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How To Have The Relationship You’ve Always Wanted

How To Have The Relationship You’ve Always Wanted

First off, let me say that I’m no relationship guru.  I don’t have any magic tricks or secrets to get you to the ideal relationship.  But fret not.  What I do have is a strong work ethic and the desire to try new things continuously and prune my approach to relationships in a way that continuously improves my situation.  In essence, what I have is the same as what you have—a Lifehack mentality.  And my Lifehack mentality is how I’ve come up with these strategies.  These ought to give you a strong foundation to build upon, and while no two relationships are alike, they all require nurturing and time to grow.  Consider these tips the “Miracle Gro” for your relationship.

1. Determine what you want and what you’re willing to give.

Before you can work towards having the relationship you’ve always wanted, “the ideal relationship” needs to be defined.  It will be different for each of us and we need to know what is perfect for us. You may want to sit down with a notepad or computer and start writing.

Some questions you should be able to answer include: “What is important to me in a relationship? What are the necessities?  What are the big deal breakers?  How will this person treat me?  How will I treat them?  What am I willing to do?  What am I not willing to do?  How can I best please my partner?  How can my partner best please me?”

It may seem like a silly exercise, but in doing it, you’ll start to realize what you actually want (which is likely different than what you think you want) and what you’re actually willing to give.  You have to start with realistic expectations and commitments.  Give up on the idea of what a relationship “should” be like, and start to determine exactly what you want yours to be like.

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2. Assess your relationship “self.”

Unless you’re just a selfish person, having the relationship you’ve always wanted isn’t just about getting what you want, but about satisfying your parter’s needs as well.  Since the part of the “ideal relationship” that you have the most control over is what you do, you should start by assessing your relationship “self.”

Are you doing everything you can to create the ideal relationship environment?  Are you fulfilling all of the necessary requirements?  Does your behavior/commitment to the relationship deserve an ideal relationship?

Work on yourself to become someone worthy of a perfect relationship.  Make sure you’re exceeding all of your partner’s expectations, and satisfying them beyond all requirements.  Work on yourself so that you are creating the perfect relationship for your partner.  This will make it much easier for them to do the same for you.  The best way to assess your relationship “self” is by soliciting feedback.

Ask your partner, your family, and your close friends for feedback with regards to your relationship with them.  Prepare yourself to accept any feedback they are willing to give you.  Remember, they are doing you a favor, not attacking you.  Take their feedback into great consideration and assess how well you fit the role you will play in your ideal relationship.

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3. Take responsibility for your happiness.

Your happiness is not your partner’s responsibility.  Nor is their happiness yours.  Take responsibility for your own happiness.  In doing so, you take back the control and decide to be happy.  It’s unfair for us to put that responsibility on our partner, and yet so often we do.  Then we blame them for our not being happy.  So stop it.  Take it back, and make yourself happy.

4. Give up on being right.

“You can be right or you can be happy.”  We’ve all heard that quote, but it bears repeating.  Too often we inflict damage on our relationship by requiring our partner to accept our point, rather than sharing in the experience of conversation fairly.  Remember, the goal is to enjoy each other’s company and friendship, not to establish intellectual dominance over the other person.  If your goal is the latter, join a debate club.

5. Perfect the art of conversation.

My wife and I have a pretty fantastic relationship.  It started with great conversation.  We’ve known each other since we were very young, and at some point in our teenage years we had one great conversation.  That conversation lead to us both wanting to have another, then another, then another.

Ten years later, and nearly four of those years married, we’re still having amazing conversations. We debate all sorts of things; politics, religion, world policy, science, medicine, business, art, books, movies, music, and much more.  Sometimes it seems like we’re arguing, and maybe even fighting.  But we know what we’re doing.  We have plenty of practice.  And we have the utmost respect for each other’s feelings.  We never cross lines to hurting one another or insulting.   We get heated at times—I tend to get loud when I get pumped.  But these conversations are the life blood of our relationship, and I look forward to growing old with her and having these conversations.

