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A Step-by-Step Guide To Picking Your Best Mate

A Step-by-Step Guide To Picking Your Best Mate
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In my practice I work with many single people seeking a life partner. Based on research, my own experience and other methods, I developed a three month program to help individuals find a mate. Here are some of the secrets and steps I’ve used with success from that process.

Step 1. Know yourself

The first question I ask clients seeking a partner is, “who are you?” Then, I listen. People that have a confident and clear response to that question seem to do better when picking mates. When someone can tell me about themselves without hesitation and in detail, I can tell they know themselves well, which is a big part of choosing the right partner. The best answers are specific and unique to them as a person rather than general, such as mentioning qualities that apply to many people (i.e. I like to smile). If they look me in the eyes while describing themselves, even better. And the cherry on top is if they describe both positive and negative qualities, strengths and weaknesses. That shows they are ready to share life with another person without over-burdening them.

Step 2. Do you give what you seek?

We often dream of the kind of person that would come into our life and have all these great qualities. But would that person be happy with what we bring to relationship, and our personal qualities? We need to be mindful of what we offer as partners. This is important because if you manage to snag someone while hiding your negative traits, or if it’s not a good match because they give or offer more than you do, they won’t be happy with you in a few years and that’s not good for you. The best partnerships happen when both partners know exactly what they’re in for up front, and it’s a good deal for everyone. To make sure the relationship is balanced and fits, you need to show up and be the kind of person that gives what you want from someone else.

Step 3. Get rid of limiting beliefs

This is an important step. We all say we want relationship, but we often have hidden thoughts than get in the way. For example, my clients often have hidden beliefs that say, “there’s no good ones left in my age range;” “I’m not good enough for anyone;” “I’ll never meet the right person;” “dating is too hard,” etc. These beliefs limit our power of intention and the confidence that attracts others. What if you believe, “I am awesome;” “There are so many great people out there for me;” “Everyone would want to date me.” Then you carry yourself in manner that is attractive to others and finding relationship becomes more likely. The power of belief and intention is huge. Counseling can really help in this regard, because most of us need support removing limiting beliefs from our minds.

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Step 4. Are you ready?

Again, we all say we’re ready for relationship when we’re seeking a partner, but are we? A closer look is worth taking. Are you ready to wake up next to someone else every day? To plan your life together with someone else who has equal say? To share your space with someone who has different cleanliness habits? To worry about infidelity, attraction to others, and the natural draw to question our relationships? Are you ready to take care of someone if they get sick? To help support someone else if they lose their job? Relationship is a commitment that expands us and also requires some sacrifice. Are you ready to sacrifice some of your personal freedom?

Step 5. Don’t believe the hype

Society influences our idea of who a good partner is through movies, advertising, social messages, popularity, coolness, who our cultural heroes are, etc. Based on that we sometimes form an idea of the kind of person we want. “I want the guy with the striped shirt and the Sebago shoes that only cares a little about his appearance but looks great, is sensitive yet manly, knows how to take charge but also follow, will cry with me and protect me from dangerous people, likes to travel, has a touch of gray in his hair and knows the wine list.” These ideal images of people are not helpful when choosing a mate. What we really want to know is, who is right for me? Not who is right for mass media, for the silver screen, or for underwear advertisements. We make good choices when we allow ourselves to determine who would be a fit for us based on our qualities, not who fits the social ideal best.

Step 6. Make a list

The first list should be the 10 qualities that describe you best. Make sure to include a few negative traits among the positives. I am always interested in what people leave out. For example, some people don’t mention that they are highly intelligent even though it is obvious from all measures that they are. Some people don’t mention that they are highly anxious even though they’ve been struggling with anxiety for years. You should be able to describe yourself accurately. Modesty or lopsided descriptions are not helpful in this exercise.

Step 7. Make another list

The next list will be, based on your own qualities, what qualities will your partner have? Again, ditch the ideals. Imagine your day off. You wake up in your pajamas. What do you want to do? Who would want to do it with you? What would they be like? Are they introverted, extroverted? Do they like to eat in, dine out? Do they like the loud shows you go to, or do they prefer a quiet night of board games at home? How educated are they? How much money can they spend? Which do they prioritize more, family and relationships or their career? Write up the list of qualities that fit you in a partner. Then shave it down to only 10 qualities (I know, it’s hard). Separate the list into 3 parts: must haves, strong preferences and negotiables.

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Step 8. Advertise yourself

OK, here’s where the rubber meets the road. You’ve made these lists, you’ve thought about who you are, what you want, and if you’re ready to have a partner. Now it’s time to execute. Here’s where many of my clients start to waver. Everything is fine in theory, but actually making relationship happen? That’s scary! This is often the point where we discover a few more limiting beliefs or habits. For example, we may go to the bar to meet someone, but then act cool and aloof as if we don’t need anyone. A great test of how ready you are to help make relationship happen in your life is your willingness to advertise yourself. Are you ashamed to ask friends to headhunt for you?

Do you typically not mention that you are single and looking at social events or networking functions? If you are willing to advertise your singleness, then relationship is around the corner. I think a good litmus test is if you’re willing to hire one of those planes with a banner to fly your phone number over the city. If you are, that’s good. Now talk to everyone you meet. Remember the problem is not you, there’s someone for everyone. The problem is that person does not know who you are. Make it easy for them to find you.

Step 9. Identify organizations

Organizations such as clubs, charities and sports leagues, and institutions such as universities and museums filter their social circle around a certain demographic. Take a look at the list of qualities you are seeking in a partner. Now ask yourself, “What does this person do? Who do they hang out with? What hobbies do they have? Are they active socially? What organizations do they join? Do they go to the dog park on Saturday mornings or to the library on Sunday afternoons? Identify two or three organizations that match your partner demographic and get involved. If they don’t work out, replace those organizations with others. I guarantee that if you stay involved with two or three organizations at any one time that match your demographic, you will dramatically increase the odds of meeting someone who is a good fit.

