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15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone At All (Though You Think You Do)

15 Things You Don’t Owe Anyone At All (Though You Think You Do)
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Many choices we make in life—ranging from what we do, to how we conduct ourselves, and who we interact with—are subject to prying questions and commentary from those around us. Family members, friends, and even total strangers, it often seems like everyone has an opinion on the things we do, no matter how small or insignificant those things might seem to us.

Sometimes people go so far as to ask you to explain yourself for the decisions or choices you make in your own life. You might feel obliged to respond, but some things are really no one else’s business and you don’t owe anyone an explanation at all for the following 15 things—though you think you do.

1. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your living situation.

Whether you are cohabiting with your ex-boyfriend or ex-girlfriend, crashing in different motel rooms across the country, or living with your parents for a while when you are past your twenties, you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone for who you live with and why if you don’t want to. If you are fully aware of your living situation, then it means you have your own reasons for being in that situation that are nobody else’s business.

2. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your life priorities.

You have your own ideas about the things that would make you and your loved ones truly comfortable and happy, which is your main priority. Since we are all unique individuals with different values, dreams and aspirations, your core priorities will be different from the next person’s. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for what you determine is your core priority in life. That is your personal business not other people’s business.

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3. You don’t owe anyone an apology if you are not sorry.

If you don’t regret your actions, still think someone is wrong about something or don’t care much for their forgiveness, you don’t have to apologize. Many people are too quick to offer apologies and try to mend wounds that are not yet ready to be mended, which only serves to aggravate the wound and bring more problems. You really don’t have to apologize if you are not sorry or your side of the story hasn’t been heard.

4. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for requiring alone time.

You might worry that you will come across as “rude,” “anti-social” or “aloof” when you cancel plans or other obligations because you need some time alone to reboot, unwind or just enjoy a good book by yourself. However, spending time alone is a completely normal, natural and necessary practice that more people should adopt. Take your alone time confidently because you don’t owe anybody an explanation for it.

5. You don’t owe anyone your agreement on their personal beliefs.

Just because someone shares their personal beliefs passionately doesn’t mean you have to sit there and nod in approval to everything they say. If you don’t share in their beliefs, it is unfair to yourself and to the other person to suppress your own thoughts and feelings and pretend you agree with them. It’s okay and better to disagree with them gracefully instead of bottling up your disapproval and frustrations.

6. You don’t owe anyone a yes to everything they say.

You have a right to say no whenever there is no compelling reason to say yes. In fact, the most successful people in the world are those who have mastered the art of saying no to everything that is not a priority. Acknowledge other people’s kindness and be grateful for it, but don’t be afraid to politely decline anything that takes your focus away from your core goals and priorities. That’s how to get ahead.

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7. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your physical appearance.

You might be slender, plump, tall, short, pretty, plain or whatever, but you don’t have to explain yourself to anyone for why you look how you do. Your physical appearance is your own business and you are obligated only to yourself. Physical appearance shouldn’t determine your self-worth.

8. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your food preferences.

There are certain foods that you just don’t like at all for different reasons, including taste preference and health issues. You don’t have to explain to anyone at all why you prefer certain foods. Your food preference is a matter that is best left to you. If anyone pesters you about why you are eating (or not eating) certain foods, shrug it off and just say you feel better eating (or not eating) those foods.

9. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your sex life.

As long as it happens with another consenting adult, you don’t owe anyone an explanation for where, when and how you conduct your sex life. You can wait for marriage, try one-night stands or experiment with same sex encounters to your heart’s pleasure and still not have to explain your sexual preferences to anybody.

10. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your career or personal life choices.

Sometimes circumstances force us to choose between work and “having a life.” The decision is not always easy and you might end up choosing work, not because you don’t care about your family or social life, but because you are working on something that will give you security in the future. Either way, you don’t owe others an explanation for choosing a career over your personal life (or vice versa) as long as you are confident about what you are doing and why you are doing it.

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11. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your religious or political views.

Whether you are a Democrat, Republican, Catholic, Protestant or Muslim, that is your own personal choice. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for why you are what you are and believe what you believe. If someone can’t accept you for who you are, that is their personal dogma—not yours.

12. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for being single.

Whether you are single by design or by default that is nobody’s business. Being single is not a personality disorder. You are free to be in a relationship or not. Besides, you are far more than your relationship status and singlehood is just one of those social labels no one should really care about.

13. You don’t owe anyone a date just because they asked.

Someone might be nice, good looking and you may even be a little interested, but you don’t owe them a date just because they ask. If you feel deep down you don’t want to go on that date, then don’t. You may offer a reason for declining, but keep it brief and stick to your decision.

14. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your decision about marriage.

Whether or not you choose to get married and have kids or stay unmarried and be childfree, that is your own personal decision. Even your mom who is dying for grandchildren should understand that marriage is a personal decision and not suited for everyone. She should respect your decision about it no matter how hard it is to swallow.

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15. You don’t owe anyone an explanation for your relationship choices.

Sometimes people make inappropriate commentary about your romantic relationship(s), which is really none of their business. You might overhear comments like you are not the “perfect couple” or you should find someone else. However, you are not answerable to anyone but yourself for your relationship choices. Live your life and never, ever leave or stay in a relationship just because someone else says you have to. Make your own mistakes if you must, but learn from them always.

Featured photo credit: Bassi Baba via flickr.com

More by this author

David K. William

David is a publisher and entrepreneur who tries to help professionals grow their business and careers, and gives advice for entrepreneurs.

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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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