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6. Be more affectionate.

I’m not necessarily talking a bunch of PDA here, but find a comfortable form of affection and engage in it often.  Maybe you’re a hand-holder, maybe you’re a baby-talker (it’s more common than you think), or maybe you are the too-much-PDA type.  Whatever works for you, do it, and do it more.

Also, hug and cuddle more, even if you’re not the cuddling type. Multiple studies have shown that cuddling and physical contact with people we love releases oxytocin, or “the love hormone.” Oxytocin has been linked to promotion of attachment in relationships, boosting sexual arousal, improving social skills, and more, all of which seems quite beneficial to a good, strong relationship.

7. Be quick to apologize and be quicker to forgive. 

You should never go to sleep angry, right?  Maybe, maybe not.  But one thing is for sure: you should be quick to apologize.  Don’t hold your apology while waiting for his. Likewise, if your partner has apologized, be quick to forgive.  They are making themselves vulnerable with their apology, and you owe it to them to protect their feelings.  Develop this habit, and it will be easy to never go to sleep angry again.  Neglect this habit and you’ll spend many a night facing opposite directions gritting your teeth until you fall asleep.

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8. Make each other better.

Do you like the person you are when you are in the relationship?  Do you like the person your partner is?  Are you a better person in the relationship than you would be alone?  A relationship is a partnership, often with the expectation that it is for life (or at least for a long time).  Would you keep a business partner that was making you a worse person?  I know I wouldn’t.  Strive to make each other better, and you’ll both value the relationship a lot more.

9. Devote time to your partner.

This is something that I had to learn the hard way.  In never wanting to appear “soft,” I often would leave my partner to hang out with the guys.  I know, I know. How macho, right?  One day she finally told me that I wasn’t spending enough time with her.  It wasn’t that she didn’t want me to hang out with the guys (because she’s never stopped me from doing that), it was that she just wanted my attention as well.  Since then I’ve made a point to spend time with her each day.  Some times it’s the whole day; other times it’s a 10 minute conversation before we drift off to sleep.  But I try my best to devote some time in every day to her.  It means a lot to her.  And she means a lot to me.

10. Make it passionate.

We stress.  We get tired.  We have things to do tomorrow.  There are plenty of reasons not to expend the effort to “make it passionate.”  But I always imagine this: what if you were hoping for an evening of passion and he turned you down.  I know I’d feel pretty crumby, and probably a bit rejected.  I’d never want my partner to feel rejected by me.  So from time to time try to add a little passion to your relationship.  I’m sure you can find ways to do that.  If not, here are 5 Ways to Keep Passion Alive in Relationships.

Quick Tips

Here are a couple of quick tips to keep in mind when building/nurturing your relationship.  Not all of them will apply to everyone, so find which work for you and holdfast to them.

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  • Give genuine compliments often
  • Always assume the best of your partner
  • Encourage, rather than expect, your partner to improve
  • Learn to listen actively
  • “Just Because” gifts never go out of style
  • Focus your efforts on what you can do for your partner, and they will likely do the same
  • Volunteer together—it makes you both feel really good about yourself and each other
  • Take care of yourself
  • Spend time apart
  • Appreciate the little things
  • Don’t neglect the “friendship” aspect of your relationship
  • Share secrets
  • Better yet, share fantasies
  • Create and work towards common goals
  • Spend more time outdoors together
  • Accept differences and agree to disagree

Obviously getting the relationship you’ve always wanted requires more effort and strategy than can fit in one blog post, but these tips will help create a solid foundation on which to build your ideal relationship.

What did we miss?  What do you do to keep your relationship in good order?  Leave a comment and help us find and create the relationship we’ve always wanted.

More by this author

Ibrahim Husain

Ibrahim is a management analyst who writes about communication tips on Lifehack.

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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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