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10 Lessons Everyone Needs To Learn While Being Single

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10 Lessons Everyone Needs To Learn While Being Single

Being Single

Being single can be tough, especially for someone who really wants to be in a relationship. When I was single, I could be so envious of those in committed relationships and thought that if only I had someone, all my problems would go away.

The ironic part is that even if those relationships were full of drama and problems, I still thought I’d be happier. I just wanted someone to love me. I wanted it right now.

I used to rationalize the reasons why I was single and would convince myself that it was because of some defect in who I was. We can be so hard on ourselves.

I wish I knew more, when I was younger and single, than what I know now. It would have saved me many years of struggling to be happy as a single guy who really wanted to find true love. Now happily married, I look back at all the stuff that worked and all the things that didn’t when I was single.

In my mature single days, I’ve found that these 10 lessons to be the most helpful.

Love Yourself and Love BEING AROUND Yourself

This is perhaps the most important lesson of all. You may have heard this before, but the only way you can truly love somebody else is if you love yourself first. It really is true.

However, it continues to be a common belief that finding true love will somehow complete you. Remember the movie Jerry Maguire? I remember when I first watched that scene when Tom Cruise rushes in and boldly exclaims, “You complete me.”

I actually thought to myself, “Who can I complete? There has to be hundreds of women who need me to complete them!” I was so cool.

It’s as if we are a complicated puzzle and if we just find that one perfect match, all our problems will go away.

The truth is, nobody can love you more than you can love yourself. A relationship won’t save you or fill some empty part of you.

It’s easy to think this way because we all want to be loved by someone. It feels good to be loved.

But, true love comes when two people love themselves first and can share that intimate love with each other. Love yourself first.

Here is something you can try.

I used to do this a lot when I felt uncomfortable being alone. In fact, it might make you uncomfortable at first, but it’s worth it.

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Go out to eat and treat yourself to a nice dinner. Yep, that’s right you and YOU only. Proudly request a table for one and sit by yourself. Don’t worry about what others think and make sure it’s a sit down restaurant. It can’t be at an airport either! Enjoy the meal and spending time with yourself. Savor the meal you have. Feel uncomfortable? That means you need to do it again.

Love being around yourself.

Find Ways to Lift Up Your Spirit

Ask yourself this, what sort of things get you excited? In other words, if you had a free afternoon to do what you enjoy, what would it be?

You can also think of something that really excites you that you may have neglected when you were in a relationship. Often, in toxic relationships we tend to lose some of who we are and what we enjoy doing.

It can even be as simple as catching up with some old friends.

I used to make “singles mix tapes” (MP3 or Playlist for the younger crowd) of songs that really would lift up my mood.

Find songs that really lift up your mood (I will not go into all the songs I picked but one of them was by a band called Chumbawamba)

Already do things that lift you up? Do more of them. Try something new.

Stop Wishing What Could Have Been

It is so easy to think about the past, especially the good stuff. The good memories take up way more head space than the bad, or at least we don’t remember all of life’s minutiae (life’s minutiae = awesome rock band name).

Many of us figuratively go to that “happy place”- a faraway land where we hope we can live some day.

Have you ever told yourself,
“If only I was still in love with (ex or at all) things would be different. I would be so happy”

I know I have.

When you find yourself thinking about the “what if’s” in life, try the following:

Ask yourself, is this actually useful in helping me be happy right now. Is it helping in any way? Probably not.

It is very easy to think of ideal situations and what could have been. But, when we live in the past, it cripples us from living in the present.

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We begin to hold ourselves back feeling stuck in another time.

Take this Time to Figure Out What’s Really Important

This is the time where looking back at past relationships can be beneficial. Try to look at it as objectively as you can.

What really didn’t work in past relationships? What was something you thought you really wanted but realized that it wasn’t really that important?

Decide for yourself what you truly want out of that relationship. You’ve heard the old saying, “don’t settle for something less”. But, what does that mean for you?

Write it out if it helps. It’s helped me become more objective because it is no longer trapped in my mind.

One caveat.

PLEASE, don’t be the person with “the list”. You know who I’m talking about.

They’ve made a checklist of their “perfect” mate and if that person doesn’t meet exactly every one of those 27, it’s a hard no.

If you tend to do this, I encourage you to ask yourself why all of these are important- the deeper meaning. You may find that it may have something to do with you instead.

Spend some time on this.

