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5 Hazardous Habits That Kill Your Life’s Dream

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5 Hazardous Habits That Kill Your Life’s Dream

“Hold fast to dreams, For if dreams die, Life is a broken-winged bird, That cannot fly.”  ― Langston Hughes

The aspiration to achieve our dreams some day keeps us going even during the hopeless hours of life. Yes, we all know this but still we keep on piling habits into our daily life, that unknowingly become the killer of our own Life’s Dream. These habits and behavior patterns become so involved within our personalities that they become our inherent traits, making us weak and fragile, always providing us with an excuse to let go of our dreams. So read on to know these five hazardous habits. If you can feel connected with the given characteristics, hold on and beware, you totally need to get out of these vicious habit that is killing your Life’s Dream:

1. Fear of the unknown

Characteristics: Such a person is always surrounded by various kinds of fears, i.e. fear of rejection, fear of separation or loss, humiliation and even fear of extinction. These fears are always in his mind which prevent him from taking certain steps towards his dreams, from taking risks and he is always enjoying his own comfort zone.

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Reason: Fear of the unknown is a mind condition which is conditioned from our childhood. For example, you have been constantly told in childhood to “not to go outside otherwise a white-bearded man will take you with him.” It sounds funny now but as a kid we were really scared of such things. So slowly and slowly our mind starts fearing things which earlier were fun like screaming for joy, dancing ridiculously or loving someone. We are afraid of being ridiculed or being termed crazy by normal society. And this fear becomes our inseparable attribute that sometimes we feel frightened to cross the boundaries in our banal life. We dare not to start anything afresh, killing our dreams to rest.

2. Addiction of pain

Characteristics: Such a pain addict no longer follows his heart’s voice, the inner conscious. He lives just to perform certain social responsibilities but his inner joy is no more. Everything around him is fake and useless, including human emotions. His dreams have no meaning and are mere fantasies.

Reason: The suffering caused by our daily stressful and busy life enhances the pain in our body, which we mostly try to resist but sometimes we become so prone to distress in our life that we start dwelling in our own pain delightfully. We start rejoicing in the sympathy arising from our pain. In a way we become addicts to pain that generates sympathy for us either from others or from ourselves. This addiction can become so hazardous that it can lead us to total hopelessness or dismal for life.

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3. Procrastination

Characteristics: Such a person is always waiting for a convenient time to fulfill his dreams. He is never certain of the present time and delays his dreams and goals for the future. He is the one always waiting for the right opportunity rather than creating one.

Reason: Procrastination has become a part of everyday life now. We ward off certain things for tomorrow, but with time procrastination can become second nature. We keep on delaying our hopes and dreams for the future as if we are certain that tomorrow would be a better time in spite of the fact that we are not even certain of our existence in the coming moment. This is because we are not confident enough in the present moment (sometimes it is due to laziness). We feel tired, exhausted or we might be looking for perfection. But whatever the reason may be, procrastination is avoiding our present problems and saving them for our future life.

4. Living with the Ego

(Note: please don’t confuse ego with pride.)

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Characteristics: Such a person is living with a false identity of himself. He connects his possessions, whether tangible or intangible, as his own self. For example, his latest smart phone, his collection of high-end clothes and accessories, his relationship with his loved ones etc… Such a person feels hopeless even in the thought of losing his possessions as these are his extended self and without which he is no more, taking him further away from his life’s dreams.

Reason: With the start of our lives we acquire this thing called ego. At first we connect our identity with our toys, this is my toy and if that got broken we would start crying because we perceived that toy as our extended self. And with time this ego started widening the boundaries of our perceived self not only in objects but also in relationships, knowledge and our physical appearances. And the moment someone tries to attack our egos we become aggressive, which is also the cause of various arguments (because our opinions are our perceived self and we can never be wrong). For some people this ego takes a larger-than-life form. As these people put their dreams on a backseat even if they are very well aware that the present moment is not what they expected out of life, they live in the pain of not fulfilling their dreams instead of following them. These people foresee themselves as weak and sometimes quit their current situation, thus moving miles away from their dreams.

5. Dwelling in the past

Characteristics: Such a person in always living his past. He is never in the present moment. His absent-mindedness is his starkest personality trait. He is always busy thinking about something that happened before and how he reacted or someone else thought about what he said to him.

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Reason: We all have certain conversations in our mind about past events but when it becomes so frequent that we are always engrossed in thoughts about why he said that, why I reacted like that or why I should have done this over that, then you are totally dwelling in your past. You are more concerned with what already happened and this could take you away from the present moment. Dwelling in the past moments, good moments or bad, frequently can be hazardous for your future dreams as it will not spare any time to make an action plan for your future endeavors. Your aspirations and dreams depend on your action plans that need to be made in the present not on the past moments.

The above five behavior patterns or habits are present in either smaller or bigger form in all of us. And the first step to bring such hazardous habits under control is through awareness in ourselves. The moment we become aware of them and effects in our life, we consciously become free of their ill effects. So pursue your dreams with full awareness and let success befall your life with joy.

Featured photo credit: ‘Dandelion wish’ courtesy John Liu 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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