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Three Essential Questions To Ask Yourself En Route To True Love

Three Essential Questions To Ask Yourself En Route To True Love
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Three Questions to Ask Yourself About Love

Whether it’s romantic, plutonic, or maternal, “The course of true love never did run smooth.” We’d love to be able to say “It ain’t so, Mr. Shakespeare!” but we can’t. And why can’t we? Why is love such a rocky path filled with more frost heaves than a New England road in the spring? Because too often we barely discover who we are before we become lovers, friends, and mothers. When we hitch our cart to another wagon without full knowledge of what we’re carrying or how that load will change once we’re on the road, we set ourselves up for a rough ride. This lack of understanding is a roadblock in love; a roadblock that causes us to reevaluate our relationships (particularly the ones full of frost heaves.) Before we can set our GPS for the best possible route, there are three basic questions we should ask ourselves at the start of our journey to love.

1. Who am I?

Before we can love someone, anyone, we must first know who we are, alone, as individuals. There are lots of great quotes out there that ask us to go one step further than this. Lucille Ball once said, “Love yourself first and everything else falls into line. You really have to love yourself to get anything done in this world.” According to her philosophy, we don’t just have to know who we are, we must love who we are. The reality is, though everyone loves Lucy, everyone does not love themselves. We may not embrace all of our idiosyncrasies. Who loves their love handles? That’s a tall order. We do, however, have to acknowledge them. Before we can be comfortable with someone else, we should know what we like, and what we don’t like, about ourselves.

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To understand who we are, we can think about what we like to do, how we like to treat people, and how we like to be treated. When there’s not a soul in sight, what lights us up? What music do we love? What excites us? What drives us? In plain words, what are we passionate about? Before we were someone’s partner, best friend, or parent, we were us. Like so many other journeys in life, love’s journey should start from a place of self-awareness.

2. Who am I With You?

Are we the same person we have always been when we are with our beloved? Do we feel as though we can “be real” around each other? Though we think, feel, and act differently around different people, do we think, feel, and act totally unlike ourselves when we’re in our loved one’s presence? Like prisms catch the sunlight, people are reflections of the light that pass through them. Do we shine our brightest when we are with our love, or do our find ourself overshadowed by his or her presence?

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Either way, the answer to this question leaves a lot to ponder. If we find that our authentic self shines brighter when we are with our special someone, then chances are it’s because he or she makes us feel like being ourself is okay. It’s more than okay. It’s expected. We are accepted for who we really are. On the the other hand, if we feel like our true self has changed out of a desire to please or appease who we’re with, then it’s time to reconsider whether this relationship is dimming our light and suppressing our genuine personality.

3. Who are We Together?

“Who are we together?” is an essential question in relationships. Do we help each other to be happy, healthy people? Do we encourage each other to be caring, emotionally sound individuals? Unfortunately, it’s not an easy question to answer. It’s not as simple as asking ourselves, “Are we good together?” When we love someone, lots of things feel good. This question goes beyond feelings. This question asks, “Are we good for each other?” Are the things that make us who we are “good” for the person we love?

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To answer this question, it will help if we identify which role we play in our relationship. The world is full of givers and takers. If we’re a giver who’s in a relationship with a taker and that works for us both, then great. More often than not, a giver will give until there’s nothing left; but if a taker doesn’t learn to appreciate what’s been given and give back… do we even need to say it? Really, if two takers come together, we have bigger issues here than awareness. Focus on survival.

Think Over Your Answers

If by asking ourselves these simple questions we have reaffirmed what we have always known about who we are separately and together – congratulations! Reflecting on our character and how the people in our life help us to express our individuality will make our relationship more meaningful. Realizing that we have made a healthy choice to love someone who loves the real us increases our appreciation of him or her. If the answers to these questions aren’t what we wanted to hear, think about them. Does the problem lie within ourself? If so, do we want to change? Does the issue come from who we have become around our loved one? Can he or she accept us?

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If the breakdown comes from who we are as a couple, can we become better for each other? Can we learn better ways of nurturing our differences rather than letting them divide us? Relationships, at heart, are about how two people relate to each other. It’s about compromise. Compromise is when two people concede something. If one person makes all the concessions, that’s not much of a compromise, is it? The course of true love may not run smooth, but this doesn’t mean that we should steam roll over each other in the process.

“Love is the goal, life is the journey” – Osho

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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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