“Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself” Walter Anderson
Losing someone you love through changes such as: death, divorce, relationship demise, or miscarriage, is a painful and emotional experience. The experience of loss is a life challenge that happens to all of us and for most of us, it happens more than once in our lives.
I remember the first time, in my early twenties when I lost someone I loved. He decided that he didn’t love me and that we needed to move on. I was devastated and didn’t know how I would survive the pain.
I did survive and in fact as a result of that break up I decided to step out of my comfort zone. I went and lived overseas for number of years. Though I didn’t think so at the time he ended up doing me a big favor.
The loss of my parents was another life test that threw my world into chaos and pain. I remember thinking the same thing as I did when I was going through my relationship break up in my early twenties, “How am I ever going to survive this pain?”
Well, I have survived and as a result of these losses in my life I have become emotionally stronger and resilient. I believe that it is these life challenges that provide us with the opportunity for personal growth and to learn some of the most important lessons in our lives.
“In school you are taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you are given a test that teaches you a lesson” Malcolm X
I love the quote from Malcolm X as he explains so well how we are taught our lessons of life – we have to be tested to learn the lesson. Losing someone you love is a test of life and you have no control over the challenges that life throws at you. What you do have however is the power to control your response to these life challenges.
Here are 7 valuable things that I learned as a result of losing people in my life who I have loved deeply.
I would like to share these learnings with you to encourage you, to live your life to the fullest, to chase your dreams, to deal with the curveballs that life throws at you, to seize the moment and to treasure the gifts of life, love and laughter.Advertising
1.Live Your Life to the Fullest As It Can Change In A Blink Of An Eye
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing. To keep our faces toward change and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate is strength undefeatable”. Helen Keller
My father and mother died within 3 days of each other and when they died my life changed in a blink of an eye. From from that day I realized just how precious life is. How important it is to live in the moment, to be present and not to wish away your life.
If you have a dream but you are too scared to go for it –don’t wait for the right time, as it never is the right time, just do it. Find a way and go for it. My priorities also changed and I realised that I needed to get clear about what was important in my life. For me it was my family and my friends who were most important in my life. Following my dream, to be a writer, speaker and coach became the most important thing for me to do in my life. I knew that I had to follow my dream because I didn’t want to look back at my life with regret and wished I had given it a go.
Life is too short to have regrets! Embrace life, take the time to make memories and cherish the moments you spend with the people you love. Get your priorities sorted and know what is important to you.
2. Appreciate And Show Gratitude As People Matter More Than Anything
“Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance” Eckhart Tolle
The people you surround yourself with – your family and friends is your treasure chest. They are more important than all the money, the power or fame, the cars, the clothes, the houses, the boats, or the overseas holidays you may have.
All these material things you gather, your fortune and your power are easy to get and easy to lose. The people in your life who love and support you, once you lose them you cant get them back.
Always show your love and appreciate those you love in your life. Remember that the people you touch with your appreciation and gratitude will bring great joy and enrichment to your life. Don’t be afraid to show your love and affection to people. Take the time to make the phone call to a friend you haven’t seen in ages. Don’t let your pain and despair isolate you from people. Make the time to nurture and grow your relationships. You need the energy of others to help you heal.
I realized this lesson very early on in my journey. I could not have survived the loss of my parents without my family and my friends.
3. Healing Is A Process – get to know the process and don’t rush it!
“And so I wait. I wait for time to heal the pain and raise me to me feet once again – so that I can start a new path, my own path, the one that will make me whole again.” ― Jan Canfield
Loss hurts. We may feel anger at being left by the person we love, we may feel despair, sadness and be fearful about our future.
What we are feeling is very real and you need to go through the process and feel your grief. Accept that it takes time to heal and that here is light at the end of the dark tunnel. You just have to get through the dark tunnel. You can bury pain deep within you and think that you are coping and you can get on with life. But, I guarantee that if you don’t acknowledge and deal with your emotional pain, it will find you. The hidden layers of pain will erupt back into your life with such force you won’t know what has hit you.
