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4 Steps to Declutter Your Soul and Become a Happier Person

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4 Steps to Declutter Your Soul and Become a Happier Person

Luckily, more and more people are decluttering their lives, getting more organised, and understanding that we need less of the material things in order to have more freedom.

One aspect often gets forgotten, though, and that’s our spiritual well-being. It’s as important as physical health, but we seem to skip that part when changing ourselves and improving the quality of our life.

We are constantly bombarded by all the thoughts in our heads – which are too many and, often, too negative – that give birth to stress and anxiety. And then, the stress and anxiety from there lead to all sorts of unpleasant situations.

Being stressed out prevents you from keeping your focus and keeps you from doing your best at work and/or school. Anxiety doesn’t let you enjoy life for what is today because you always worry about what might happen tomorrow. Negativism turns you into a complainer and impacts those around you too.

I can go on like that forever because the consequences of not decluttering your mind and soul are endless. For now, let’s concentrate on finding a solution. How can we declutter our mind and spirit to live more peacefully, happily, and freely?

Here are some great ways:

1. Leave behind the past.

A negative mental pattern we develop unconsciously is to often think about events from the past and bring all the bad feelings into the present moment. As a result, we literally relive it and feel awful again.

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Be it a breakup, a painful memory, a mistake you made, or how others treated you when you were insecure – all this must be left behind. It belongs in the past and if you think about it, you evoke the same emotions when you bring those old wounds back into the light. In turn, it ruins your present and your whole day.

Don’t let it happen anymore. Practice letting go. When you notice another thought about the past popping up in your mind, stop, remember that it’s already in the past and there’s nothing you can do about it, come back to this moment, breathe deeply, and let go of it.

Having such an attitude towards anything related to the past will make you a happier person in no time.

2. Stop overthinking.

Less is better. That’s the case for the number of thoughts in our mind too. Thinking might be good in many situations in life, but when it’s purposeless and only makes us worry and imagine negative scenarios, an empty mind would be a better option.

Overthinking means constantly trying to figure out how things will turn out, what people think about you, what might go wrong, whether or not what you want to do is worth it, etc.

The main similarity between all these is that they are pointless. Such thoughts stop you from taking action, make you feel awkward when socialising, and turn every moment into desperate anticipation of the next one.

How do you declutter your mind and soul if overthinking has become your habit?

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By getting better at emptying your mind with daily exercises.

It doesn’t need to be anything complex. Start meditating for five minutes every morning. Then, add another session before you go to bed.

Simply find an isolated place, sit down, start breathing deeply, and focus either on your breath or on one positive thought you think of.

The point is to practice mindfulness and to quiet your mind. It won’t happen from day one, so be patient. Do it the next morning too, and feel how it gets easier over time.

Soon, you’ll turn that into your constant state of mind and unnecessary thoughts won’t have any place there. It will be only freedom, contentment, and presence.

3. Limit the information you consume.

Information overload is a real thing. There’s so much going on at any moment that if we want to stay up-to-date, we risk losing our sanity.

Social media doesn’t make this any easier either. Every time you scroll down your feed on one network, you might feel overwhelmed by seeing all the stuff being posted, you might want to read more about it all, might feel bad about something, or might start comparing your life to how others are living theirs and feel depressed.

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That’s just five minutes of someone’s day.

Then you open your inbox and see tons of news emails, each with different links that make you want to know more.

Later in the day, you receive even more information from all types of sources, other people bother you with their problems, devices are everywhere, someone texts you, or you receive notifications every 15 minutes, and that just never stops.

Unless, you decide to put an end to it.

You can’t have peace of mind with all these facts in your head, 90% of which are absolutely unimportant.

So, here’s the solution:

  • say a big “no” to most of these sources of information
  • set a limit for using social media and checking email
  • don’t read stuff that doesn’t concern you or the industry you work in
  • unsubscribe from all newsletters and only check out the sites that truly provide meaningful information
  • practice emptying your mind a few times during the day

4. Replace expectations with acceptance.

Think about this. We expect so much from ourselves and those around us, that this prevents us from being who we are and taking risks, from enjoying other people’s company, and being grateful for having them in our life.

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Expectations are bad. We are never satisfied and there’s always something else to expect.

So let’s ditch them. And replace them with something better – acceptance.

I’m talking about accepting yourself for who you are and smiling for this, but also knowing you can always improve if you work hard and believe in yourself.

I’m talking about accepting every person in your life as an individual, and not waiting for them to react in a certain way, not judging or blaming them. Simply being there for them, accepting their lifestyle and qualities, and appreciating having people who love you.

That small change will make a big difference in all of your relationships and will make you happier every day because you won’t be expecting so much, and won’t be stressing over not meeting these expectations.

Now that you know why simplicity is good for us in general, and that it’s also beneficial to our peace of mind and happiness, you won’t live your days unconsciously anymore.

Take one little step today, like saying “no” to a thought from the past, quieting the voices in your head before bed, or smiling for what you already have, and see the instant transformation in your mind.

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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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