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7 Practical Ways to Forgive and Move On

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7 Practical Ways to Forgive and Move On

With the right mindset and good intentions, it is possible for you to forgive and move on. Whether it is getting yourself in the right frame of mind or if it is recognizing that forgiveness is tough, there are several practical ways you can get moving on the path of forgiveness. Let us help you make a change in your life that will pay off for years to come.

1. Recognize the Difficulty

“I learned a long time ago that some people would rather die than forgive. It’s a strange truth, but forgiveness is a painful and difficult process. It’s not something that happens overnight. It’s an evolution of the heart.” Sue Monk Kidd

The struggle is real. I have heard many a time that bitterness is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die. While that may be true, bitterness feels effective in the moment. It feels like the only just punishment for what has been done to you. I believe that feelings are a powerful tool that can give insight and help us make decisions, but when it comes to forgiveness our feelings cannot lead us into battle. The reality is that you will likely never feel like forgiving someone. That may come later, but if you are waiting to feel forgiveness for someone it will not happen.

A crucial step in forgiveness is recognizing that choosing to forgive someone is insanely difficult. It will go against all of your instincts. If it feels hard you are probably on the right path, so keep going! Set yourself up for success by recognizing that it will be hard and you are not alone in this challenge.

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“The first step in forgiveness is the willingness to forgive.” Marianne Williamson

2. Tell Your Story

“When we forgive evil we do not excuse it, we do not tolerate it, we do not smother it. We look the evil full in the face, call it what it is, let its horror shock and stun and enrage us, and only then do we forgive it.” Lewis Smedes

One of the most powerful ways to move towards forgiveness is to tell your story. Contrary to popular belief, merely venting is rarely effective. What makes a difference is having someone witness your story and validate your experience. Take the time to share what has happened to you with someone trustworthy. Healing begins when we face our pain in the presence of another person.

Carefully consider who will hear your story. As a culture we are not well trained in responding to another’s pain. Sharing your heart with someone is a vulnerable choice which can lead to healing, but if not properly cared for can also cause more damage. So care for yourself and choose your confidant’s wisely!

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3. Grieve Your Losses

“If I say, ‘I forgive you,’ I have implicitly said you have done something wrong to me. But what forgiveness is at its heart is both saying that justice has been violated and not letting that violation count against the offender.” Miroslav Volf

Some people would like us to bind up our wounds in a pretty package and move on with our lives. Many of us succumb to this social pressure and quickly gather our broken pieces together with a forced smile, leaving unaddressed pain lodged like a sliver in a scabbed over wound. Your wounds may appear to be healing, but with a thorn lodged under your skin there will always be pain. The only way to get through the pain is to experience and grieve your losses. Forgiveness is almost always about recognizing losses. What was done to you needs to be brought into the light and seen for what it was – a terrible loss of some form. You cannot sweep it under the rug or make it less than what it was. When you face the pain another person has caused you, then you will be able to take the steps towards healing and forgiveness.

“A personal offense is like a scratch on a phonograph record. I couldn’t move my thoughts beyond my pain. It kept repeating, as if I were stuck within its grooves. There was only one way to play beyond it. I had to forgive them, so my heart could take its form again.” Laurel Lea

4. Identify Learned Habits

“I tried to manipulate and control people, and I harbored resentment. I wanted to be forgiven, but I wouldn’t forgive others.” Lauryn Hill

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Part of forgiveness is being fully honest about has been done to you. This includes recognizing habits and patterns that you have adopted to compensate for your pain. The human body is not meant to harbor bitterness. Trauma, left unaddressed, lives in our bodies. How does your pain manifest itself? What do you do to daily act out the message that was sent to you when you were wronged? This question is hard to answer because it puts us in a frustrating place. It is easy to protest that the way we act is a result of the harm done to us, which is true. It is harder to peer into our own hearts, have compassion on ourselves and choose to take our lives on a different path. We do not need to be defined by what has been done to us. As long as we are acting out that message wrongly sent to us, we are allowing ourselves to be controlled by the perpetrator. A big step in forgiveness is admitting that we have (likely) also done wrong as a result of being wronged and not forgiving.

5. Practice Empathy

“He that cannot forgive others breaks the bridge over which he must pass himself; for every man has need to be forgiven.” Thomas Fuller

A big step in forgiving someone is to humanize them. This does not mean making excuses for what they have done, but rather recognizing that they are flawed and carry damage of their own. Recognizing the humanity in another person allows you to break some of those messages that bound you. For example, rejection is a painful experience that may have led you to doubt and even hate yourself. Empathy helps us to understand that being rejected was not a reflection of our worth, but a reflection of the flawed human nature of the rejector. Practicing empathy takes the damaging focus off of us and on to the true problem: the person causing pain. Forgiveness is a rocky journey made smoother through seeking to understand and empathize.

6. Keep a Journal

“I didn’t have a catharsis for my childhood pain, most of us don’t, and until I learned how to forgive those people and let it go, I was unhappy.” Tyler Perry

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Writing is a healing practice. It slows our racing minds down and teaches us to dance to a slower beat. Writing allows us to dig through the muck in our hearts or minds and leave it out on a page. Slowly the weight will come off of your shoulders as you learn to filter your thoughts. Writing can be a place to vent our anger, grieve our pain and explore our hearts. It can also be a place to revisit when struggling with forgiviness in the future. Forgiveness itself is a foggy jungle maze, that can be made clearer through the practice of journaling.

7. Push Through

“You can’t forgive without loving. And I don’t mean sentimentality. I don’t mean mush. I mean having enough courage to stand up and say, ‘I forgive. I’m finished with it.’ Maya Angelou

You will have a choice to make. Forgive or don’t. Then you will need to keep making that choice over and over maybe for the rest of your life. You do not need to forgive. It is your choice – liberating isn’t it? You can choose to hold on to the anger forever. If you do choose forgiveness however, you cannot wait until you recieve an apology or until you feel like it. They will probably never deserve your forgiveness and it will never be fair. But healing and living a full life requires us to forgive. Most of us are more determined to live our lives full and free than we are to get even. If you want to forgive there comes a point where you need to just do it. Without forgoeing the necessary steps towards healing, choosing forgiveness is often times a matter of ignoring every instict you have and just choosing to be finished with it.

No one escapes this life unscathed. If you find yourself needing to forgive someone, you are in good company with the whole human race. Take time to care for yourself in this process. Give yourself grace to approach each stage imperfectly. Embrace the messy. Life is hard, many times excruciating, but forgivness is a gift given to us. It is an chance to escape lifelong dread and [eventually] restore ourselves to freedom.

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“It’s not an easy journey, to get to a place where you forgive people. But it is such a powerful place, because it frees you.” Tyler Perry

Featured photo credit: Paulo Otavio Diniz Rodrigues 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)

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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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