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20 Things You Can Let Go Of To Live A Joyful 2016

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20 Things You Can Let Go Of To Live A Joyful 2016

You don’t have to do more to grow and improve. You can add to your life by subtracting negative habits, and by eliminating mindsets and beliefs that are holding you back can have a massive impact on your life.

1. Let go of making life choices based on the expectations of others.

We’re influenced by friends, family, and society. TV shows, advertisements, and advice from others provide a steady stream of messages about the right way to live. Everyone has an opinion (usually unsolicited) about what you should do with your life. Each person has unique experiences, fears, and dreams. People with different beliefs and experiences shouldn’t direct your life choices. Ignore the expectations society places on you. Let go of living someone else’s life.

2. Let go of ignoring your intuition.

We instinctively know the right choice for most important life decisions. The instinct comes to us as a feeling, hunch, and pull towards the answer. We think making a big decision can’t be so easy. We analyze the situation from all angles, make pros and cons lists, and sift through all the reasons that support each option. We deliberate and procrastinate even though we’ve known the answer all along. All we have to do is tune in to the frequency of our inner voice.

3. Let go of questioning your dreams.

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

—Eleanor Roosevelt

You don’t have to drop everything and take huge risks to follow your dreams. You can start by taking small steps in that direction. You put less pressure on yourself with incremental steps instead of trying to get from A to Z immediately. The lessons from your early wins and mistakes will inform your next steps. As you accumulate small wins, you can adjust your strategy and take bigger risks. Starting to move in the direction of your dreams fuels you with excitement and motivation.

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4. Let go of waiting to take action until you’re confident in the results.

You have a clear vision of what you want to accomplish. You don’t know how to get there. There isn’t a blueprint with step-by-step instructions to get to the finish line. Even if you create the perfect plan, there will be uncertainty along the way. You can’t remove all risks. You’ll make mistakes. You’ll change direction as you find that certain strategies don’t work like you envisioned. The road map will become clearer as you learn throughout the process. The uncertainty in the outcome will decrease. You just have to take the first step.

5. Let go of comparing yourself to others.

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

—Ernest Hemingway

When we compare ourselves to others, we look towards more successful people. This leads to us feeling insecure and inadequate. We dwell on why we aren’t as successful as them. We feel envy. We blame ourselves for not having made better decisions. Instead of swimming in these negative emotions, we can compare ourselves against our ideal self. We can run our own race. As we turn our attention to what we want, we cultivate productive beliefs and thought patterns.

6. Let go of seeking validation and approval from others.

If you constantly seek the approval of others, you make decisions based on what others will like. Instead of thinking about what you want, you seek to please everyone else. In this frame of mind, your self-image and emotional state are outside of your control. Your emotions ebb and flow based on the opinions of others. As you become self-validated, you look within yourself for answers. You analyze each situation and simply do what you think is right. You stop worrying about how other people will perceive your actions.

7. Let go of looking for permission from others.

When you lower the volume of the opinion of others, you gain clarity on what you want. You don’t wait for the green light from others before you get started. You commit to goals that are meaningful and inspiring to you, regardless of what anyone else thinks. You stop seeking permission from others to do what you want.

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8. Let go of complaining.

Many of the setbacks we face are unfair. Things go wrong for reasons that are out of our control. It’s not our fault. We can easily fall into a pattern of complaining about everything that’s not going our way. It feels good. Yet, complaining doesn’t change our situation. When we stop complaining, our mind switches gears to search for solutions instead of looking for problems.

9. Let go of focusing on the negatives.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.”

—Marcus Aurelius

What we focus on, expands. We can unconsciously train our mind to spot the worst aspects of each situation. On the other hand, we can train our mind to apply a positive filter to events through disciplined and consistent effort. We can change the way we perceive obstacles. We can spot opportunities where others see problems.

10. Let go of focusing on the way things should be.

Our co-workers should recognize and appreciate our hard work. Our family should see things from our perspective. Life is rarely the way we think it should be though. It’s messier and more unfair than it should be. When we accept the way things are instead of the way they should be, we move past being stuck in a state of frustration. We make better decisions about the next steps to take.

