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21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go

21 Things To Do When You Find It Hard To Let Go
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It is often advised to bereaved people that “time will heal all of their wounds.” With this belief or common assumption, many people expect time will help them overcome the anguish, anger, sadness, guilt, and fear that they may be feeling at certain difficult situations in life. However, time in itself—unlucky for us—does not heal all wounds and quite a lot of people still find it torturing many years after experiencing some sad things. With the passage of time the pain may ease a bit, but it is still difficult for many people to let go and move on at certain painful or hard situations in life.

Although time is not a healer, time can be used well for the purpose of healing. In the words of Dr. Phil, “Time doesn’t change us. It’s what we do with that time that changes us.” This means that we can actually do something to help ourselves heal more quickly. This means that when life knocks us down, instead of remaining there, we have to make efforts to bounce back. It is our attitude that determines whether we let that situation make us or break us! Steve Maraboli in Life, the Truth, and Being Free states that “Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.” When it is difficult for you to let go and you feel lost, here are 21 things you can do to move towards a happier and fulfilling life.

1. Council yourself to let go and move on

To let go, it is essential that you counsel yourself that it is time to move on. It requires from you to make yourself understand that some people are a part of your history, but not a part of your destiny. It also requires deciding that if you want to move forward then you have to let go.

2. Go out with friends or family

Your friends and family can be a great source of comfort and solace in situations where you find it difficult to let go and move on. You can go out, talk, and share your feelings with people who love you and truly listen to you, and they can give you a totally fresh and different perspective on things.

3. Learn a new skill

Another thing that you can do is to expand your skill base. While being involved in the process of learning, you will have less time to dwell on your troubling experience and will be able to forget it. Also, you will understand that there are always new things to learn, new ways to grow, different viewpoints to explore and new opportunities just around the corner. This will help in keeping you motivated towards life.

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4. Engage in a physical activity

Exercise or physical activity in any form has been found out to help in relieving stress. From aerobics to yoga, any form of exercise can be engaged in when you find it hard to let go. This is because it helps in boosting brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters, called endorphins, increase your self-confidence, improves your mood, and lower the symptoms associated with anxiety and mild depression.

5. Plan a Trip

When you find it hard to let go, a change of atmosphere or environment can do wonders. Confining yourself will not help in making things right. Instead, for a week or a month, escape from your surrounding and treat yourself with a scenic difference.

6. Explore new avenues and see new people

One of the best things to do to move on and let go is to meet new people and go out. The world has to offer a lot of new things and there are always new people to be invited into your life. Join a networking group or get involved in community activities or join a special interest group and make an effort to meet new people. Addition of new and positive people in your life will help in healing from the toxicity of the past experience.

7. Cry it out

A study by Dr. William Frey II, PH.D., biochemist at the Ramsey Medical Center in Minneapolis, suggested that crying can be helpful in flushing out negative chemicals out of the body that gather in your body as a result of stress. Hence, crying out helps immensely in times when it is difficult for you to let go. But once you have cried, wipe your tears, stand up and dust off and remind yourself that life does not end here. Steve Maraboli says for such a situation: “Cry. Forgive. Learn. Move on. Let your tears water the seeds of your future happiness.”

8. Forgive

Forgiveness is one of the most essential things to do when you have to let go and move on. Forgiving others, forgiving yourself, and forgiving the Universe is significant for allowing yourself the space and freedom of moving on. According to Steve Maraboli, “unless you let go, unless you forgive yourself, unless you forgive the situation, unless you realize that the situation is over, you cannot move forward.”

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9. Accept the situation

Accepting things as they are can be the key for unlocking the door to happiness. If you are trapped in a damaging past, instead of fighting to change things, accept what had happened and what you can’t change, and trust me, you will find more peace. The sooner you accept it, the sooner it will stop hurting you and the faster you are able take control of your life and bring improvement to it.

