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10 Filters For a Conscious Life

10 Filters For a Conscious Life
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Information. In-Formation. What you take in shapes your formation.

What kind of person do you want to be at the end of the day? How about in a month from now? How about in five years? Imagine the qualities and characteristics of this amazing person you intend to be. Imagine your form. Now think about all the media you are surrounded by. Will the information you take in form the person of your dreams?

Since what you take in shapes your formation, the only thing stopping you from leveling up are stronger information filters. Think about any sport. The best coaches say to watch how the pros play as practice; the visual information of a professional golfer swinging is what shapes the performance of a novice. Same thing goes for music; listening to virtuoso musicians helps a student to bridge gaps in their abilities. If we watched bad examples for our hobbies, we would never improve. So why aren’t we more conscious about the rest of the information we take in?

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Everything we perceive is information, whether visual, auditory, or otherwise, and what we take in is what we become. Here are ten information filters to help you shape a conscious life:

1. Does it encourage me to be a better human?

This filter limits any music or media that clashes with the person you want to be at the end of the day. If you really want to be a gangbanger, and if your greatest happiness lies in degrading women, then by all means continue to listen to the music that glorifies that life. If not, consider searching out better media. It’s hard to do because most of the popular options for music and TV are worthless, but if you search, you will find.

2. Would silence be better?

This filter is what all great musicians use to refine their compositions. Since your life is your greatest composition, try asking yourself whether a contemplative silence might be better than the noise from your earbuds or speakers. If your inner voice is more appealing than whatever content you are listening to, you’ll automatically look for higher quality information.

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3. Is it truthful?

This filter is tricky because it excludes almost 98% of news channels. But if the information you take in is not truthful, then you won’t grow into your full potential. Just like lies prevent meaningful relationships with other people, untruthful information will compromise your relationship with yourself.

4. Is it useful?

What can I take away from this information? What is the overall message? Will it help me to get better at x, y, or z? Is it good for relaxing when I’m stressed? Will I learn how to be a better husband or wife, or mother or father? If the information is of no use to the person you want to be, then find something better. The process is hard but rewarding, like pruning a garden.

5. Is it uplifting?

Does this encourage me to keep my chin up even when things get tough? Is the message something I can come to when things look hopeless? Does it reveal the goodness and decency of humanity? If not, you can either find something better, or consciously choose not to be uplifted.

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6. Is it inspiring?

Does this spark creative ideas for me to act on and shape a better world with? Am I inclined to more actively pursue my passions and talents through this information? Is this energizing me to create a brighter future through my gifts?

7. Is it challenging?

This universe is so immense, but we tend to get trapped in tiny world views when our perspectives aren’t challenged. So will this information challenge you to think outside of the box, even if that is uncomfortable? If not, the real world might pass you by, and your happiness with it. Life is where the challenges are; filter your information accordingly.

8. Would you want your kids exposed to this?

If sleaziness and raunchiness are part of growing up, please hand me my ba-ba (translate, milk bottle). If the content is suggestive of adultery, or behavior that would limit a family’s growth and success, what is the point in watching it? When you question whether a kid should watch or listen to “x” program, think about the needs of the kid in you. If you believe in lasting love, don’t let your information compromise that.

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9. Does it promote the dignity and respect of men and women?

If the information makes people out as objects for pleasure or lust, what good can it possibly do you? If you don’t consent to being dehumanized or hypersexualized, filter your media accordingly. Bad information corrupts our relationship standards and invites lovers who will use us only for pleasure or comfort.

10. Is it part of the mission for world peace?

This might be the most important filter because it forces you to think of your actions in terms of peace or war. Is your peaceful world built on happy families, committed marriages, and courageous people who do right even when it is the hardest thing? If your information conflicts with that peaceful world, it will also prevent you from adding to it.

Conclusion

Filtering your information can be scary at first because it excludes so many of the things that give comfort to a person. Most of our information is like a security blanket; we cling on to the music, movies and media that make us feel safe. But the question is, does your blanket have smallpox? These filters will help you decide, and it is up to you summon the courage to change.

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Featured photo credit: NEC-conference-35 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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