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10 Hidden Life Killers You Are Tolerating That Are Stressing You Out

10 Hidden Life Killers You Are Tolerating That Are Stressing You Out
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Are you constantly stressed out? Does your stress seem to have no immediate cause or solution? Here are 10 hidden stressors that can make you miserable and ruin your life.

Many times in life, it feels like everything is bad. You are so stressed that you cannot imagine a life without difficulty. Well, a good life is possible. Here are ten things to look for and handle that will smooth it all out for you and put you back in control.

1. Recognize that there are people who are out to sabotage you and are intentionally trying to be difficult.

Yes, I know it sounds paranoid, but these people exist, and when you recognize that they exist and take actions to protect yourself and those around, your life can magically smooth out.

Back in the day I managed an insurance claims office. It was a very stressful job and the reason it was so stressful, I later found out, was because there were two of my staff members who had nothing better to do than stir the pot with their co-workers.

They would tell one person lies about another person in the office, then go to the person that they had first slandered and tell lies about the other person. This pitted the two people against each other while the one manufacturing and telling the lies would sit back and watch the drama.

It happened over and over again. The entire office was in chaos and my staff were at each other’s throats. It was all because of these two people. Since the whole office was involved, I could not see the source of the trouble.

It turned out that these two pot stirrers were also the least productive of my staff, so I ultimately fired them. After I did this, everything smoothed out and the work got done.  It was like magic. These people hide themselves well but here are some clues to spotting them:

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Be suspicious when someone tells you gossip about a friend, family member or co worker. Chances are they are telling lies and gossip about you to other people as well.

Be suspicious when someone laughs or takes pleasure in another person’s pain or discomfort. This is a sign of sadistic personality.

Be suspicious when two people are constantly arguing and they can’t solve their differences. When this occurs, suspect that there are lies being told by another person who does not appear to be part of the conflict. Act accordingly. You can ask each one whether someone else has been talking down the other person.

You could be very surprised. Normal, ethical people have a hard time believing that someone would initiate hatred and upset just for sport, but it does happen and you need to be aware and protect yourself.

Be suspicious when someone you have been in good communication with suddenly is cold and hostile to you. Ask that person who has said something negative about you and clear the air. Then deal with the person telling the lies. The people who do these things depend on secrecy and “confidentiality,” banking on the fact that the person being lied to will protect their secrets. Don’t play that game. Open and clean communication is the key to harmony. When secret and harmful lies are told, it opens the door to hostility and chaos.

2. Don’t attempt to live up to someone else’s expectations.

Not only does this cause you stress, but it also limits you greatly! No one knows the miracles you are capable of but you. You are the only one who can shape and execute your goals. Sometimes they differ greatly from what your parents or peers may want from you, but the bottom line is that you shape your own future, and if it is YOUR plan and YOUR goal, you will meet it as long as you don’t agree with other people’s counter intentions.

There is an unlimited future for you if you stop trying to be someone other than who you really are.

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3. Don’t confuse the past with the present.

Everybody I know has had many moments of pain and upset in the past, and nobody wants to repeat them. But fear of repeating painful moments or past mistakes can paralyze you in the present. Just because you failed at something once doesn’t mean you will fail at it again. Our “failures” give us valuable experience that we can use for our next attempt. Redefine “failure” for yourself. I personally believe that the only “failure” is giving up. Which brings me to our next point.

4. Don’t give up on your goals

“Failure” is just lack of persistence. If you never give up, you have never failed. It is as simple as that. There are so many things that our society defines as “failures.” Things like losing money, finding out you wasted time or having something not turn out exactly as you wanted are not failures. There is a learning curve in life. With time and money, the simple rule of thumb is never bet more than you can afford to lose. As far as things not turning out the way you wanted, keep at it until they do, but don’t ignore the fact that sometimes they turn out even better if you allow yourself to see beyond your set idea of “success.”

For each step on the way, use what you have and make it better. Your goals can be fluid. They can change as you learn more about how to achieve them. It is ok to start with the goal of finding a castle and end up with a little cottage by the sea if that is what makes you happy.  Don’t let others make you stick to an original goal if you find that it is no longer what you want.

5. Don’t listen to people who are negative about your dreams.

A person without dreams and goals is a very sad person indeed. They have nothing that pushes and drives them to put one foot in front of the other. Your goals don’t have to be giant and they don’t have to be something that everyone else agrees on. All they have to be is YOURS.