10. Express your feelings through a creative outlet

Express or release your feelings by means of a creative outlet, such as blogging or painting or any form of art. Use your creativity to combat the negative emotions that are dwelling inside you. The book Your Creative Brain by Shelley Carson can present a number of ways you can transform negative emotion through creative work.

11. Do some volunteer work

Volunteering has been found out to be helpful in warding off depression and boosting happiness and self-confidence. Hence, when it is difficult for you to take your mind off past experiences, volunteer work can help in bringing a positive change to your mental state. Volunteer work can get you moving and make you more socially connected. Also, by spending time in service of others, you will enjoy a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.

12. Look for company of those who have been through similar experiences

Seeking company of those who may be able to understand what you are going through is also advantageous in such situations. This could be in the form of talking to friends or people around you who may have undergone something similar or it could be reading other people’s stories and cherishing their wisdom. This could help in bringing yourself to the understanding that you are not alone. Also, you can adopt the ways those people used for coping in a similar situation, thereby making it easier to move on in life.

13. Wear a rubber band on your wrist and flick it when you begin thinking about the unhappy experience

This may sound a bit odd, but doing this really helps to remind you that persistent negativity may be hurtful for your mind and body, and therefore, you are required to let go and move forward.

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14. Metaphorically throw it away or release it

Write down on a paper about the stresses that you are feeling and throw it away in the dustbin or toss the paper into the fireplace. This will help you let go of the stress associated with the event or unhappy experience that you have gone through.

15. Make time each day to nurture yourself

Help yourself heal by including in your daily schedule the activities that you find soothing and calming. For example, you can listen to music, read a favorite book, go out for a walk in nature, photograph life around you, get a massage, or take a yoga class. Avoid using drugs or alcohol or food for coping or relieving your feeling of pain. Instead, find healthier and positive ways of healing from the situation.

16. Journal your troubling experiences

Journal-keeping is a great way for gaining insights into your feelings and thoughts that prevent you from moving on. According to psychologists, it allows becoming aware of and understanding the reasons that made things happen the way they did. Keeping journal or writing about your experiences, is, therefore, regarded as a good way towards moving on as it helps in seeing your feelings in black and white so that they can be analyzed, changed, or even destroyed.

17. Pray or Meditate

Both meditation and prayer are considered as wonderful for reduction of stress and also in times when you find it hard to let go and move on in life. Prayer helps in accepting the things you cannot change and the hardships you are facing as God’s will. It helps in the achievement of peace of mind and has powerful effects on your mental and physical health.

18. Make a list of your accomplishments

In times when it is hard to let go and your self-esteem level is low, making a list of your accomplishments can help in elevating your self-esteem level. When you take out time to see yourself in a positive light, and make a list of your accomplishments, and add to it regularly even the small things that you do, you make some space for self-satisfaction.

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19. Visualize an empowered you

Visualization is another powerful psych tool at your disposal for improving self-confidence and self-healing. Visualizing yourself as an empowered person is helpful in situations where it is difficult for you to let go, and will help in bringing improvement in your sense of self-worth and in relieving stress.

20. See the bigger world

In a situation when it is difficult for you to let go of your past experiences, seeing the world around you and paying attention to the details in your surrounding can help you see that the world has a lot more to offer than that unhappy experience. For this, you can add to your daily routine some things that can help you see a bigger world, such as exploring the streets you have never been to before, closing your eyes and listening to your surroundings, taking different paths to or from work, etc.

21. Focus on the present

It is a famous quote: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift of God, which is why we call it the present.” So instead of mourning for the past or worrying about the future, live in the present moment and enjoy them. Kalidasa says “Yesterday is but a dream, Tomorrow is only a vision. But today well lived makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.” Choosing to live in the past robs you of the enjoyment today. Therefore, consider each day to be full of endless possibilities and appreciate fully the moments that come your way.

Featured photo credit: Loren Kerns via flickr.com

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Mehwish A. Wahid

Writer and Researcher

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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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