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14 Harsh Life Truths You Need To Know To Be Stronger

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14 Harsh Life Truths You Need To Know To Be Stronger

Life is no picnic. All too often, we have to overcome obstacles in order to survive. Study these 14 harsh truths of life to help you get stronger and be more self-confident.

“We spend much of our lives going about completely blind to reality, and yet we still have the gall to act victimized when it invariably catches up to us.” – Nenia Campbell

1. You cannot always rely on friends.

You will need certain life skills when nobody else is around. In this way you can rely on yourself to get out of trouble. It is a sad fact of life that we cannot count on other people most of the time. Make sure you have the following skills:

  • You can cook
  • You can drive
  • You know about the power switches in your home
  • You have a spare set of keys in a secret place for when you get locked out
  • You can manage your time
  • You learn something new about information technology every day to become computerate.

2. Make time for your passion.

Whatever you love doing, make sure you do it at a set time. This is important because you find that friends, family, your boss, and your pet will be constantly yapping at your heels trying to steal your time. You have to build in the following defense mechanisms to stop people making unreasonable demands at the wrong moment:

  • Switch off your phone
  • Turn off the computer
  • Go out and do it or lock yourself in
  • Leave Post-its to remind these intruders. (Yes, I know your pet can’t read but the others can!)

3. You accept challenges.

In order to grow in being sociable, stronger both physically and mentally, you have to accept challenges on a regular basis. You are pushing yourself to get better and stronger.

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4. You like being alone but you are not a loner.

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.” – Jean-Paul Sartre

It is impossible to exist without social contact. You can be as strong and self-sufficient as you like, but at the end of the day you need to interact in a real, personal and meaningful way, which is neither Facebook nor Twitter. You need to be in contact with real people for this.

At the same time, you can enjoy quiet time alone and you are comfortable with that. The health benefits range from increased creativity, less depression and improved memory.

5. Lower your expectations.

“I’m not in this world to live up to your expectations and you’re not in this world to live up to mine.” – Bruce Lee

Don’t think that people will always be there when you fall or fail. The phone will go silent. Many friends will suddenly be very busy with their own problems. When I was recovering from a fall, not one person in my condo offered to help me with carrying the shopping!

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6. Prepare for bad times.

Stuff happens and it can get nasty! You will have to learn to be stronger and not give up. But the good news is that adversity and suffering will make you appreciate life afterwards. Those who endured hardships, like being homeless, divorced or ill, found that they been able to develop better coping strategies and were more socially active.

“Hope for the best and cope with the rest.” – Anon

7. You cannot be popular with everybody.

It’s just chemistry. There are people who will rub you up the wrong way, will be bitchy, and will be downright unhelpful in the workplace. You can adopt a few avoidance strategies to reduce the fallout. Get over it and enjoy the company of the real friends you have.

8. You learn from failure.

Everybody screws up. You know that perfection is impossible. Every time you have a disaster, do not beat yourself up. Just ask yourself how you could have avoided the trap or planned it better. In this way you can learn a few life lessons from failure.

9. Nobody else will praise you.

Time to give yourself a pat on the back for all your achievements. Don’t be afraid to list them in your head when you get discouraged. Give yourself a score for each finished task. This keeps you strong when facing life’s harsh realities.

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10. Toxic company is bad for you.

You know the people I mean. These are the whiners, the pessimists, the miserable ones, the cheap ones, the nasty types, and the prejudiced. They make a lousy team. Try to gravitate towards the optimistic and passionate people who will help you see the brighter side of life.

11. Money is tight.

Nobody wants to be stalked by debt or creditors. You have to work out how best to stay within your budget. Think of ways to save, like having packed lunches. Never go shopping without a list. Avoid impulsive buys. Use cash as much as you can. Leave the credit cards at home as they tend to lull you into a fantasy world.

12. Invest in kindness.

Doing acts of kindness every day to people at work or those in difficulty will pay handsome dividends. People will return the kindness. Investing in kindness is like having savings in the bank. They will always earn a little interest. What goes around comes around. There is also an added bonus in that it makes you feel good for a while.

13. Be accountable for your behavior.

If you behave badly, rudely or take unnecessary risks, then you have to be totally accountable for what you have done. You have to take the responsibility for your behavior. Another harsh lesson from the life arena! Taking the consequences, not blaming others and apologizing for harm done have to be on your to do list.

14. Look forward.

There is no escape. Life is wonderful but it is really hard work. Now is the time to start afresh.

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“All the world is full of suffering. It is also full of overcoming.” – Helen Keller

“Yesterday ended last night.” – John Maxwell

How have you coped with life’s harsh truths? Let us know in the comments below.

Featured photo credit: Hard Life/ farm9 via farm9.static.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)

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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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