Step 10. Now it’s a numbers game

I believe in soul mates. I also believe many people can be a soul mate. Dating is, on some level, a numbers game. You have to meet enough variety of people that match your criteria on a regular basis to be able to filter down to the ones that fit you the best. You don’t want to be caught only meeting one or two people and then thinking you have to settle because no one else has showed up. That’s trouble. Open the floodgates. You want everyone in your city that fits your demographic to know who you are and how to contact you. Don’t be shy. If you meet 10 people a week that meet your target qualities, that’s good. You can do that easily by attending just two events every weekend. Getting involved with organizations that pre-filter folks for you based on interest does not require much money either. You can volunteer for organizations and charities, or offer your skills pro-bono to help an institute and possibly waive the membership fees.

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Step 11. Stay connected to your cheerleaders and support

OK, I’m biased. I do this for a living. But I honestly believe that at this stage in the dating game, it’s the wrong time to let go of your support structure. Dating is hard. There are many thoughts and feelings to process, and many questions to be asked as we go through finding a mate. If you’ve been working with a therapist or life coach that has helped you, stick with it. If you have very supportive friends that keep you on the wagon, have coffee once a week with them and ask for their support to help keep you going. We can lose hope at this point because it takes a fair amount of focus, energy and work to keep the train moving. You need people around you helping you to marshal your energy and remind you of the upcoming payoff.

Step 12. Get good at saying no

If you’re following these steps correctly, you are now attracting alot of attention from potential partners. A very important part of choosing your best mate is quickly dispatching the ones that don’t fit well. Don’t be polite (OK be polite, but don’t dilly-dally). We have work to do, and time is of the essence. When you’re drawing in 10 or so people a week, you have to say no to more than half of them before the first date, and a few more after the first date. Practice your boundaries; get good at saying no. Don’t waste your time with so-so matches. Save your energy for better filtering and targeting.

Step 13. Be honest

No use going on dates if you’re not being yourself, because you’re just going to throw off your date’s radar, and your own. Try to be especially yourself on dates. That way you’ll know sooner if it’s a good match or not and so will your date. Reverse filtering is a great way to ensure a good match. Reverse filtering is being yourself so your date can make an assessment of whether its a good fit. For some reason in our culture we have this idea that we should try and impress while simultaneously deciding if we like the person we’re with. Too much work. Let them do some of it for you by you just being truly you and harnessing some of their radar power for your joint benefit.

Step 14. The elevator pitch

Honestly, if you’ve made it this far, you may already be dating several people or will be in a relationship very soon. Remember, everyone wants love, and there are a lot of single people in the world. This step is like the black belt of dating. Distill what it is you offer someone else to just a few primary qualities. You need to be able to answer the question confidently: “Why would anyone want you?”

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Develop your elevator pitch. An elevator pitch is a short, refined expression of why someone should be in relationship with you and what they would be in for. For example, “I am really funny, but sometimes annoying. I watch long TV shows and get really into them and cry at the sad parts. In me you get someone with a positive, happy spirit, a bank account that somehow makes it month to month, and someone who will kick your butt at Warcraft. I am very loyal, and can be jealous. I get anxious in crowds, but I’m brilliant at a private romantic dinner.” You get the idea. It should be personal, unique, honest but compelling. You have to sell yourself, but accurately. What are your best selling points? Tell people up front, but also tell them the downside (i.e. I’m really good in bed, but I don’t clean up my clothes, like, ever).

Step 15. Ninja

We’re beyond black belt here. Ninja is when you have developed the confidence to approach people you don’t know, for example, at the library, or the grocery store. Why is this helpful? Because the visual centers (in your brain) and the unconscious information you pick up from people’s faces and bodies is a pretty decent part of your radar for finding a good match. So don’t neglect those opportunities where you see someone you really like. But how to approach them?

This takes practice, especially if you’re not smooth, like most of us. A good rule of thumb is to be laid back, considerate (not pushy!) and honest. Something like, “Hi! I saw you from across the table and you seem like a really interesting person, what are you reading?” Or, “Hi, this may sound a little weird, but I promised myself I would introduce myself to three new people today. My name’s Eddie and I like chocolate labs, how about you?” Just as we make quick visual assessments, so do people we introduce ourselves to. If you come across as genuine and humble, it gives others’ space to pay attention to their own radar and perhaps notice that they like you as well. Practice makes perfect.

Step 16. Conversion

If you’re in sales, you know conversion is the point at which a prospective customer becomes a buyer. Now that you are an expert at creating relationship opportunities in your life, you need to be an expert at relationship in order to take a few successful dates and turn them into a loving, life-long partnership (if that’s what you want). Don’t ditch your support network just yet! Getting into relationship is a critical time. Often in the first 6 months is when both partners feel they need to make a decision on whether this is the right person for them. This phase of dating takes us into another area of skill, that of being in relationship. This ‘conversion’ phase is a necessary part of taking your dating mojo and turning it all into your original goal for all this work.

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It was worth it

Choosing well is half the battle in relationship. The other half is developing critical skills to make it work. Knowing yourself is a key part of choosing the right fit for you, and being yourself helps ensure whoever picks you does it for the right reasons. With these steps, from the theoretical to the practical, you have a solid map for how to make relationship happen in your life and find the right partner. Working with a professional, whether that’s with a counselor/therapist or coach can make a really big difference in helping you work through these steps to be successful. As social beings we are wired for relationship, so it’s all worth it in the end. Go out and make it happen, and enjoy!

Featured photo credit: 123RF via 123rf.com

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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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