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5 Things People Do That Make Their Relationships Difficult

5 Things People Do That Make Their Relationships Difficult
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We grow through our relationship with the world and others. In short, relationships shape us big time. They are a central aspect of our life whether we admit it or not. Relationships are also an enormous source of strength, as they support us emotionally and give us a sense of belonging, love and appreciation.

It is equally true, however, that relationships can be hard to balance and maintain in healthy shape. This is mostly because they can be complex, largely depending on the emotions, needs, intentions, likes and dislikes of the other person we hold a relationship with. Some relationships can grow fragile and difficult over time. Not surprisingly many people give up on their relationship when the road becomes too difficult to thread.  What these people fail to recognise however, is that there are some fundamental things they are doing that have made that relationship difficult in the first place.

These are crucial mistakes we are all subject to overlook even though they are quite basic. Here I have listed the five most common things people do that make their relationship difficult:

They have expectations:

This is what keeps most relationships from growing harmoniously and in balance. People have a long list of expectations of how the other person should behave or respond to their actions, demands and ideas in a given situation. They create a mental model in their head of an ideal their partner needs to follow in order to be in line with their own beliefs and inner desires. When these expectations are not met, conflict arises based on disappointment, grief or frustration. The more expectations one has about the other person, the more chances there are of having those expectations unmet. Dissatisfaction builds up the more they see that the other person deviates away from their own expectations. Sometimes unmet expectations can be shocking or result in anger and resentment. “I thought you would do this for me or for us!! How could you?”  meaning I’m so shocked that your actions did not fit in my expectations of your response.

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People who are in some of the longest, happiest and healthiest relationships will all admit this little secret: They have very little expectations of the other.

They trust, forgive and appreciate the fact that the other person has his or her own individuality, weaknesses and idiosyncrasies. They expect less, meaning they are more open to the other person and the relationship as a whole. Also, and equally important, they have less expectations of the relationship itself. They do not have fixed ideas of how the relationship should be or where it should take them. The live it on a day to day basis.

They blame the other:

When people are frustrated because their expectations of the other fail to be matched, they externalise that frustration out to the other. They falsely identify that the cause of their resentment, grief or frustration is the action or behaviour of the other. This is in simple words blaming the other and finding fault outside of their selves. Blaming makes relationships difficult in two major ways.

First and most obviously, it hurts the other person’s feelings. It also sends out a clear message of lack of trust in the person and the relationship itself. It creates tension and friction which might turn that relationship in a downward path.

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The second reason is that it blinds them from tracing part of the fault back to themselves as we shall see in the last point. They fail to see that their own action is always part of the equation. This is one of the hardest things to see in any relationship.

They rationalise too much:

Some people live their relationship in their head instead of their heart. They overanalyse and think too much about how things are going or what they should be doing next. Sometimes they mentally ‘grade’ the health or success of their relationship. They break down their relationship into parts and try to see those parts separately – communication, caring, sex, appearance, parenthood, number of common goals, etc. Their relationship with the other person is constantly assessed and evaluated just like a student’s progress throughout a scholastic year.

The danger with rationalising too much is that it forms expectations and as we saw, expectations create difficulty. More importantly overanalysing pushes people away from allowing the relationship to flow naturally and spontaneously – an important ingredient for growing healthy relationships. It blocks them from responding to the other from their heart because they are filtering their interactions with the other person through the rationalisation of their mind.

They judge too quickly:

Some people tend to judge too quickly even when it is uncalled for. Even with the best of intentions, judging someone is the fastest and most effective way of creating difficulty in any relationship. On many levels, judging is  always erroneous. First of all, you can never make a correct judgment about somebody no matter on the circumstances, the information you think you have at hand and how far off the mark you believe the other person is. The truth is that the feelings and thoughts you might have about someone are always partial at best. Once again feelings and thoughts about somebody are filtered through your own emotions – which are subjective by nature – and through your perspective of the whole picture which is never complete because it wouldn’t be called perspective otherwise :)

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Through judging, people send out a clear message of distrust to the other person. It is like voting down the value they give to the other in a very formal and concrete way. Judgement is also labelling and constricting the freedom of emotional response of the other person because in judging, one is saying “You are this or your are not this”. This shapes or distorts how both parties will view each other and themselves through that relationship in future interactions.

They fail to understand that relationships are  in a constant feedback loop:

All the other things mentioned above that make relationships difficult are born out from one fundamental lack of understanding. The basic principle behind relationships is that  thoughts, actions and words are reflected back through the other person’s response. In very simple words, it takes two to tango!

So what people commonly fail to understand is that the other person’s words and actions come very often as a reaction or response to their own. People’s actions are partial mirrors of ourselves.

Seeing it in another way, when we interact with others, there is always a bit of our actions in theirs because we reflect and respond back to each other’s actions like mirrors.

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Relationships are in a constant feedback loop. Failing to understand this can create all sorts of trouble. Sometimes arguments escalate to dramatic heights because one person’s reaction is reflected back by the other with greater frustration and in turn this creates an even greater reaction and so on until it spirals out of control.

Keeping always in mind that relationships are in a feedback loop can help us open our eyes to avoid all the other things that make a relationship difficult. First it makes us recognise that before blaming or passing judgement, we can always find a part of our own actions reflected in the other’s, no matter how small. This creates more objectivity and balance which in turn helps in avoiding passing judgment or blame too quickly. Secondly and more importantly, with this knowledge of feedback loops in mind we can use it positively to our advantage. People in healthy relationship understand these dynamics very well.

For example, in the argument scenario, when the other person is mad at you because of something, you can hold back from reacting even if you feel you are wrongly accused. This will close the feedback loop in a positive way and soften things up. Soon the other person will find no solid grip for his or her negative emotions  and your calmness and openness to the situation will be reflected back by the other and so on until eventually things equilibrate back into perfect balance.

Featured photo credit: Ryan McGuire via pixabay.com

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Gilbert Ross

Gilber is an expert in personal development and the creator of the online course 'Simple Living Hacks'

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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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