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A Thank You To My Ex

A Thank You To My Ex

I have always believed that everyone we meet is for a reason. It is never an accident, there is always a purpose. Even if we get hurt, we learn something so much bigger than the pain we endured.

I thought I had experienced being in love before. I cared for past boyfriends deeply. In a way, I loved them. I just didn’t realize there was a difference between loving someone and being in love with someone. Now I can honestly say that I have been in love once. It was the most beautiful yet terrifying experience I ever had.

The guy I fell in love with, was also the guy that truly broke my heart. Despite all the pain that was caused in the end, I hold no regrets. My ex showed me exactly how big my heart is and just how much love I am actually capable of.

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    I have always been quite guarded. I had my walls up high and it took a fair bit of effort on another person’s part to even get close to me. I’d like to think I’m not quite like that now, but to an extent I am still quite guarded with my heart. When it comes to friendships and meeting new people, I am a pretty open, loving, and outgoing character. When it comes to my heart and opening up my soul to another, I suppose I am pretty cautious as not everyone deserves it. I have many acquaintances and very few people I consider my true friends.

    For the sake of fairness, let’s call my ex “Dave”. Now, it wasn’t a “love at first sight” kind of deal. It was actually quite a slow burn. I had known him for years. I worked with him, lived with him, and also became best friends with him before we even started anything intimate. Through all those years, there was never even an inkling of attraction on my part towards him. However, what I actually had for him was respect.

    Dave was extremely charismatic. He had a magnetism about him that drew people towards him. He oozed confidence, gave great advice, was a master at communicating with people, was always so generous, and would take the shirt off his back to help someone else. He also had a killer sense of humor.

    Here’s my weakness: if a guy can make me laugh, like actually “laugh out loud”, I’m pretty much caught. This may sound easy because I am known to laugh a lot. You know those “lols” or “giggles” where you find something kind of funny, so you nervously (or confidently) fake a laugh to give it some credit? Yeah, that’s me. I do that a lot. If you see me in person, my face is a dead giveaway. I have been told my facial expressions are priceless. It seems to tell all. Now, to get me to actually laugh out loud to the point where my stomach hurts, my eyes are tearing up, and I am chuckling uncontrollably, takes talent. Dave had this talent.

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    Dave and I spent a lot of time together. When we weren’t together, he would randomly call me just to say hi and we would chat for hours. He would send random texts throughout the day, just to make me smile. Our friendship grew and we both started to open up to each other. I told him things about me no one else knew, and he did the same. We would send random Snap Chats, see how each other’s day was going, and enjoy hanging out in each other’s company for hours on end. There were tears, a copious amount of laughter, and many moments of just being silly dorks together.

    He made me feel safe. When I needed a shoulder, Dave was there. When I had a tough day, he would do little things to put a smile on my face. Needless to say, the chemistry between us started to build. I think this went on for months, as I was fighting it and didn’t want to ruin a good thing. However, we eventually started hooking up. This stage also went for another few months. I will still say, as much as the chemistry was insane, there was always that voice in my head telling me to be careful about this one. I didn’t end up listening to it. We became exclusive. It was official and now everyone knew. There was no going back.

    I felt so safe and secure with Dave. I figured because he had known me and seen all the sides of my personality, there was no need to prove my loyalty or trustworthiness to him. After all, he saw what I was like in the work place, and he saw how I was with the boys. He also knew I wasn’t the kind of girl that had a reputation for sleeping around. I thought it was amazing that someone finally understood me and didn’t need to question me. Unfortunately, I was wrong, but that is another story.

    Once Dave and I became official, I let my guard down. I trusted him with all my heart. I never thought (not even for a moment) that he would have the ability to hurt me because I knew how much he cared for me, especially our friendship. At first, I was scared to allow myself to give my heart and be vulnerable. I fought an internal battle. I have always and probably will always be an all or nothing kind of girl. My heart won and I fell hard. The chemistry was off the wall, we couldn’t keep our hands off each other. We were always laughing and just enjoying the simple life and each other’s company.

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    It was like the universe was smiling on us. Everywhere we went, every traffic light would just go green. Things just flowed. I can’t even really explain what it was like to fall in love with Dave. It was nothing even close to what I had ever experienced before. There was really only one word to describe it and that word was “magic”. I realized that I had not in fact been in love before – not even close. This was a whole other level.

    I was always independent. I made my own way, I had my own back, and I worked for everything I had. I relied and depended on nobody but myself. I always took care of myself. Because of this, I always put myself first – until Dave. I found myself becoming selfless. If it made him happy, it made me happy. Just seeing him smile made my day. For the first time in my life, someone else’s needs came before mine.

    The relationship ended badly. It’s safe to say it was the worst break up I have ever been through. I can just say that it was insecurities that caused it to all fall apart. They were insecurities that didn’t need to be there. He wasn’t the one for me. I miss our friendship more than anything, but some doors are better left shut.

    I can’t say that being with him was a waste of time because it took someone like him who knew me for years, to teach me some very valuable life lessons. Dave taught me what it was like to actually be in love. He taught me what I was capable of when I gave my love. He helped shape me. When I actually meet the right guy, now I know exactly how to love him. My ex also taught me exactly what to look out for and what I don’t want.

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    The next time I give my heart away, the man for me will have come to terms with his issues and insecurities already. He will be aware of them; therefore, he will not allow them to control him or take it out on me. There is not a soul on this planet that doesn’t have insecurities. It is just not possible. No one is perfect, and I’m sure I’m not either.

    I don’t know when I will fall in love again, but what I do know is that the right guy for me will love me for exactly who I am, and I will love him for exactly who he is. We will not want to change each other, we will only be by each other’s side to help encourage and motivate each other to grow into the best version of ourselves. If someone is trying to change who you are and wants you to do things that aren’t really you, how can that person really love you for who you are?

    These are the lessons my ex taught me, and even though the break up was extremely painful and a lot of hurt came from it, I cannot thank him enough. I will be forever grateful to have had met him. Without him, I wouldn’t know exactly what I do and do not want. I hope Dave has also learned some valuable lessons from our relationship.

    The universe has a funny way of sending certain people into our lives to make us, break us, or shake us up a little. Even if we meet for a day, a season, or a lifetime, it is always – most definitely – for a reason. Sometimes this reason is camouflaged as a painful event; however, if you look back, it was trying to teach you something.

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    How we deal with pain is up to us. As the old saying goes, when something bad happens to you, you have three choices: you can either let it define you, let it destroy you, or let it strengthen you. I choose the latter. For that, I thank my ex. He has made me stronger than I have ever been.

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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)

    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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