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12 Toxic Thoughts You Need To Drop For A Better Life

12 Toxic Thoughts You Need To Drop For A Better Life
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One of my mottoes is “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life!” I’m a big believer that our thoughts and emotions shape our experiences. The problem is that most people aren’t even aware of their negative thoughts. It’s almost like they have just become a habit, so it seems normal to them. Here are 12 common toxic thoughts that you need to drop in order to have a better life:

1. Thinking that you are a victim.

You’re not a victim. So stop blaming other people or your circumstances for your problems. Just because you don’t like where you are now doesn’t mean that you can’t take personal responsibility to change it for the better. So get rid of that victim-mentality because it doesn’t help anything. In fact, it acts as an obstacle to success. Realize that you, and only you, are responsible for your destiny.

2. Thinking that you can change other people.

You can’t. I had to learn this the hard way. There was a time in my life when I thought I could “motivate” and “inspire” people to be their best selves. It took me a while to realize that the only thing that can change other people is themselves. If they don’t want to change—or don’t know how—then all of your efforts will be wasted. So don’t worry about other people. If you don’t like them “as is,” then you have the choice to not hang out with them anymore. But you don’t have the right to change them.

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3. Thoughts that constantly resist “What Is.”

Some things you can change. In fact, a LOT of things you can change. You can lose weight. You can find a better job. You can go back to school. You can work on your marriage. But there are some things you can’t change. Those things are simply “what is.” You can’t change that your boss is a jerk. You can change jobs, but you can’t change your boss. You can’t change the fact that you have to pay rent or your mortgage. But you can stop resisting it. Resisting the unchangeable does nothing more than frustrate you and make you miserable. So change what you can, and accept what you can’t.

4. Thinking that “The Grass is Always Greener on the Other Side.”

“If only I was as pretty as that girl, then I’d be happy.”  Or “If only I was as rich as that guy, then I’d be happy.” Those kinds of thoughts aren’t true. Just because you think someone else has it better than you doesn’t mean they do. Maybe the pretty girl came from an abusive home and can’t get her life in order. And maybe the rich guy spends so much time at work that he never gets to see his family. The grass is not greener on the other side. So appreciate the grass you have. It’s your grass. So love it.

5. Having expectations of other people.

Expectations can be deadly to happiness, even if you think your expectation is reasonable, such as having your roommate or spouse do his/her share of the chores around the house. Just because you expect it doesn’t mean they will do it. Realize that your expectations come from your personal experiences and biases. They are not necessarily other people’s priority. You probably don’t like being expected to do things that you don’t want to do, so don’t impose your expectations on others. If you don’t like their behavior, either accept it, or move on.

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6. Thinking that having a significant other will complete you.

If you are not a whole person already, then having a romantic partner will not make you whole. Plus, it puts a lot of pressure on the other person to “make you happy.” You need to be happy with yourself with or without someone. Having a significant other doesn’t make you happier. Only you can make yourself happy.

7. Feeling that you always need to prove that you are right.

I always wonder why people will fight to the death to prove they are “right.” What’s the point? I think it’s because they don’t want to look weak. Or vulnerable. Or stupid. But I think admitting you are wrong is a much more noble and mature thing to do. Besides, everyone has a different opinion. So why not have yours and let them have theirs?

8. Worrying about what other people think.

Why do you care? Do you think they are judging you? I’m going to let you in on a little secret. No one is judging you as much as you are judging yourself. Other people are too busy judging themselves just like you that they probably don’t even give you a second thought! So do what makes you happy. And if others are judging you, then it’s their problem, not yours. Ignore them and be happy anyway.

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9. Thinking there is only ONE right and ONE wrong.

We live in a world where we like to think there is an objective reality. But guess what? Objective reality is an illusion. It doesn’t exist. Only subjective realities do. What one person thinks is the “truth” is not the truth for someone else. For example—who’s right? The Republicans or the Democrats? Well, it depends on who you ask, right? Everyone thinks something is right because it fits their life and the way they look at the world. And that’s it. Period. End of story.

10. Worrying about the future because you feel unprepared.

I love this saying: “Worrying is like praying for what you don’t want.” And if you believe in the power of prayer, then you know that sending out thoughts and emotions into the Universe/God (whatever your belief system) works much of the time. So instead, be here in the NOW. Now is all you have. So be present and stop worrying about the future because you can only control it to a certain extent.

11. Thinking that money equals happiness.

We live in a capitalistic culture that values money and achievement. We think that people who have a lot of money are somehow better than those who don’t. But that’s simply not true. I’m sure there are plenty of happy monks in the world who probably don’t hold a dollar to their names. Or someone working at McDonald’s may be really happy while some billionaires aren’t. So don’t fall into the trap of thinking you have to be rich to be happy. It simply isn’t true. Money is nice, but it doesn’t make you happy. Only you can do that.

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12. Believing that the past determines your future.

Just because you came from a poor family, or made mistakes in the past does not mean that you can’t make your future better. If you have labeled yourself as a “failure” because of your past, then you will only continue your “failure” attitude into the future. And if you’ve heard of the self-fulfilling prophecy phenomenon, then you know that what you think, you become. So like I said in the opening paragraph: “Change Your Thinking, Change Your Life!”

I hope that this article has made you think long and hard about the toxic thoughts that probably go through your mind every day. And I bet you didn’t even know it! So start paying attention to what you think, and when you catch your negative thoughts, hit the “cancel” and “delete” buttons—FAST!

More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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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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