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9 Lessons I’ve Learned Overcoming Depression That Can Help Anybody Succeed In Anything

9 Lessons I’ve Learned Overcoming Depression That Can Help Anybody Succeed In Anything

There were days where getting over depression seemed impossible. There were days when I felt good, like really good. So good I thought it was all behind me. The next day I would wonder what all went wrong and if I’d ever be able to break free from my brain.

Personally, I have broken free; for the most part. It was an interesting journey filled with dark rooms and far too many lonely nights watching Rocky.

Here are some of the lessons I’ve learned along the way.

1. It Does Get Better

It won’t feel like it will, but it will. Trust me. Yes, I know, easier said than done. Right, I get it. Everything is easier said than done. So do it. Work on it. You can get better.

2. The Crazy Mistakes You Make Now Are OKAY

Life is one ginormous experiment. Unfortunately, in the Western World, the political experiment is not going so well. If you ever find yourself taking politics too seriously, remember that this was all made up. Human beings made it up. Kind of like how we make up the way we live.

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We are born into certain cultures, but that doesn’t mean we have to stay there. You can explore and experiment all you want. Depression can lock you into a world where nothing seems to be working and you feel stuck. That’s okay. Try and get out of it anyways. Sure, you’ll make mistakes along the way. I did. But the more you keep working on yourself and your issues, the more momentum you’ll build.

3. Barely Anybody Will Understand What You’re Going Through and That’s OKAY

Your journey through depression is probably a lot different than mine was. But I understand the emotions you’re feeling. I’ve received tons of emails from people who have related to my articles because they described how they feel.

If I had never suffered from depression, I never would have been able to truly understand what depression felt like. So, if somebody doesn’t understand what you’re going through don’t hold it against them. I know the stigma police out there get furious at anybody who doesn’t understand but, listen, it’s fine they don’t understand. It’s why I have a blog and my inbox is full. It’s a place where people can come and know they are not alone in their battles.

Treat your journey like you’re a lone wolf, but take help when it’s available to you.

4. Being Expectation-Free Isn’t Necessarily A Bad Thing

I used to approach certain books by saying, “This is the book that’s going to change my life.” Then I would be disappointed because they never did. Maybe they helped a bit, but they never left a lasting impact. Why? Because my expectations were drastically too high.

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The same thing happened when I tried different strategies to help my depression and anxiety. I would feel good about them, they would work a little, and I would believe all my troubles were behind me. Of course, they weren’t. Then I would just shut down and give up hope on that strategy.

When I started going into situations or trying strategies with zero expectations, things started changing. I made progress because I wouldn’t get so frustrated if something didn’t work and I’d just keep working at it. My emotions would stay on an even keel and not fluctuate from severe lows to severe highs. I was able to put into practice small, consistent steps of progress and if I got knocked back, it wasn’t impossible to move back forward.

5. No Matter How You Feel About Life At The Moment, It Does Matter

I’m an introspective thinker. I like to analyze. I’ve been through phases where I question everything about life, thinking none of it is actually important. I mean, we are all going to die, so what does it matter how we live? But it all does matter. Life is important. It’s the ultimate gift that’s been handed to us, so we should enjoy it.

If life didn’t matter, then the taste of homemade chocolate chip cookies wouldn’t leave any impression on us. The hug from another human being wouldn’t raise our oxytocin levels naturally. We wouldn’t smile every time we watch a nephew laughing his butt off at the weirdest things. We wouldn’t have emotions if life didn’t matter. Life matters, maybe in ways none of us can understand, but it’s here, and it’s our right to live as fully as we can and enjoy the whole experience.

6. You Will Always Be Struggling With Something; Accept That

Every single one of us wakes up everyday with our own list of problems and insecurities. So why do we attack each other so much? Because of those problems and insecurities.

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If someone doesn’t believe what you believe or doesn’t fully understand you, then leave it at that. Going after people is selfish and shows how small-minded you are.

7. When It Feels Like A Bad Situation, It Probably Is

There were plenty of nights, when I was out drinking with ‘friends’ and trying to forget about my problems. I knew it was a bad situation. I knew I had a test at 7am, and the fact that it was 1am and I still had a beer in my hand was not good.

I knew I was in bad relationships, but never changed them; kind of, just, hoped for the best. If it doesn’t feel likes it’s helping, or something or somebody is holding you back, it’s probably true. Trust your gut.

8. Don’t Try And Fit In

Fitting in may get you accepted, but it won’t get you respected by yourself. You won’t respect yourself for not being who you are. I understand you may not fully know who you are, and that’s okay. But don’t do anything or try and fit in with a group because you think it will make you happy. While it may initially, it won’t last.

I used to love watching football. Now I can barely make it through an entire game if I do watch — I usually catch maybe two games total a year. When a football conversation breaks out, I don’t try and act like I’m as enthusiastic about it as my guests. Who cares? If anybody actually cares enough to dislike you, then why are you still talking to each other? (I used to act like I enjoyed anything the person I was talking with liked, because I didn’t want them to hate me). This point, of course, goes with any subject.

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Be yourself. It will free you into a world of love and laughter that’s not masked by false feelings.

9. Don’t Put Your Faith In Anything Other Than Yourself

This is the big one. I’ve learned this while going through every job I’ve ever hated and even (somewhat) loved.

If you want to make progress and get better, the only faith that matters is the one in yourself.

Do not put your faith in other people, or a company, or a boss, or a Higher power. You can have faith towards them, but don’t put that faith in them. Hopefully they don’t let you down, but if they do, it can be devastating if you believed they were the answer to your problems.

You are the only person who matters on this journey out of depression. Believe in yourself. That’s the only type of faith that matters.

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More by this author

Daniel CJ Grant

Daniel is the author of "Notes from a Failure". He writes about failure and success.

6 Ways to Be a Successful Risk Taker and Take More Chances 3 Unique Ways To Enjoy The Present Moment Notes From A Failure: 5 Unusual Ways To Handle Failure 9 Lessons I’ve Learned Overcoming Depression That Can Help Anybody Succeed In Anything 10 Vintage Things You Can Do Right Now to Be Awesome

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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)

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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