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7 Ways Forgiveness Frees You

7 Ways Forgiveness Frees You
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Its been said that forgiveness is never free. Someone has paid the price in some way. So how can you attain freedom through forgiveness?

Well, yes, you’ve guessed it. You have probably paid the price. But the freedom you will attain through forgiveness far exceeds the pain, anguish, suffering, struggle, resentment  or angst you are suffering or have suffered. It seems hard to believe this works, but it is quite true.

When you have been hurt, purposefully or not, that pain is an emotionally heavy burden. If you allow yourself to hang onto it and keep lamenting over it, you only recirculate that negative energy and pain with which it was created. It will become a physical and emotional burden, a heavy backpack weighing you down. Physiologically and biochemically you will just keep recreating a circular pattern of pain and hurt within your body. But there is an escape route..if and only if you desire it, you will create it meaningfully and you will live it.

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It’s called forgiveness.

Lets be clear. It’s no magic bullet. Just because you tell yourself or someone you “forgive her” for her actions or behavior doesn’t mean your emotional pain and memory will be magically erased. Guess what? The memories may still linger. But each time they resurface, you will whisper a different message to yourself. A message of understanding, compassion and blessings.

There are plenty of ways forgiveness frees you and affords you freedom from past hurt, pain and suffering. But let’s just start with the magic number seven:

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1. Forgiveness allows for greater understanding.

To even begin the process of forgiving someone who has wronged you, you must be able to understand this person’s position or point of view. You don’t have to agree with it, you just need to understand it. You need to walk in their shoes for a short time. This is difficult because You are not Them! You don’t possess their characteristics, background, nor their prior conditioning. You didn’t experience what they did, yet, by learning to understand what they were thinking when they said or did things which hurt you, you open the door to empathy. This frees you by allowing you to expand your own feelings to those of others.

 2. Forgiveness brings forth your most compassionate self.

Along with understanding, you must learn to develop compassion in order to forgive another. Compassion is the concern for the sufferings and misfortunes of others. Mother Teresa had great compassion for the poor, homeless and the hungry. She felt true compassion for those who were unwanted, unloved and uncared for. Forgiveness requires your sincere compassion for the behavior of the individual who hurt you and your inspired desire to help. This frees you by allowing yourself not only to feel what others may be going through, but to “give” of your heart to relieve them of their suffering.

3. Forgiveness allows you to let go of the past.

One of the greatest benefits of forgiveness is that is releases YOU from the bondage of your past pain and suffering. Most people think forgiving another helps the other person who caused the pain. Yes, it may, but greater than that, it allows you (as a victim) the freedom from your own suffering. How beautiful is that? The pure act of forgiveness rewires your emotional chemistry. You no longer need to keep replaying the same painful message. Your body, mind and spirit can finally be in unison.

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4. Forgiveness calms you.

When you  feel compassion and begin to forgive another, it actually calms you. Your heart rate decreases and you release the bonding hormone oxytocin. Forgiveness has a myriad of physical benefits and helps to free your physical body from the propensity to develop chronic illness and disease. Some health benefits of forgiveness  include:

  • Less anxiety, stress and hostility
  • Lower blood pressure
  • Fewer symptoms of depression
  • Stronger immune system
  • Improved heart health

5. Forgiveness creates great inner strength.

Being able to forgive someone who has harmed you is a very powerful quality. It takes great strength, understanding, and compassion. It also requires time and patience. These qualities build upon your strength of character and help you to realize that you too are human and have faults. By recognizing and acknowledging your own shortcomings, you develop great self esteem and the ability to view everyone as an equal. No one is greater or worse…each person is on their own path. You begin to develop tolerance for each unique person and their choices. You experience freedom from the judgment of others.

“The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is an attribute of the strong.” ~Mahatma Gandhi~

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6. Forgiveness opens gates to a bigger spiritual picture.

Forgiveness requires spirituality on some level. Even if you are not a religious person, your ability to truly forgive another opens a beautiful spiritual door. With forgiveness you begin to experience life on a much different level. Forgiveness is not solely a task or a left brained exercise. It becomes attached to your emotional side–the limbic system of your brain...particularly..the hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain which deals with your emotion, and somewhere amidst this brain centered activity is your sense of spirituality.

Some brain researchers claim spirituality is linked to activity in the right parietal lobe. Others say many more parts of the brain are involved. Regardless, the interplay  of forgiveness and spirituality helps you to view a painful event with a much broader perspective. Feel blessed you are able to see these hurtful events in a much bigger way, leading you to greater understanding.

7. Forgiveness paves the path for resilience and happiness.

Forgiveness is just the prelude to living a happier, healthy life. It paves the way for you to create resilience, which translates into your ability to move through many of life’s challenges and difficulties. It allows you to create better relationships and optimize your well-being. Ultimately, forgiveness frees you and allows you to enjoy and extend your happiness in life, hopefully making your long life one of fulfillment, passion, contentment and giving. Isn’t that really the way you desire to live out your heartbeats?

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Only you can choose forgiveness. You need to truly be ready to forgive from the depths of your soul, from your heart of hearts. It has to be real, authentic and actualized, not just words you utter, but enacted with a depth of feeling.

So set yourself free!

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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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