I once had a sky high goal of purchasing a property abroad. I spent hours researching, dreaming, saving money and telling all my friends how great it was going to be. Some people came out of the wood work to tell me how stupid it was to even consider doing so. I went ahead with my plan and did it anyway. That has been the single most exciting and wonderful thing I have ever done. Set your goals sky high and go after them. If you “fail,” think of a another way to get what you want.

There are many ways to go about achieving goals. Keep thinking up new ones if the old ones don’t work.

6. Prepare yourself for what you know is coming.

This is vital. Those who know me know that I am a musician and an instructor. The biggest barrier my students face is overcoming stage fright. This is crippling for so many people.

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My one piece of advice is prepare your act so well that you can perform it even if a volcano is erupting in front of you. Many times, stress is simply fear of the unknown. You never know what is going to happen and if you are well prepared, you know you will pull it off. You cannot deal with the uncertainties of performing or even making a presentation at work or asking for a raise unless you prepare your “act” in advance and allow for every possible unexpected occurrence.

This can be true for anything in life that you have difficulty with. I am sure that the best marriage proposals in history were very well rehearsed.

7. Stop listening to those nasty little doubts inside your head.

Those little doubts are not some unconscious positive influence. They are not angels or divine advice. They are internal sabotage mechanisms. Listen to them at your peril.

So many times I have seen people give up their dreams because of these stupid doubts. What I have also seen is that the more you listen to them and take their advice, the stronger they get and the weaker you get. How many brilliant people with brilliant ideas have been idle because they listened to their inner doubts?

There is nothing to be gained by running around inside your head and listening to those little creepy doubts that arise for no reason at all. Kick them to the curb. Instead say this to yourself: “I am strong and smart enough to do this. Anything that says otherwise is completely wrong and I won’t listen to it. I WILL keep going on my path.”

8. Stop looking for the bad in yourself and others and start looking for and praising the good.

This is something that turned my life around recently. I wrote a blog about it because it completely salvaged my relationship with my children. As an artist and instructor, I am constantly looking for tiny imperfections that, when corrected, make my performance and those of my students better. As a result I can see the most imperceptible imperfections in anything. It is a blessing and a curse. I can use this to get my students to a very high level of perfection but, if not controlled, it can make it impossible for them to live up to what they believe my expectations are and theirs should be.

While it is good to see imperfections, it is bad to focus only on those. One must see the good and the perfect in people in order for them to have the confidence to go after and achieve their own goals. If you see and comment upon the good in people and ignore the bad habits and things that irritate you, you will build great relationships with others and your stress level will dramatically decrease.

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Try it! Go to the supermarket and find something you like about the clerk. Tell them you like their earrings or whatever. You will get a smile, a nice chat and you will have made someone’s day. Go practice this! It’s fun!

9. If your boss or job is stressing you out and you cannot find a way to change it, get a new job!

I know that changing jobs is very scary and that you may feel that there are no jobs out there. If this is the case, start looking! Sometimes, just knowing that there are jobs available can make your life that much less stressful. Don’t ignore other skills you have and a possible career change. Don’t ignore your dream career either.

If you hate your job, decide what your dream job is, find out all about it and start getting the skills together to go do it. The best day of my life was when I quit working in insurance and started teaching Music. I had been a musician for years and for some dorky reason thought I could not teach. I started doing it and have been doing it happily ever since. There is no more stress coming from my job at all.

What do you want to do? What skills do you have? Get started! You can get through the worst day at your job if you know you are doing something to create your dream job in the future.

10. Go find someone to help and help them.

There is NOTHING more empowering than helping someone else. And there is no more powerful idea a person can have about himself or herself than the fact that they are worthy of being helped.

When you carry someone’s groceries or hold the door open or (my favorite) buy their Girl Scout cookies, you are letting them know they are worthy of being helped. It is a very powerful and sometimes life-changing message.

Also, give someone else the chance to help you. This empowers them because they have given you the gift of recognizing that you exist and are worthy too. If everyone did these things, not only would their stress levels decrease dramatically, but the world would be a much more comfortable, safe and friendly place.

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In all of these points, the most important thing I have found, is to be true to your integrity. Know what you know and stick to your guns. Sometimes when you make changes like this to take control of your life, there will be people who don’t agree and sometimes even blow ups occur. Believe me, it’s better to let things blow up and recognize them for what they are than to allow them to go on being hidden parasites that drain your life of pleasure and meaning and stifle your productivity. Blow ups are soon forgotten but energy draining factors continue to ruin your life if they are not handled.

Be brave! Start looking at these things and handle them when you find them. Pick the one that you think affects you the most and handle that one first, then go down the list and handle the rest.  Your new life awaits!

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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)

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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