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11 Evil Thoughts That Sabotage Your Best Intentions

11 Evil Thoughts That Sabotage Your Best Intentions
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You know that little sensation that tugs you in a certain direction? You know you must take action, whether it’s tackling a new project, changing your situation or sharing your thoughts. You know you’ll be fulfilled once you realize it. But you’re paralyzed.

You hear that little voice telling you all the “good reasons” why you can’t, why you shouldn’t or why you don’t need to undertake that action. It dissuades you over and over. And you can’t stop it.

But if you learn how to recognize it as an illusion, you can dissociate yourself from it, and it slowly dissolves.

Let’s identify a few evil thoughts and find out how to fight those mental blocks that sabotage your best intentions.

1. “I’ll never be able to make it.”

You’re telling yourself it’s impossible to do anything. You feel overwhelmed. You feel defeated way before you even start. Yes, this might be a big task, but cut it into small pieces and you’ll see how much easier it will become. Acknowledge it for what it is, and make it seem less important than it really is.

Say instead: “I don’t like this, but I’ll try to make it happen,” “This is bothering me, but I’ll do my best,” “I’d rather have an easier task, but I’ll try anyway,” or, “I can always ask for help.”

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2. “It’s too late; there’s no use.”

By saying this, you don’t think of confronting your problem and solving it in a concrete way. So you’d rather forget. You’d rather erase all the negative emotions and uncomfortable sensations. You’d rather not act. Is it really too late? Is it really no use? Isn’t there still a window of opportunity? Can you still take some actions on a smaller scale?

Say instead: “It’s not over yet. I can start by doing the easy little things first.”

3. “I can’t do what they expect.”

What exactly is expected of you? Do you actually know what it is? Has anyone voiced it clearly? Do you actually think you’ve been handed over something that others don’t believe you can do? If they handed it to you, it’s because they believe in you and trust you.

Say instead: “I can respond appropriately,” or, “I can do what’s needed and it’ll work.”

4. “I can’t show this. I have to get it right. It needs to be perfect.”

You believe that anything short of perfection is horrible and that even minor imperfections will lead to catastrophe. Why subject yourself to such tyranny? Doing so will only lead you to frustration, depression, anxiety, or anger. Although it’s good to aspire to perfection and push to reach your peak level of performance, perfection doesn’t have to be the only requirement. Besides, do you have a precise idea of what “perfect” looks like? Stop hurting yourself. Stop setting standards that are so high that they can’t be met or are only met with great difficulty.

Say instead: “I’d like this to be of superior quality, but I can only do my best. A few mistakes won’t kill me.”

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5. “I don’t know where to begin. I don’t know what to say.”

Here you feel helpless. You think nothing is possible when, in fact, everything is possible. There’s not one good way, but many ways to start doing something. So the real problem just lies in choosing where to begin.

Say instead: “Starting somewhere is better than starting nowhere.”

6. “I’ll do it when I find the perfect situation/person.”

When will that be? In a month, in a year or never? The perfect thing/situation might never come if you don’t take action. And it might not be as perfect as you envision it. But you can move toward it. That’s what makes life adventurous.

Say instead: “I’m willing to take risks.”

7. “Even if I try, I’ll make a mistake. I’m not good/smart enough.”

Why set yourself up to fail right away? You see it in your future as if it were already decided. Your future is not a fixed destination; it’s a place you can create out of the choices you make right now. Sure, you might make mistakes, but look forward to them, expect them, and learn from them.

Say instead: “I can adapt to any situation. I’ll do what’s necessary to make it work,” or, “I’ll get better at this.”

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8. “Whatever I do, it’ll always be the same. It doesn’t make a difference.”

You have feelings of despair, discouragement, and numbness. You’ve tried a few times and failed, and you’re afraid of being hurt again. So you prefer to stay still, to be passive, to be unresponsive because you’d rather feel safe and secure.

Say instead: “Let’s try this one more time.”

9. “I’ll take care of it tomorrow/later.”

Will you really? Or would you rather ignore that little voice, that little uncomfortable physical sensation, or that unpleasant feeling? Sure, there are times when you can postpone an activity. But if you do it more than once, when you know it would be in your best interest to take care of it now, you are procrastinating big time. Ask yourself what the benefit will be if you do it now. What will it cost if you don’t?

Say instead: “I’ll do five minutes of this to start,” or, “Let’s cut it up and do one thing at a time.”

10. “This is just too hard.”

You feel you have to put too much effort into your task. But at the same time you’re still making an effort to breathe, walk, and talk, right? So you can make an effort. Yeah, it may be harder, but so what? That shouldn’t discourage you at all. At first, you might have to work a little harder, but things will get easier over time.

Say instead: “This can be easy and effortless.” (Even if it might require you to spend some energy.)

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11. “That’s the way I am. I can’t change this.”

Think about this: what has remaining the same done for you lately? Has it helped you improve your situation in any way? It’s not that you can’t change, it’s that you don’t want to change. Big difference. But if you want to get ahead, you have to change.

Say instead: “I’m willing to make an effort,” or, “I’m willing to change.”

Vanquish Your Demons and Take Action

You view these recurring negative thoughts, these evil thoughts that have been holding you down in the dumps for a long time, as an excessive weight on your ankle that is stopping you from moving and realizing yourself.

But what you hear in your head is not really you. Your true self is in fact the person you could potentially become.

So change your script. Find the strength to be adventurous, dynamic, and solution-focused.

If you feel these evil thoughts paralyzing you, if you feel stuck, or if you feel dissociated, just do one thing. You must decide to let go; you must decide to move on. Allow yourself to make your situation joyful, and allow yourself to love and forgive yourself no matter what.

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Because you know how you will feel about yourself once you do.

Featured photo credit: Worried Girl, Woman, Waiting/RyanMcGuire via pixabay.com

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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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