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13 Of The Loneliest Moments That Everyone Experiences In Their Life

13 Of The Loneliest Moments That Everyone Experiences In Their Life
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Although we might be surrounded by people, enveloped by countless possessions, and bombarded by information all around us, there are still times when we end up feeling lonely and disconnected.

While feeling lonely might be undesirable, this is what makes us truly human, and it is also important for us to be upfront and honest about this because we all will encounter such moments in our lives. Here are a few of those loneliest moments.

1. When you are in a crowd but can’t connect with anyone

There will be times when we are surrounded by countless individuals but still feel lonely and disconnected from the many around us. You might feel this when you just arrived in a new country, stepped into a new culture, started in a new workplace, or enrolled in a new university.

Similar feelings might arise during your everyday commute. You may be packed in a crowded train like a canned sardine but still feel isolated from the crowd.

In these times, don’t worry because it’s alright to have our own moments of solitude.

2. When you lose loved ones to death

What makes us human is that we face health and sickness, life and death.

The older we get, the more likely the people around us — our friends and loved ones — are subjected to sickness and death. People might fall sick and people might perish because of natural or unnatural causes.

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It’s terribly sad to let go of loved ones and not be able to see them again. They might be gone physically, but they will always remain in our hearts and minds and we get to continue their legacies. Like someone once said, “Don’t be sad that it’s over. Be glad that it happened.”

3. When you lose loved ones to busyness

When friends and loved ones move on to different stages in life, there is no doubt that they might get busier with work and respective life commitments.

I used to spend a lot of time hanging out with my close group of friends in university, but when we graduated, got work, and when some got married and had kids, the amount of time we spend together plummeted dramatically.

This doesn’t have to be the end of the story because it’s all about being proactive and intentional in building and maintaining relationships with others. If we don’t have time, we can always make time for the things and people who matter to us.

4. When you move to a new country

Packing your bags and shifting into a new country means that you might be leaving your friends, family, comforts, and community behind and starting fresh. You might feel lonely when you are suddenly immersed in a new environment and culture which you have no idea about and you are in a new place where you don’t know anyone.

But don’t worry — this is all part of a new adventure. Give it time and you will get to know your surroundings better and making good friendships there.

5. When you have a great idea but no one listens

Imagine if you have a great idea for a dinner location, a business solution, a birthday party, or a holiday destination. You share this excitedly with your peers but your ideas fall on deaf ears. How would you feel? And how would you feel if after your sharing, they simply move on to the next topic of discussion?

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Don’t worry, because it might be that you have yet to find a group of people who are truly interested in your ideas. Keep being open to new people and you will eventually find friends who truly appreciate you.

6. When you have a great dream but they don’t seem to get it

Similar to the previous point, I have shared my dreams with countless people and there are occasions where I am met with blank stares. It is as if I just spoke to them in a different language, or that they think that my dreams are simply ridiculous.

That’s fine. It’s not my problem to convince or persuade them to believe in my passions. As long as I’m the one taking charge of my life and destiny, that’s more than enough. I don’t need permission, approval, or validation from others to live the life that I want.

7. When you have “succeeded” but you still feel empty

Many people climb the corporate ladder and some say that it’s really lonely at the top. Professionals who have invested a lot in their careers might excel in the corporate world but feel lonely when they finally get the coveted corner office.

The harsh truth is that sometimes, when you really strive to pursue success and excellence in your life, you will leave some people behind. But success does not have to end this way. Instead of sticking to your ivory tower, get back on the ground and help others out in their struggles for success.

8. When you struggle but no one gets you

In the pursuit of your passions, not everyone is going to understand where you are coming from, and not everyone is going to get it when you break down, struggle, and burn out. Some might ridicule you for pushing the boundaries while others might just question what in the world you are trying to accomplish.

Don’t let this stop you. There are people out there who have or are going through what you are facing right now. And they will understand.

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9. When you missed an opportunity that will never come back

I know how it feels to let a golden opportunity slip through your hands. It might be a career opportunity, it might be a friendship, it might be a business deal, it might be the chance to have a much-needed conversation, it might be asking someone out.

It’s sad that the same opportunity will not come back, but do take heart in knowing that new ones will definitely come your way.

10. When someone leaves you for something or someone else

There are countless people in this world who might be cheated on, betrayed, or left behind by someone who simply chose to let go of them for something or someone “better.”

Such situations cast a shadow of despair and loneliness on a person. They might even doubt and question their self-worth. They might shut themselves out from the rest of the world to prevent getting hurt in the future. But this is a slippery slope.

You must pick yourself up and move on. Even though you can’t choose what life throws at you, you can still choose how you respond to it. Don’t focus on the lemons being thrown at you. Focus on making awesome and world-changing lemonade.

11. When you have to leave for something or someone else

You might be stuck at an impasse — a stifling and oppressive relationship or a stagnant job situation.

In such a case, there might be a need to pack your bags, move on, and not look back. Life is short and you deserve better. For a moment, you might feel attached to your previous circumstance and feel a little lonely when you step out of it, but keep moving forward — a better world awaits you.

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12. When you confront your deepest issues

Honestly, I do feel lonely when I take a hard look at my deepest worries and issues. I’m tempted to feel that not many would understand what’s going through my mind.

Many years ago, I was utterly lacking in self-confidence. I trembled when I had to look at someone in the eye to engage in a deep conversation. I even used “being an introvert” as a convenient excuse to keep myself from having to deal with people.

But I knew deep down that even though I felt lonely at times, I needed to overcome my fear of speaking to people and reach out to the friends and peers around me who loved me for who I am. Thus, I slowly stepped out of my shell and now I am a confident public speaker.

13. When you step out of your comfort zone

Our comfort zones are called comfort zones because they are comfortable and familiar to us.

It might be made up of a culture and environment we grew up in, friends who we have known for ages, and a community which embraces us for who we are.

A sense of loneliness can strike when we step out of our comfort zone. Suddenly, we are in a space which is foreign to us and we are doing things which are tough and uncomfortable.

On the other hand, the best opportunities in life lie outside of our comfort zones. It is when we step out that we are truly alive, truly living, and truly doing things which are meaningful.

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So, take heart when you do go through seasons of loneliness in your life. This is what makes us human and the good news is that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel. We don’t have to go through this alone.

Featured photo credit: Roxane Clediere via unsplash.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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