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

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

Life throws us in the rubbish dump sometimes. It happens to all of us. We are often faced with situations that leave us feeling strong emotions like frustration, anger, bitterness and stress which can transcend through our lives for days, weeks, months and even years. How many instances have you heard the words time’s a healer when being comforted by others? Technically, time is a healer but what if it’s taking longer than you imagined?

If you’re finding it hard to recover, then you’re not alone. As humans, we are a sensitive bunch and it’s our nature to get attached to things, people and situations which in turn can make it that much harder to let go. If you feel you’re holding on to something that has happened to you in the past, it’s really important to not be hard on yourself. It’s a natural process we need to go through to get to the other side and the negative emotions we feel shouldn’t be demonised or belittled as they are ultimately crucial for our overall happiness.

It may be a cliche that taking positive action will help heal but anything positive, big or small, will move you in the right direction. That’s not to say it’s a way of ignoring negative emotions – the two can be present side by side and work together to get you on the road to recovery.

A lot of the work is mindset and most of the time our mindset is stuck in a particular place – seemingly unwilling to make a shift. The key is not to force it but to slowly edge it to a more positive way of thinking and there are many different ways you can do this.

1. Crying It Out

Going by the idea that your negative emotions are there to heal you, not to hinder you, it’s important that you feel them. Crying is an amazing way to acknowledge how you really feel and start shifting those feelings.

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2. Taking Responsibility

Blame is a hinderance to happiness and anger causes us to throw that blame towards what is causing it within us. When we blame other people for the way we feel we are taking away our power and giving it to someone else or to the situation. But this isn’t about blaming yourself instead, it’s about realising what you could have learned from the situation and what actually can make you feel empowered and less angry.

3. Changing Your Perspective

I mentioned mindset and this is a powerful tool in trying to let go of past hurts. Changing your perspective on a situation is a way of shifting it to a lower level. Try to see the positives from it as little as they may seem. A small shift can turn into a bigger shift later on.

4. Practising Meditation And Yoga

Not always for everyone but yoga and mediation is known to have a heap of health benefits. There’s been loads of scientific studies that show regular meditation and mindfulness practice can lower depression and other great factors like lowering blood pressure and ultimately stress. Breathing techniques associated with meditation can calm your body and your thoughts.

5. Getting Involved In Group Activities

Being around people has a great healing factor and gives a sense of togetherness. Conversations and activities with people you love or new friends can put things in a better perspective. You may find unexpected solace in people that can lift your mood and mindset.

6. Laughing It Out

This may seem like a shallow suggestion but laughing and smiling can actually have an immense positive effect on our body and mind. Watching a comedy or a funny video clip even for a few minutes can cause us to feel less tension and anxiety. Even small amounts can help reprogram the mind to change its way of thinking.

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7. Rewarding Yourself

Any progress is important and you should give yourself a reward for any small step you feel you’ve taken in the right direction. Treat yourself to your favourite coffee, chocolate or anything you love.

8. Acknowledging That The Past Was Not All Good

When we’re trying to let go of something in the past, we tend to romanticise how things were. It’s important to acknowledge that the person or situation that we’re having trouble with was not necessarily as great as we remember them to be.

9. Focusing On The Future

A hard one to do when you’re mind is not wanting to go there, but focusing on the future is a great way to heal. Start with something small like planning a trip or something big like a possible career change.

10. Exercising

Exercise is obviously a great way to lift your mood and outlook on life. Getting your body in check and releasing those endorphins can do absolute wonders for your mindset.

11. Practising Forgiveness

Earlier I mentioned how blame can be a soul-destroying thing. It might feel good but it’s only making us hold on even more. We can get a better sense of empowerment by forgiving our past hurts. That does not mean accepting what happened as right but to just release on the negative feelings you have towards them.

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12. Identifying What the Experience Taught You

We all learn from what we’ve done. We are an accumulation of all our experiences and what we’ve learned from them and this is no exception. Try to identify what you’ve learned and you will start to see that shift to a more positive way of thinking

13. Writing It Down

There’s power in writing things down. The process of writing down how you feel can help clarify your feelings and emotions. Reading them back to yourself can give great insight and help you find possible ways to move on.

14. Taking A Vacation

Some may see it as running away but taking yourself out of the situation to somewhere new and unfamiliar can have a great healing effect. Seeing different parts of the world can help put your thoughts in perspective.

15. Replacing Your Thoughts With Different Ones

Sounds hard to do, right? But if you find you’re thinking too much about the past then give yourself ‘trigger’ thoughts. These are happy memories that you can pull on when you find your mind wandering – literally replacing them with more positive thoughts.

16. Learning A New Skill

This is a great one as it can play a huge part in taking your mind off unwanted thoughts. Learn a new language or start going to that yoga class. Putting your energy into something else will mean less energy spent lamenting the past.

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17. Finding Closure By Confronting

If you feel your lack of ability to let go of something is because you never got closure from the situation then consider confronting it. This doesn’t mean attacking anyone or shouting blame but having it out with the person that hurt you (once you’re ready) can bring a sense of peace afterwards.

18. Changing Your Circumstances

Sometimes a change of circumstance is needed. We can often get trapped in the same way of life, living in fear that change is slightly uncertain and this will move us away from what we’re holding on to. But there’s great empowerment in changing your life – sometimes a fresh approach is all you need to start healing.

19. Acknowledging Your Three Options

There are three fundamental options when it comes to situations we don’t like: remove yourself, change it, or accept it. If you find that you’re just stuck and unable to move on then at some point you need to be brave and acknowledge what you need to do to properly heal yourself. For some, it comes quite quickly and for others it may take a while before they find the courage. Either way, there’s no wrong or right time but just remind yourself that one of these options is what you’re aiming for.

20. Getting Rid Of Reminders

No matter what it is you’re trying to let go of, having reminders around only further expands your thoughts on the situation. Put aside a time to gather up anything that serves as a reminder and throw them away or put them out of sight.

21. Letting Yourself Be Happy

Last but certainly not least, is allowing yourself to be happy. Don’t restrict yourself from the happiness you deserve. Self-love is the most important thing – you can’t move on and lead a happy and fulfilling life without the ability to love the person you are – faults and all. Know that you will heal eventually and that you’ll be a better, stronger person because of it.

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Featured photo credit: Stefan Kunze via albumarium.com

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Jenny Marchal

A passionate writer who loves sharing about positive psychology.

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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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