“No matter what kind of challenges or difficulties or painful situations you go through in your life, we all have something deep within us that we can reach down and find the inner strength to get through them.”
– Alana Stewart
Ups and downs, rises and falls, rain and shine, joy and sorrow, day and night- this is how people define life: a series of events, sometimes jolly, sometimes painfully full of sorrow. Well, that is what life, as we know, is.
There come many situations in life which we can classify as difficult. A wise thing to do is to be prepared to face the difficult times in our lives. These times usually affect us deeply on a psychological level and could potentially damage our lives.
Being prepared for these times could help us to improve how we live our lives. Being prepared to face the challenges is what it means to learn and grow.
The idea is to make the best out of everything life throws at us. Remember, most of these situations are not under our control. So the logical method to deal with these circumstances is to accept and move on.Advertising
Here below we discuss about some of the tough situations we come across in our lives and how we can best deal with them.
1. Quarter-life, midlife crisis
As we age, we see ourselves changing physically and mentally. So, there come times during our aging process that we seek answers about the changes happening to and around us. After adolescence, between our early 20s and early 30s, we begin to make choices on how to best fit into society.
This transition period could be difficult for some of us to handle which turns into the ‘quarter-life crisis’. The sheer amount of confusion and pressure often leads to situations like depression or potentially even acts of self-harm.
During the process of aging, there comes another phase called ‘midlife crisis’, in between the early 40s and early 50s when we begin to truly feel our mortality. These are times when we have to deal with lots of changes which we naturally, as humans, find difficult to deal with. Knowing that the changes are inevitable and finding the strength to accept the changes is the only way to find courage and get through these times of crisis.
Love happens and breakups too. And it goes without saying, breakups are heart breaking. When all those feelings of love suddenly turns into something vile, it becomes painful to handle.
What’s there to be done after breakups? Accept that it happened for the best of reasons, keep your mind busy doing something productive and know that love happens again. The pain subsides like it always does. Turn the pain into motivation to bring a positive change in your life. (Join a gym, perhaps, and sweat it all out.)Advertising
3. Changing friendship
Being social beings, we seek love and friendship. These are undoubtedly the most important aspects of having an overall healthy life. We simply cannot do without friends because we aren’t made to survive alone. We seek and keep friends to help us grow. So a changing friendship can be a difficult thing to deal with. Letting go of friends and adapting to new faces as you leave behind what you had come to love can be challenging.
But people come and go. This is yet another inevitable truth about life. We’ve all read those cheeky lines on the internet like “Those who want to stay in your life will find ways to do so” and they’re true. Don’t be afraid to accept and let go of people and welcome new people into your life.
Failures are difficult times, of course. They are difficult on many levels. Not meeting goals you’ve worked so hard for, the sense of worthlessness, all the negativity failures bring along- these are hard to put up with. But then again, we’ve heard and read many stories of success after failures, stories of what patience and perseverance can deliver. So we know the best thing to do during these times is to find inspiration and push through.
Marriages takes a lot of effort to function well. We’ve witnessed many failed marriages leading up to divorce and heard the stories or even experienced how difficult the transition is for the whole family. Sadly, some of us might have to live through this terrible experience.
While splitting a family is as horrible as it sounds and probably no one really likes the idea of going to divorce lawyers, divorce is the best answer if a marriage is not working. It opens up doors for positive changes in life. Knowing this helps people keep the right attitude towards life after divorce.
6. Losing a job
Losing a job could be devastating, and you might even go hungry in the worst case scenario. And trust me, there’s no rougher time than when you have to spend days on a hungry stomach.Advertising
So, what’s there to do after losing your job? You might feel hopeless at this point but don’t sweat over it anymore. Be strong and make efforts to find another, a better job. Keep calm and carry on.
7. Getting older
You might have heard the story of Buddha and how he set out onto the path of enlightenment; he saw the miseries in man’s life for which he wanted to find cure. The point being: getting older can certainly be a difficult situation and there’s no cure to it. Gray hair, wrinkles, frail health, not being able to do things you once did with great ease, these are some of the things we adjust to as we age.
Well, it’s no secret that there’s no fountain of youth. We are all going to be old if we live long enough. So, the best thing to do is plan ahead for old age if you don’t want it to be miserable. You see, that is why wise people came up with things like pensions and retirement plans.
8. Getting injured, falling sick
Accidents happen and sickness might find us, no matter how many precautions we take. Though, this should not dissuade us from being cautious and trying to live healthily. Recovering from injuries is one of the hardest times one could experience and potentially learning to live with changes to your body and abilities can be a major adjustment physically and emotionally.
Again, keeping the right attitude towards life is the key to dealing with it. The seemingly long journey of recovery could be made less stressful by engaging in other activities that the ailments don’t prevent. There is usually always something that you can find to do if you’re willing. For example, there have been people with cancer have written great novels from their hospital beds.
9. Losing all that you have in a natural disaster
Natural disasters are one of the worst things that could ever happen to anyone. During these disasters, people can potentially lose the people they are closest to as well as all their possessions, including their home: a truly traumatic life experience.Advertising
But like always, we bounce back.
We are resilient enough to come back from the toughest of times and start over anew. The fact that we survived this calamity is reason enough to believe that we are given a second chance. All we can do in the wake of disasters like an earthquake, tsunami or hurricane is to help each other and find hope in this time of despair.
10. Death of a loved one
Death is the ultimate truth in life. It could come to anyone at any time. The sorrow it casts is always tough to handle. Losing loved ones, having to live life without them is the most awful kind of change one could experience in life.
The grief and loss model has five stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining and acceptance but it doesn’t necessarily occur in the same way for everyone. Some of us might take a very long time to reach the stage of acceptance.
Death demands grief so grieving is the right thing to do but the best thing we can do to honor the dead is to accept the fact and move on when we are able to do so. To commemorate the importance of this person’s passing we could also plant a tree, perhaps.
Featured photo credit: Flickr via farm6.staticflickr.comAdvertising
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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