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How to Accept Yourself for Who You Are and Be Happy

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How to Accept Yourself for Who You Are and Be Happy

When you cultivate relationships with new people that forge a lifelong bond, it is doubtful that you are going to try to change that person. You’re not going to make them feel that they are any less of a person because of who they are, what they like, or what they pursue in life. We all know that this isn’t the right way to make connections with another human being.

Yet when we approach ourselves and continue our relationships with ourselves, there seems to be a desire to change, punish, or alter ourselves to meet certain expectations. If you were doing this to another person, this would be seen as unacceptable! We shouldn’t treat ourselves any differently.

The simple truth of life is that your only stable and lifelong relationship is with yourself. Because of this, it is the most important one you are going to have and, one that you will need to nurture if you want to lead a happy life. True, you will want to change some things but there is a massive benefit to simply accepting and moving forward from there.

If you have a hard time settling down with you, here are some tips on how to accept yourself so that you can start living a life that others dream of!

1. Take Some Time to Sit With Yourself and Discover Who You Are

The major problem that many people face when it comes to self-acceptance is that they have yet to engage in self-discovery. Many people may feel purposeless and lost, which is ultimately due to a lack of self and an unclear understanding of who you are and what you want.

Self-discovery is a necessary first step but it is one that comes with a lot of work and is ever-changing. Starting your own self-discovery journey may consist of the following:

Discovering Your Purpose

Each of us may feel like we are called to do something at some point in time that will help to grow others as well as ourselves.

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What are you passionate about? What gets you fired up and makes you forget about everything else? What is something that you could picture doing for the rest of your life?

Sometimes, the best way to discover purpose is simply to go out and do until you learn more about where your passions lie.

Learning More About Your Values and Beliefs

Values and beliefs, which may stem from childhood or, may come from experience in recent years, help to set up structure in our lives and drive us towards the things that matter most to us.

Are you someone who has strong ties to family? Do you rely on honesty and integrity to live your life? What are your spiritual or religious beliefs? What type of community do you want to build or belong to?

These are some important questions to ask as these questions dictate what choices you make along your path.

Journal and Keep Track of the Day-to-Day

Even if you are unsure of who you are, what you do on a regular basis will certainly tell you everything you need to know.

What are some things that you like to do? What are things that are not necessarily fun for you? What are some habits that you have cultivated, healthy or otherwise? What are your dreams? Ambitions? Goals?

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We all have things that make us unique. Take the time to learn more about those aspects of the self.

There’s this misconception that acceptance goes hand-in-hand with a refusal to change but that’s not true. Acceptance starts with recognition and embracing who that person is. You will then go on to nurture them and to change some of those unhealthy aspects, so that you can become who you want to be.[1]

2. Accept What You Can’t Change

You are who you are. You love what you love. There are some things that you will be able to change in your life (for the better) and, there are some things that will simply be for the rest of your time here on earth.

Expending mental energy on wishing you can change things that are never going to change is a waste of your time and will inevitably lead to sadness. Whatever it is that you wish you could change, know that you are a worthy human being regardless of what it is you are insecure about.

Take time to be kind to yourself, let your guard down and embrace these things, and learn how to overcome that inner voice that tells you that you’re not good enough. In order to be happy with who we are, we must allow ourselves to be accepting of all aspects of the self.

The biggest barrier for most people, however, is learning how to cultivate acceptance of the self. If you are struggling at this point, here are some tips that will allow you to tackle the project easier:

  • Practice positive self-talk and challenge any negative thoughts that come out of you as they are released.
  • Choose to be loving towards yourself and your flaws, rather than trying to hide them away or ignore them.
  • Accept that everything that has happened has led you to this point and will carry you to your goals as you work towards them.
  • Spend some time with yourself engaging in enjoyable activities so that you can bond with yourself and fall in love with that person.
  • Know that you will have easy days as well as hard days. Take them as they come.

It may take time but in the end, you are going to be grateful that you put in the effort to cultivate self-love.[2]

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3. Change What Needs to Be Changed for Your Benefit

Not all change is good change. Some change can be harmful and that change needs to be avoided.

However, some change can be beneficial and that change is the type that helps to grow you as a person and allows you to blossom into the person you want to be.

Acceptance and acknowledging of yourself and the world around you is great but, you need to understand that acceptance can be both a tool of dissatisfaction and happiness. Things you can’t change must be embraced and you need to love those things; but things that can and must be changed require your immediate attention.

You are a growing and constantly evolving person and, everything that you do needs to be done in your best interest. For example, let’s say that you have made a number of bad choices in your past that have impacted your social and financial life. While you need to accept that these choices have been made and accept the experience that got you there, you shouldn’t accept your situation.

Knowing what needs to be changed and what needs to be embraced boils down to one thing: does it allow you to live a happy life?

If it is (realistically) impacting you in a negative manner, it needs to go.

If it impacts you but it is a result of negative self-image and is not something that would need to be changed otherwise, embrace it.

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If it is something that you are still going to change regardless, proceed with caution.

All paths should ultimately lead to happiness.[3]

Final Thoughts

You are you and that is something that is never going to change. When you learn to accept yourself and work towards the best version of you that you can be, you set yourself up for a life that has an abundance of happiness and progress.

Need some extra help implementing the tips that you learned above? Take a look at these articles:

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Dylan Buckley

Dylan is Lifehack's Motivation Expert specializing in self-development, with extensive experience working for life coaches and startups.

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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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