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What You Already Know Is Your Biggest Barrier To Happiness

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What You Already Know Is Your Biggest Barrier To Happiness

Do you ever think: My biggest barrier to happiness and success is what I don’t know?

Do you ever think: If I could only learn the secret to having great relationships, making more money, or just being happy—I’d be able to achieve those things?

Do you, as a result, read books and blog posts, take workshops, attend webinars, or listen to CDs in order to learn what you need to learn? That’s why the most popular blog posts are usually the ones that offer “Ten Tips to ….” or “15 Ways to ….”

If you have these thoughts and if you often seek more information, you are not alone.  There are millions of people who are trying to improve their lives through more information.

Information is the problem, not the solution.

While learning new things certainly can’t hurt, I disagree that the biggest barrier to happiness and success is what we don’t know.   Our biggest barrier is what we already know.   

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I’m not talking about factual information we’ve learned from books or courses.  I’m talking about what we believe.  A belief is a statement about reality that we feel is true. It is our beliefs about ourselves, people and life—such as I’m not good enough, mistake and failure are bad, life is difficult, relationships don’t work, I’ll never get what I want—that thwart our attempts at achieving happiness.

We act consistently with what we believe to be true.

People who hold these and other similar beliefs experience them as facts, as true as 2+2=4.  As a result, they act consistently with their beliefs.  For example:

If you believe I’m not good enough, you probably will hear a little voice in your mind criticizing whatever you do: “What makes you think that’s good enough?”  That constant question is debilitating.

If you believe mistakes and failure are bad, you probably will avoid doing anything innovative where you could make a mistake.

If you believe life is difficult, you probably will always expect the worst and give up very easily.

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If you believe relationships don’t work, you either will resist them becoming too serious or feel insecure about them even when they seem to be working.

If you believe I’ll never get what I want, you are unlikely to want very much or continue to fight for what you do want if you discover barriers in the way.

Our beliefs—what we are convinced is true—are our biggest barriers.  Therefore, unlearning our negative, limiting beliefs is ultimately more important to our success and happiness than learning something new.

Factual information can be useful.

I’m not saying that we can’t learn anything new that would improve the quality of our lives.  Of course we can.  There are some ways of interacting with people that are more effective than others; there are strategies for making money that are more effective than others; etc.  It is worth learning those things.

I read marketing books all the time to learn how to better get my work out into the world.  I read other types of books to learn more about psychology and the human brain.

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Unlearning has made the biggest difference in my life.

But unlearning my negative beliefs has made more of a difference than any new information I’ve ever learned.  It has enabled me to have a blissful 32-year marriage after two unhappy divorces.  Unlearning my limiting beliefs enabled me to get rid of my depression, which had rendered me miserable for most of my life. I had a hard time committing to anything and saw life as overwhelming.  Eliminating those beliefs made it possible for me to create a business that uses our belief unlearning process to help hundreds of thousands of people, when before I had always felt I was powerless to succeed.

Unlearning versus learning.

My wife Shelly, a Certified Lefkoe Method Facilitator who helps 25 clients a week from around the world unlearn limiting beliefs, tells the story of a client who called her when the client returned from a T. Harv Eker “Millionaire Mind” workshop.

“I’m so excited.  As a result of what I learned in the workshop I bought the summer house of my dreams,” she exclaimed to Shelly.

Shelly was obviously happy for her, but was aware of the work the client had done with her before she attended the workshop.  So Shelly asked, “What did your friends buy?”  “Nothing,” the client admitted.

Shelly opened the client’s file and read several of the beliefs the client had unlearned prior to attending the workshop: Money is scarce and hard to get, You have to save your money for a rainy day, I’m not deserving, and Mistakes and failure are bad.

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Shelly then asked her, “Do you think you would have been able to use what you learned in the workshop and bought the summer house of your dreams if you still had the beliefs you eliminated?” The stunned silence at the other end of the phone line was the answer.

Do some unlearning and see for yourself.

While it is always wise to learn as much as you can, to achieve true happiness and success make your major focus unlearning all that we believe is true … but really isn’t.  Unlearn the negative beliefs that have been sabotaging you.

In an earlier post here at Lifehack I described how the Lefkoe Belief Process could help you unlearn the beliefs that are undercutting your attempts to fulfill your dreams.  Use that process to help you do some unlearning.  I promise it will make a profound difference in your life.

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

How to Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking (A Step-by-Step Guide)

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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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