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Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good

Do You Have a Fear of Disappointing Others? How to Conquer It for Good
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It’s completely normal to care and worry, but once we allow the fear of disappointing others to take over, we’re simply hitting our own head against the wall.

Somewhere along the way, society seems to have glorified this feeling to be something positive as it means you care, but the fear of disappointing others can be a powerful negative emotion that can eat away from your own happiness.

This article takes you through 6 steps that will help you conquer the fear of disappointing others.

1. Accept You’ll Never Be Enough (In the Eyes of Others)

This may sound harsh, but it’s important to remember that if your goal is to please everyone – then you’re setting yourself up to fail. Even if you act exactly (how you think is) right, there will always be people with different perspectives and views on how things should be. The idea that you can please everyone is unfortunately delusional, because it’s simply impossible.

Strangers, family, and friends all have different ideas about what’s wrong or right. Their idea of good behavior might be somewhat close to each other, or really really far away from each other – in the end it doesn’t matter, because they will never completely align with each other which means you will always fail and disappoint someone.

Mark Manson explains our differences as humans like this:[1]

”The questions is not whether we evaluate ourselves against others; rather, the question is by what stand do we measure ourselves.” 

So, to sum up this theory: We measure everything from success to happiness (and in this case what’s wrong or right) completely different. We have different values, which means we measure things according to own (different) metrics.

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We like the idea of perfection, but as soon as we realize we’re most definitely not anywhere near that, and we won’t ever be enough in everyone’s eyes, then you can start growing and letting go of the fear.

2. Really Push Yourself out of Your Comfort Zone

A comfort zone is nice and comfy, but it stands in the way of growth. We can’t ever move forward and go further, if we stand still – and that’s exactly what you do in your comfort zone. You’re standing still in a frozen moment that you’re familiar with and know all too well.

Sometimes the only way to conquer fear is through pushing yourself into uncomfortable situations, but it can of course be extremely scary to push yourself out of your comfort zone.

Start out with something small. It can be a task that you’ve been putting off, because the whole idea of this scenario makes you feel uncomfortable. It can be anything from telling your partner something that’s been on your mind (but you’re afraid of their reaction or letting them down) to taking a fitness class that you feel you aren’t fit enough to take.

We all started out with baby steps once.

Even when you just push yourself to do one little thing, you’ll be left with a big relief and feel much stronger, because nine out of ten times it’s never as scary or uncomfortable as we had imagined in our head. After you’ve felt how good it feels to conquer you fears – big or small – you’ll automatically want to challenge yourself more and more.

If you’re still wondering if it’s necessary to step out of your comfort zone, here’s the answer for you.

3. Analyze Your Behavior

Sometimes we need to take a step back and take a look at ourselves. Why are your reaction like this? Where does your fear come from? Do you get anxious about it and why?

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It helps to take a deeper look. Therapy can be a great option if you want another (and professional) perspective, or you can try to go back and look at your past yourself.

The fear of disappointing others is very normal, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not a trait in ourselves that has been created because of our childhood, a trauma, or past relationships. The way we react to others is often more about ourselves than them.

One example of our behavior towards others can be explained through the attachment theory:[2]

”The basic premise is that we’re not all the same when it comes to intimacy and commitment. Instead, we each have a relatively consistent ‘attachment style… This, the theory claims, is largely down to our upbringing. But it can also be influenced in later life by our adult relationships, seeing a psychologist or suffering trauma.”

While this attachment theory takes premise in romantic relationships and how we react to intimacy and commitment, the theory is still very useful when you’re trying to understand why you have a fear of disappointing others around you.

The attachment theory has different attachment styles that relates back to our upbringing. If you take a closer look at the different styles and how the types react in situations, it’s fairly easy to place yourself. This will help you get a better understanding of yourself, as well as why you react a certain way, and where this fear comes from.

4. Set up Boundaries

It’s important to set up boundaries in your life, especially emotional boundaries. Don’t let people mistake your kindness for weakness.

If you’re reading this, then you’re most likely interested in pleasing people around you. Which is definitely not a bad thing. You want to make people happy and you enjoy helping others, but if you’re always acting this way towards everyone, then you’ll come across people who’ll take advantage of it at one point.

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Take a look at the different relationships in your life and learn to set up boundaries: How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

5. Don’t Personalize People’s Reactions

The reason why someone reacts or acts towards you in a certain way may often not even be about you. You may be fearful of saying no to someone, because you fear their reaction, but how do you know the reaction you’ll get it based on you and not other factors?

Let’s say a person invites you to a party and you’re afraid of saying no, because it would disappoint them – how do you actually know this? Maybe you’re telling yourself that you know this person and therefore you know they’ll react negatively, or you’ve seen them react a certain way towards another person that said no, but maybe none of this had anything to do with you and whether or not you’re disappointing them.

The person might react angry or upset to the outside world simply because that’s how this person reacts to news that don’t align with their plan (but this doesn’t mean they think anything negatively about you). Or the person might seem upset, because they don’t want to jump up and down of joy after you just told them you weren’t showing up.

Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D explains it like this:[3]

“Personalization sounds like this: If I don’t get what I want it means I am not good enough and don’t deserve it. When you overly personalize a disappointment, you make it about who you are as a person and do not take into account the many situational factors that had nothing to do with you”.

Don’t (over) analyze situations and personalize people’s reactions to your actions. Base your actions on your values and what you know.

6. Revaluate Your Own Values

If you want to let go of the fear of disappointing others, then you need to figure out who you are exactly first. What are your values? What do you want to stand for? Are you acting accordingly to who you want to be – and if not – what can you do to change this?

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Our own core values are tricky to figure out completely. It takes time and it’s a never-ending process, because we (hopefully) don’t ever stop moving and growing. We change over time; we grow and so does our mind.

But if we don’t take the necessary time to get to know ourselves, revaluate our values, and understand what we want for ourselves, then we’ll fall into the pressure of what others think and we’ll get easily effected by their opinion of us.

If you’d like to figure out your own values better, take a look at this article: Knowing My Values Has Filled up the Long-Existed Missing Gap in My Life

The Bottom Line

Fear can be scary and overwhelming, so we need to be able to go back to our gut instinct and rely on that.

The more comfortable and good you feel about your own actions, the easier it will be to let go of the stress and fear of disappointing others.

In the end, people may not be pleased with your actions – but this way you will be.

More About Conquering Fear

Featured photo credit: Eye for Ebony via unsplash.com

Reference

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Maria Jensen

Specializes in personal and professional development.

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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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