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Why Showing Vulnerability Actually Proves Your Strength

Why Showing Vulnerability Actually Proves Your Strength
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There was a time when I would never shed a tear. There was a time when I would never let on that I felt fear. If something bad in life happened, I would show my face with the biggest smile, and nobody would know about it. If they did, nobody would realize that it even bothered me. I would be that bubbly, outgoing personality that everyone knew. I was tough. No one and nothing could break me. I didn’t need any one and I could look after myself. Why? Because I was strong. Nowadays, I look back at that girl I once was and realize just how wrong I was.

Pain. We have all felt it in some shape or form. There are two types of pain: physical and emotional. Both are completely different from each other yet so similar. There can be a pain we feel and heal from, or a pain that can damage us for life. Childhood issues can damage us for life if we don’t seek to learn, understand, and be aware of them. A car accident that leaves us paralyzed can also damage us for life. What I do know is that both can leave us vulnerable.

Don’t Be Afraid To Be Vulnerable

There are numerous ways we can be made vulnerable. For example, when you first start to date someone and are really into them, yet at the same time you’re still unsure if they’re the right person. What if they hurt me? What if they cheat? What if they don’t feel the same way? What if they’re not who they say they are?

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What about when you are going through something significant, like a break up, job loss or even a death? Everyone goes through these things. It’s a part of life. Why bother anyone with your woes? Why mope around and be depressed when everyone else has gone through it at some point?

How about that business idea you always had but were too scared to try. What if everyone laughs at me and my idea? What if no one wants my product or business offering? What if I’m not good enough? What if I fail?

Fear. We all know this is the one factor that can stop us from achieving our goals. We see quotes online everyday. We read about it, we hear about it, and we know about it subconsciously. Fear shows vulnerability. Why would we want to be vulnerable and put ourselves out there when we can just happily keep doing whatever it is that we are doing and be perfectly just fine. It’s comfortable, right?

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Most of us have heard of the old sayings, “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”, and, “A comfort zone is a beautiful place but nothing ever grows there”. However, take a moment and really think about this. Why would these be famous sayings if there wasn’t any truth to them? Why would successful people quote this?

Dealing With Struggles

Let’s go back to that person you have been dating and starting to get those feels for. Why not let them know how you feel? Why not get to know them more, take that leap, and see if it’s worth it? If you never ask, the answer will always be no. Deep down, we all would love to find that special someone who we can share our life with. What’s the worse that could happen? They don’t feel the same? Great, now you don’t have to waste your time and can open yourself up to other prospects. They didn’t turn out to be who you thought? The moment you start to see they aren’t the person they painted themselves to be, leave. You tried, you gave it a shot, and it wasn’t the right fit. At least you know now, and I’m sure you learned something from the experience.

So, you just got fired, you just got dumped, or someone close to you has passed. You don’t have to tell the world (and every one you meet) your problems, but at the same token, you most certainly don’t have to hold it all in and suffer in silence. One of the best things about friendship is that true friends will be there for you. There are people out there that want to see you happy.

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Yes, everyone goes through these experiences but we all know how much it can hurt at the time. Have a cry, take time out for yourself, go do things you love, or lock yourself up and watch movies for days. However you feel it is best for you to heal – do it. It’s okay to hurt. We are human. Let yourself feel and get it out of your system. This is the only way you can truly move on. As cliche as it sounds, time really does heal. You may never forget, but in time, it won’t hurt as much.

What about that business idea you had? Isn’t it something you are passionate about? Does it excite you when you think of it? If money wasn’t an issue, would you choose to go for it? Just imagine how great being successful running your business would be? So, why not try? Why not take that step? If you never try, you will never know. So what, if you fail? At least you had the courage to chase your dreams. Not many people can say that. What if you fail but it leads you to something better?

On the other hand, what if you succeed? Imagine that! If you research the backgrounds of successful people, you will find that many of them have failed more often than once or twice. The difference with successful people is their drive. Mistakes prove that you are trying. Who cares what others think. Isn’t it better to fail at attempting to do something great than to succeed in doing nothing at all? You’re one step ahead from the rest of them, and at least you’re trying.

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Vulnerability = Strength

I believe putting yourself out there, taking that leap, and showing vulnerability takes a lot more courage and strength than to keep quiet and do nothing. It is a sign of strength when you can accept that you are in pain and can admit it. It is healthier to allow yourself to feel and acknowledge your problem than to hold it in and pretend you are fine. It takes a lot more courage to put yourself out there than to continue doing the same thing you do everyday.

It takes courage to tell your crush that you like them. It takes courage to open your heart and let someone in. Taking a risk like this is better than missing an opportunity of being with someone amazing because you kept quiet, or you were scared to fall for them and get hurt so you ran away.

It shows strength when you can admit you are in pain and are struggling to handle things. It shows strength when you can swallow your pride and ask for help. It’s perfectly natural to experience tough times and to not always be on a high. It takes guts to put yourself out there and launch a business idea. While you may be vulnerable and open yourself up to failure, you may also succeed.

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Life is full of ups and downs, but we can learn to ride the wave. Risk it! Put yourself out there, chase your dreams, and allow yourself to fall in love. Being vulnerable and stepping outside of your comfort zone could very well be the best thing you could ever do.

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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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