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The Only Relationship Help You Need to Save Your Relationship

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The Only Relationship Help You Need to Save Your Relationship

Everyone seems to be searching for one–The One. There are enough dating sites out there to indicate that people, young and old alike, want to be in a relationship, or at least save the one they have. People want to share their lives with another person; they want a witness to their journey. It would seem then, that finding someone and living a life with that person would be a cinch, a piece of cake, a walk in the park.

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Building a strong and solid relationship can be as difficult as running a marathon without going through the proper training.

Think about it… How much training do we get in constructing and maintaining strong and healthy relationships? Parents have “The Talk” with their teens; schools focus on math and science; social media on “hooking up”, etc. But there are no schools out there that teach you how to help your relationship when it gets into trouble. And most relationships do, at one point or another. It’s a fact of life.

You can’t expect two people coming from different backgrounds to get along fabulously all the time; to never have disagreements that turn into something more serious. It is at these critical times that relationships need a save.

Perhaps you find yourself in a relationship such as this. If you do, I want to remind you that almost all relationships need saving every once in a while. That does not mean that the relationship is bad or that it’s doomed to fail. Before you call it quits, I’d like you to try the facilitative relationship savers below. They may sound silly and ineffective, but allow me to prove you wrong. They may, in fact, end up being the only relationship help you need. Remember, often the simplest things are the most effective.

Before I present you with these conducive approaches, keep in mind that in order to have a strong and healthy partnership you’ll need to have the following ingredients: 1) Trust 2) Loyalty 3) Honesty, 4) Respect, and 5) Compromise, to name but a few. The following suggestions will help you achieve these relationship must-haves.

So, without further ado, let’s begin!

1. Become Teammates

The first thing you need to remember is that you chose to make a life with this person. There are reasons you did so. No matter what’s going on right now to make you doubt that, look at your person and know that you’re both on the same team.

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Focus on your similarities; the things you love and respect about each other; the things that brought you together in the first place. Take time to review the history channel of your life with each other. You may currently be at odds, but if you say to yourself, “Wait a minute, this person is on my team. We are in this together! Maybe we just need a referee,” you might find your perspective shifting from Enemy to Ally.

Any time my husband and I have a falling out, or we start to argue, our reset is always to say: we’re on the same team! Let’s look at what’s really going on. How can we make things better, not worse?

Ask yourself, “What were our original goals? Do they need to be modified?” In her article, 12 Powerful Habits of Happy Relationships, Tiffany Mason writes, “Work as a team toward goals (short & long term).” When you understand you’re teammates, you’re more apt to want to work together for the benefit of the unit, not the benefit of the “I”. You’ll feel a camaraderie and discover that teamwork strengthens the relationship; that teamwork can save it by unifying it instead of ripping it apart.

When I was in graduate school, often times the professors would break us up into groups to work on certain projects. It would always turn out to be a huge bond-building exercise. The team members felt connected and worked steadfastly on promoting their team efforts.

2. Find a Common Ground

When you’re in the middle of a heated dispute, it’s important to find something on which you both agree. I once treated a couple fighting over what to do with their 7-year-old son. Dad wanted to send “Billy” to summer camp and Mom was dead set against it. He thought it would be good for Billy to have the experience away from home. Mom was fearful that Billy would be too far away, and should anything happen, they wouldn’t be there to care for him. The situation was tearing Mom and Dad apart. They needed a save.

Finding common ground did just that. In this case, the common ground was that they both loved Billy and wanted the best for him. Each of them had different ways of expressing that love. Once they remembered that they both had their son’s best interest at heart, they started talking. They agreed to let Billy go on the condition that they could call the camp site and check in on him. And if at any time Billy felt like he wanted to come home, they’d go pick him up. In order to find the much-needed common ground, it was necessary for both Mom and Dad to take a step back and listen to each other’s thoughts and ideas. They had to respect each other’s perspective and come to an understanding.

In an article written by Collen Morris, a counsellor and family therapist, she talks about “accepting influence.”[1] She states that in a conversation with your partner, that might mean saying “Good point”, or “I see”. She points out that, “Giving the respect of acknowledging your partner’s opinion is the beginning of negotiation…If that rarely happens in your relationship, it may be time to step back and listen to your partner’s thoughts on the subject at hand, instead of responding from a negative, closed position.”

3. Tell Your Partner What You Need

Nope, no one is a mindreader. Not you nor your partner. Yet often in relationships, you might hear someone say, “If he loved me, he’d know that I need some time away from cooking!” Or, “If she loved me, she’d let me spend some time with my buddies.”

One of the things that causes relationships to break down is a breakdown in communication. Each person is assuming that the other person should know what they want. In the film The Break-Up, starting Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn, there’s a scene that clearly encapsulates a total communication breakdown. Vince Vaughn’s character yells…

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“Fine! I’ll help you do the dishes.”

“That’s not what I want,” says Aniston’s character.

