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20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

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20 Things Only Women Turning 40 Would Understand

Ageing is something that is often only talked about in hushed voices with a carefully chosen group of friends. People fear old age, and that’s completely normal, but counting 40 as old age is a really silly thing to do. I guess we can just blame Hollywood or fashion magazines for the unrealistic expectations we have when it comes to beauty and ageing, particularly for women, but they are not the only ones that demonize mature women. The media went crazy with the recent Caitlyn Jenner story, and some of the remarks related to age were just appalling.

Well, you know what, I’ve learned a lot from the older women in my life, and I hope I’ll be able to share some of the great advice and life lessons with the younger generations one day. Turning forty is nothing to fear. In fact, it has its own set of unique perks, and there are lots of important things a woman learns by the time she turns forty.

1. We have to learn to let people down gently

While it may be much less time consuming and irritating to just turn someone down with a few simple words and a cold stare,  it’s usually not the best way to go about things. Whether it’s a guy at the club asking for your number, or a friend looking for a favour, you need to gracefully decline people in order to avoid conflict or feeling bad afterwards.

2. We know no one else can tell you how to live your life

Your parents, as well as every grandmother, aunt, cousin, sister, brother, friend, boyfriend or girlfriend, and colleague will have something to say about how you should live your life. You can’t please everyone, so don’t try to please anyone and just do the things that make you happy. It’s good to ask for some feedback, but it is ultimately your life and your opinion is the one that counts.

3. We will earn lots of respect and trust through the art of active listening

It can be difficult for people to keep quiet and let another person speak for a while, and even then a lot of us are just thinking about what we are going to say next instead of absorbing what the other person is trying to tell us. Active listening is a skill, and as a woman matures, she learns just how powerful of a tool, or even a weapon, it can be.

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4. We do whatever it takes to feel sexy and confident

You may feel like the person you are is dictated by the way you look, and you may feel like you can’t change the cards that you have been dealt. However, it’s all about how you feel on the inside and your actions that can be used to define you, and you have the right to feel good in your own body.

There’s a lot you can do about aesthetic issues like having bags under your eyes, wrinkles or any other features that you don’t find too appealing. Exercise, aesthetic surgery and good cosmetics can make you feel sexy and confident, and it is incredibly important that you feel this way on a daily basis. But remember that you don’t need to change a thing about yourself, because you’re already beautiful.

5. We know that when we want something done right, we have to do it ourselves

Delegating your work is sometimes necessary, but it’s a bad idea to get used to relying on others for help. Not only are a lot of people a bit irresponsible, but you also get things done a lot quicker when you do them yourself without waiting on others and getting stressed about the whole situation.

6. We need only a couple of good girlfriends and a bottle of wine to get through tough times

Never keep things bottled up inside for too long – calling up a couple of friends, opening a bottle of wine and having a good long talk is one of the best ways to let go of frustrations and grudges. It is a form of mental cleansing that every woman should do at least once a week.

7. We have to calm ourselves down first, before trying to calm others down

You may think that you are being the rational and collected one who is waving a white flag and offering peace, but nine times out ten both parties in an argument are acting out without even noticing it. There always needs to be one side that is somewhat calm if you don’t want things to get out of hand, so it’s very important to take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down, before trying to talk another person down.

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8. We find quality sleep to be the elixir of youth

Some say it’s the food we eat, others stress the benefits of exercise, and romantics point to love, but, while all these things are good for your physical and mental well-being, a full 8-9 hours of quality sleep every night will really do wonders for you. Sure, sometimes we need to sacrifice a bit of sleep for an evening of good sex, but we should strive to get as much rest as we can during the week.

9. We understand that there’s a difference between having fun and wasting money

When you’re younger you simply throw money away in the name of fun and relaxation, not really caring about saving up. However, as any responsible mature woman who has dabbled in couponing will tell you, there is a way to spend less without sacrificing much in the way of comfort. Spending a Friday night at home and cooking your own dinner is perfectly fine, as a few quiet nights will allow you to save enough money to go on a vacation in a few months.

10. We know jealousy, envy and anger just drain our energy and ruin relationships

People can be quite bad at times, and it is good to keep your guard up or even get emotional every now and then. However, strong emotions can hijack your life and ruin relationships if you let them. Sure, we will all become jealous or angry at some point, but you need to be confident enough to keep your feelings under control. Having something lingering in the back of your mind doesn’t do you any good. You can get addicted to feeling sad or angry, but letting go is the best option.

