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How To Effectively Communicate With A Hypersensitive Spouse

How To Effectively Communicate With A Hypersensitive Spouse
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I love my wife. She is a beautiful, caring, and loving person. She has taught me a great deal about myself and how I communicate.

You see, I wasn’t always a sensitive person. I was raised to be tough and numb to feelings. I kept all feelings inside because I was not allowed to express them. My father was strict and to him feelings were nothing more than a sign of weakness. Imagine over 20 years of that type of conditioning!

As an adult, I had a difficult time expressing my true feelings to anyone because of my lack of experience with sharing while I was growing up. I do not at all place all blame on my dad — he came from an upbringing that was identical to mine, so to raise me this way was all he knew.

In my relationships, I struggled a lot with communicating my feelings. Most times, I just held it in, reverting back to my childhood conditioning.

It wasn’t until I met my wife that it all quickly began to change. She is truly a blessing to me because she is teaching me to allow my feelings to surface, to express and communicate those feelings in a way that is understandable, honest, and gentle. I wasn’t always the most careful, keen, and considerate when it came to expressing certain strong feelings like frustration and anger. Now that I have come to slowly accept my feelings as they arise, feel them, and express them considerately — both for myself and others — my life has changed for the better.

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It helps a ton that my wife is a hypersensitive person. She can sense my feelings, gauge my mood, and, with her strong sixth-sense of knowing that something’s off with me, she can somehow disable my inner barriers, allowing me to be open and free to express myself. The best part is that there are never any judgements — the space is always safe to explain my feelings. In fact, I think that’s why it got easier and easier to open up to my wife.

I’m not going to lie, her hypersensitivity sometimes scares me due to just how intuitive she can be. Our communication wasn’t always this good and productive during the early days of our relationship. I’ve definitely learned a lot about how to express myself to her in a more gentle and loving manner, regardless of how frustrated or confused I might feel. I am now experiencing the wonderful snowball effect of my newfound communication skills.

With my communication at its best with my wife, I have discovered that I have also improved my communication with others, bringing me closer to my best self. Here are 10 ways that I have learned to communicate better with my hypersensitive spouse.

1. Empathize

Put yourself in their shoes and truly try to understand where they are coming from. They are sensitive for a reason, and that reason is that they feel and interact with their environment in a way that you may not feel or understand.

Their sensitivity is a gift and a curse because they have the ability to feel not just their own feelings but the feelings and energies of others around them. Those other feelings can be heavy and negative, which can take a lot out of them when trying to communicate. Understand that it may take a while for your sensitive spouse to fully communicate their feelings to you because they have to let go of other energies.

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2. Listen

Listen, and listen very carefully to what your spouse is saying. When they are burdened with negative energy or feelings, they may say things that might not make sense or have a difficult time expressing themselves out of their own frustration. Recognize their struggle and listen intently to what they are saying and how they are saying it. Do not interrupt and interject with your answers. Let them speak freely because that just might be the only thing they need to do to feel better. All you have to do is listen.

3. Provide Physical Affection

Just like listening, physical affection can also be productive in communicating with your spouse. Nonverbal body language can speak volumes when communicating with your sensitive spouse. Just a simple touch or laying your hand on their hand will let them know that you care and are there for them. Sensitive people love affection because it gives them comfort and a sense of protection. When speaking with your spouse, try gentle touches or holding their hands.

4. Paraphrase

When you get the chance to answer or tell them how you feel, make sure you paraphrase what they have just told you. They will feel that you were intently listening and that you empathize with how they feel. One-word answers are not enough. I know this because I was the king of one-word answers. Paraphrase first, then reply to their question or statement. This also lets them know that you understand them and that you aren’t just trying to fix the issue at hand. They need a lot of this because it helps them figure their own thoughts and feelings out.

5. Adjust Your Voice Volume

Sometimes, we get passionate or frustrated and our voice volume elevates without us even realizing. To a sensitive spouse, it can be very loud and condescending. Your spouse is very sensitive to the tone and volume of your voice. Even when you speak under your breath, they can hear it.

Try to keep a very soft and gentle voice. Breathe between statements if you have to — it helps to regulate your volume in those passionate or frustrating times. Remember the type of person you are dealing with, because if you don’t, the conversation can quickly turn for the worse.

6. Acknowledge Their Feelings

Your spouse doesn’t need you to fix the problem or issues that they are facing. Sometimes, they only need you to acknowledge how they feel. This goes along with empathizing. If your spouse seems stressed and they are expressing how they feel, let them finish their thoughts, validate how they feel by agreeing, and apologize to show empathy for what they are going through.

7. Apologize

To some, this step may seem confusing because we have been taught to only apologize for the things we’ve done wrong. Do not take this personally or feel that you are always wrong. Most times, your spouse just wants to feel that you understand how they feel. I’ve learned that apologizing is also used to show empathy for what your spouse may be going through. Apologizing shows that you understand the discomfort that they feel daily. For them to even open up to you about their discomfort means it’s a really hard day, moment, or time for them. You apologizing to them let’s them feel seen, heard, and validated.

Apologies can go something like this, “I’m sorry you feel that way” or “I’m sorry you have to deal with that.” You are not apologizing for anything you did, but rather showing you care.

8. Be Patient

If you are not a patient person, you will need to learn and learn fast. You have to understand that your hypersensitive spouse can take quite a long time to process, feel, and let go of what they are going through. They may not be thinking logically about their situation because they are “feelers” — naturally hypersensitive people will automatically turn to their emotions first, then attach their thoughts logically. It’s your job to have patience through this process. Remember, when you go through your own trials and tribulations in life, they will also be patient with you.

9. Look for Solutions

After your spouse has settled down, expressed how they feel, and after you’ve empathized and apologized while showing physical affection, then come up with a practical solution. Phrase the solution in a question so it doesn’t sound like it is the absolute answer to their issues. Your whole goal is to make them feel better after they’ve fully expressed themselves. Ask them comforting questions like: “Is there anything I can do to make you feel better?” or “how can I help you with your problem?” Most times, your spouse will tell you exactly what they need and that is the answer you are looking for.

10. Remember To Love

Relationships are hard. Period. With a hypersensitive spouse, it can be a little harder because they react to and feel things that you often overlook. Remember to choose your spouse every day. During those difficult times is when it’s the most important to remember all the reasons why you chose them for all of your days.

Remember: loving your spouse when it’s easy is great, but loving your spouse when they aren’t at their most lovable is the love that matters most. That love will move you forward through any difficult conversation or situation that you may both go through. Remember that their hypersensitivity is a gift that you should love and accept. Don’t be surprised if their intuition always seems right. Love them unconditionally with patience and your life will never be the same.

I continue to learn from my wife every day because situations are always changing. I become more and more patient, loving, and tender. What I learn from her, I take with me when dealing with others. With everyday pressures and responsibilities, we often forget to think about and feel what others might feel. We seldomly are wise with our words and tone of voice. People react to things differently, but if we are aware of ourselves and how we speak, we can better understand how to say things in a more loving and effective way.

Featured photo credit: Monica Ricci via snapwiresnaps.tumblr.com

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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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