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10 No-Fail Tools to Help Stop You from Worrying

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10 No-Fail Tools to Help Stop You from Worrying

Something is worrying you! I can see it in your eyebrows. They are drawn up in a bunchy frown.

What are you worried about? Is  it something specific and huge or a generalized nagging worry?

We are all trying our level best to get along and do something worthwhile for ourselves and each other. And yet, we seem to worry all the time.

Worry itself seems to be a big shapeless, nameless cloud that hangs over us and make us miserable. The first step toward handling something, however, is fully understanding exactly what it is.

According to the Oxford English Dictionary online, this is worry:

“To give way to anxiety or unease; allow one’s mind to dwell on difficulty or troubles”

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Whatever is worrying you, There are some No-Fail tools you can use to stop allowing your mind to dwell on troubles or difficulty.

1) Understand that whatever happens in life, you can always do something about it.

Worry contains a fear of losing control or having a situation that you can do nothing about.

Once you accept the statement above, and know that there is always something you can do about it, you are coming from a place of potential control and you are already stronger.

2) Identify the problem.

Worry is a symptom. It indicates that there is an underlying problem. Sometimes it is a problem we don’t readily see. The first thing you need to do is identify what the problem actually is. There is no solution until you have fully identified the real problem

3) Write down what you can do about it.

If you are worrying about something specific that you can do something about, sit down and write out everything you can do to affect the outcome of the situation so that it is more likely to be favorable to you. Then come up with an action plan on how to handle it from start to finish.

For example, If you are worrying because your son is doing poorly in school, go find out the real situation. Look well with your own eyes and don’t just listen. Perhaps the teacher is not a great fit for your son. Perhaps your son has no idea what is expected of him. There can be many, many reasons for poor performance. You have to go and find out for yourself exactly what is going on. Be patient. Sometimes the real problem can be hidden. Talk to people and search for the truth. Once you know what the real problem is, you will see what you can do about it.

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Another example is perhaps you think someone might be angry at you but you are not sure, so you worry. Go ask that person if they are angry. If they are, you have the opportunity to iron things out. If they are not, you will know you have worried over nothing.

4) Look over your life for someone who is making you feel insignificant, afraid or is ruining your confidence.

If you are worried about something non-specific, and you cannot put your finger on it, look around your environment and find out who is putting doubts in your head or taking away your confidence.

Vague and generalized worry is an indicator that there is such a person in your environment. It could be that they are planting doubts about yourself, or maybe they are saying something negative about someone else you care about. Look around your environment and see if there is someone there tossing off comments that eat away at your confidence or your trust and love for someone else. They are making your environment appear hostile and that results in worry.

5) Be prepared for a possible unhappy outcome.

Try as we might, there are some things in life that we cannot control completely. Sometimes we have to undergo medical tests that have a possibility of revealing a dreaded disease or condition.

In cases like this, I find it helpful to say, “OK, what is the worst that could happen?” When you figure out what the worst is that could happen, you can start thinking about the steps you would take to handle that worst case situation. Even confronting the worst case scenario and writing down a few things you could do about it IF it were true, can make you feel a lot more in control.

6) Plan for the best possible outcome.

So many times, your own viewpoint and positive energy really does affect the outcome of situations. Tell yourself that the job interview is over and you have aced it. Tell yourself that this tense meeting will be a piece of cake and you will end it on great terms. Whatever you believe is the best possible outcome for the problem that you have, tell yourself that that is going to occur. You never know how magical your own thoughts and positive visualizations are. I have seen miracles occur with this tool.

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Are you worried about speaking in front of people? Use this tool to handle your fear.

When you start to worry or become nervous, think past the speech or presentation. Think of the happy lunch you will have afterward or the night after when you celebrate your successful speech with a glass of Merlot and a special dessert.
So many times when we have something we dread, we unconsciously fix our attention so intently on the upcoming incident that it dominates our thoughts. If you think past it, you create the future beyond it and you unfix your attention from the scary event.

This works really well, by the way when you are afraid of flying. When you start to become nervous or afraid, think of your happy landing instead of the fiery crash that you are sure is going to occur.

7) Understand that there are environmental factors designed to make you worry.

Have you ever seen a TV commercial where someone’s teeth are not white enough and they suffer socially? How about the guy with bad breath? There are so many socially unacceptable conditions that have simply been created by the media to make us worry enough to go out and buy their products.

Society today is worried about love handles, tummy bulge, toenail fungus, dandruff, body odor, stained teeth, wrinkles, dull hair, split ends and the list goes on almost forever. Before we had advertising agencies inventing these conditions, people were not nearly as worried about them.

I am not saying that things like body odor and dandruff don’t exist, but reasonable hygiene takes care of most of it.

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Understand that TV, movies, magazine articles and photos are designed to control our behavior, our attention and our dollars. Don’t let them make you feel inferior to a standard that not even Charlize Theron could live up to.

9) Let go and trust others to do the right thing.

As a mom, I used to worry endlessly about my kids. When they grew up and moved out, I was not with them every day and I had no choice but to let go. The funny part is that when I did that, they started really taking on responsibility for themselves.

If you are worrying about another, let them find their way. Most of us make it through life’s challenges. You can make sure that they know you are there for them if they need a leg up, but step away. You will be happier and many times, so will they.

10) Trust yourself to handle any situation in life.

Say this simple phrase to yourself: “Whatever happens, I will find a way to handle and overcome it.”

Believe it or not, this is true. You have made It this far and have figured out everything else you needed to figure out. Whatever is worrying you will not be different. You will figure a way out of it too.

Once you have done all of the above steps, go do something really fun. Watch a funny movie or go shopping for shoes. There is nothing like pleasurable activities to pull you out of worry mode.

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I am interested in your comments. If this advice has helped you, please let me know. I read and respond to all comments on my articles.

“Drag your thoughts away
from your troubles…
by the ears, by the heels,
or any other way you can manage it.”
―     Mark Twain

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Chris Ellis

Successful Author, Life Coach and Musician

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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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