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Why Love at First Sight Is Possible for Some People

Why Love at First Sight Is Possible for Some People
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We are all familiar with love at first sight, or at least the idea of it. Any Chick Flick, any animated Fantasy movie…they all include this idea that a couple of strangers can see each other and be 100% smitten. It has even left the screen — I have friends who swear they are with the person they are dating/married to because of that very phenomenon.

But is it true? Can two people who have never before even said hello to one another lock eyes and have a vision of their entire future together? Can you know you are going to grow old with someone before even learning their name? According to scientists, the answer could be yes.

What is love at first sight, really?

Most people understand love at first sight as instantaneously falling in love with a stranger upon seeing them for the first time. Scientists tend to have a harder time defining it.[1]

Love at first sight is not easy to explain. Some people even deny that it is possible claiming it is merely sexual attraction. Indeed, how can we fall profoundly in love after one quick glance? How can such a glance make us believe that we want to spend the rest of our life in the arms of a stranger we have just seen for the first time?

While there are plenty of arguments against, and for, love at first sight, research indicates that romantic love is often based upon idealization and positive illusions, and this is also true concerning love that lasts many years.

Part of the science behind this school of thought is based in stereotypes. While one of the main arguments is that we cannot simply look at a person and know their characteristics, that assumption is incorrect. In fact, we as humans do this all the time!

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This is known as the “attractiveness halo,” and it refers to our brains associating beauty with goodness. This is also why attractive people are more likely to be the object of love at first sight. Of course, this does mean we are using stereotype, imagination and assumption to allow ourselves to “love,” but it can still be sincere and is almost always intense.

If you followed the TV show Sex in the City, you may remember Carrie asking Big if he believed in love at first sight. He answered with a very honest, “I believe in lust at first sight.”[2] Though it may not have been the answer Carrie wanted, it helps to understand the attractiveness halo.

We wouldn’t typically look at someone we deem to be unattractive and envision us sipping sweet tea in the green grass of our lawn surrounded by a white picket fence. We would much rather catch a glimpse of the attractive stranger we see in line at the coffee shop and picture the kind of ring they might buy to propose.

Who cares if it’s real. It’s sweet! Right?

Not necessarily. There are two kinds of people, the ones who swoon and say things like “Awwwww, that’s so sweet!” when someone mentions the idea of love at first sight, and the ones who say things like, “Oh, please” and want to gag.

But assuming you’re the type of person who does believe in it… maybe even the kind of person who wishes for it, it’s important to know what you might be getting into.

In the section above, we talked about the “attractiveness halo.” While this typically refers to anyone you deem “hot,” it can also be someone who makes you feel all lovey-dovey for different reasons. If you’ve ever experienced, or even thought you experienced, love at first sight, consider for a moment what made the stranger stand out to you.

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Did he or she resemble someone you had a romantic relationship with before? Did they cause you to feel nostalgic about an old friend you cared deeply for? If so, that “love” may have been nothing more than a subconscious connection. That’s right, your brain may have decided, without even consulting you, that this person reminded you of someone in your life that you care/cared about and remembered the positive impact that person had on your life.

Why does your brain trick you?

Just because your brain is forming these connections without you realizing, doesn’t mean the brain is the enemy. More than likely, that brain of yours just can’t help it!

Impression Formation is the psychological term for the way the subconscious mind interprets facial features like this. We tend to relate facial features with characteristics. People can fall in love at first sight if the new person they see looks like someone they once loved before or someone who had a positive impact on your life.[3]

Knowing this, it seems more understandable as to why some of us are certain we have experienced love at first sight, even if beforehand, we thought it was impossible.

However, this doesn’t make the potential resulting breakup any easier. In fact, when a relationship created by love at first sight fails, it leaves us feeling like we lost something destiny had intended.

When you think you have found your soulmate, especially in such a fairytale-esque way, losing that happily-ever-after can be tragic. That’s why it’s helpful to know how to spot the real thing.

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How to know if it’s love at first sight?

If you still have hope love at first sight will happen for you, even after learning about the subconscious ways your brain may be tricking you into thinking you’ve found your person, the following list may be helpful in identifying true love easily.[4]

  1. You get butterflies in your stomach, just seeing them.
  2. The only thing you want is their attention.
  3. Everything you knew about your ‘type’ is gone. It doesn’t matter if this person matches up with what you were previously attracted to.
  4. You. Cannot. Stop. Thinking. About. Them.
  5. Romantic notions trump logic. Who cares about risk and reality!
  6. The idea of being with them seems like a grand adventure.
  7. You’re certain this is going to be the best relationship ever.
  8. You can picture your lives together.
  9. The attraction is real.
  10. You want to know everything about them.

To love, or not to love?

To recap, let’s break down the things we’ve learned so it’s easier to go forward looking for that soulmate of yours.

Love at first sight is real, but it’s not all butterflies and perfection.

If you think you are experiencing love at first sight, don’t immediately try to talk yourself out of it. You don’t have to be jaded, you just need to be smart; consider if that person reminds you of an ex, or even a friend. If you don’t think you’re subconsciously misplacing some feelings, then go for it!

Don’t be afraid to break up.

Even if you once thought you had discovered your destiny, don’t be afraid to be true to yourself if you feel the relationship is over. It doesn’t mean you didn’t truly love that person, it just means it wasn’t the happily-ever-after you once thought.

Don’t mistake needing someone for loving someone.

Often times, people may think they’ve experienced love at first sight, simply because they needed companionship or nurturing. There is nothing wrong with this, and the person you have fallen for may be your partner for a long time, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s meant to be.

There are tell-tale signs of love at first sight.

If you think you may be experiencing love at first sight, don’t hesitate to consult the list above. Just be sure it’s after you’ve ruled out that they just seem familiar to you somehow.

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Don’t be afraid to be heart broken.

Don’t worry about what the future holds. If you really and truly envision yourself with someone, go for it! If it’s meant to be, it will only get better as the years roll on. If it isn’t meant to be, then live and learn. Life is too short to have regrets, especially when true love could be involved.

Last but not least, follow your gut.

Even if your heart is saying “YES!! This is my prince/princess Charming!” it’s okay to hesitate if the rest of your body is telling you to keep your guard up.

Love is out there, and it’s attainable. But don’t try to make something work just because eye contact made you all tingly inside.

Have you ever been in love after seeing someone for the first time? Make sure to tell us your stories and share this article to see how many of your friends have felt the same way!

Featured photo credit: Stocksnap via stocksnap.io

Reference

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Heather Poole

Heather shares about everyday 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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