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15 Things You Should Stop Being Afraid of Right Now

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15 Things You Should Stop Being Afraid of Right Now

Admit it: You’ve spent most of your life coloring inside the lines. You constantly justify your lack of action by blaming your responsibilities. Meanwhile, they’re not really in your way, but thinking they are means you don’t have to do anything about it. You’ve also used the word “should” one too many times, i.e. “I want to do X but I should do Y.” You know, even though Y makes you want to drink bleach.

But now you’re totally disgusted with yourself. You’re fed up. You’re bored. You don’t just want to step outside your comfort zone, you want to put in your 90-day notice and move the eff out – and you want to be a total badass and write your notice in pen.

Congratulations. You’ve just had your Scarlett O’Hara moment. You can finally stop living behind your denial. You can finally stop being afraid. You can finally transform your life.

Here are 15 things you should stop being afraid of. Like, stat. Unless, of course, you enjoy wallowing in regret.

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1. Being Yourself

This is a lot easier said than done, but it’s the most important thing to stop being afraid of. Otherwise, there’s no point in reading the rest of this article. You should be 100 percent who you really are at all times (like Sheldon Cooper, but charming). Think about everyone you admire and why you admire them: It’s not because they’re perfect or because they please others. That’s not why people will admire you either, but first you have to let them see the real you.

2. Standing Up for Yourself (or Others)

In order to have the life you want, you have to stand up for it. Others are going to resist the changes you’re trying to make because that means in turn their dynamic with you will change. You can stop being afraid of this by creating boundaries, stating your case, and not backing down. Tell them to take it or leave it. Trust me: You’ll feel so much lighter when you do!

3. Being Honest

To stop being afraid of being honest, keep in mind that doing so doesn’t have to equal hurting other people’s feelings. They might be shocked at first (especially if you’re not known for being candid), but you’ll quickly earn their respect.

4. Getting Rejected

Rejection is part of the package no matter what you’re going after. Know it’s not personal: They’re just stating the case for their own career/life goals. If you don’t fit the bill for them, it doesn’t mean you’ll never fit the bill. It just means you have to work a little harder.

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5. Being Criticized

If you don’t stop being afraid of criticism, you’re never going to accomplish anything. Ever. There are two different kinds of criticism: Constructive criticism, where someone offers you pointers on how to do better and improve, and pointless criticism from “haters,” where someone picks you apart just because they can. When being criticized always consider the source and discard the information that won’t improve your life. If Miley Cyrus can hack it, so can you.

6. Making Mistakes

Mistakes are mandatory: They’re the only way you’re going to learn, grow and evolve into the person you want to be. I believe it’s called “earning it.”

7. Owning Your Flaws

I’ve always felt that flaws should only apply to inanimate objects. We’re multi-layered and complicated, not flawed. The only way you’re going to stop being afraid and holding yourself back is to accept yourself in your entirety. It’s impossible to suppress certain aspects of yourself and pretend they’re not there. Not only that, but they’re part of your charm. Perfect is boring. Don’t be boring.

8. Going After Something Big

Seriously, what else is there? If anybody tries to poo-poo on what you want for your life, I order you to slap them (especially if they start talking about “responsibilities”).

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9. Sucking

As much as we strive to be amazing at everything we do, we should only strive to be amazing at what we care about most. For example, I gave up on my basketball career the first day of gym class. Do what you love amazingly well, admit that you don’t give a rat’s about the rest and stop feeling guilty about it. Besides, you’re going to become so successful you’re going to be able to outsource the foofy stuff anyway, right? (Hint, hint.)

10. Apologizing

You’re human. You’re going to screw up. Stop being afraid to apologize for your mistakes. It’s going to get really boring hiding under that rock all by yourself.

11. Failing

It’s actually easy to stop being afraid of failure since, you know, there’s no such thing. You haven’t given up, have you? You learned a lot, didn’t you? Then you haven’t failed.

12. Succeeding

A weird thing happens as you become successful: You’re so used to struggling along like a drunk person who can’t remember where they live that the better things go, the worse you feel. You end up constantly looking over your shoulder or waiting for an anvil to fall on your head. While I totally understand, what’s there to be afraid of exactly? You’ve succeeded once. If you had to, you’d succeed again. You know you’ve got the goods, so why worry?

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13. Letting Go

It’s really hard to let go of the habits that hold you back, especially since 99.99 percent of our everyday habits are automated by our subconscious. During stressful situations especially, we tend to revert back to our oldest and not-so-dearest habits since they make us comfortable – even if they’re self-destructive. If you focus on changing one habit at a time until they’re automated, you’ll have healthy habits to fall back on and will finally stop being afraid to let the bad ones go (because there won’t be any).

14. Taking Risks

There’s only one way to stop being afraid of taking risks, and that’s realizing you should be more afraid of not taking them. Seriously, picture the risk you want to take and bask in how the changes to your life will make you feel. Pretty cool, right? Now picture not taking the risk and everything staying right where you hate it…did Psycho Strings just start playing in the background?

15. Moving On

Okay, so you’ve known Whiny McAlwaysNeedsYou your whole life. So what? So many of us are way too loyal to people who don’t even deserve it. If there are people in your life who bleed you dry of energy, emotion, money, or all three, snap out of it. Please. You can’t see me right now, but I’m begging. One of the biggest things I’ve learned from the train wreck that was my 20s: Nobody is worth your health and well-being. Not one person.

More by this author

Krissy Brady

A women's health & wellness writer with a short-term goal to leave women feeling a little more empowered and a little less verklempt.

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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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