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7 Things You Don’t Want to Learn Too Late in Life

7 Things You Don’t Want to Learn Too Late in Life
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We should never regret too much in our lives. However, there comes a time when we realise there are things that, if we had known them earlier, could have benefited us a lot in our younger years. Maybe we only come to these realisations through personal growth and experience, but sometimes we can go through life not being fully aware of situations until we hit a crisis point that leads us to question whether we truly did or cherished things to the best of our ability.

How often have you thought to yourself I wish I’d known this when I was younger? There’s an overwhelming feeling that if your younger self had just been more enlightened or aware, then you could have dealt with emotions and situations more readily or just moved forward with a more knowledgeable mindset and perspective on life.

With this in mind, here are 7 important life lessons that will change your perspective and mindset to enhance your experience of life for the better.

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1. Be Present In The Here And Now

We spend so much time rehashing the past or planning for the future that we forget to experience the present moment. The present moment is what is happening to you right now. Happiness can only exist in the present moment ‒ the past has gone and the future hasn’t come yet so the present moment is all we have.

Our minds have a habit of running at a hundred miles an hour and this means we are rarely just being in the here and now. Try stopping and looking around you, see what is happening right now, be mindful of where you are right in this moment, or simply be aware of your breathing. Once you do this, your mind will start to open up and appreciate what you have right now and you will even start to feel like time is no longer slipping away.

2. Don’t Rule Your Life By What You Think You Should Or Shouldn’t Do

Society, or our family’s expectations tend to make us think there are things we should do ― I should go to university and get that degree or I shouldn’t pursue my dreams because I won’t make the same money as I would working in this dead-end office job. We all have these niggling ‘shoulds’ and ‘shouldn’ts’ circling our minds, but when we make these statements, who exactly are we making these statements to? Who exactly are we trying to get permission from? And why is this acceptable? Living your life the way you want to is the only way to be happy. Stop limiting yourself because of other people’s expectations. It’s your life and no one else’s.

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3. Don’t Make Things Bigger Than They Are

Our minds can work against us and through mindsets we develop and fears that take over. We can often make problems much bigger than they actually are. It’s all about perspective. How many times have you thought something was a huge deal but a day, week, or month down the line you don’t even think about it anymore? That’s because your mind likes to focus and blow-up worries and problems that aren’t actually problems.

Next time it happens just take a moment to ask yourself: realistically, will I still be thinking about this tomorrow, next week, next year etc.? Most of the time the answer will be “NO” so eliminate all the unnecessary worry you put yourself through.

4. Face Your Fears More

We all have fears ― some are justified and some are not ― but to grow and really get as much out of life as you can, you need to face your fears more often. Remember that many of your fears are only a product of your mind; they don’t actually exist. When you start to realise this, doing things you find intimidating and scary will actually become easier. The feeling you’ll get from facing your fears head on will be the best and most rewarding feeling you will ever have and, 100% guaranteed, it will always never feel as scary as your mind thought it was going to be.

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5. Slowly But Surely Wins The Race

When we’re younger, we tend to aim high and want everything quickly. When we set ourselves goals, we can give up easily when we don’t get the results immediately. Our modern world has conditioned us to expect and obtain anything in a blink of an eye which has led us to believe this can be the same for our dreams, goals, and ambitions.

The secret to success is small steps for big changes. Our goals are there to help us achieve and grow and we can’t do this if things happen quickly with no area for learning or getting a sense of achievement from it. Remember to set yourself small attainable goals that will help towards your dreams and know you are on the right path no matter how long it will take.

6. Stop Assuming What Other People Are Thinking

We can often make huge assumptions about what others are thinking whether they are judging you for something or thinking badly about an opinion you had. The bottom line is the world doesn’t revolve around you. Everyone around you is dealing with their own problems, worries, and insecurities and the chances are, they aren’t paying as much attention to you as you may think. So stop caring and, even worse, assuming what others are thinking. You wouldn’t want anyone to assume what you’re thinking so why do it to others?

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7. Appreciate Everything In Your Life

One of the most important life lessons is appreciation. The older we get, the more we appreciate the things in our life including people, experiences, lessons we’ve learnt, and even our possessions. Establishing this habit early on the better, because gratitude and appreciation is the true key to happiness. The sooner you can be enlightened to this and integrate this into your everyday life, the more you’ll be able to live in the present moment and be thankful for what makes your life a good one―no matter how small the thing is you’re appreciating.

So, whether it’s the shower you get to take every morning, the nature around you, your pet, that one person who you can talk to about anything, the food in your refrigerator―appreciate it all and realise the abundance that’s really present in your life. This will transcend into the rest of your life and establish the positive mindset needed to live a happy and healthy life; your older self will thank you for it!

Featured photo credit: unsplash.com via pexels.com

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More by this author

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)

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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