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12 Lies We All Tell Ourselves But Shouldn’t

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12 Lies We All Tell Ourselves But Shouldn’t

Although it may carry a heavy social stigma, lying is something that all of us do from one time to another. While the scale and scope of these lies may vary, however, our brains follow the same uniform process whenever we deliberately mislead someone. This is the science that enables lie detectors to work effectively, as they are able to measure thought processes, anxiety and activity in the brains’ frontal lobe. While this technology is primarily used to identify lies that are told by one person to another, however, this should not disguise the fact that deceit can take many conscious and subconscious forms.

Perhaps the most common lies are those that we repeat to ourselves every single day, especially those that relate our futures and the path of self-improvement. While these lies may provide temporary comfort, they can actually prevent us from realising our full potential and achieving life-long goals. Consider the following lies that we tell ourselves on a regular basis and how to overcome them:

1. I cannot escape my past

It is a sad but inescapable fact that some of us lead more difficult lives than others, and these individuals tend to carry the burden of significant emotional baggage. This encourages many to repeat the mantra that they cannot escape their past, but the fact remains that this represents little more than a fear of evolving and incurring the risk of further heartache, failure and disappointment. Not only is it possible to escape from the past, but it can even be used to learn valuable life lessons and make more sensible decisions in the future.

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2. I can do it tomorrow

Life is considered by many to be a journey of self-improvement, and the most successful individuals are often driven by a desire to develop and embrace brand new experiences. This kind of enlightenment cannot be achieved without a proactive attitude, however, and a willingness to undertake emotionally and physically difficult tasks. By deferring difficult challenges and keeping them for another day, you are resisting the opportunity to advance and improve as an individual.

3. I would be happy if only I could…

While perfectionism may sound like a positive trait, it has a particularly strong correlation with the dreaded fear of failure. More specifically, perfectionists tend to find fault in opportunities or potential life partners as a way of avoiding failure or the potential for rejection. This same principle applies to self-examination, and the assertion that we would be entirely content and satisfied if only one aspect of our lives could be changed or improved for the better. This is extremely counter-productive, and will ultimately prevent you from achieving long-term happiness.

4. I cannot cope in a crisis

The way in which we think is at least partially the result of our upbringing, which may either create a sense of optimism, pessimism or something rooted in-between. Those with a negative outlook are likely to take a dim view of crisis, primarily because their predominantly negative thought processes lead them to believe that they are ill-equipped to cope with a stressful situation. This overlooks the fact that crisis can often be viewed as an opportunity in disguise, while it is also important to note that no difficult set of circumstances can be overcome without a positive and robust mentality.

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5. I prefer to give than receive

The nation of England is renowned for its chivalry and politeness, and this has a certain impact on the values that we hold as individuals. Take the notion that it is better to give gifts than receive them, for example, which is engrained in our culture and often drummed into us by our parents from a very early age. There is no shame in enjoying the receipt of gifts or even preferring this to the act of giving, however, so long as it does not consume you and erode all sense of selflessness. Your fundamental nature should never be denied, as this will lead to serious repression and a lack of contentedness over time.

6. I am too busy to…

There are occasions when we become so preoccupied with the way in which we perceive our lives that we lose all touch with reality. This causes us to generalise and ultimately make statements that are fundamentally untrue, such as the assertion that we would love to catch up with friends and family but we are far too busy. This is rarely the case, as if you actually sat down and evaluated how you spent your time you would be able to make room for something that was genuinely important and necessary.

7. I cannot live without…

As anyone who has ever argued can testify, words are often used either to solicit a reaction or deliberately hurt someone we care about. While this is a fundamental aspect of human nature, however, it can become an issue when we repeat these words to ourselves or through the course of private meditation. So although it may be natural to tell a romantic partner who is leaving against your will that you cannot live without them, it is crucial that you do not begin to believe this or repeat it on a regular basis. Not only is it fundamentally untrue, but it will also prevent you from moving forward in a positive and wholesome manner.

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8. I can change this person and their priorities

On the subject relationships, it is also commonplace for love-struck and downtrodden individuals to believe that they can change an errant partner through the power of persuasion alone. While this may or may not be possible within a predetermined period of time, the individual in question must have an innate desire to change if you are to ultimately be successful. So rather than repeating this lie as part of a vicious cycle, it is far better to share your feelings with your loved one and force them to make the changes necessary for a long and happy union.

9. I hate my life

Let’s face facts, every single one of us has had difficult days or periods that have forced us to question the meaning of life and its inherent value. While we may lash out and declare that we hate our lives in a moment of anger, however, it would be more prudent to state that we are unhappy with a particular aspect of our lives. By avoiding overtly emotive outbursts, relaxing and taking the time to evaluate our circumstances, we can usually highlight the main issues and resolve them effectively.

10. I am so jealous of…

If there is one human emotion that could be described as the most destructive, it is most probably jealously. A great destroyer of relationships, careers and even lives, it often arises from a relatively trivial issue that is viewed without a keen sense of perspective and understanding. This means that a sense of jealously is often misplaced and more indicative of an insecurity that exists within ourselves, and the object of this emotion little more than a reminder of our perceived inadequacies. So instead of fixating on an individual who probably has little to do with your life, look deeper to isolate the cause of your insecurities.

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11. I am too old to…

While it is a little glib to declare that age is just a number, it is certainly no barrier to living a happy and fulfilled life. Once again, the declaration that you are too old to pursue a particular goal or past-time represents nothing more than a deep-rooted fear of failure or ridicule. The fact remains that if your body and mind can stand up to the particular challenge that you wish to undertake, age and a selection of arbitrary social customs should remain entirely insignificant.

12. I am unable to give up…

As we progress through the religious festival of Lent, many of you may have chosen to give up something as a way of celebration. This is a noble intention, although you may be undermined in your efforts by nagging doubts surrounding your willpower and sense of conviction. Telling yourself that you cannot give up a particular vice does not make this fact, however, as this is often just an emotive response to a challenging situation. Once you begin to think positively and isolate the task in hand, you will find it relatively easy to achieve your goals.

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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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