11. We’ll drop a topic if someone isn’t nearly as enthusiastic about it as we are

Did you ever get the feeling that people weren’t that into a topic you were passionately raving on about for 30 minutes? Let’s be honest, I’ve been guilty of this many times myself, and a lot of people will let you ramble on for fear of offending you. The simple solution is to drop the conversation when you sense indifference, but this requires some of that active listening we mentioned before, i.e. allowing other people to chime in with their opinion. You’ll also have to pick up on the subtle, and not so subtle body language cues that are a clear indication that your friend is disinterested and bored.

12. We have life experience that trumps book smarts and theoretical skill

You’ll meet tons of vibrant young people who talk about life, love, philosophy and politics, but it’s easy to see that they parrot a few articles and the 2-3 books that they’ve read. And that’s if they care enough to do some research. You, on the other hand, have 20 or more years of firsthand experience with all manner of people and situations, which means that your opinions will have more weight, and that you can outperform ambitious, but inexperienced youngsters.

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13. We get to have plenty of great sex

With all that life experience, financial freedom, confidence and sexiness, expect to have some great sex. While the old belief that women reach their sexual peak later in life has been challenged by recent studies, you can’t argue with the fact that at this point you are more in-tune with your body and a whole lot more experienced with romance. We know how to pick out the good ones when choosing a partner, and we know full-well how to make him or her happy.

14. We have learnt to get along with the people we work with

Every woman has her share of workplace stress, and a few stories about difficult co-workers that she likes to tell in order to vent a bit, but in the long run it’s best to develop a positive relationship with the people at work. Many business professionals have stressed the importance of team building activities, and even something as simple as a night at the bar with some of your colleagues can really help ease tension at work by building trust and empathy between you.

15. We hold ourselves accountable, which makes solving problems much easier

The moment you start acknowledging the fact that you are responsible for your own life choices, and that there isn’t always someone to blame for your misfortune, is the moment you begin to work harder on solving the problems that keep pulling you back. Giving up the notion that you are somehow owed something by those around you or society in general is the most liberating experience.

16. We have overcome adversity, and we know what we are truly capable off

We all think we’d do well in certain situations and fail miserably at others, but when faced with these situations a lot of people find that the opposite is truth – you might choke up while giving a speech that you have practiced for hours and hours, and on the other hand you might pull someone out of a car wreck and safe his or her life while others stand by paralyzed with shock.

You need a bit of adversity to help strengthen your character and let you find out things about yourself you didn’t know before. At forty, you’ve got plenty of adversity behind you, and you know yourself much better. To paraphrase an ancient general and master strategist: if you know your enemies and know yourself, you can win a hundred battles without a single loss.

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17. We know our limits, and that actually makes us stronger

The feeling of invincibility you have as a teenager and young adult slowly goes away as you come face to face with some of the harsh realities of the world, but knowing exactly where your limits lie doesn’t clip your wings and make you abandon your dreams. In fact, this knowledge only helps you adapt and choose the best strategy when faced with a challenge.

18. We allow other people to have different opinions

Immature people tend to be very arrogant and think that their opinion is all that matters. Even in terms of fashion sense or taste in music, which are incredibly subjective, some people think that what they like is “the right way”, and will put everyone else down. Over the years, you learn to live and let live – cohabiting, going out and having fun with people with views and sensibilities fairly different from your own.

19. We know love can grow, blossom, and wither away, but you will find it again

When you’re younger love is this huge thing that makes you feel like no one’s ever felt before. However, all relationships go through several phases. The truth is that you can fall deeply in love with someone over several months, feel that your heart is so full that it could just burst, get so attached to them in the next couple of years that you can’t imagine life without them, and then just have that feeling slip away quietly, leaving you indifferent and lonely.

People can also turn out to be jerks, and outside factors may pull people apart. The good news is that we can find this feeling over and over with the right people, and it may even last a lifetime if you find someone who’ll work as hard on the relationship as you will.

20. We are able to provide for ourselves and those we love, and it gives us tons of confidence

One of the biggest problems with self-esteem in young people stems from the fact that they are overly-dependent on others. Their parents have a big say in how and what they do, their peers affect the way they dress and behave, and they are limited by a lack of funds and skills. A woman turning 40 is able to provide for herself and the people she loves, and this gives her the confidence to be herself, stand up for her beliefs, and challenge others when they step over the line. There is no feeling like having enough financial independence to call your own shots.

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When all is said and done, life beyond forty presents an exciting new chapter in every woman’s life. Reaching a mature age is not viewed as something negative – at forty we still have plenty of time to enjoy ourselves, only now you know better and can make smarter decisions.

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Katarina Milovanovic

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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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