A lot of us struggle with self acceptance and loving our body for what it is. Read this article, think about what it says & follow these simple steps to finally accept your body unconditionally.
Conditioning is a behavioral process whereby a response to a stimulus becomes more frequent as a result of continuing reinforcement. It was established on the assumption that human behaviour is learned. This means you can teach yourself self-love through constant positive reinforcement. Stimuli can and will vary from person to person. It can be as simple as painting your nails, going for a walk, doing your hair, anything that makes you feel good about yourself. Find a variation of things you can do that have this affect so you’re not doing the same thing day-in-day-out.
Change things up, relax and establish a positive stimuli and reinforce it daily if you have to or just when you need to. By associating certain activities with feeling good about yourself you can teach yourself to recognise them as positive stimuli and learning that such behaviour will have a positive impact on your thoughts and how you feel about yourself.
Try it and see what a difference it’ll make to you and your perspective of yourself.
Positive thinking is a mental and emotional attitude that focuses on the good things in life and expects the best outcome as opposed to always expecting the worst.
Similar to conditioning positive thinking done on regular basis can make you believe in the positives rather than focusing on the negatives in life.
As complex as the mind is you can train it to look at life through a new perspective. All it takes is a bit of willpower and some positive thinking on your side.
So where to start? You’re not going to wake up tomorrow and have a new perspective just because you want one. Like all good things worth having, it’ll take a bit of time. Start off by waking up each day and thinking, “today is going to be a good day”, think of a few things you like about yourself and then smile. A simple smile can elevate your mood and reduce stress, not to mention you probably look a lot nicer when you smile and who knows, you might brighten up someone else’s day.
When you’re ready to go, rather than focusing on the things that you don’t like, for example if your hair didn’t go the way you wanted it to, focus on something that you do like. This could be your outfit, your nails or even your perfume/aftershave. No one else will know what your hair was meant to look like so just walk outside, stand tall and act as if you’ve intentionally done your hair that way, no one else will know what it was meant to look like.
At the end of each day think of all the good things that happened and all your accomplishments for that day. No matter how small they are, take pride in them and be happy. Go to bed happy and wake up with that positive attitude, you’ll be surprised how much of an effect this positive thinking will have on yourself and your entire day.
Embrace Your Uniqueness
The only thing everyone has in common is that we’re all unique. And there’s a reason for it.
We always get told to embrace who we are, to just be ourselves, don’t try to be someone else or copy someone because it’s what we think we’re meant to do. But why? What’s so great about being you? How can you be happy by just being you?
Maybe it’s because the things that make you unique are the things that make you stand out from a crowd. You won’t stand out in a crowd if you’re too busy trying to be like everyone else.
Your life and your experiences; your emotions; how you see the world; everything you’ve ever felt; done; seen; smelled; touched and heard make up who you are. No one thinks like you, acts like you or even dreams like you. No one knows what it’s like to be you, so why not just be you?
We get jealous of others who embrace their uniqueness but instead of embracing our own and being empowered by it, we try and copy who they are. Copying others is like having a defeatist attitude and not knowing it. You won’t really ever succeed or be genuinely happy by trying to be someone else for one reason. Your happiness is dependent on someone else, not you.
So why not be happy with who you are? Identify the things you like about yourself and let them shine throughout every day. It’s alright not to love every aspect about yourself but by accepting who you are is a major step towards a happier you. If you want to lose weight, don’t hate yourself because of it, accept where you are and love yourself enough to make a change.
Hating your body will never get you as far as loving it will. It hasn’t worked for you in the past so why not see where loving it will get you?
Embracing your uniqueness is knowing who you are, working with what you’ve got, owning it and standing tall. It’s not about being inferior or superior to anyone else, it’s about being yourself and being happy about it.
Think to yourself at the end of each day; “Why not be yourself? – Everyone else is taken.”
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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: