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Why It’s Definitely Fine That You Fall Behind In Life Sometimes

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Why It’s Definitely Fine That You Fall Behind In Life Sometimes

We’ve all been there. We’ve all experienced those times in life when you are utterly confused about your life purpose, you get a sense that you aren’t where you thought you’d be by now, and you secretly compare your life to those around you, using them as a benchmark to your own. Life is full of “should” and “shouldn’ts” that lead us to feeling pressure and unhappiness.

You lack motivation and that inspired action just isn’t coming to you. You start to panic that it’ll never come and you’ll stay in this space of dissatisfaction forever. If this sounds familiar, then you’re not alone. We often end up at a stage in life that isn’t anywhere where we thought we were going to be, but I’m here to tell you that it’s okay. Here is why falling behind in life isn’t as bad as we perceive it to be.

Give Yourself A Break

The problem comes when we believe we are falling behind in life, but by who’s standards or ideals exactly? Society has a lot to answer for when it comes to pressuring us into being at certain stages of life at certain times, but everyone is unique. Different circumstances happen to different people. We all have different personalities, different dreams, and different beliefs, so we can’t all be the same. So it’s really important to give yourself a break.

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So what if you aren’t as far along in your career as you thought you’d be? So what if you’re at the age when you “should” be married and having children but you’re not even close? You aren’t alone in feeling this way and it’s better to be in a relaxed state than creating stress and anxiety in your life.

Surrender To Timing And Trust It

You’re probably thinking it’s too hard to relax when you feel like a failure and you can’t quite see how it’s all going to change. It’s very easy to think like this — we’re human after all. But remember that life is all about timing — think back to all your past situations, relationships, friendships, or jobs that came into your life at the right moment.

Accept that you can’t conjure up motivation if it’s just not there and there’s no point in forcing it. Relaxing is the best way to let any of that good inspiration in but also honour the fact that life can get in the way sometimes. Sometimes we’re just going through things we can’t control, things that influence how we feel and can take our focus away from what we want.

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Surrender to the fact that it’s all about timing and trust that things will work out for you when they’re meant to. Feeling lost doesn’t mean you’re doomed or that your life is hopeless. It simply means that something better is waiting for you.

Everyone Is On Their Own Path

Making comparisons is the worst thing we can do, yet we all do this! Sometimes you can feel perfectly content with life until suddenly you wake up one day and all your friends are married with kids and you’re not even close to all that. Maybe everyone around you is buying a house and you’re still renting because you can’t quite afford it yet. Then the feeling of failure creeps in that breaks down that happiness vibe — you feel you’re never going to have what someone else has, or that there’s something wrong with you.

But we absolutely cannot compare ourselves to others — others who are on a completely different personal journey to ours. Just because they’re in our life doesn’t mean our life has to mirror theirs. You don’t truly know their life journey or what lessons they are learning — what seems like perfection on the outside is rarely the case.

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Listening to others’ opinions about your life situation when they are in completely different life stages or circumstances to you is extremely detrimental to your overall outlook. When we feel sensitive or vulnerable about our own life dissatisfaction, we tend to value other people’s opinions over our own inner feelings and guidance, so choose to ignore any negative beliefs from others and concentrate on trusting the process and the right outcomes happening at the right time.

Remember It’s All A Learning Curve

Don’t think that this is a time in your life where you’re not moving forward or learning anything. All situations in our life — positive and negative — are there to teach us something, even if it’s really really not obvious to us.

Again, it all comes down to timing. Perhaps you need another year of life experience or there’s something you need to realise about yourself that you can only find by taking time out to be by yourself before you let in that great relationship. Maybe a series of events is waiting to happen before you get that great job, events that will show you something or guide you in the right direction. Perhaps your current feelings of sadness are what will eventually propel you to building your life. Sometimes we’re not yet the people we need to be in order to get to our perceived destination, and that’s perfectly okay.

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This is why it’s so important to relax and realise not everything is in your control. Knowing we can’t control every outcome is crucial, as life is uncertain and unpredictable and often outside of what we can understand. What we can do is establish healthy habits and grow from our experiences.

Stop Beating Yourself Up

At the end of the day, we need to be positive and kind to ourselves. We need to stop pressuring ourselves and beating ourselves up because we haven’t lined up with what we want just yet.

Lessen the shame that surrounds your idea that you’re somehow not doing your best. Life is full of ebbs and flows but you are always travelling down the path, so trust that you are heading in the right direction even if you can’t fully see the path itself. Try and ignore the “shoulds” and “shouldn’ts” that seem to dominate our lives so much. At the end of the day, they are only other people’s beliefs and ideas. Relax — you are not actually falling behind in life, you are exactly where you’re meant to be.

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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)

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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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