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5 Things You Should Keep In Mind When You Are Overcoming A Hard Time

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5 Things You Should Keep In Mind When You Are Overcoming A Hard Time

Sometimes in life things don’t work out the way you want them to.

Things fall apart, unforeseen events occur and sometimes it just feels like too much to take.

Life is cyclical in nature and it’s important to understand that whilst the bad times may feel never ending, eventually the good times will roll into place. The key is to reach a place of understanding with whatever situation you are facing, knowing that this too shall pass. Far easier said than done, but in maintaining a sense of perspective (and a sense of humor) this can be the very thing that can pull us through one of life’s tough spots.

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When things fall apart and you can’t seem to figure out a pathway through the situation, it’s important to remember that there is always a choice. You can choose to let it destroy you, define you or you can choose to let it strengthen you. Knowing we have a choice in how we react can provide a sense of empowerment, a knowledge that life struggles can provide a deeper understanding of life. It’s also of vital importance to remember a few powerful, yet easily forgotten, truths that might just help you to break on through to the other side of whatever sticky situation life throws at you.

1. Acceptance

This can be one of the toughest lessons to master when faced with adversity. We spend so much time and energy resisting what is, dancing with denial, that we ignore the very first step in overcoming any situation. Acceptance.

Whatever difficult situation you find yourself wading into, it’s of paramount importance to accept that it is actually happening. This is no easy feat since the power of pretending it isn’t happening is utterly alluring. This is also called sticking your head in the sand- it simply doesn’t achieve anything. Whilst it can feel incredibly tempting at the time, it’s essential to understand that denial simply keeps us stuck. For if we don’t accept what is happening right in front of us, how can we find the means to move on and heal from it?

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2. Maintain Perspective

When we feel like life’s punching bag it can be incredibly easy to fall victim to the situation. If we are feeling angry, hurt or grieving a loss we want to find something to blame, and demand an answer to the age old question: why is this happening to me? It is much harder to take a step back from the situation and acknowledge that whilst it is indeed happening, it’s not happening to you. As tough as it sounds, taking it personally just leads into a cul-de-sac of blame and resentment and if you want to start healing from a tough time its time to stop circling the cul-de-sac and get back on the open road. This is where a change of perspective is needed, a willingness to see the situation differently.

If you’ve recently lost a job or are going through a difficult break-up, for example, whilst it might feel utterly devastating at the time, know that you will eventually dust yourself off, get through it and actually learn something about yourself. Just as hard times can sweep in and knock you off your feet, so can the good times. A willingness to try and see a situation differently opens yourself up to the possibility of a fresh perspective and a motivation to move on with your life.

3. Learn The Lesson

Life is a training ground and we are actually here to learn, grow and evolve as human beings. Unfortunately most of us tend to learn the most from adverse experiences rather than the positive ones. Some of the toughest situations I’ve personally been through have taught me the most about myself and as a result I feel transformed and even thankful for the experience (though if you told me that at the time I never would have believed you).

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Whatever the problem is, no matter how big or small, try to identify what lesson it is trying to teach you. It may take some digging but the lesson will be there, patiently waiting for you to uncover it. For example, if your relationship came to an abrupt halt and threw you out unwittingly onto Single Street you might discover that the relationship was acting as a training ground, a place for you to uncover and ultimately heal an unhealthy relationship tendency, so that when the next relationship appears you are ready for it. In being a student of life we learn that all experiences are necessary, that the story of what happened doesn’t really matter in the end, it’s what we learn from it that counts.

4. Stay Positive

When faced with adversity it can be incredibly tempting to throw a pity party for one and close down from friends and family. Whilst isolation may feel like the right response during a tough time, it can be a slippery slope down into the depths of depression or developing a belief that you are being a burden. We all need people in our lives, especially when the going gets tough, and our loved ones can act as a veritable life raft, pulling us out from the depths and lifting our spirits. In times of strife it’s also of paramount importance to surround yourself with friends or family who are positive minded, those who will be there to listen to you but also to reassure you that you can get through it. Whilst it can be comforting to have your loved ones give you the space initially to rant about how terribly unfair the whole thing is, it’s also important that they help you focus on finding a solution or simply a focus on the future rather than the past. Spending these difficult times with positive-minded people can remind us that we all need someone to lean on, or at least someone to have a laugh with, as we work our way through the mire.

5. Don’t Give Up

At times like these it’s of paramount importance to understand that nothing lasts forever. Some of the curveballs that life throws at us might seem insurmountable but there is always a way through and we are never given more that we can handle. At the time we might not think we have the requisite tools to navigate a tricky situation, yet the fact that we invariably come through the other side can actually be a source of empowerment. Being pushed beyond the boundaries of what we believe we can handle is never fun, yet in viewing whatever situation life throws at us as a potential life lesson, ultimately we can learn from it.

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As a result we become stronger so that the next time life deals us a difficult hand we don’t get thrown off course as easily and we don’t give up as easily. Making a commitment to stay strong in the face of adversity can foster us with a sense of resolve. We might not like what we are having to deal with but we can eventually get to a place where we emerge stronger, wiser and hopefully with a few life lessons tucked in our back pocket.

Featured photo credit: PhotoPin via photopin.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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