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If You Have Forgotten How To Love Yourself, You Need To Read This

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If You Have Forgotten How To Love Yourself, You Need To Read This

I was 24 years old when I finally began to love myself. I spent most of my childhood and teenage years hating who I was. I never felt valued or appreciated growing up and these feelings of inadequacy spread to all areas of my life. Fortunately, I grew to understand that I had no control over my circumstances at the time. But I am in total control of who I am from this point on.

Likewise, all of us have life experiences that helps to shape who we are – but we need to find the strength to say, “These experiences won’t DEFINE who I am. I choose who I am.” No matter who you are, whether you were raised in a loving home or not – it can be easy to fall into the trap of forgetting to love yourself. Life might get busy, you might have many responsibilities, you might even forget that you’re important. But you are important and you do matter.

Here are 10 reasons why you can forget to love yourself and how you can put yourself first once again.

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1. You felt unloved growing up, but you’re trying not to let it define you now.

For some of us, it’s not easy to love ourselves when we’ve always struggled with our definition of ‘love’. You may have had mixed messages growing up and/or a lack of positive role models. Unfortunately, this may have led you to believe that you are useless and worthless. But you are definitely not any of the horrible words that you heard uttered. Don’t let the pain of your past stop you from believing that you deserve love. You are a worthy human being and your future is in your hands.

2. You’ve been hurt recently, but you’re trying to see the best in people.

It’s not easy to see the ‘positive’ in everyone when we’ve been hurt so many times. Our self-esteem takes a beating and we question whether we’ve done anything wrong, whether we are at fault or to blame. It’s hard to love yourself when the people who we care deeply about have been making us feel anything but. But don’t let a painful friendship or relationship make you lose faith in humanity. Don’t let these relationships poison your spirit. Take each relationship as a lesson learnt and let it help you with future ones. Let these people teach you how better to treat yourself and to treat others.

3. You’re surrounded by toxic people, but you know they’re not good for you.

Sometimes we may have people in our lives that make us sad more than happy. They may bring out the worst in us and encourage us to become someone we’re not. They simply may be people we don’t need in our lives right now. But if you’re starting to realize that you’re better off without them, then you’re learning to love yourself. You are doing what’s right for you. You are thinking about your own happiness and feelings.

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4. You’re used to caring about everyone else’s needs, but you are starting to understand that you are important too.

Being selfless is a great character trait to have. It means that you are kind, caring and empathetic. You are someone who thrives on making other people happy. But your needs are important too. You’re allowed to care about yourself. You’re allowed to say ‘no’ if you can’t do a favor asked of you. You’re allowed to think about the impact that this favor would have on you – because you are important. When you put yourself first, you are telling yourself, “I love myself enough to care about what’s important to me.”

5. Your life is busy, but you know you need to make more time for yourself.

All of us have responsibilities that can get in the way of caring about ourselves. We’re busy doing overtime at work, we’re rushing around with our home duties and responsibilities as a parent, we’re doing so much that our bodies are suffering. But taking time out for your emotional and mental health is imperative. By looking after your health, you will be more productive and feel more rested. Lie in bed at night with a good book, have a bath, go for a walk in the park, partake in one of your favorite hobbies – do something for you. Do it because you love yourself enough to take a well-deserved break.

6. You feel defined by your failures, but want to get back up again.

We all make mistakes. We all do things that we regret. We all get rejected in some respect, and we all fail. But failing does not mean you are a failure. Don’t let the negative experiences override the good ones. Don’t let it all stop you from getting back up again and loving yourself. You are still a lovable person, regardless of your mistakes.

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7. You’re not sure what to do with your life, but you’re determined to work it out.

It’s okay if you’re feeling confused. We all do at one point or another. The fact that you’re trying to make sense of it all is what counts. Give yourself the time to work it all out. Just because you don’t know exactly where your life is heading, doesn’t mean that you should love yourself any less. Be proud that you are finding out who and what makes you happy – it’s okay to do this by getting to know different types of people and trying out different occupations.

8. You don’t feel ‘successful’ compared to everyone else, but understand that you need to focus more on your uniqueness.

Don’t let the comparisons get you down. Don’t let the money that your loved ones are making, the material possessions that they own, or their occupations make you feel that your life has less value. You are equally important and equally deserving of love. Focus on your own talents and skills. Focus on your own accomplishments and achievements. Love yourself for who you are, and remember that you have your own uniqueness to add to the world.

9. You’ve lost a loved one, but are slowly getting there.

When we’re experiencing grief and loss, it can be difficult to feel anything – let alone ‘love’. When we’re going through immense pain, we might feel that we don’t want to go on with life any more. As we’re struggling to cope, we don’t care any more about the sleep we’ve having, the food we’re eating, the pleasurable activities that we’re doing for ourselves. But you need to remember that it does matter. As painful as your life is at the moment, you still need to take care of you. You’re not selfish for still wanting to move forward and be happy. If the person who you lost meant so much to you, then you most definitely meant a lot to them. And that person would have wanted you to love yourself and to continue to look after yourself.

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10. You don’t see self-love as a priority, but you realize it really needs to be one.

When life gets you down, it’s easy to forget how important it is to love yourself. It’s easy to forget that it is a priority. But you need to make it one. Loving yourself isn’t an inconvenience. It’s not about caring about you and only you. It’s about reminding yourself that no matter how busy or difficult life gets, that the love you have for yourself will give you strength no matter the challenge. That the ability to care for your own needs, to see your own worth, to take time out for yourself, will benefit who you are and those around you. By loving yourself, you are better able to make the best possible difference in this world.

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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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