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If It Makes You Happy, Does It Really Matter What Others Think?

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If It Makes You Happy, Does It Really Matter What Others Think?

In the last week I have had quite a few conversations with people who have told me their business ideas. The conversations between them all were consistent, they all admired that I had started my blog page and YouTube channel. They all admired the guts it took to start something that was in the public eye. It was also stated that they would not have the guts to do something so public in case they were to fail.

When they said this, I thought to myself, “There is that possibility that all my hard work may not go anywhere–and yes, everyone would know as I have posted, shared and publicly announced my page, blogs, website and YouTube channel.” That tiny voice of doubt attempted to creep into my head. Then, I realized I was being like everybody else. “Maz, stop doubting yourself, you know that gets you nowhere.”

The Process of Doubt

I experienced my first case of writers block when it came to writing for another Motivational Website that had approached me. I jumped onto their site, had a look at some articles and thought, “Yes, this is aligned with what I like to write about.” I then jumped onto their YouTube channel and the first video I saw had over 20.5 million views. I hadn’t even come close to experiencing this kind of exposure. I felt a lump in my throat as I tried to gulp.

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“What am I supposed to write to get this many people engaged? What if nobody likes what I put out there? I have only been blogging for a month, what if people think I don’t have enough credibility?” Various questions of doubt started to speak to me. I had no clue as to what to write about and I started to feel nervous.

Faces of people smirking at me reappeared in my head. There were people that smirked when they found out what I was doing. People that thought I was crazy starting my new venture and actually thinking I would get somewhere with it. “You really need proper camera gear if you are going to film on YouTube, You need to take tutorials on editing, You should work on your grammar. You need to stop twitching your face or making those expressions you do.” All the voices of everyone telling me what I was doing wrong floated around me.

I stayed home all weekend to work on The Fitness Freedom Flow, yet didn’t feel like I was getting anywhere. Since I have started my blog page, writing came so easily. I would be inspired by an idea and an hour later, it was online and published. Things just seemed to flow. Now, here I am struggling to even think of the first sentence or even a topic to write about. Frustrated, I decided to give it a break and sleep on it.

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When I woke up this morning, I had my green tea as per usual. I then had some breakfast and was drilling my head as to what I should write. “Maybe I should just write for my own page for now”. I still had no clue as to what I should write about. I was at a dead end. I decided to meditate and calm my mind as it was racing at a million miles an hour.

This is why I have decided to write this blog. I realized that I finally came to a road block because for the first time since starting my blog page, I stopped and started thinking about what others thought of me. I started listening to the people that doubted me. I started to doubt my own ability and was questioning if what I was doing was even going to be worth my time.

Clearing the Flow

Sometimes our minds get so cluttered and are filled with too many thoughts. For me, it helps if I calm my mind and slow down. This is where meditation has helped me. I find when I do this, my intuition tells me things and helps to guide me in the right direction. I gain a sense of clarity and it helps bring me back down to earth. Meditation keeps me grounded. If you don’t practice it, I highly suggest you give it a go. It really does work wonders.

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I must say, since starting my blog page, I feel it has given my life great purpose. I jump out of bed and the first thing I do is start working on my page. Not because I have to, but because I want to. I thoroughly enjoy being able to speak of my experiences and talk about topics that I am passionate about. It is also an amazing feeling when I receive emails from people all of the world letting me know that the blog they just read has inspired them. I absolutely love hearing their own stories that I am lucky enough for them to share with me.

My goal is to be able to help motivate and inspire others through my own experiences. There are a lot more topics I want to discuss in the future that I feel can make a difference and maybe, just maybe help the right person at the right time. That possibility excites me. For the first time in my life, I feel like I am following my purpose and it is the very reason why I have experienced some of the things that I have in the past. If I can do something that gives back goodness to the world, why not?

If you are reading this and there is a business venture, a relationship decision or a creative idea that you have always had but have been too scared to take action towards, I encourage you to take the first step. If you are dwelling on a decision and the only thing holding you back is failure or what other people may think of you, take a second and really think to yourself. Does it make you happy? If you were doing whatever it is you are currently wishing you could do, can you see yourself happy? If the answer is yes, then my question to you is, why would you hold yourself back from happiness?

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What is the Role Happiness Plays?

We all deserve to be happy. We all deserve to be able to follow our passions. If it makes you smile, if it changes your life for the better, then go for it. You really don’t have anything to lose. What’s the worse that could happen? You end up back where you started which is right at this very moment now. If that does end up being the case, you really didn’t lose anything did you? You actually got the chance to open yourself up to new experiences and I bet you would’ve learnt a lot along the way. So in hindsight, you still gained something.

I am still learning along the way and there is a great deal more that I have to learn. I am absolutely blessed that in the month I have been doing this, I have gained so much traction with my blogs. It is an absolute privilege that I have been published on Lifehack.org and it makes my heart sing to know that already in such a short time, there are people out there that appreciate my work.

A month ago, I didn’t even know how to build a website, let alone make a video. I didn’t even know that I could write. So fail or not, I have still gained. I have learnt so much already and am excited for all the things I will learn in the future. This journey has been so much fun and I really do enjoy it.

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I really do hope that if you’re not already, that you start your journey towards your passions. Life is short and we can’t take it for granted. Tomorrow is never promised. Do whatever it is that makes you smile. What’s life without those moments of happiness?

So the real question is, if it makes you happy, does it really matter what other people think?

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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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