11. Let go of moving on before celebrating your successes.

We work hard to achieve meaningful goals. Then, we spend a few minutes enjoying the accomplishments before moving on the next endeavor. Looking ahead is a great habit to develop. Taking time to celebrate big wins is equally important. Take a step back to reflect on the journey. Toast to the rewards you’ve earned.

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12. Let go of the need to win the argument.

We craft the winning defense in our head like lawyers. We replay the speech we’re going to deliver. Then, we engage in the heated debate. We imagined we were going to hear the satisfying “you’re right” at the end of the argument. Instead, we both leave the scene upset and frustrated. Each of us digs in more fiercely to our side of the argument. We both lose that argument. We can we win the argument by starving our ego from the satisfaction of proving our point.

13. Let go of the need to be recognized.

We want our contributions to be noticed and rewarded. Seeking recognition is similar to seeking approval from others. Your state and emotions depend on how you’re treated by others. Produce great work because it lines up with your values instead of being swayed by the opinion of others. The recognition may not come today. High-quality work sustained over time is undeniable. The applause from the outside world is inevitable.

14. Let go of worrying about the past.

The more mental real estate we give to our past, the less growth we experience in the present. The past can’t be changed. Worrying about the past doesn’t provide any benefits. We can’t improve our present position at the same time that we’re living in the past. It’s natural to recall past mistakes. We can’t stop those thoughts from popping up. We have the power to let those thoughts drift away instead of allowing them to draw us back to the past.

15. Let go of being overly critical of yourself.

“Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.”

—Winston Churchill

If you set ambitious goals, you’ll be at the edge of your comfort zone most of the time. You’ll fail over and over as you climb new heights. Failed attempts are part of the growth process. We can appreciate our effort instead of blaming ourselves for each mistake. We’re more likely to keep stepping up to the plate if we treat ourselves kindly.

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16. Let go of failing to learn from mistakes.

“Every adversity, every failure, every heartache carries with it the seed of an equal or greater benefit.”

—Napoleon Hill

Regardless of how many times we replay our mistakes in the theater of our mind, those moments have passed. The mistakes are etched in history. Instead of obsessing over the failures, we can draw lessons that we can start applying today. The mistakes provide feedback about how to improve. Each mistake is an opportunity to learn. With this growth mindset, there are no failures.

17. Let go of taking things too seriously.

We have the choice to build up every annoyance, setback, and frustration to a level 10 disturbance. Or we can diminish them as we leave them in our rear-view mirror. We have the choice to perceive each situation in a way that’s advantageous. We can enjoy the process. We can keep things light. We can laugh often. It’s our choice.

18. Let go of trying to do it all.

The options are endless. We can take on more projects at work. We can read more articles. We can learn to cook. We can do 1,000 different things. We feel productive when we cross off items from the to-do list. They all feel like accomplishments and progress. Yet, most tasks don’t move the needle towards our most valued goals. The more splintered our attention becomes, the less likely we are to achieve what matters most.

19. Let go of focusing on the urgent over the important.

We can spend most of our time putting out small fires. The urgent tasks will keep coming tomorrow and the day after. Life is an endless conveyor belt of small fires. Most of them aren’t important. When we build the habit of focusing on the important over the urgent, we make consistent progress towards meaningful goals. We create momentum towards the life we envision. That’s better than getting a lot done but not getting where we want to go.

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20. Let go of feeling busy and overwhelmed.

We’re all guilty of telling our friends, “I’m so busy.” A part of us likes being too busy because it makes us feel important and valued. We also feel overwhelmed without realizing how it happened. We say “yes” to most invitations and requests without thinking about how they fit into our big picture plans. Turning down requests from our friends and co-workers takes discipline and commitment to our priorities. As we build the “No” muscle, we give ourselves the space to design our days to reflect a balance of work, play, and relaxation. We’re in charge of our time.

Featured photo credit: eflon via flickr.com

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Jose Ramos

Blogger

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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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