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24 Questions That Awaken The Real You

24 Questions That Awaken The Real You

I never used to ask these hit-harder-than-Tyson questions of myself. Or perhaps more accurately I’d occasionally ask them or they’d pop, unwanted, into my head, but I’d always quickly remove them from consciousness. I didn’t want to “go there”. Because I was scared. Intuitively, I knew these were important questions. Questions that would take me forward and jolt me outside my current reality. But I was comfortable drifting along the peripheries of my potential, even if I wasn’t totally happy, so why would I want to risk that? But… I had to risk it. I’d always wanted more than “normal”; better than “average”. I wanted to be successful. I really did. And these questions must’ve been popping into my head for a reason, with the most logical explanation being that I wanted an answer to them. When I really thought about it, I was desperate for an answer to these kinds of questions. I knew they’d set me free, because that’s what being honest does. You no longer hide from yourself. It can be a little painful at first, but what’s more painful: asking these questions of yourself now, or never asking them and risking never living the life you’ve always wanted to? Only you know if you’re being honest or not. The more you do it, the easier it becomes. They just become questions you ask of yourself all the time and give true answers to. My life changed when I started asking these questions and being honest with myself. I realized (admitted) that I just wasn’t that close to where I wanted to be. I realized (admitted) I was using excuses. And I realized (admitted) that I’d never get to where I wanted to be if I kept this up. It was time to make a choice. One that I could be proud of. One that I could tell my kids to make one day. That choice? The choice to make progress, not excuses. To pursue my dream life. To be who I really was. Isn’t now the time to be the real you?   So, why 24 questions? Because that’s how old I am. The actual questions aren’t quite as arbitrary. Promise. Here we go:

What would happen if you just went for it?

Deep down, you want to go for it. But you’re scared. The good news: even if you’re scared, you still have a choice. Fear doesn’t run your life; you do.

Who are you?

Write down a list of what’s important to you about life.

Who are you really?

What was important to you before other people told you what was important to you?

What’s your deepest, most secret desire?

You know it’s there. Just be honest and admit it. You’ll feel amazing… and free.

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If you knew you couldn’t fail, what’s the benefit of not beginning?

Bet you can’t think of a good answer for this.

If not now, when?

The past is gone forever and the future is anything but guaranteed. What are you waiting for?

Who’s permission do you need?

You know you only need your own permission, but do you seek someone else to tell you it’s ok?

What’s stopping you?

If you haven’t started working towards what you truly want, something is.

Who or what is holding you back?

The only answer to this: you.

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If you don’t know what you want, why on earth aren’t you trying to find out?

Unless you’re content to just drift through life, never knowing where you’re going, and never being truly fulfilled.

When you know what you truly want, will you actually do anything about it?

Most people ignore it or talk themselves out of doing it.

What’s important to you?

Make a list. Be honest with yourself.

What’s really important to you?

Seriously. Be honest. Otherwise this is pointless.

If you wrote a list of everything that’s important to you, would you even be on it?

If you’re not, is there a good reason for that?

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If you don’t prioritize yourself, how will you ever be happy?

It’s not going to happen by accident.

What’s the excuse you use the most?

Would to tell your best friend to use that excuse?

When will you stop using your excuses?

Excuses stop you from getting what you truly want. If you’re happy with that, then keep using them.

Do you feel good when you know you’re using excuses?

I’m guessing you don’t. Just a hunch. And I bet you feel great when you make progress. Just saying.

Will you ever get what you want if you keep making excuses?

Make all the excuses you want. Just make sure you don’t wake up one day and finally admit that’s what you’ve been doing.

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Why won’t you just be honest with yourself?

Lying to yourself is easy most of the time because we’re so practiced at it. But it’s not the right thing, and you know it. It might be painful to be honest right now in this moment, but it’s much more painful to lie to yourself forever.

How long can you go on doing what you’re doing?

6 months? 1 year? 5 years? If you don’t take action and do something different, nothing will change.

When you’re totally honest with yourself, what will happen?

Great things, right?

Do you choose comfort over happiness?

There’s a big difference. Find out what that difference means for you, and what you’re currently choosing.

And, last but not least:

If any of these have resonated, are you gonna make an excuse or actually do something about it?

The alternative is to sit there and do absolutely nothing different. Procrastinate. Get annoyed with yourself. Wish things were different. Even though things need to change. Even though you know you’re choosing comfort over happiness. But, let me ask you – what would the real you do? If these questions somehow aren’t enough for you, here’s some more: 20 Inspiring Questions to Help You Find Your Dream And Change Your Life

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Featured photo credit: Bernat Casero via flickr.com

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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)

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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