“You said that you want me to help you do the dishes.”

“I want you to want to do the dishes.”

And on it went. Neither one expressed what they wanted in a clear and concise way. This led to fight after fight until their relationship became too far gone to save.

If you want to save your relationship, one of the best saves is to communicate exactly what you need. Warning: Do not use your own personal language code.

For example, you’re sitting on the couch and are feeling a little cold. Instead of saying, “Honey, while you’re up, would you close the window for me?” You say, “I’m feeling a little chilly,” as you wrap your arms around yourself. Don’t make your partner guess, then punish them when they don’t guess correctly. It’s unfair and cruel.

You might have insight into your partner’s psyche, but you don’t know everything they need under every circumstance and vice versa. It’s important to Ask and Tell. Take all the guess work out of your relationship.

4. Give Your Undivided Attention

Recently, my husband, who installs home elevators, called to check in with me. He started telling me about the rails he was installing, the top of car wiring he still needed to do, the problematic door locks, and battery lowering something or other. He was going on and on in great detail. My eyes started glazing over. What the heck was he talking about? I found myself checking emails, Twitter, and Facebook.

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Then it hit me: I was not listening, only pretending to do so. I felt terrible. I knew better. I closed up all the windows and without any distractions, started to really listen. I realized that it was rude to be saying, “Mmm. That’s interesting! Rails? Cool!” when I had no clue what he’d said.

A relationship cannot be saved if you have no interest in your partner or what they do. Showing genuine interest in what your partner does can make or break the relationship. If your partner knows you’re interested in them, that you’re not on the phone, the computer or reading a magazine, but are truly invested in them, then you’re on your way to creating a stellar coupledom.

Your undivided attention can breathe life into a dying relationship. Why? Because it makes the person feel heard and special, as if they really matter. And isn’t that what we all want?

5. Play Games Together

No, not mind games. When was the last time you sat down and played Scrabble? Truth or Dare? Deal or No Deal. Playing together can be a way to bring fun back into a withering relationship.

When all you do is work and take care of business, letting your hair down and having some time together playing a game (that you can make trés romantique), might just be the save you need to bring your problematic relationship to life.

Playing games can, 1) Add a fun, competitive edge to your relationship. 2) Make you laugh. And 3) Get you in a good mood.

Being in a rut is one of the things that can make a couple feel as if their life together is circling the drain. No relationship is dead until one or both people give up. Before you do, get creative. You will be surprised how doing something as simple as playing a game can relax you and diminish any stress that’s currently infecting your connection with each other.

6. Send a Quote

Before you think I’ve lost my marbles, hear me out. Imagine that you’re really upset at your partner. Your anger has been bubbling for a while. He comes home every night and sits in front of the TV. It’s his way of winding down, but you feel excluded and unloved. You start to think, “hmm… this marriage sucks. It’s dead in the water.” You go upstairs to fold laundry and hear your phone vibrate. When you pick it up, you read: “You are the sexiest woman alive. So glad I married you.” How mad will you be then? I’d venture to guess, not so much. This is an invaluable save.

Don’t be underwhelmed by its simplicity. I guarantee you that if you send love quotes to your partner on a regular basis, you will be pleasantly surprised. Just this morning, after my husband left for work, I decided to send my own love quote. I wanted to test out the theory for myself. I texted, “My life wouldn’t be the same without you.” No more than three minutes passed before I received the following text in return, “Nor would mine, hon! You are the light that shines in my heart.” Awww…that made me feel warm and fuzzy inside. I guarantee it will do the same for you.

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Sending loves quotes works! This is probably one of the most effectual saves. It’s easy, can evoke immediate feelings of love, and dissipate any residual anger you might have over some stupid, petty thing. I highly encourage you try it.

Final Thoughts

Right about now, you might be thinking to yourself, these “saves” are too simplistic. Being teammates, finding common ground, talking to your partner, paying attention, playing games, sending quotes? No way could any of these save my messed up relationship.

I beg to differ. All you have to do is implement these saves into your relationship. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Try one, two, three, or all of them. But give it the good, old college try.

Broken relationships can be fixed. But there has to be a genuine desire to do so.

You have to be willing to fight for the relationship, not to fight with each other to get out of it.

All relationships face challenges at one point or another. Don’t let that scare you. It is just an indication that you have to pay closer attention to what’s going on. Consider it a nudge. You may have fallen asleep at the wheel. Just refocus and get back on track before the relationship crashes.

“All relationships go through hell, real relationships get through it.” — TheloveBits

Using the six saves above can inject some much needed and beautiful energy into your troubled liaison. Sometimes all you need is to hit the reset button and start anew.

So what are you waiting for? Hit RESET!

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More About Saving a Relationship

Featured photo credit: Priscilla Du Preez via unsplash.com

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Rossana Snee

Rossana is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist. She aspires to motivate, to inspire, and to awaken your best self!

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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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