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5 Hacks to Overcome Your Ego

5 Hacks to Overcome Your Ego
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“We either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.” 
― Carlos Castaneda

The ego, as Juan Matus describes it, is a dragon with one thousand heads. It is a destructive, blinding creature that forces us to believe that we are what we are, only in comparison with others. We spend energy believing this fiction, energy we could be using to enjoy life. What do you have to do to cut the heads of this dragon, overcome your ego, and claim your power back?

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1. Define your motivation

What drives you to take on a challenge? Most of us, most of the time, are excited to explore, learn, and sense. As we seek a source of motivation in life we will encounter an antagonistic fight between our higher self and our ego. The ego will force us to be motivated by what we achieve and conquer, whereas our higher self wants us to learn, experience, and live. The big difference between learning-based motivation and accomplishing-based motivation is that failing to accomplish leads to a crisis of self-worth. A learning-based motivation is the best way to overcome your ego and your unreliable accomplishment-based motivation. We can always learn even when we don’t succeed!

2. Focus on the process

Life is a process, not a trophy case. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” When we start acknowledging life and its true essence we will realize that what really matters is what we experience during life and not its outcomes. In the process of life we find all the beautiful and unforgettable experiences. We find all the laughter, tears, kisses and troubles. We find our real passions, interests, and worries. In the process of life we find all that really makes life meaningful and magical. Our ego will automatically make us absorb an attitude where all we want is to arrive somewhere and achieve something. Our ego does not care about the process as long as it achieves and feels superior. If we follow our ego, we will never enjoy the present moment and all the adventures we can be part of. If we don’t arrive somewhere or achieve something, our ego will make us feel useless, demotivated and purposeless. Overcome your ego so you can enjoy the now, focus on the process.

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3. Don’t compare yourself to others

Your ego will always compare yourself with other people. That is its main source of power, the power that we want to claim back. When we compare our achievements and past performance with our present, sometimes we fall short. Sometimes we won’t succeed at something we had previously done or someone else has done. Our ego will punish us and make us fell inferior and useless. Our self worth will be affected and we won’t have a stable source of confidence. If we succeed and overcome others, our ego will make us believe we are superior and invincible, something which is certainly an illusion. Our self worth is totally subjective and should never be compared to others. This is what the ego wants to hide from us. We all have a value which is unmeasurable and unredeemable. Not comparing ourselves does not mean that we will keep a mediocre mentality with no goals. Not comparing ourselves means that we focus on becoming conscious about ourselves, destroying our unconscious habits and really knowing what we are made of.

4. Forget the habitual system

We are all part of a system, a big dominating system. But more specifically, we are part of a reward/punishment system, or as I like to call it, the win-or-lose mindset. Since we were little babies, we have been always punished when we make mistakes. This continued into school, high school, university, work and probably even death. Heaven or hell, reward or punishment? This system is just a way of feeding our ego and completely destroying our capacity to value ourselves. Our ego will make us feel superior if we win and we will always expect a reward from our successes. If we lose and fail, our ego will crush us down and make us feel like an ant in Manhattan. Forget this system and start noticing that we are not circus animals who need a reward to feel valuable and a punishment to learn. We are independent beings, fully conscious and aware. We learn through experience. The only real reward we should look for is the knowledge and power we acquire throughout our lives.

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5. Stop the boastful talk

Occasionally we mention our achievements, adventures and goals in conversation. Certainly it is a good icebreaker or conversation material but if we want to have dragon meat for dinner we will have to reshape the way we talk. As we talk with someone, our ego will automatically measure itself with this someone. As this happens we will start naming places we went, things we achieved, things we have, stuff we have done, and so on. The ego will fill all the missing spaces in our talk with personal material, material that obviously does the job to make us valuable and hopefully awesome and superior. We are awesome and valuable without the need of telling everybody our achievements, posting on Facebook, or replying to someone´s brag with our own glorifying speech. By acknowledging that our achievements are ours, we will notice that what other do does not really matter. We will obtain personal power and become independent from our ego and the different opinions about us!

Featured photo credit: Grimace/RyanMcGuire via pixabay.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)
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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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