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10 Ways In Which Being Independent Makes Your Relationship Better

10 Ways In Which Being Independent Makes Your Relationship Better
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Successful and happy relationships are really important if we want to live a long and happy life. This is the view of Dr. John Gottman, a relationships expert, in a recent interview with CNN. Being in a healthy relationship is going to impact much more than your gluten free diet or whether you run a marathon every week!

A vital component in a successful relationship is being independent. That may seem like a contradiction because it implies a certain distance and detachment. In reality, it will help you thrive. Here are ten ways you can make sure this happens.

1. You keep your identity

“In love the paradox occurs that two beings become one and yet remain two.”- Erich Fromm

It is wonderful to have shared interests which will bond you in a marvellous way. However, you do not need to do this 100% of the time. The risk is that you lose your individuality and you end up as a very tight couple or morphed unit. Just think of the pleasure in doing something on your own and then coming back to tell each other about it.

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2. You are self sufficient

I know lots of couples where one or both are so dependant on each other that they just cannot function on their own. Simple skills like driving a car, cooking a basic meal and even making friends on Facebook are left to the other partner. The problem here is that you can become over dependent and this can result in a whinging and clingy significant other. Aiming for a degree of self sufficiency is very wise. It takes off a lot of the pressure.

3. You know how to keep the relationship fresh

After years and years, you know exactly how your partner is going to react and what she or he is going to say! It becomes a sort of ritual and in some ways, this is reassuring. But if this leads to a stale and stagnant relationship, then it is time to think again. Dr. Gottman believes that courtship never stops, even in a marriage lasting forty years!

The solution is to occasionally add in some or all of the following:

  • start a new hobby you are both keen on
  • cook something different
  • try a new weekend activity or venue
  • make an effort to meet new friends

4. You know how to create your own space

Keeping your identity means in practice creating some space and privacy for yourself. Ideally, there will be physical space and time to do this so that the other partner does not feel embarrassed or in the way. So, each can pursue their own friends, hobbies or just chill out. The important thing is not to feel that you are neglecting your responsibilities as a partner. You are both mature enough to understand this is not abandonment. You are, in fact, helping to nurture the relationship.

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5. You know how to grow in a relationship

“You can’t stop the waves, but you can learn to surf.” – Jon Kabat-Zinn

Lots of couples exhaust all their possibilities within a few years. The relationship needs to grow. You will need more than a few novelties here. This goes much deeper. Here, you have to deal with conflicts when they arise. Learning how to lower expectations, or to practise more patience and acceptance are great ways to learn from conflicts and see them as an opportunity for growth. This is easier when you are more independent.

6. You realize the need to recharge emotionally

Being less codependent means that you are in charge of your emotions, feelings and perceptions. You are not going to let your partner hijack them!

In practice, this means that you are both able to take time off to recharge your emotional batteries. This makes spending time together afterwards so much more enjoyable. I love the advice that Darlene Lancer gives in her book Codependency for Dummies.

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7. You know how to be flexible

Independence means the freedom to schedule your workload. But when you travel a lot for work and your partner may be left alone for long periods, this can become a problem. You both know that flexibility will be the key to solving this problem. Your independence can really help here because you just know how to be flexible. Compromises can be reached and this can prevent the problem from getting out of hand.

8. You know how to be assertive

“We don’t try to become someone else’s mirror.” – Randy Paterson in The Assertiveness Workbook

If you are both assertive, it does not necessarily mean a clash or conflict. Finding the right dose of give and take is an essential element in being independent. You do not want to be a dictator nor do you want to be a doormat. Basically, you both know what you want and you are able to set the boundaries which reflect your needs and emotional well being.

9. You know not to check up all the time

Once you have established your time off with your friends, try not to check up by sending texts or phoning. There is nothing more annoying when you get these beeps and alerts. Cut it out!

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10. You know what to focus on

“The quality of our life is the quality of our relationships.” – Anthony Robbins.

Being independent means also feeling free to concentrate on your life’s ambition, whatever that is. It may be your work or some sport you love doing. This helps to put things into perspective and is also important for having your own sense of self. Not forgetting that we all want to be supported, cared for and loved. If we succeed, that will be the quality hallmark in our lives.

Featured photo credit: Couple framed/David Amsler via flickr.com

More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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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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