Another important part I believe of the healing process is Forgiveness. This is one of the hardest things to do, especially when you have been rejected and and betrayed by the one you love.
The negative thoughts that come with your anger and pain are soul destroying. The more you hate and despise the person you have lost, the less likely it is that you will heal.
Forgiveness does not happen overnight. It is a process that takes time and patience. However, when you free yourself of negative thoughts and behaviours, you become more empowered to strive to live a life that is full of hope, optimism and happiness.
Always be kind to yourself. It took me a long time to learn to be kind to me and to make time for me. If I had spent more time looking after me, sharing my pain rather than trying to be strong all the time – my healing would have been a less bumpier journey.
4. Use Your Power Of Choice – choose to live a happy life and choose to be hopeful.
“There is a saying in Tibetan, ‘Tragedy should be utilized as a source of strength.No matter what sort of difficulties, how painful experience is, if we lose our hope, that’s our real disaster.” Dalai Lama XIV
We cannot control the bad things that happen in our life, however we can control our reactions to these challenging events through our Power of Choice.
Essentially how we live our life is determined by how we choose to live it.
When we step into using our Power of Choice we are actively seeking solutions to deal with the challenges we have to face. Using our power of choice empowers us to recognise how we can move forwardAdvertising
.To move forward we maintain our hope for a better future and with hope comes a happy life. A very simple recipe to life however we can sabotage this recipe to living a happy life by not trusting ourselves to step out of our comfort zone.
Choose to turn your loss and pain into a life learning journey, where the result for you is, you have become stronger, more empowered and live a more enriched life.
5. Find You and Your Purpose in Life
“When you lose something in your life, stop thinking it’s a loss for you… it is a gift you have been given so you can get on the right path to where you are meant to go, not to where you think you should have gone” Suze Orman
Each time I have lost someone I loved either in death or a relationship break I have learned so much about me.
For me, having a life purpose gives my life meaning. Don’t waste your energy on what is not important. Focus on what you have, not what you don’t have. Don’t be overwhelmed by the journey to find your purpose in life – it is a big journey.
Make a plan and take action – don’t give up. Set realistic and achievable goals and take one step at a time.
Celebrate your successes – each time you achieve your goal no matter how small or how big, celebrate it and share your successes with those you love. Happiness comes when you know what you are doing, believe in what you are doing and love what you are doing.
The pursuit of your happiness is all about you living a meaningful life and when you find your purpose in life, you increase your happiness by 200 percent.
6. Don’t Let Your Past Rule Your LIfe Now And In The Future
“You can clutch the past so tightly to your chest that it leaves your arms too full to embrace the future” Jan Glidewell
Your past is your opportunity to learn the lessons you need to deal with your present life.Advertising
Let go of your regrets in life, make peace with your past, accept it and move on. Look for opportunities for self-discovery and learn how to trust and believe in you.
You are not what happened in your past, you are whom you choose to be now and in your future. Become the strong empowered resilient person you desire to be. The person who looks forward to the future and is living a happy fulfilled life.
7. Don’t Run Away From Life – stay strong and embrace its unpredictability.
“Running away from your problems is a race you will never win, so just face them head on, and overcome them.” – Unknown
Life is a strange and amazing journey, full of painful experiences and beauty. Running away from the challenges life presents to us is not the answer to dealing with life. When you run away the only place you can go is nowhere!
The pain, the discomfort and the challenges of life will follow you where ever you go. It is ok to fall apart for a little while but only for a little while.
Unpredictable hardships in life are inevitable and when we overcome these hardships and meet them head on – we grow stronger, become more resilient and our life flourishes. Spend time on you, developing your strength and your resilience. Get prepared for life and be adaptable and flexible
. Remember that everything that happens to you is a life lesson – embrace life and never forget how precious the moments in life are.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and found their way out of the depths. These people have an appreciation, a sensitivity and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen”. Dr Elizabeth Kubler-Ross
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
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:
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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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