Stop Idealizing Your Ex

Your ex is not perfect. Accept it. We tend to associate this person with all of the good memories when we are feeling lonely. The hard truth is this:

Your ex is a person that you are not in a relationship with any more. That is it.

They are nothing more, nothing less.

Your perception of your ex is in fact YOUR perception of who you think that person is. They may be a great person. That’s fine. There are people in my life who I think are great but don’t put them up on pedestals.

Try and let go of the idea of what this person represents and simply acknowledge their place. It also can be useful to ask yourself what you learned from that person. I’ve even written down why I’m grateful for that person and what they taught me about myself today.

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The more you start viewing your ex as who they are, the easier it will become to let go of what you think they should be.

Feel Genuinely Happy for Others in Relationships

This includes your ex. It’s ok to feel jealous, but it’s important to really understand what jealousy is really masking.

It is human nature to feel jealous. But, next time you feel jealous, stop and ask what is that feeling all about. What is it in me that is missing that I am seeking externally? Am I insecure about something?

One way that has helped me get over some of this feelings is to verbally tell friends how happy I am for his or her relationship. In turn, they are happy to hear it and that energy will only bounce back to you.

The best part? The more you tell people how happy you are for them, the better you will feel about relationships. You begin to associate relationships as something positive even as a single person.

You also stop comparing yourself to others because it isn’t about you. It’s just about telling people how great you feel about them.

Your Life Isn’t Over

After a breakup or a long time living in the single world, I used to think I would actually be single forever. There was no hope.

All I could think about was my life as a long and lonely single one, because it was all I could see. We often put these blinders on and can’t see past what’s in our minds.

Someone once showed me a very simple tool that really helped me keep things in perspective. Draw a long line with a beginning and an end point with the day your were born as 0 and the age you think will be your last, respectively.

Then, draw a square from points representing ages when you have actually been single. You can even break up the square to smaller spaces when you’ve been dating or in a relationship. Or, when you believe you could have been in a long term committed relationship and/or married.

You will find that the space is actually quite small compared to your potential lifespan.

This is just to get you to view this moment in time as only a sliver of life.

Get Out and Meet People

The best time to do this is when you’re single- at ANY age. There are plenty of ways to find and meet new people. Join a meetup.com group or join a free dating site and meet other singles in your area. You may not find a relationship right away, but it’s always great to practice.

Go out drinks with some coworkers after work.

Earlier we talked about doing more things that excite you. What are some things that excite you that other people may also enjoy? Then, think about where you might find like-minded people. Maybe it’s an online group or local club.

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You don’t have to make it your mission to find your soulmate but just go out and meet more people. When people want to be around you, you may find you start attracting more people you may be interested in, without even realizing it.

I don’t even suggest setting expectations for yourself. The point is to not try too hard and to just have fun with it.

Get out there!

Find People You Can Relate To

In my hardest times, I’ve always found it helpful to reach out to someone I trust. A friend, family member, or someone going through the same thing as you, can really help you make sense of how you feel.

It is a lot easier to joke about the challenges of single life with someone who is also single. In fact, it’s helpful to know that you aren’t the only one thinking some of those crazy thoughts.

Beyonce’s “All the Single Ladies” just popped in my head. You can even relate to that!

I also find it helpful to watch comedians talk about their failed relationships. They often have a great way of presenting their own lives as something all of us can relate to. Some of them are so open about their shortcomings. Even better, they make you laugh!

I caution you not to get too wrapped up in the negativity of others. There are some single people I know who constantly complain about their single lives. This doesn’t help you.

Find people who you can relate to but also can lift you up, not put you down.

It’s OK to be single

Embrace this time in your life. Don’t beat yourself up about being single. It is much better to be happy alone than miserable with someone else.

Just because someone is in a relationship, does not mean they are happy. It’s helpful to remind yourself of this.

Every day brings a choice as to how you can live the single life. Remind yourself that it is ok to be single and choose to live a happy single life by loving yourself first.

Despite what all of the sappy country songs tell you, you don’t have to be miserable, lonely, and desperate when you’re single.

I’m going to get a little mushy here- if you do feel bummed that you are single, just start to acknowledge those feelings. It’s better to feel them then hold more of them inside.

Actually, being single can be a lot of fun. Embrace it!

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Come back to these lessons as a reminder that everyone is single at one point or another, and it’s how you choose to live the single life that is up to you.

Featured photo credit: Ryan Mcguire via gratisography.com

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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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