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8 Ways You Hurt Yourself and Inadvertently Your Happiness

8 Ways You Hurt Yourself and Inadvertently Your Happiness
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How do you view life?

Are you an optimist or a pessimist?

Do you tend to see the bad in everyone and everything?

Do you struggle with seeing things any other way?

Well, let’s change things up a little. It takes nothing more for you to see the good things in life than it is to see the bad.

Do not get down on yourself because unfortunately too many of us feel that way sometimes. Far too many of us have gotten into that rut and find it hard to get out of it.

The good news is, we can all change for the better. It doesn’t take much for us to change our life; we only need to redirect our thoughts from being negative to being positive.

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There is always something you can change to become happier. Sometimes going down the wrong path is the only way you can then get back on track and grow.

Life is not easy all the time, and neither is the path always smooth. We stumble and fall and even hurt ourselves. The bumps and bruises are what propel us to growth and heights we couldn’t attain unless we had struggles in our lives.

The experiences we gain from our challenges would not be learned any other way so in some sense even when you struggle there is something good to learn.

We all have habits that have caused us unnecessary frustration and stand in the way of our happiness. Some of those habits are good, others not so good, but they hinder our very survival at times.

These habits that aren’t good we allow to control our lives, and they make us miserable but not miserable enough to want to change them.

Today is the day to change some of those bad habits and refuse to allow yourself to be limited and or discouraged from becoming the best version of who you can become.

Quit fighting life

Life is unpredictable with its ups and downs, but life already has a plan laid out for you. Do not complicate things by forcing and fighting. Let life unfold for you as it should.

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To move ahead in life, you must be prepared to accept things as they are. When you can accept things in their current state, it provides you with an opportunity to start your journey to recovery and happiness. You are also allotted an opportunity to move in any direction you want to go.

Do not go back to the past and resurrect things that will only complicate and distract from your current life. To return to the past or to wish things were different is only wasting your precious time and will get you nowhere.

Accept things the way they are, this will help you to move forward and create a new life and a better future. This doesn’t mean you are giving up on your dreams but accepting things the way they are will enable you to move forward. You have to see things as they truly are in reality and then once you can accept your current situation as it is, only then can you move on freely.

Forgiveness is huge if you want to stop hurting yourself and your happiness. Forgiveness will open the door for you to move forward into your future and the life that is destined to be yours. Forgiveness is the acceptance of the present without any attachment to any thing, place or circumstances.

The best place to start the healing process and to forget all the hurt and pain on all sides is through forgiveness. This is when the heart becomes open as it has emptied all the pent up resentment, hatred and other things that take up space. Your heart is now clean and ready to accept love and the fulfillment of happiness.

Simplify and de-clutter

You need to simplify and de-clutter your life to make any headway. This doesn’t mean you need to reduce yourself to a state of poverty, but it means you need to get rid of the things in your life that aren’t helping you to get where you want to go. This means ridding yourself of all the negative influences. Clean your mind of all the baggage of past relationships, lack of forgiveness and regrets.

Start removing the toxic things from your life so you can have space in your life for the things that truly matter. Surround yourself with things that are essential to your development and progress.

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You have no clear direction

Before you can start your journey, you have to know which direction to take. You cannot be just running around in circles without clear directions.

Establish goals and work towards them. Do not just get a job with no clear ending in sight. What is it you want to do in ten years and where do you see yourself then? Once you set your goals, then you can start putting things in place to achieve them. Set very smart goals for your life. They must be specific, measurable, achievable and timely. Do not go through life blindly. You will be sabotaging your life and your happiness.

Take a break from your everyday life

There comes a time when you will have to break away from everything and everyone. It doesn’t mean you stop loving them, but you need to be able to recharge. You need to take care of yourself so you can take care of others.

You need some down time to refocus. Getting the necessary rest is part of growing and becoming stronger. Create habits that will be beneficial to you in the long run and will encourage healthy, safe habits.

Do not resort to stimulants and drugs to fix your life

People, unfortunately, tend to use all kinds of things including drugs to numb their pain. Sadly, these things do not help but rather hinder your growth and healing. They mask the pain and cloud the brain, and so you are left feeling worse about yourself and your problems.

See yourself as a strong enough person who can face life’s ups and downs without the need for any stimulant. You don’t want to go through your life numb.

Do not hurt yourself with things that you already know does nothing but cause more pain and destruction to your life.

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Commit to healthy eating habits.

One of the easiest ways to stop hurting yourself is to treat your body right. Your body is your temple and should be treated with respect and dignity. One way of showing that you love yourself is how you treat your body. Choose foods that will help and heal the body and make you happy and healthy.

Refuse to over indulge and put things in the body that you know are not helping you because that will rob you of your health and happiness like nothing else.

Do not neglect your body

The body is the greatest tool ever created. There is nothing that will heal your mind and spirit more than exercising. Exercising is one of the best medicines you can take to rid yourself of mental and physical problems; besides taking care of your mind it also makes you look and feel stronger. You need your strength to face life and its challenges. Taking care of your body will have an enormous effect on your quality of life.

Be prepared to do the work

There’s no secret to success: it is all about hard work. When you are prepared to offer your best you cannot help but see good results and be happy when you do. You must be confidence in your belief and know that you are doing and giving of your best.

The world needs more people with great ideas who are prepared to work to see their dreams come to fruition.

Give everything you’ve got towards your dream and be prepared to persist in spite of all adversity and setbacks. Take the action needed to get the results you want and do not stop until you do.

Featured photo credit: Sjoerd Lammers via flickr.com

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)
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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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