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3 Critical Mistakes You’re Probably Making That Hold You Back from Finding a Good Partner

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3 Critical Mistakes You’re Probably Making That Hold You Back from Finding a Good Partner

Everybody needs love.

But it’s not always easy to find it.

In fact, sometimes we get into such a rut of thinking a certain way that it can actually keep us from connecting with a potential partner. Or it might keep sending us to the wrong kind of partner: one who seems attractive at first, but ultimately isn’t good for a healthy, long-term relationship. If you feel like that’s happening in your life, take a look at these three critical mistakes that might be holding you back.

1. You’re not at peace with who you are.

I am all about becoming a better person everyday. And so are you, if you’re hanging out at LifeHack. You want to be better. You want to learn. You have a core of dissatisfaction that keeps you from settling, from being comfortable with average.

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Personal growth is a noble endeavor if you pursue it from a sense of your own worth as a person. That sense of inherent worth—knowing that you matter, even if you never get as “good” as you want to be—gives you a deep, settled peace with who you are as a person. You have to know, as you seek to grow and improve, that the core of who you are is invaluable, amazing, and inherently worthwhile.

Being at peace with who you are means that you aren’t out to prove yourself to any person or any group. You’re developing yourself for your own reasons, because you realize that you’re worthwhile and you have the ability to contribute to the world in a meaningful way. When you pursue growth and self-betterment from that perspective, you do it with calmness, with peace, and with compassion.

When you’re not at peace with who you are, you change to please others. Your need for approval will outweigh your own confidence, and you will hide your quirks, your desires, your personality, and your needs in order to fit in to someone else’s expectations. But nobody can keep that up forever.

When you begin a relationship on a false note, eventually you have to decide: am I going to be honest about who I am, or am I going to walk away from this relationship to avoid being honest?

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When you are not at peace with who you are, you project an image of yourself. And that image isn’t always very close to the real thing. So you end up attracting people to an image, but not to the real you. In short, you’re attracting the wrong kind of people—people who fit your image, but not people who fit with your core, your heart, your real self. In order to attract those kind of people, you have to put away the image and be real.

2. You believe the fronts that other people put up.

When you are not at peace with who you are, and you’re operating mainly behind a front yourself, it’s difficult to see that others are doing the same. You want people to believe in the image you project of yourself, and you want to believe it yourself. Sometimes you do. You get so into your role, so invested in this image, that you blind yourself to what’s really going on.

You will see in others what they project to you. Your inability to go deeper and be honest about yourself affects how you see others. Unfortunately, that means you are blind to the fronts that other people might put up, as well. That guy who is always cocky or that girl who acts like she knows it all? You believe them. You don’t really see that they’re just trying to justify their own existence and hide their insecurities.

In the world of relationships, this blindness can be kind of scary, because the most troubled, insecure, and hurting people tend to put up rather big and bold fronts. If you can’t see through that, you might jump into a relationship that you think is with a confident, secure, stable person, inwardly hoping that they will balance out all your insecurity. Eventually you will find that they have the same insecurities and pains, and you can’t help each other until you both do a little inward healing and growing yourself.

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3. You don’t have a life of your own yet.

Maybe you’re still depending on your parents.

Maybe your peers, best friends, your old relationships, or your co-workers are defining your lifestyle for you.

There is some person or group you depend on to tell you what you like, what you do, where you go, and what you’re about.

You have never stepped away long enough to develop your own interests and your own opinions. It’s probably because you’re still not at peace with who you are, so you’re not willing to step out there and say: this is what I’m about; this is what I like; this is who I am. You’re still trying to hold a front up and fulfill other people’s expectations.

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It’s time to break free from that.

When you don’t have your own interests and your own life yet, you will be looking for a partner to provide those for you. But the truth is this: no one else can give you your own life. Only you can do that. And it’s only when you decide to do that, and start building a life of your own, that you will attract and recognize someone whose life is compatible with yours.

Not someone just like you. Not someone with a substitute life you can hide in. But someone whose life can complement yours, can mesh with it in good ways, while you also both maintain your own identities and interests.

You want to share certain core values and interests, and also have offshoots that are uniquely yours. This combination is what gives a relationship strength and solidarity (in shared interests and shared values) and enough breathing space and individuality (in the things that are each uniquely yours) that you can respect and value each other, long-term.

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But you can’t get that kind of relationship unless you first know what you’re about, and can be at peace with who you are. Start working on accepting yourself and building a life you love, and see what happens.

Featured photo credit: kohlmann.sascha 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)

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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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