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10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Today

10 Things to Stop Doing to Yourself Today

Isn’t life challenging enough as it is? You don’t have to make it any worse by doing things you should not do to yourself. Family and Relationships author Maria Robinson says “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” Rather than continue making the wrong choices and focusing on the wrong things, you can give yourself a fresh start by avoiding those things that bring hurt and pain. Here are 10 things you should stop doing to yourself from today.

1. Stop criticizing yourself

Give yourself a break already! Everyone makes mistakes. There is nobody in this world who is perfect. Wallowing in the dark pit of regret and self-criticism does not solve anything; it only dampens your spirit and causes physical and emotional pain and hurt. Stop it now. You may wring your hands and loathe yourself for a little while, but don’t do it too long or you will create a problem that wasn’t even there to begin with. Let go once you have fully processed your mistake and replace the self-loathing and criticism with self-reassurance and determination. Tell yourself you will do better next time.

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2. Stop believing the negative opinions of others

People say nasty things to each other every day and it has been so for eons. Whether someone says something negative about you out of love or hate, it’s going to hurt to some degree. That said, don’t take things too personally and let negative opinions bring you down. Just because someone says you are “crazy,” “lazy” or “worthless” doesn’t mean it is true. Les Brown says, “Other people’s opinions of you do not have to become your reality” and he is right. Take negative opinions with a grain of salt. You are stronger and more capable than people think and you prove this when you rise up and keep going. Correct what needs correcting and ignore what needs ignoring.

3. Stop focusing on what you don’t have

You can never have everything you want in life and focusing too much on what you don’t have can be a terrible waste of time, energy and resources. Instead of coveting what you don’t have, focus on being grateful for what you do have. Rather than think about what you’re missing, try thinking about what you have that others are missing. Believe it or not, no matter how bad you think you have it, someone somewhere is having it worse. So, wake up each day thankful for your life and draw strength from a deep reservoir of gratitude for the things you do have that mean something in your life.

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4. Stop putting yourself last

It’s not fun being last all the time and you know it. Why put all your energy, time and resources into your job, friends, colleagues and even family until you have nothing left for yourself? Yes, sacrifice, duty, responsibility are all good and important, but if you keep putting yourself last and don’t take care of yourself, you’ll eventually have less and less to give until you have absolutely nothing left to offer. Continue putting yourself last and you will be drained, overwhelmed and susceptible to stress, depression and other health problems. Take care of yourself first. This is not selfishness; it is wisdom for living.

5. Stop spending time with the wrong people

Ever wondered why successful people leave their loser friends behind? It’s because, as Jim Rohn famously put it, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. Life is too short to surround yourself with people who bring you down, suck the happiness out of you or have no ambitions whatsoever in life. Surround yourself with people who will uplift you—not those who undermine your worth. Mark Twain notes: “Good friends, good books, and a sleepy conscience: this is the ideal life.”

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6. Stop worrying too much

If your problems can be solved, there is no reason to worry? If your problems cannot be solved, worrying will do you no good. The only thing that worrying does really well is aggravate the situation and strip you of the joys of today. Take a deep breath and relax. Don’t let worry paralyze you. If you made it this far, there is no reason why you will not make it in the future. Life always has a way of working things out for the better in the end.

7. Stop trying to be someone you’re not

There is only one you in the entire world—dare I say the entire universe! Trying to be someone you are not or worse someone else you think is smarter or prettier than you is futile. You can only be you and others can only be who they were created to be. You may emulate some good qualities of people you admire, but only to complement (not replace) who you are as a person. Just enjoy being yourself and you will ultimately draw the right people who will love and appreciate you genuinely.

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8. Stop having unrealistic expectations

We all want to be happy in life and have every right to purse happiness, but we set ourselves up for sore disappointment when we have unrealistic or unreasonable expectations. For example: don’t expect to be the CEO of your company overnight. It won’t happen. Consider your talents, skills, qualifications and experiences and weigh these against your aspirations and vision for the future. Align everything with the circumstances of your life and set realistic goals and expectations.

 9. Stop trying to buy happiness

You can buy a sleek, new Lamborghini, build a mansion on the hill and fly to exotic lands at will and still not be happy. The things that bring true joy and happiness in life are often free. Laughter, love, talent, passion, compassion are totally free. Don’t try to buy happiness or worry too much about whether life is fair or not. Just get on with it and extract happiness from common things around you. Nathaniel Hawthorne says: “Happiness is as a butterfly which, when pursued, is always beyond our grasp, but which if you will sit down quietly, may alight upon you.”

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 10. Stop giving up too soon

Life will throw many trials and challenges you way. That is what makes living so exciting. If you give up too soon, you miss out on the thrills and chills of living a full life. Keep pressing on and be alert and open to encouragement from unexpected places. Good things come to those who persevere. Besides, as Jane Addams rightly observes, nothing could be worse than given up too soon and leaving one unexpended effort that might have saved the world.

Can you think of any other thing people should stop doing today?

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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)

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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