Everyone feels “off” from time to time. We feel like we aren’t good enough, or that our actions aren’t as noble as we wish they were. We are constantly looking for approval, and worrying that we might not get it. How do we fix this? How do we break away from our worries and fears to just enjoy our lives?
Below are 5 major things everyone feels at one point or another and the solutions to help you feel better.
We all complain a little too much from time to time. It could be about the weather, our job, our house, our significant other, our friends and family, or about how someone didn’t make your food the correct way at a restaurant. Complaining is so easy to do, and it’s a habit that we all need to break. When you complain, you pick out the negatives with others (rather than the positives).
Have you heard the saying “It’s easier to hate someone than to love someone”? While this may seem true, it isn’t. It takes an awful lot to like someone, especially when they seem to get on your nerves whenever you see them. It’s even harder to accept their flaws and love them. Disliking or hating someone is easy, you don’t have to work on building a relationship with them or even attempt to talk to them. While you’re complaining about what they do or don’t do, they’re trying their hardest to show you they’re capable of doing something. The next time you start complaining about something or someone, write down five positive things that out rule the negatives. I promise you will feel better, and eventually you will only see the positives in others.
2. Under Appreciated
It’s hard to appreciate ourselves when we feel under appreciated. The thing is, we don’t need others to value us in order to value ourselves! Self-love is so important, and a lack of self-love will leave you feeling upset and useless. When you fully accept and love yourself, you open a new world of possibilities.
Those insecurities you had will soon vanish, and you will feel on top of the world. Loving yourself will promote self-approval and confidence. Plus, you don’t need the approval of someone else in order to feel happy and to appreciate yourself! Be a better you for yourself, and no one else.
3. Worrying Too Much
This is something that everyone struggles with from time to time. We worry about things that have happened, things that are currently happening, and things that might happen in the future. We need to remind ourselves that we are not alone when this happens. Whether we want to admit it or not, we all get anxiety from worrying too much. It just so happens that some are worse with this than others.
The next time you start worrying about things that have or haven’t happened, sit down with a piece of paper and pen, and write out three possible outcomes that are good. When you start writing things down (whether it be goals or happy thoughts) we instantly feel more productive, and we have a grasp on our emotions. Writing has self-soothing abilities, and will eventually enhance your self-knowledge. The next time you start to worry, bring out your paper and pen and jot down happy thoughts, things you wish to happen, or just a short note to yourself. You can even start a “worry journal” where you can write down your fears and thoughts. You can reflect back on it at a later time during the day.
4. Fear of Loss
Sometimes our lives are filled with clutter. It may be material items, or what’s going on in our head. Imagine how free you would feel if you could just clear your mind for a little while. If you lose some memories, or just forget bits and pieces, don’t beat yourself up over it. Perhaps those memories weren’t the greatest, and it’s better that you forgot about them!
The same goes for material items. You may say “I could never lose this, I’d be so upset” and misplace whatever it is you’re afraid to lose. Time will go by, and you may not even notice it’s missing until the next time you think “Oh, what did I do with that?”. Suddenly, your heart sinks, and you get frantic looking for your item. The scary truth that you’ll have to face is: It didn’t mean as much to you as you thought it did. If you truly treasured your items, you would find a good place to put them. On your desk, or in a box near your bed. You wouldn’t be so careless with them! So, no worries. Material items come and go, it’s nothing to get upset about.
5. Overcome Jealousy
We all feel jealous of others sometimes. We look at someone else and become unhappy with who we are / what we look like. Looking through social media can sometimes be a bummer, especially since we only see the positives in somebody else’s life. The thing we seem to forget is that everything is not (always) as it seems. Just because someone you look up to is posting nothing but happy things, doesn’t mean their grass is necessarily greener than yours.
We all fight our own private battles, some worse than others. We never truly know what someone is going through unless we’re told by that person in particular. Instead of focusing on somebody else’s positives and wishing your life was more like theirs, water your own grass. There is no better way to happiness than keeping your mind busy and focusing on yourself. Who cares if someone has a “better sense of style” than you do? Does style matter when you’re out in the real world? I don’t think so. What matters is what’s on the inside!
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: