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What helps with public speaking anxiety?

NO MORE PANIC

4 Ways of Preventing and Defusing Panic Attacks

how to stop a panic attack

What is public speaking anxiety?

Fear of public speaking is also known as "Glossophobia", which is Greek for 'fear of words'. Obviously, speech anxiety does not mean you are afraid of words! What it means is that you are suffering from performance anxiety, which is a form of social anxiety. Also known as stage fright, speaking fear happens when you find yourself in front of an audience giving a speech or presentation while in a fight or flight or freeze state of mind.

When you are in this state the amygdala, which is the alarm center of the brain, has flagged up your current situation as dangerous and as a result, the panic button has been triggered. If you stay in this mode for long enough, you may start hyperventilating and may end up having a full blown panic attack.

Whether you only panic before a presentation or a speech or you get nervous while it's happening or you beat yourself up for making mistakes afterward, public speaking anxiety can have a severe disruptive effect on your life.  

Your mind's job is to keep you take your away from pain and drive you towards pleasure. If public speaking has been encoded as a danger by your amygdala, then you most likely will avoid it. Unfortunately, avoidance reinforces the problem so nervousness can quickly escalate into a full-blown phobia. 

The consequences can be very distressing:

  • You may avoid a specific university course just because it involves presentations. 
  • You may switch career or change your job because you can't handle speaking in public
  • You may not go for a promotion or turn down a dream job because it feels too challenging
  • You may fail to deliver a speech when appropriate such as at a wedding
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Guided Meditation vs Self Hypnosis

What is Hypnosis?

The problem with the word ‘hypnosis’ is that it’s often used to point to both the way in which the process is induced and its results and methods.

To make matters complicated there’s the fact that all hypnosis is ultimately self-hypnosis. This is because it is the individual who is making hypnosis happen, whether a hypnotist is actually guiding the process or not.

Let’s start by explaining what a typical hypnotherapy session consists of. Here follows the main stages of a session:

The 4 Stages of a Hypnotherapy Session

1.

INDUCTION

 

The Induction is the way hypnosis is created. These can vary greatly. Some hypnotherapists think of the induction as the very beginning of a session when a client is induced into a very light hypnotic state followed by the deepening.

2.

DEEPENING


 The deepening is often seen as the time when a deeper state of hypnosis is reached. 


Other hypnotherapists think of the induction as the part of the session during which a medium state of hypnosis is facilitated in the client and the deepening is either seen as simply part of it or as an optional element that allows the client to enter a deeper state of hypnotic ‘trance’.


I don’t think it is particularly important which way we interpret it, as both understandings produce the same effect. 

3.

VARIOUS TECHNIQUES TO ACHIEVE PRE-DECIDED GOALS


After the induction / deepening phase comes the interesting part. This is when various techniques are used to achieve the goals that are pre-determined by the client.


The general public may assume that suggestions are all that is used in this part of the session but this would be a gross oversimplification. 


There are a plethora of techniques skilled hypnotherapists use to create change in clients which are more or less interactive.


Hypnotherapy is less a science and more of an art, because each client is different and a good therapist will use specific techniques for specific clients at specific times even if the general procedure might be very similar for similar ailments.


This is to ensure the therapy is well timed and fits the client’s specific personality and needs.

4.

AWAKENING

 

After this part is over the client is guided back to ‘normal conscious awareness’ and helped to transition smoothly to everyday external reality.


This structure is always used in any type of hypnosis although the length of each phase may differ.e that suggestions are all that is used in this part of the session but this would be a gross oversimplification. 

The next most useful way I can categorise hypnosis is to divide it into ‘guided’ and ‘unguided’ . Let us look at ‘guided’ hypnosis first. 

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Meditation Techniques for Beginners

How many meditation techniques are there?

What is most commonly referred as meditation is unguided meditation, which is what I will explore in this article. 

However, there’s a plethora of books and audios out there that offer ‘guided meditations’ or ‘guided visualisations’. Most of these actually fall into the category of informal​ self hypnosis sessions created by non hypnotists. 

Although those authors would never call such material hypnosis, they are for all intents and purposes just that. The only reasons they are often termed "meditations" is because that term is more widely accepted by the general public and has less negative connotations than hypnosis. 

