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10 Relationship Mistakes That Make Us Lose Sight of What’s Really Important

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10 Relationship Mistakes That Make Us Lose Sight of What’s Really Important

Relationships are taxing. They are frustrating, annoying, time consuming, but also absolutely amazing. A healthy relationship is one in which you don’t keep score, you both meet halfway, money isn’t an issue, you both value and respect each other and of course, harbor lots of love for each other.

But if it’s not like that, you may want to stop and consider what’s wrong. These are some relationship mistakes we all make at some point or the other that we absolutely must stop at once and here’s why.

For the Supporting Actors: Stop Undervaluing Yourself

Seriously you’re a superstar. Remember that time you aced your presentation even though you barely had enough time to prepare for it? Or when you just live day in and day out happily even though society often burdens you with ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’, ‘yes’ and ‘no’ and keeps trying to tell you how to live? Well, you are no less than a superstar.

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Believe it. Believe in your capacity and your credibility and your accomplishments. To believe in yourself, is to believe in your accomplishments and to believe that you deserve everything you get. Your relationship too, becomes happier as you are less riddled with insecurities and guilt and vulnerabilities and waste less time wondering what you might do wrong and end it or why you deserve it and instead lets you focus more on making your relationship the best it can be.

For the Co-dependent: Stop Outsourcing Your Happiness

Happiness is a strange and rare emotion. People find happiness in different places and different circumstances. Some find happiness in success, some find happiness in giving, some find happiness in contributing but very rarely do people find happiness by themselves. When we depend on others or other things to make us happy, our happiness gets conditional. And that is when something else, something we often have no power over, can make us sad. So stop outsourcing your happiness, especially to your partners. If your partner is the only thing in your life that makes you happy, their absence by itself would be enough to make you unhappy. Of course, you must be happy with your partner but your happiness must never stem from your partner.

For the Mind Readers: Stop Assuming

Men are silly. Women are silly. Many times words are misplaced, sentiments wounded and emotions hurt. It happens in all relationships. The best way to deal with it is to talk it out. A lot of emphasis is placed on communication because that’s the best way to sort things out! So don’t just give up or assume what your partner meant. If the relationship is worth it, one of you (preferably the one who shouted the loudest or who’s words were the meanest) swallow your ego and ask and talk and apologize (if need be). Work towards a better a relationship, not a petty one.

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For the Morphs: Stop Trying to Change Your Partner

To try to change someone is to indirectly tell them that they are not good enough. If you don’t think that individual is good enough for you, then don’t be in a relationship with them, however if you are in a relationship with them, accept them the way they are. Try to maintain a positive attitude about their habits that bother you and move along. We all have enough insecurities and vulnerabilities and to add to those, just because you want to see them act or behave a certain way is rather selfish. So, instead of trying to change your partner, focus more on adapting and accepting them with to their odd behaviors and weird quirks.

For the Cross Checkers: Stop Comparing Your Relationship

Every time you cross check and compare your relationship with someone else’s relationship, you’re bound to find something in another relationship that you like, that doesn’t exist in yours and then wonder why that is so. All relationships are a careful balance of uniqueness, love and the good and bad.  As far as someone else’s relationship is concerned  you more often than not you see only the ‘unique’ and then compare it to yours. Comparing you relationship to any others will not only tarnish what you have but it will also compel you to find reasons to be dissatisfied in your own.

For the Score Board Keepers: Those Who Keep Scores

It isn’t a game. A relationship doesn’t need scores to be kept. Who did what, when, how many times, these are things that each member in the relationship should be holding themselves accountable for and not keeping tabs on your partner. If you do catch yourself ‘counting’ ask yourself, is that, that insignificant task that would take you simply a minute to do, is more important than the love and support you harbor for each other?

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For the Competitors: Stop Competing With Your Partner

Competition is good as long as it’s not with each other, to compete with each other shows an attempt to outdo the other as you may not feel you’re good enough. Competing with each other in a relationship ruffles your ego urges you to out do the other in everything to ‘win’ and then subsequently you might end up resenting your partner for your need to constantly compete with them. Instead accept and know that you and your partner are equal in the relationship and feel comfortable in the idea that sometimes your partner will do better than you and sometimes you will. That you partner does well should make you proud of having a partner who is able and capable and not instill petty competition.

For the Dog Lovers: Stop Putting Your Partners Needs Before Yours

Self love is the best love. Love yourself before you love anyone else. As selfish as it may sound, loving yourself fully, completely, madly and in totality is the best way, if not the only way that you can love someone else. If you put someone else’s needs before yours you are likely to eventually burn out and get frustrated in the relationship as your needs then take a backseat. For when you love yourself, you take care of yourself, your needs, your happiness and then this  happiness is what you spread to the world and give to your relationship.

For the Mirrors: Giving Into Your Partner’s Idea Of You

Everyone is unique and just as you shouldn’t try to change them, don’t let your partner change you! You are the best version of you that there possibly could be and to try to change it would mean to live your life on someone else’s terms. That is not what a relationship is about. The change starts with little habitual observations and can blow into an entire attitude. You stick to your guns. If your partner respects you for it, you know you’ve found a keeper, if not, then, well, it’s your decision henceforth.

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For the Silence Decoders: Stop Taking Their Silence As An Indicator Of ‘Something Else’

Many times we are tired, or are having a bad week or just don’t want to talk. A lot of people tend to resort to silence even when they feel perfectly happy. They just don’t want to talk. If you feel your partner is like that, ask them about it, discuss it and then once you know, let them be. If they get silent don’t take that silence for something it’s not. Don’t over think it. A relationship goes both ways, your partner is bound to tell you if something is bothering them but if nothing is bothering them what will they tell you? Pestering them about it with constant questions, does nothing but annoy them. So don’t over think it, be patient and let them be.

Featured photo credit: Getty via i.huffpost.com

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Sanah Rizvi

Sanah is an influential public speaker and a devoted advocator of female rights.

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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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