Today is the last day of the 30 days of challenges. I kept the best for the end, a subject that concerns everyone which is often the source of many struggles, inner battles and conflicts with others. Most people don’t know how to love themselves. They are busy looking for external solutions to hide their inner conflicts and dissatisfaction.
I was there and I know how it feels to be the enemy of one’s self. My thoughts, emotions, choices and actions were all a proof of my lack of self-love.
I used to wake up with blurred eyes, and confused mind unable to see the light of the day. My mind kept telling me that I was awful, not enough and I believed in it until it impacted my choices. I could not protect myself and love myself. I allowed others to disrespect me, belittle me and make me feel unworthy.
I kept looking for my self-worth through the eyes of others. I was constantly searching for people’s recognition.
This lack of self-love and self-acceptance were keeping me away from taking decisions in line with who I am and what I thrive for. I had to listen again to my true inner voice, the real one that knows what I really want and what makes me happy.
Self-love is not about selfishness or arrogance. It is about the choices you take everyday to make yourself feel happy independently of people’s expectations.
6 EFFECTIVE WAYS TO IMPROVE YOUR SELF-LOVE
1.Start taking new decisions
Loving yourself starts the moment you decide to take decisions to improve your life, your habits, your health, your relations; and when taking care of yourself becomes a daily responsibility.
You will have first to give up on your bad habits that effect your health, your negative thoughts that keep dragging you down, and replace them by new ones. Every day, take new decisions to nurture new thoughts, new emotions, and take new actions in order to become the person you deserve to be and not a projection of what people expect from you.
2. Stop focusing on what others may think about you
The best thing in life is to learn how to enjoy it by not focusing on what others think about you. Distinguish between the image you have about yourself and how others perceive you. Don’t let them impact your choices and decisions. Whatever they think about you, it’s their own business. They are wasting their time not yours.
3. Know more about yourself
Knowing more about yourself, your values and goals will give you more confidence and less disruption. It is the best freedom you will ever have. It will make you detached from what others expect from you.
Ask yourself if what you are doing right now is something that motivates you really or creates doubt and conflict within you? do you respect your promises towards others? are you acting according to who you are or pretending to be someone else? do you feel often guilty?
You cannot develop self-love if you are feeling constantly guilty and not respecting your promises. You cannot be joyful if you are unable to act according to who you are indeed.
4. Give up on perfection
Give up on the idea to be perfect or to control everything. Seek continuous improvement and excellence but not perfection as no one is perfect.
Accept the fact that you can make mistakes. If you do, there is nothing wrong about apologizing as it does not take anything from your strengths. It can give you even more self-respect and improve your self-love. Also, accept failures and deceptions; that’s really ok to be deceived especially these days.
5. Be kind to yourself
We tend to give people new chances but rarely to ourselves. Always give yourself a new chance to rise up again, to be happy with what you already have or reset everything from the
Don’t blame yourself for every single thing. Love yourself as life is not a competition but a journey worth living and enjoying. You may not be able to change people or your conditions but you can change your perceptive.
6. Dare to be yourself
Don’t be busy looking like others but be concerned more about creating your own identity. You can lie at people, but you cannot lie at yourself. You can cheat on people, betray their trust, but you cannot hide it to your own self. You can pretend to be someone else, but once the comedy is over, you will have to face yourself.
The more inner conflicts you have to handle, the more you will be struggling, and you may even forget about who you are.
Don’t be just a copy among others. Be yourself. Being true and authentic are the key to a successful life as pretending to be someone else require more efforts and energy.
You don’t have to prove anything to anybody but only to yourself. The real freedom is when you start acting without the need to impress anyone.
I used to adapt to every single event and person. Today, I chose to be MYSELF and let the others adapt to who I am,
Real strength is in letting go things that can hurt you, things that can make you feel stuck and replace them by things that uplift you.
Love yourself and dare to be the person of your own choice.
Thank you for being part of the #30daysofchallenges. I would love to read your comments and have your feedback if my articles had any impact on your life these 30 days? what did you
learn? what decisions will you take to improve your life?
I looked at the definition of failure in different sources. I found that it’s all about “defeat, lack of success, even a fiasco…” It may be easy to go back to the sources and change these definitions but are we really able to shift its significance from our minds?
Our educational system and the way we were raised had a lot to tell on this subject.
We were told since very early age to succeed but never how to learn from failures;to look for stability but not to search for self-fulfillment and happiness.
We were preached to respect the rules but not to respect our own rules, our values, to learn and become more. We were raised to focus on the grades but not on the learnings, to go after great results but not to enjoy the whole journey.
Most people are stuck and I was one of them not because they don’t have the abilities or the skills but because they grew up with limiting beliefs and a set of parameters that did not help them to face these challenges and failures.
HOW CAN YOU CHANGE THESE BELIEFS?
Awareness is a major step towards any kind of change and can do miracles. To change these beliefs, you need be aware of the kind of programming you have in your mind. Do you consider failure as a fatality or as a new opportunity to succeed? Do you avoid mistakes or do you embrace them? Do you give up easily when you fail or do you persist? Do you play the victim when things don’t go as expected or do you take responsibility?
2. Accept that you have a choice
You will always have a choice either to learn from your mistakes or give up on yourself. You will have the choice to let your challenges impact you or do something about them to make a real impact. You will have the choice to criticize and blame others for your failures or take full responsibly of your life.
3. Move into action
To upgrade your vision about failure, you need to embrace new thoughts, new words, and new behaviors in order to start a new programming that is aligned with your future goals.
Your thoughts will impact your words. Your words will affect your behavior. Your behavior will determine the choices you will take. Your choices and decisions will be reflected on your actions. Your actions will shape who you are and will define your results, your destiny and your future.