The difference between 'guided meditations' and proper self hypnosis is that most of the time the induction is shortened to a few minutes of deep breaths and only a few suggestions are included to induce relaxation. The actual content of the visualisation is usually a multi sensory journey that may or may not follow important rules that only good hypnotherapists know. 

If you are serious about working on yourself I would recommend you stay away from these type of ‘meditations’ as they are neither written by professional hypnotherapists nor by experienced meditators. 
What I would call a proper guided meditation is simply a meditation that is guided by either a teacher in person or pre recorded on an audio recording or even an app.

These meditations instruct you on how to practice in a similar way a guided self hypnosis recordings would, except the content of the meditation greatly differs from a hypnotic audio. Now let’s now have a look at the different types of  unguided meditation techniques that exist. 

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The 6 Fundamental Mind Hacks for Achieving Success

How to influence your mind

If you want to succeed in anything in life you need to know how to influence your mind. You need to know how to make your mind do what you want it to do, not what you don’t.

Have you ever noticed how we are surrounded by messages like 'Don't drink and drive' 'Don't forget your passport' 'Don't touch the button! 'Don't eat junk!' And how many times have you have ended up doing the very thing you were told not to?  Why is that? The answer lies in understanding how the mind processes information. 

For many years I have tried to explain to my clients how to successfully influence their mind but only recently I have come across an explanation that is both simple and accurate. I will borrow and adapt Marisa Peer's framework to make it very clear how to effectively communicate with your own mind. 

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How to Beat Depression without Antidepressants

Lies about what depression really is

If you are depressed chances are you have been told at least one of the following: 

  • Depression is a disease 
  • Depression is a just a chemical imbalance 
  • Depression is genetic  
  • The best cure for depression is antidepressants
  • It takes years of therapy to treat depression 

Your mother or father might have been depressed, your antidepressants may not be working, you may have been told you just have a chemical imbalance and there is nothing you can do to help yourself. I have encountered many people with depression in both my practice and in my personal life and having suffered from it myself and having been close to suicide at one point, I know what it is like to feel trapped in a nightmare with no end in sight. 

The good new is it is possible to overcome depression, no matter how long you've had it or what anybody else has said to you about it. Although depression causes a chemical imbalance, that is the consequence and not the cause of it. Although it is more likely that you will suffer from it if someone close to you has had it that is not because it is a genetic disease but because you have learnt how to think in a depressive way from those who are close to you. 

The truth about depression is that you can beat it. It may not be an easy peasy process but it is most certainly possible and the first step is to choose to believe that you can.

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Q&A: Mindful Communication: how to enhance your relationships

The Mindful connection

  • Do you want to feel close to your partner?
  • Do you want to have fulfilling relationships with friends?
  • Do you want to get along more easily with work colleagues?
  • Do you want to connect with more people? 

You care. And yet sometimes it doesn't seem like people know that. You don't want to feel alone and isolated but that's how you end up feeling a little too often. You don't understand how it seems to easy for some to make friends and have great relationships and so hard for you. Do they know something you don't or are they simply born that way? 

It may be easier for some to forge new relationships than for others. Perhaps they are less shy and more extroverted. However this does not predict whether those relationships will last long term or whether they would be truly satisfying to those involved. The quality of your relationships in the long run is more important than their quantity. And the quality of a relationship is measured by the quality of the connection you have together.

A true connection with someone is a vital experience that you feel in your whole being. Cultivating connection takes skill, and skills take time effort and commitment to develop. Let's have a look at what gets in the way of true connection and what enhances it.

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Clear brain fog and find clarity when you are lost

The real reason why you are underachieving 

  • Do you feel lost, directionless and dissatisfied?
  • Do you feel like there is more to life but struggle to find out what that is? 
  • Do you feel like you are underachieving and you are not living up to your potential?
  • Do you feel confused, unclear, almost as if life is a puzzle and you just can't seem to find the missing piece? 

Perhaps you have a habit of going in one direction only to give up halfway and try something else or maybe you stay put and don't venture into the new because you're not sure if it'd be the right thing for you. You wish you were like those people that knew what they wanted to do in life since childhood. You wonder if perhaps you are just different from everyone else and there is no point in even trying but you don't want to give up just yet. 

