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Why Saying No Ain’t Selfish: The Art Of Saying No More Often

Why Saying No Ain’t Selfish: The Art Of Saying No More Often
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All through life, I’m ingrained with the pursuit to always be giving and be the helping hand. I comply, and always are ready to resolve issues for many. And it feels great to be able to be all serving. I am special and important in my circles. I have solutions for any problem. ‘Thank you’s’ echo continuously and many reflect how they would just not have been able to achieve without me. Words that affirm my worth and value.

Around the same time, many are laying out their current misfortunes and problems at my feet, in the perceived notion is that I will be always available to help out. But actually I have more goals ahead for my writing career that I truly desire. I need to balance my time and energy for others, while hoping to do more what I truly want to do.

Eventually, it starts to chain me down. The realization first hit me after I had left the motions of nine to five circles of life, out of the comfort zones of settling bills and filling the fridge each month. My personal productivity is down sliding and slipping out of my warm helping hands!

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Saying “No” Is Not Selfish, It’s Reality

Successful entrepreneurs are aware that their biggest downfalls are not saying ‘no’. Bypassing everyday urgencies and focusing on important issues starts with a simple skill and a small change by learning how to say’ no’

Everyday life is engorged with deadlines, family responsibilities, and social engagements, time ticks away. That is why learning how to say no regularly may just be the ultimate solution. Appreciate yourself and your own time. You need to realign, restore and recalibrate you. Many times,we sacrifice ourselves to please others.

Experience has thought me the crown of success cannot always come with being on standby emotionally and physically for all in need, as I will need fuel to spread my wings to the next mission on hand. This is not mean or selfish, it is a reality. Your personal goals are the priority and by time and energy to accomplish others goals instead of others your own you hinder your own growth.

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If you are unhappy and grumpy as your valuable time ticks away and opportunities bounce away, you become less of a commodity and your self-worth diminishes. You feel exhausted and inadequate. By focusing on ‘you’, success, motivation, and happiness will allow you to pass those features on to others.

Learn the Difference Between “I Can’t ” And “I Don’t “

Saying no is never easy, but envision it as an opportunity for you to let go. Many are in fear of appearing to be rude and do not want to let other people down that can sprout out in conflicts and bridges that might be burned. These are misconceptions as it is all about the manner the ‘no’ is delivered in, it is about value and respect for your space and for your time.

Heidi Grant Halvorson[1], the director at the Columbia University Motivation Science Center, noted the difference between the term “I don’t”  in comparison to I can’t. ‘

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“I can’t ” becomes a psychological draining method to say no, while ” I don’t ”  is psychologically empowering.

Researchers at the University of Houston[2] found volunteers who used the  “I don’t skip exercise” instead of saying  “I can’t skip exercise” dedicated more time to personal workouts. When you say ” I can’t “, it implies that you are not able to do it even if you might want to engage in something. It implies that you could if the circumstances differed. When you say ” I don’t “, you affirm that you have set a rule and there can be no debate about your decision. “I don’t ” is self-affirmation of personal willpower and will have a positive influence on self-empowerment.

These are not just phrases or words.They affirm your beliefs and serve as reminders of your plans and reasons why you do what you do. Become an architect of the words you choose when saying no.

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Say No with Authenticity and Respect

When someone we are close that need help, we immediately agree and many times are not realistic about the time commitments. This will lead to frustration, burnout, and resentment, and will be a misfortune. When you are uninterested, focus on being authentic and not just adhere to trying to maintain ‘likeability’. By saying no, you are actually giving out the power of self-reliance. If you are not ready to help the person out, they will find a way to sort out the issue themselves. Learning comes from finding a solution. Try to say these:

  • I am engaged with something else now and this is not a good time. We can see if it is possible at a later stage.
  • I will consider it and  let you know
  • I will not be the best person who can achieve this, I recommend…
  • I cannot commit to anything else right now as my priorities are set in for the moment

Let Go. You Can’t Please Everyone.

There will be people that oust you for saying no. Let go. Your true connections will understand your standpoint. You cannot please everyone. You have to help yourself and build positive energy and once you have achieved that, then, the energy can be shared. However, this is not possible if you are always trying to help others and leaving no spare time for yourself. This will not result in a positive outcome for you or the person you are attempting to help.

Practice saying no. Make it a mindful exercise. You will feel guilty initially but once you acknowledge the feeling and address the matter with respect to the other person, you will soon be conscious of the power of ‘no’. You always have a choice and if the matter at hand does not ignite your spirit, do not do it. Start spending moments to do what you want and lesser time drowning in what you do not want.

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Featured photo credit: Tree trunk : Just say No via pixabay.com

Reference

[1] I Don’t” versus “I Can’t”: When Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behavior, JSTOR
[2] “I Don’t” versus “I Can’t”:
When Empowered Refusal Motivates Goal-Directed Behavior, Research Paper

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Nena Tenacity

Nena is passionate about writing. She shares her everyday health and lifestyle tips on Lifehack.

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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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