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Uncover the Hidden Messages in the Actions You Take

Uncover the Hidden Messages in the Actions You Take
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People have the ability to change with a new insight or idea, but what happens when you are telling yourself through your actions all of the wrong things?

Communication is always happening and most of what is communicated isn’t even in the words that we are telling ourselves or others. Likely you have heard the phrase “Only 7% of our communication is verbal. The other 93% happens to be non-verbal.”

There is a lot going on there that we might not know about!

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The Actions We Take

The most valuable communication you have is with yourself. Through the years many schools of thought have contributed in attempts to help people communicate better with themselves in order to be happier and to help others get more success in their lives. From affirmations and positive thinking to vision boards and meditations, all of these ideas have been presented to allow someone to communicate the right messages that will empower someone versus the wrong messages that will present limitations and inhibit a person.

With all this talk of what one can say to themselves what is lost most is the communication that can be most important to the lives that we are living. This communication is the actions that we take. 

Sometimes we can be our greatest obstacle in getting what we want or living the lives that we want to live. This is usually noticed in our thoughts about how we would like things to be different, but this thinking comes from our behaviors. What is never talked about is all the hidden messages that you are sending yourself through the actions that you take in your life. For further introspection, let’s look at the following examples:

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Talking to That Person You Like

A man sees an attractive woman that he would like to meet at the grocery store. He might have been working with affirmations or on his confidence before seeing this stunning sight of nature, but the moment he decides to take the action of not talking to her, he is telling himself that he is not good enough. It doesn’t have to be true or not, but your mind takes in this message regardless and this non-action. This action then overrides any sort of positive thinking or affirmations that were originally done so that he could be more confident.

Instead, if this man takes the action to approach this woman, he at least affirms to himself that he is good enough and that he goes after what he wants. It doesn’t have to go well and generally this message from the outside world is going to mean far less to him than the message that he gives to him internally. It is far more important for you to tell yourself that you are good enough than for someone else to.

Charging Others for Your Time in Business

Recently I was working with an entrepreneur who coaches CEOs and other business professionals to accomplish their business goals. This man was spending time in excess of two hours on free coaching calls with men who make far more than he does. In doing this action he was communicating many things to himself that were not helping himself or his own business development. Among the messages that he was sending himself in not charging a premium for his services was:

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  • “I’m not worth anything.”
  • “My time isn’t valuable.”
  • “People shouldn’t pay for my services.”

In looking at the messages that he did want to send to himself I told him that he needed to charge a premium for his services and that he needed to delegate his time efficiently. The way I saw it was that this entrepreneur had a lot to offer the world, but if he doesn’t affirm this to himself then he won’t be able to believe it in himself. When this happens, it is very hard for others to believe it in you as well.

Making Time for Yourself

A house wife can be a blessing and she really holds a house together, but if she doesn’t take time for herself, then she and the house can fall apart. For a woman who devotes all of her time to taking care of the kids, the bills, and the house, but no time for herself – this says a lot to her about what she thinks about herself and how she can care for herself. This message can also lead her to a troublesome place.

The messages that she sends to herself by putting herself last are ones of other people having more importance than herself. It is important to take care of others, but when this woman doesn’t take care of herself everything else can crumble down. This message of not being important can affect one’s self-esteem and can really create a situation where someone is unhappy with themselves. Instead, it is important to take time for yourself every day. It says that you value yourself and that you are important. If you think you are important, others are much more likely to as well.

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This hidden communication in the actions that we take is far-reaching and probably even more important than the verbal messages that we give to ourselves.

I recently had the opportunity to reach out to an ultra famous podcaster who I respect. In emailing him I knew that he would probably turn me down to be on the show, but I asked myself about the person who I wanted to be. In my answer to myself, I affirmed that I wanted to show up in a way where I believed in myself and where my actions were in agreement with my highest goals.

Despite my measly Twitter following compared to this man’s behemoth of supporters, I made the decision to reach out to him anyways to see if he would be interested in a collaboration. In a positive response, he affirmed to me that he was grateful for my action, but he politely declined. While my highest intent was to get on that show because it’s huge, this action was about more for me than just that. It wasn’t the outside validation that was of chief importance, but rather the internal affirmation of myself that meant the most to me. The message that I believed I was good enough was the most empowering.

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Look at the messages you are telling yourself through your actions. Are they positive or are they negative? Each and every day through the actions that you take, are you affirming this person who you want to be or are you holding yourself back? I encourage you to really take a moment and decide who you want to be and then act as if you are becoming that person. Through your actions, you communicate even more to yourself about who you think you are and by acting differently you can change how you think about yourself.

Featured photo credit: avacadogirlfriend via flickr.com

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Shawn Schweier

Life Success Coach

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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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