You are aware that it's important to set goals but the idea of doing that makes you feel anxious or perhaps even angry. How do you set a goal if you haven't got a clue what you want? Goals may seem arbitrary or superficial or you worry you would get it wrong and then find yourself hating the direction you've chosen. Maybe you want to have no doubts before you start so you risk failure less. If only there was something you could do to clear the brain fog and actually be sure of yourself...

You may think you are alone in this but the truth is a lot of people go through this before finding clarity. So how did they find the answer that allowed them to move on? They stopped trying to find their direction in a rational way and instead connected to their heart's desire. Here's how.  

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Stay motivated and achieve your goals

Move past the struggle

Do you set goals but give up as soon as the going gets tough? Do you find it difficult to stay motivated and give up on yourself as soon as you hit an obstacle?

Perhaps you have decided to learn a language or maybe you want to lose weight or you want to save money for a trip. Maybe you want to write a book or kick a bad habit or have a better social life. No matter what your goal is though, as soon as you encounter a difficulty you feel deflated and find it hard to stay the course.

Maybe you are excited about finally writing that book but when you look at the blank page nothing seems to come out and you feel deflated. Or maybe you want to get fit but you haven't been to the gym for so long that the exercises seem way too hard so you never go back. Or maybe you decide to learn to play guitar but after the first few lessons you realise there is so much more to learn than you expected and it feels just too overwhelming to continue.

It doesn't matter what the goal is. Sometimes you take a few steps forward but end up stalling. Other times you don't start at all. You say to yourself: "maybe I  just don't have what it takes... I am too lazy, old, unfit, stupid etc. Other people seem to have it so much easier than you and you don't know why. You wish there was an easy way to just skip ahead and get it done but you don't know how.

After a few times of going through this pattern you start to feel nervous about trying something new, worrying that you might fail again. If you soon don't stick to your goals you will never achieve anything of value - you say to yourself. You will never be able to learn French, run that marathon, start your own business, ask a woman out. You are afraid you might never make that dream come true and that just feels depressing. 

You know what? You aren't alone. Believe me, I have been there, plenty of times. The good news is there is a way to get past your struggle. Your goal may at times feel like an unattainable dream but they may be closer than you think. Let me show you how to stick to your decisions and overcome challenges even when it feels like an impossible feat. 

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How to be a better person

Why do we compare ourselves to others?

Have you ever thought: "if I stop comparing myself to others then I'll never improve?" Me too. It makes sense right? The problem with this line of reasoning is that when you try to better yourself by comparing yourself to others, you will always end up finding an area in which you fall short. We tend to see what we are looking for and even if you didn't fall in the trap of assuming others are better than you without checking there's bound to be something another is better than you at.  

As a result, you can feel deflated, demotivated and even give up before trying. Even in the best case scenario, you will spend the energy you could have put to good use by improving your skills feeling sorry for yourself instead. It sounds like a losing game doesn't it? 

So do yourself a favor: only compare yourself to yourself yesterday, a week ago, last year. And here's the trick: focus on where you have improved, not where you fall short. 

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How to find the love you deserve (part 3)

How to move on from dysfunctional relationships

This article is part three of a series of three. Here are PART 1 and PART 2 (please read/watch these first)

In order to create lasting change in your relationship patterns so you can find the love you crave and create the relationship you deserve, you must TAKE RESPONSIBILITY for the way you act and feel. What does that mean? 

It is easy to blame others, society or even yourself for the way things are but what good does that do? Does that attitude help get you where you want to be? Chances are it doesn’t. 

You are fully responsible for the way you respond to situations. Responsibility means to have the ability to choose your response to what happens rather than behaving automatically without thinking things through based on the conditioning you have received throughout your life. When you focus on yourself and your behaviors with gentle compassion you give yourself a chance to choose your reaction to challenging feelings or situations. In this way, you can work on things you can control without beating yourself up for what you previously did with less awareness. This is how you can get back in the driving seat. 

QUESTION: In what ways are you not taking responsibility for your love life?

