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Last Updated on January 12, 2021

This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt

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This Is How Mentally Strong People Deal With Guilt

Everyone feels guilty sometimes. Guilt is a common cognitive or emotional state that stems from the perception of ones own wrong doing or inaction, whether that observation is accurate or not.

A person feels guilty if they think they have done something that goes against their own values or violates the moral guidelines of the people around them. In a time when information is abundant and we are constantly bombarded with ideas telling us how we should be living our lives, it can be difficult to navigate our own desires and rationality.

We feel guilty about what we eat, our appearance, how we conduct our relationships and how we raise our children. We compare ourselves to others more frequently than we should, because we are overwhelmed by immense diversity through mass, mainstream and social media.

It is easy to feel inadequate and ashamed.

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We over-scrutinize ourselves and our lives. The more we seek out information to guide us, the more incredulous and confused we become. We are now connected globally to how people live around the world. Not only are we starkly aware of our own privilege, we are also faced daily with the devastation and injustice that is experienced by others. It can make us feel powerless.

Guilt can have a negative impact on our emotional, psychological and physical well being.

Feelings of guilt can sometimes stem from childhood and they are so ingrained in us that we don’t even notice they are there. It can cause us to feel undeserving of success or happiness, often leading to behavior of self sabotage and mediocrity. It can make us prone to living vicariously through others instead of allowing us to be the truest and strongest version of ourselves. It can damage our relationship with our physical body by warping how we consume food, how we indulge in destructive habits and whether or not we take calculated risks. It can limit every aspect of how we live our lives, tainting it with dysfunctional patterns and habits that are hard to recognize let alone break. Even our physical posture can be connected to feelings of guilt. How we hold ourselves is indicative and a result of our truest feelings about ourselves.

It takes a lot of mental strength and tenacity to overcome guilt.

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We must accept that it is a natural and common human emotion that we don’t have to eliminate. In fact, we should instead embrace its presence and use it as a tool for helping us to evolve and grow. The lessons we obtain from guilt can drive us to become better people; to raise better children and to change the world in progressive and positive ways.

So, how do mentally strong people deal with guilt?

1. Reflection rather than regret

Instead of wallowing in negative feelings and living defensively, we can become more assertive about recognizing when we are feeling guilty and why. We can become mentally stronger by addressing the issue and dealing with it rationally to use it to our advantage.

2. Discernment

A common saying these days is ‘first world problems’. In other words, sometimes we focus on trivial things that in the broader scope of our existence are really not that important compared to the tribulations of others. They are sources of discomfort that our survival is not dependent on. We need to be discerning about the things that make us feel guilty. Of course they are important to us personally, but we need to ask ourselves if they are a matter of life and death. Furthermore, we need to source information to help us understand our feelings. We can talk to others; friends, family or even a paid therapist. We can read and research. In this instance too, we need to discern what information is genuine and legitimate; and what is only perpetuating our guilt.

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3. Self determination

Once we know what is making us feel guilty and why, we then need to decide how we really feel about the matter, using all the information we have available to us. Then it is a question of commitment. We need to be mentally strong and confident enough to follow through with our own path without looking back. There is no point sitting on the fence or making a half hearted effort to console our feelings of guilt. Once we know what the source is and have established a course of action, the only way is to go forward.

4. Change

We must be willing to admit that we were wrong. Not only in the behavior that caused the original feelings of guilt, but sometimes in the solutions we have engaged in. Then we must embrace change. We should be willing to not only change our behavior, but also our minds. We don’t have to prove anything to anyone. We only need to be true to ourselves. Having the flexibility and tenacity to welcome change in our lives takes a lot of mental strength and courage. It also takes practice. Some people are confused by this because it appears hypocritical or contradictory. What they don’t understand is that to be truly strong we need to be malleable. We need to be willing to take on new information and allow a transformation, FOR THE BETTER, to occur.

5. Learn

Learning occurs when we acquire new experiences and information and allow it to alter our consciousness. The only way to learn is to make mistakes and to become familiar with negative emotions. The more we ignore life’s lessons and bury feelings of guilt, shame and inadequacy, the stronger and more destructive they become. We should never ignore guilt. We just need to practice understanding it. The more we do this, the better we become at dealing with it.

6. Forgive

A by product of experiencing guilt is to learn forgiveness. We don’t forgive others for hurting or pressuring us for their sake, we do it for ours. When we better understand where feelings of guilt stem from and how they influence our lives, we start to have more strength and space to practice empathy. We can imagine ourselves in the same situation as the people who have wronged us and make sense of their behavior and its impact on our psyche. Once we see things from their perspective, we can forgive them and in the process free ourselves from resentment. We can also get better at forgiving ourselves. Guilt is fundamentally a misunderstanding we have with ourselves. Once we understand our response to certain situations and why we act the way we do, we no longer punish ourselves; we make peace and find acceptance.

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7. Move on

The whole point to understanding guilt and knowing how to process it is to help us to move forward. When we don’t, we get stuck in the same old ways. We can’t expect to achieve a different result if we don’t ever change the manner in which we do things. Reflecting upon the origin of our guilt feelings, becoming more empathetic to others and toward ourselves, committing to change and learning and becoming more self aware will allow us to face life’s difficulties with enthusiasm and resilience.

Featured photo credit: http://www.lizataitbailey.com/2015/11/what-to-do-when-youre-feeling-guilty.html via lizataitbailey.com

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Diane Koopman

Writer, Author, Novelist, Self-Publisher

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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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