up to be a star athlete or musician because of your teachings, then be a coach or mentor for other kids.

Continue to do the things that have been most fulfilling for you.

3. If my life had absolutely no limits, what would I choose to have and what would I choose to do?

Here’s a cool exercise: Think about what you would do if you had no limits.

If you had all the money and time in the world, where would you go? What would you do? Who would you spend time with?

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These answers can help you figure out what you want to do with your life. It doesn’t mean you need millions of dollars to be happy though.

What it does mean is answering these questions will help you set goals to reach certain milestones and create a path toward happiness and fulfillment. Which leads to our next question …

4. What are my goals in life?

Goals are a necessary component to set you up for a happy future. So answer these questions:

Once you figure out the answers to each of these, you’ll have a much better idea of what you should do with your life.

5. Whom do I admire most in the world?

Following the path of successful people can set you up for success.

Think about the people you respect and admire most. What are their best qualities? Why do you respect them? What can you learn from them?

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You’re the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.[1] So don’t waste your time with people who hold you back from achieving your dreams.

Spend more time with happy, successful, optimistic people and you’ll become one of them.

6. What do I not like to do?

An important part of figuring out what you want to do with your life is honestly assessing what you don’t want to do.

What are the things you despise? What bugs you the most about your current job?

Maybe you hate meetings even though you sit through 6 hours of them every day. If that’s the case, find a job where you can work more independently.

The point is, if you want something to change in your life, you need to take action. Which leads to our final question …

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7. How hard am I willing to work to get what I want?

Great accomplishments never come easy. If you want to do great things with your life, you’re going to have to make a great effort. That will probably mean putting in more hours the average person, getting outside your comfort zone and learning as much as you can to achieve as much as you can.

But here’s the cool part: it’s often the journey that is the most fulfilling part. It’s during these seemingly small, insignificant moments that you’ll often find that “aha” moments that helps you answer the question,

“What do I want to do with my life?”

So take the first step toward improving your life. You won’t regret it.

Featured photo credit: Andrew Ly via unsplash.com

Reference

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