Even in the most difficult situation, you are half of the picture. What are you doing to allow things to go the way they have always gone ? What part are you playing in the game? If you want to change a situation you need to know what you can do differently rather than hoping others will magically change and make everything better without you doing anything at all.

Are you trying to change your partner? 

EXERCISE: Make a mental picture of the person you’re dating exactly as they function today — warts and all —  If they never changed, would you still want to be with them in five years?

Answer honestly. You need to stare reality in the face as uncomfortable as it may be.

If you have answered NO  you need to ask yourself another question: is what you want to change in your partner a personality trait or is it a behavior?

Character traits (such as shyness for example)  are almost impossible to change. If you cannot accept a particular trait in your partner you need to either leave them or accept that you are condemning yourself to a life of misery with them.

If on the other hand, it is a behavior that you want changing, there might be a chance your partner may change but that depends entirely on how much they want to change and how committed they are to making an effort in the right direction.

Basically, people cannot change their traits and can only change their behaviors if they really want to. And if you are spending your time trying to change someone who doesn’t want to because YOU cannot live with it, you are either falling into the category of “fixer” or you are ignoring the fact that you need to leave the relationship because it has become toxic.

How to break negative relationship habits 

Now, I normally don’t like maths but when it comes down to change here’s my winning formula :

(Insight + Behavior Change ) x Repetition = Identity Change = Different Outcome

Also: Intention (to change)  + Attention  (to old patterns of behavior) = a capacity to catch yourself when you are about to repeat old behaviors which leads to – Choice to do something different.

Here’s a breakdown:

  1. First you invest your time and energy in answering questions that increase your awareness around your patterns so you uncover your automatic ways of responding in relationships and become aware of the motivations behind them.
  2. Following that, you catch yourself when you’re triggered to fall back into old behaviors and you consciously decide to do something different instead.
  3. You shift your view of yourself as someone capable of a good, healthy, mutually beneficial relationship and decide you will not accept anything less than that.
  4. You keep building new positive patterns paying attention to strengthening your new identity so you can prevent and manage trigger situations that would have you go back to old ways.

Start the process of change now 

To start this process I would ask you to get a pen and paper and write or respond to these questions speaking out loud. It’s not enough to just think about them. Thoughts have a way to get lost and keep meandering in our minds unless we pin them down either in writing or through spoken word.

First of all, you need to target the behaviors that hold you back and learn to replace them with new ones:

  • What attempts have you already made to change your repeating behaviors?
  • Think about your last relationship and ask yourself, what were the earliest warning signs you saw that could have tipped you off to potential problems?
  • How did you respond to those warning signs? How would you have wanted to respond? How will you respond in future?

In order to change you need to be willing to get out of your comfort zone. You need to be willing to be uncomfortable for a while and ’embrace the suck’. Can you bring an attitude of curiosity to the investigation of what you are finding so challenging? You need to make a commitment to stop avoiding difficult stuff and just face it.

  • Are you really willing to change?
  • Which of the ‘types’ do you relate the most to?
  • What behaviors would be hardest for you to change when it comes to responding to the old type of man/woman you are attracted to?
  • What feelings will be the most difficult for you to sit with as you start to change your own behaviors?

Finally, you need to have a good idea of where you are going and why. If you just keep on thinking about what you don’t want that’s what you’ll keep on getting.

  • How would you describe the reward you’re going to get as a result of engaging in this process of change? In other words: why change ? what are you going to get out of it?
  • What’s standing in the way? What are you afraid of?
  • What new behavior do you need to implement to reap the reward of a great relationship?
  • What do you attitude/ belief/behavior do you need to leave behind?
  • From where you are right now what do you think your identity tells you to expect from your romantic relationships? What are your expectations now and how are they keeping you where you are?

Once you do the work you are on your way to better relationships. Remember that this is a process that requires constant practice and commitment. Like getting physically fit requires you to exercise every day at the gym you need to keep going to achieve and maintain your goals. There are no quick fixes in life but the reward is worth it! Focus on that and you will reap the fruits of your hard labor so you can find the love you deserve.

More about relationships:

How to find the love you deserve part 1

How to find the love you deserve part 2

Tips for a healthy relationship

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