Losing things is often painted with negative connotations. As humans, we tend to hold onto things in all areas of our lives — our jobs, relationships, friendships, and even our control over situations.
But is this healthy in terms of our wellbeing and overall happiness? Living in the present moment is the best way to obtain a happy and fulfilling life, which means we have to let go of the past and lose things in life in order to grow as a person.
While it’s sometimes difficult, we should never think negatively about changes we face. In fact, we should see them as opportunities to grow and seek new and interesting paths. Here are 4 important things to lose in your life that will expand your mindset, perspective, and ultimately help you become a better person.
1. Losing Your Direction
Most of us get to a stage in life when we question our motives, our past and present actions, and our true happiness. When we go through this, it can feel extremely overwhelming, sometimes depressing, and we feel lost about what our life purpose really is. Perhaps you question your direction of career or feel you’ve missed out on pursuing your dream because you’re too old. What we need to remember is that it’s these times that are actually there to help us figure out our true path in life; whether we’re on the right one or if we need to find something different.
When we fall into negative situations, they are there to show us that we need to rethink, readjust, and walk down a more suitable and happy road. Don’t ever think that you’re a failure because you haven’t figured it all out yet — everything happens at the right time and it’s these moments in life when we lose direction that we are being told to reprogram because a different path may be more beneficial to us.
If we don’t lose direction every now and then, we don’t get the opportunity to grow, change, and pursue avenues that could lead to ultimate happiness.
2. Losing Touch With Others
While having many people in our life can bring a great dimension to our wellbeing and happiness, we often hold onto those relationships that no longer serve us. Sentimentality can cause us keep certain people in our lives — they remind us of the good times, they were an intrinsic part of our lives once or shared happy memories. However, over time we change and grow as people — our tastes, attitudes, dreams, and directions in life can change either subtly or dramatically and this can mean drifting away from once-important people.
As sad as this may feel, losing the (what seems like) never-ending connections with our friends can be a valuable life lesson. It teaches us the importance of quality over quantity, it helps us let go of those that don’t bring any growth into our lives, and it can show us that the past is the past but we’re now living in the present.
Holding onto past, fading relationships only stunts us in our efforts to simply be in the present. By losing touch with people and letting them go, we are able to cherish what they contributed rather than feeling a sense of negativity and sadness that they are no longer a bigger part of our lives.
3. Losing Yourself
Life is all about losing ourselves, changing ourselves, and growing according to our ever-evolving experiences, mindsets, and perspectives. Change is inevitable, but sometimes we can hold onto our old selves, perhaps even wishing we were how we used to be.
The reality is that there is no fixed us. We are constantly adapting to an ever-changing world and our changes are just a sign of progression in this journey of life. To lose yourself means experiencing and opening up to different experiences, such as travelling, studying, moving abroad, or changing careers, and marching head-on into your fears and coming out the other side. Everything we do that challenges the way we think and view the world allows us to lose a small part of our old self and create a new, improved person. This constant evolution allows us to truly find our happiness.
4. Losing Control Over Things
Uncertainty is a fear that most of us have. By dealing with this, we tend to try and control situations or even people. While we’re young, we believe we have much more control in life than we think, but as we get older and we gain more life experiences, we realise that most things in life are out of our control. Life is constantly changing and nothing really stays the same. This means we can either adapt to the changes or they float out of our existence.
While sometimes we desperately hold onto things such as relationships, jobs, and general life situations, this only serves as a trap that keeps us locked in our comfort zones. When we’re in this space, there is little room to grow or seek other opportunities that we’d otherwise ignore or be unwilling to pursue.
For example, imagine you’re made redundant from your job. While this is initially seen as a bad situation, you come to realise that if you were truly honest with yourself, you weren’t really passionate about your job anymore and this “bad” situation that was out of your control is actually giving you the opportunity to find a job much more suitable and enjoyable — which you may not have done if the redundancy hadn’t happened.
Embracing the fact that you have little control may seem like a scary thought, but it’s these times that open up opportunities for us that we wouldn’t ordinarily take or pursue.
So never be afraid of change and losing things in life. While it may sometimes seem like life is against you in these situations, they are really just amazing opportunities in disguise.
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: