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Only People Who’re Hard On Themselves Would Understand These 13 Things

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Only People Who’re Hard On Themselves Would Understand These 13 Things

Often referred to as perfectionists, people who are hard on themselves live very stressful lives. This usually has little to do with how someone is reared or treated by others.

I have been this way most of my life, although I’ve recently been able to switch off the perfection switch. It’s very hard to live like this -we are usually this way from a very young age, so it becomes all we know.

Have a look and you’ll see what I mean.

1. We Spend So Much Time Trying to Perfect Things

For most people it’s fine to simply allocate an hour or so a day to accomplishing their goals. But not for people who are tough on themselves, we spend all of our free time perfecting our goals.

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This is often at the cost of our social life and family commitments. Everything is forgotten about in the name of perfection.

2. We Become Defensive When Criticized

People who are tough on themselves struggle with criticism even if it is delivered in a gentle way. We take it to heart and store it in a special place for the next time someone criticizes us. Then we bring it back up to the surface again and remind ourselves how imperfect we are.

3. We Go For All or Nothing

If we think we might get full marks, or first prize we will go for something full speed ahead. But if we think that we can’t reach those high standards we simply won’t get involved at all.

This is how much we dislike not winning.

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4. We Are Highly Critical of Mistakes

For the most part we are intolerant of our own mistakes. But we are often critical of others when they make mistakes. We see perfection as attainable and something that everyone should be aiming for. Anything less and the perfectionist doesn’t understand.

5. We Set Out To Be the Best at Everything We Do

We aim to be the best and not second best. We feel a sense of urgency as we work in case someone is passing us. We panic at results time if we don’t ace the exam/assignment/test and get an A. We get frustrated during a game if we don’t score enough baskets.

6. We Get Nervous Sometimes

Anytime we have to perform (at an interview, a presentation, on stage etc.), everything has to be perfect. We put ourselves under enormous pressure to achieve the impossible and so the nervous system caves. This can become worse over time if not addressed.

7. We Feel Humiliated When Others Perform Better

If it turns out that someone else scores higher in a test, or runs faster, or just generally performs better in a particular area of life, we feel humiliated and disappointed. After all, we worked harder than them – so if we can’t beat them now, we’ll never beat them.

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8. We are Our Own Worst Critic

It doesn’t matter how many times somebody tells us that it’s okay, we will continue to beat ourselves up over the smallest things. If we make a mistake or do something ‘wrong’, we still berate ourselves for it long after everyone has forgotten about it.

Sometimes we never forgive ourselves and this can drain our emotional resources.

9. We are Horrified When Exposed

When we are exposed as being imperfect (which of course everyone is in reality), we are horrified. We cover up our imperfect bodies, and we keep our substandard results to ourselves because disclosing our imperfections is just too horrifying. It’s a lot of hard work when you are hard on yourself.

10. We Play Things Over and Over in Our Minds

If things don’t turn out the way we hope, we play it over and over in our minds – as if thinking about it will alter the outcome. This becomes obsessional almost, can be difficult to stop and is quite destructive.

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11. We Only Focus on The Result

We keep our eyes firmly on the prize, be it first place or a good grade, the best outfit or the cleanest house. In the process we forget to enjoy the journey. The value of learning is lost on us and the joy of shopping for the outfit is immaterial. It’s all about being the best at the end of the day.

12. We are Acutely Aware of Others

What other people think of us is of major concern to us. We want them to know that we are the best, the best looking, the most charismatic, the best performer etc.

13. We aren’t Always Happy

People who are hard on themselves often suffer from depression and anxiety as they live in a world where they are in constant pursuit of the impossible. We push ourselves harder and harder to achieve something that is unattainable. Of course this can only result in great disappointment.

After some time, this kind of strain becomes too much for the human spirit and we start to break down.

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But it is possible to change – to learn how to go easier on yourself. I’ve found that with maturity I’ve given myself more of a chance to have a little fun with life and to take things less seriously.

If like me you too find it hard to go easy on yourself – take heart – it is possible to break out of those chains.

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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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