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3 Ways People Try to Kill Your Dream and What You Can Do About It

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3 Ways People Try to Kill Your Dream and What You Can Do About It

Have you always wanted to be an actress? Open your own restaurant? Get a Ph.D.? Backpack across the world? Whatever your dream may be, there will always be people who try to kill it. But don’t let them. You need to pursue it anyway. Here are 3 ways other people will try to shoot down your dreams, and 6 things you can do to overcome it and make your dream come true anyway.

Dream Killer #1: People may criticize you for pursuing your dream.

Let’s face it. Most people are very judgmental. They view life in terms of “black and white” or “right vs. wrong” instead of seeing the world in shades of gray. If your point of view is different than theirs, you will probably hear why you are wrong. You will receive criticism. Don’t buy into it, because if you do, it will just break down your dream. When people criticize others, they are coming from a place of fear. They may be thinking, “What if he/she succeeds? Then maybe I will look like a loser in comparison.” But that’s their problem, not yours.

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Dream Killer #2: Some people will tease you about your dream.

Teasing is just a different form of criticizing. Sure, it seems like it’s all fun and games. Yes, it may even look like the other person is really supporting you because they will have a smile on their face and say, “Oh I’m just joking! Lighten up!” Masking criticism with teasing is still criticism. It’s just dressed up nice and pretty. So make sure you recognize it when you see it.

Dream Killer #3: Other people may even ignore or avoid talking about your dream. And they may even avoid talking to you altogether.

If pursuing your dream makes others uncomfortable, they may just take the avoidance route. Maybe talking about it just reminds them of how they are not going after their own dreams. Or maybe they are such a pessimist that they simply cannot see how anyone’s dream could ever be realized. But again, remember that this is their problem, not yours.

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Here are some things you can do to follow your dreams anyway:

1. Thank them for their opinion.

Instead of getting defensive when people criticize your dream, thank them for their opinion. This will disarm them. People do not expect kind, loving words to be directed back at them when they are purposely trying to tear you down. So when you thank them, say something like, “I appreciate you sharing your opinion with me. It gives me something to think about. However, I am still passionate about pursuing my dream, so I will take your advice into consideration in the future if I need to do so. But for now, I’m going to continue on.”

2. Talk to them about it.

Many people aren’t used to talking through their problems when they have major disagreements. But this is a very valuable way to clear the air. When you begin the conversation, do it non-judgmentally. Say something like, “I get the impression you do not think me pursuing my dream is a good choice. Am I right? I would like to talk to you more about it and explain why I am so passionate about it.” Refrain from becoming defensive and approach the conversation with a “team” mentality instead of a “me vs. you” mentality.

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3. Ignore talking about your dream to avoid their negativity.

If talking it out doesn’t work, then you are not obligated to go out of your way to talk about your dream with them. If the topic ever comes up in conversation, you can gently remind them that since they are not supportive, you would rather not talk about it. If you continue to be exposed to their negativity, it can affect you–but only if you allow it to. Simply avoiding the topic might be the best option with some people.

4. Sever ties with them.

If you can’t talk it out or successfully avoid the topic, then you might have to completely stop seeing them. Obviously, this depends on the type of relationship. It is not likely or advisable that you sever ties with your parents or family. However, if it’s a friend or a co-worker, perhaps having their “naysayer attitude” out of your life for good might help you stay focused on your dream.

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5. Listen to them.

Sometimes people seem like they are criticizing when in fact they are simply offering some advice based on experience. It is wise to listen. That doesn’t mean that you have to follow what they say, but gathering as much information and opinions as you can is actually a good thing. Being open to advice will allow you to be flexible with your strategies to achieve your dreams. Maybe something they say will help you in the long run.

6. Keep going anyway.

If you remember nothing else, remember this: don’t give up!! It’s way too easy to believe all the negativity and buy into the fact that your dream is unreasonable. Remember, nothing is impossible! If you want it badly enough, you will find a way. Keep your passion, and you will definitely make your dreams come true some day!

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More by this author

Carol Morgan

Dr. Carol Morgan is the owner of HerSideHisSide.com, a communication professor, dating & relationship coach, TV personality, speaker, and author.

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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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