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The Price of Success You Probably Aren’t Aware Of (Hint: Relationships)

The Price of Success You Probably Aren’t Aware Of (Hint: Relationships)
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Everyone wants success. Obvious, right? But do most of us know that success has a price? Definitely not.

This is not about paying our way to success through means of efforts, plans, etc. It’s about the other side of success — the dark side experienced by most high achievers.

When we achieve something in life, we will build the belief that we are more successful than others. As we collect more and more successes, our strong self-confidence will seep into our egos and a dangerous problem will crop up — we’ll have an All-or-Nothing thinking.

In this article, we’ll explore the All-or-Nothing thinking caused by our successes, its negative effects towards our relationships with others, and how to avoid paying the full price to the cashier of the Success Restaurant so we can save our money…and the bonds we created with those who are important to us.

All-or-Nothing: I Hate You Very Much, I Like You Very Much

The All-or-Nothing thinking is related to how we perceive others. Imagine that we once had a friend and from our 10 years of befriending him, we didn’t spot any flaws in his characters and behaviours. One day, we found out that he made a mistake and because of that, we stopped being friends with him.

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That’s the All-or-Nothing thinking.

The All-or-Nothing thinking is also described by psychologist as “splitting” in which we split people into really good or really bad people. In the mind of an All-or-Nothing thinker, there’s no such thing as a person being in-between as in having both positive and negative qualities.

The Effect of Discounting the In-Betweens in Our Life

All humans are in-betweens. Yet, it’s easy to trick ourself into believing that we are on the high social strata after we collected substantial amount of shiny trophies and great successes. It’s human to sometimes have an inflated ego but when it affects our perception of others, then beware — we’ve paid too much.

Discounting the in-betweens means that we will stop interacting with most people and become too judgmental; we’ll also be inclined to say bad things to others, not giving thought to other people’s opinions and ideas, and being too picky about who’s allowed in our social circles.

These adverse effects can be detrimental to our life because having little interaction means that we will be less exposed to new opportunities, ideas, thoughts, and opinions which are needed to grow a balanced and healthy mind. To stop paying the full price of success, there are three things we can do — becoming more self-aware, focusing on growing with a purpose, and teach others what we know.

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Three Things We Can Do to Avoid the All-or-Nothing Thinking:

1. Develop greater self-awareness

Having good self-awareness can help us to spot whenever the All-or-Nothing thought patterns arise. To develop self-awareness, we need to learn how to evaluate our thoughts especially when we find ourself trying to judge others. The moment we spot the All-or-Nothing thought patterns, we need to immediately tell ourself to stop believing it and reframe the thought.

An example: We met someone who looked messy and our initial thought was “I can’t talk to this guy. He’s too much of a mess.” A possible reframe would be “Not dressing well doesn’t mean that he’s a mess. He might be smarter than me” or “Einstein’s hair was a mess but he had one of the greatest minds in history”

By practicing this whenever we are in conversation with others, we’ll find it easier to see others in a better light.

You can learn more about improving your self-awareness by reading this article by Ciara Conlon.

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2. Grow yourself but add purpose into the mix

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of cancer cells”

Edward Abbey

Self-improvement is important. The problem with the society today is the search for rapid growth but without any purpose. Yeah, sometimes the purpose is told to us by so-and-so, but is it really a purpose? If it is, it’s a purpose that is probably hiding under another purpose — growth.

When we were little and growing up, we needed our parents to guide us. The same goes with any other growth. We need something to guide our growth, and that something is purpose.

Before seeking to grow or change our life, we need to find our purpose in life. Having a purpose means that we don’t depend on other people to define the way we want to grow. Our growth will revolve around the purpose we chose thus it would be meaningful to us and meaningful to others too.

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Lianna Martha Laroya wrote an interesting article on how to find our purpose in her Lifehack article “5 Steps to Find out Your Life Purpose”. You can read it here.

3. Teach what we know

Teaching can help us to be more generous on sharing our knowledge.

But there’s one thing about teaching that can bust our ego, and it’s the capability to elevate people’s status. When we teach others, we are extending our hand to pull others up to our level.

By continuing to teach others, we will change our mindset from thinking of ourself as being on a higher level to thinking of ourself as someone responsible to help others to be on the same level as us.

Conclusion

The price of success is the negative effects it can have towards our relationship. As explained above, we can avoid paying the full price by doing three things:

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  1. Develop self-awareness by questioning our thoughts consistently
  2. Grow deliberately by finding our purpose of life before trying to improve ourself
  3. Teach others to help them improve themselves to the point where they are on our level

Lastly, there are no failure, no success, and no in-between. There is only human, and it’s our duty to help each other become the best version of ourselves.

Featured photo credit: Svilen.miev via Wikimedia Commons via commons.wikimedia.org

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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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