There are worse things than being alone. But it often takes decades to realize this. And most often when you do, it’s too late. And there’s nothing worse than too late.
– Charles Bukowski
Yes, there are worse things than being alone.
In fact, your single years can be some of the most productive and liberating times of your life. But the way some people reluctantly wear their single status, you’d swear it was something to be escaped and avoided at all costs. You’ll no doubt know friends who obsessively crawl bars and clubs looking for someone – anyone – who can provide the security and comfort of a familiar relationship. And then everything will be all right. Right?!Advertising
It’s a shame that so many people view relationships as the best part of life. Being single allows you to experience so much that is often simply not possible when subjected to the financial and emotional pressures of supporting and maintaining a relationship. Far from being a temporary state that merely fills the inconvenient bit in between relationships, this time should be used to grow and evolve beyond the realms of those consumed and caged by societal expectations.
Being single can be the most magical, wonderful time of your life. Here’s why.
1. It’s about finding out who you really are.
There are physical characteristics that we all know about ourselves; height, approximate weight and sex being the obvious ones. But being single affords you a unique opportunity: you get to really find out who you are. The good, the bad, the indifferent, are all laid bare. Your strengths, weaknesses and insecurities exposed. Embrace the solitude and vow to learn and uncover everything about yourself. Resolve to tackle your demons rather than bottling them up. So many potentially great relationships are ruined because we carry much unresolved baggage from one relationship to the next. Being single is about finding out who and why you are what you are. And then working to iron out the creases.Advertising
2. It’s about exploring what you want to do with your life.
Being single used to mean nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.
– Sarah Jessica Parker
How many people do you know that had dreams and ambitions, yet fell into an unhappy relationship? Maybe felt obligated to assume new responsibilities they never wanted or expected? There’s something deeply tragic about this. I mean, don’t get me wrong, there is nobility in living for others and putting their needs before yours. And there are times when this is absolutely necessary and the right thing to do. But wouldn’t you want your children to blaze their own trail and find and live their dream? So what’s your excuse? Use this time to pursue your passions, whether they come with monetary rewards or not. Immerse yourself in the process. And to hell with the consequences. Because you will never be happy unless you find and love what you do.
3.It’s about gaining confidence.
Being single allows you to develop skills and talents you may have forgotten about or didn’t even know you had. It allows you to learn how to do things independently and cope with change. Being single and creating the life you desire is a journey. And the reward for a journey of self-discovery is a new-found confidence and sense of contentment. Your choices, options and freedoms are limitless. Having the confidence to really seize these opportunities means you’ll get to live and enjoy the life you want.Advertising
4. It’s about knowledge.
A journey of self-discovery requires that you explore different cultures, beliefs and ways of life. It is about acquiring knowledge and gaining wisdom. When you are accountable only to yourself, you have a unique opportunity to go wherever your heart takes you. A hunger to learn and a curious spirit will serve you well. Read that great book you’ve never gotten round to. Revisit the classics and broaden your horizons with new genres of literature. Travel far and wide and soak up new experiences. Absorb the smells, sights, sounds, and exotic cuisines of foreign lands. If you commit to squeezing every last drop from your life, being single moment will prove to be utterly exhilarating.
5. It’s about regaining your health.
Not only is an unhappy relationship the cause of many mental health issues; it is often to blame for an expanding waistline. Whether it be comfort eating your way to an all too fleeting sugar high, or devouring one too many convenience meals in front of the TV, a familiar, safe and comfortable relationship rarely stirs the physical beast within. Yet your physical and emotional well-being are intrinsically linked. Use this time to nourish your body with quality, whole foods and benefit from the feel-good endorphins that exercise provides. You’ll gain the self-confidence, satisfaction and a sense of achievement that only a strong and healthy human body knows. And you get the satisfaction of politely declining admiring suitors captivated by your recent physical and mental transformation.
6. It’s about making your own rules.
When you’re in a relationship, you tend to put someone else’s needs before yours. You no longer always come first. But being single means you can be selfish, for all the right reasons. Have an urge to travel? Take flight. Want breakfast in bed, a long leisurely morning walk, followed by an afternoon swim and dinner at midnight? Do that. There is no one guaranteed way to live a great life. But by being single, you get to immerse yourself in the vital process of actually doing things – of living – and making up the rules as you go along. There are no limitations. Nothing holding you back, apart from your own fears. Isn’t it about time you addressed them?
7. It’s about loving yourself.
People always say that you have to love yourself before you can love anyone else. Well, maybe not. You can certainly love someone even if you’re going through the darkest of times. But you simply cannot give the pure unadulterated love you’re capable of if you’re shackled by low self-esteem and regret. Finding the true you and evolving into what you were meant to become means that those who enter your life will be enriched by the experience. You will be present – making the most of every moment. Unmasked. Those who are able to love themselves, seem to effortlessly create happy and fulfilling lives.Advertising
Would these lives be better and more enriched if shared with a partner? That depends. Sometimes, yes – but often not. If you’re not yet feeling content with your life choices, and don’t know where you’re heading, maybe it’s time to put the search for your perfect soul-mate on hold for a little longer…
You’ve got some living to do first.
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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