4. Ask for feedback
Assessing your performance will enable you to be more receptive to constructive feedback and evolve. Feedback is very important as it will help you keep an eye on your evolution to make the necessary adaptations. But ask feedback only from people you trust or friends who can give you an objective feedback and not a feedback based on criticism.
5. Learn from others’ failures
Learning from others’ failures can also help you change your vision about failure. I believe that regardless of past accomplishments or failures, we can always change and improve. Everything is possible when commitment is timely coupled with courage, perseverance and positive attitude.
Here a short list of people who experienced massive failures but they never gave up.
You may all know Oprah and her story. She is considered to be one of the world’s most influential women. Before she managed to build her empire, she was fired from her first job as a TV news anchor for being “emotionally invested” in the stories that she reported on.
“Challenges are gifts that force us to search for a new center of gravity. Don’t fight them. Just find a different way to stand.” – Oprah Winfrey
A lot of people knows Mohamed Ali as the fighter or the champion. He was regarded as one of the most successful and celebrated sports figures of the 20th century.
But what most people don’t know is that he lived in an environment completely toxic: segregation, racism, violence, poverty and mostly an abusive father. He wanted to become a champion to fight for youth instability, racism, to help and inspire others, and he managed to reach his goals despite the hurdles.
“Only a man who knows what it is like to be defeated can reach down to the bottom of his soul and come up with the extra ounce of power it takes to win when the match is even.”
Who does not know Nelson Mandela? He was a great political leader and philanthropist who served as a president of South Africa. He was only 44 when he got a life sentence but he never abandoned hope or give up. Fighting for human rights and racism was his major cause worth fighting for.
“I never loose. I either win or learn …Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed toward the sun, one’s feet moving forward.”
Thomas Edison was a master of trial and error. When asked about his failures when trying to create the light-bulb he said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”As a child, he was even considered dumb and was told by many of his teachers that he would never succeed.
He has been the greatest basketball player ever. He got his success from hard work and failure. He was once cut from his high school team, but he did not give up on himself. He kept improving. He failed big before he managed to be the greatest basketball player.
“I have missed more than 90,000 shots in my career. I have lost almost 300 games. On 26 occasions I ave been entrusted to take the game-winning shot, and I missed. I have failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.”
She is very well know for the movie of Harry Potter. She struggled with enormous personal hardships, and depression after the death of her mother. Her got divorced and left alone with the responsibility to raise a young child, living on welfare. Rowling herself said she was the “biggest failure I knew”
The list is very long. I read a lot of stories of resilience. These people did not let their past experiences impact them but they turned their stories into a vision and a strategy to accomplish their goals.
Nature has also a lot to teach us.
Have you ever tried to stop an ant while trying to reach a destination? It may shift right or left, climb over or under, but an ant will never quit.
They will always find a way to handle their failures. They are tiny but strong. They don’t have ears but can hear. They are small but can lift 20 times its own body weight.
They never stop as they know how to remain self motivated. They never give up.
This is what I learned from my past failures:
Failure is just another way to do things differently. It can redirect you to the right path.
Failure is a great opportunity to learn and evolve. It may shake you but it will get the best out of you.
Failure is a chance to make a revamp of the self to recheck your priorities and aspirations.
In a nutshell, you fail only when you stop trying. Never give up on yourself.
We are living in an agitated world full of disruption. It takes only one click to get trapped in an endless confusion. Most people complain about a lack of focus; they either don’t know how to develop focus or unable to maintain it.
According to a study on digital distraction by Gloria Mark et. al., at Irvine University, California and The Humboldt University, Berlin, we are interrupted on average every 3 minutes. Once distracted, it can take up to 23 minutes to move back to the initial task, even if the distraction lasts only few seconds. My question is what kind of content these people are focusing on during the 23 minutes?
There are three elements interrelated to consider when talking about focus: the Mind, the Heart, and the Body.
When your mind is focused on positive aspects of life or positive experiences, your heart is affected as it triggers positive emotion. This emotion can be joy, excitement, ambition, or thankfulness. Your
body will act accordingly creating positive actions and results, like great relations, friendships, growth and achievements.
However, when your mind is busy thinking about drama, blame, regret, or spying others then the emotions triggered will be more about stress, frustration, jealousy and guilt. The effect of these emotions are obvious on our life and outcomes. It can be loss of opportunities, failures, mistakes, or conflicts with others.
That’s why before looking at the external solutions, one has to look at the roots or the causes of this lack of focus.
Assessing your focus will give you an idea about how much over the day you are focused on the positive or the negative.
It will help you identify the sources of disruptions and what controls your mind most of the day.
A lot of people are not even aware of what they keep focusing on. They complain about anxiety, stress or lack of time while they may spend more than 3 hours on social networks or on a toxic content.
The most important thing to learn how to develop focus is to assess what you are busy looking at during the day. To do that, start by observing your thoughts and activities on a daily basis for at least one week. Take even notes if necessary as it will help you find patterns, then write down how much time spent on each activity.
5 ASPECTS TO IMPROVE YOUR FOCUS
1.Set up Clear Goals
When you have no idea where you are going, then it becomes very easy to get dispersed in a useless energy and you start losing focus. A mind that wanders is a mind that has no clear direction. Generally, people with clear goals are less likely to get trapped in disruption. They simply don’t have time to spend it on useless activities or listen to non healthy conservations.
I don’t like football but I am impressed whenever I look at people watching a football game. They are so concentrated and involved that they may not even notice your presence as their sole concern is the ball. The football player may also be surrounded by millions of people, but he does not get disturbed by the noise as he is focused on the ball. He may fall, get hurt, be insulted but he will rise again as his main concern is the goal.
When you focus on your goals ignoring the noise, you will grow faster. If you focus on the noise or what people may think about you, then you may lose focus and end up frustrated and overwhelmed.
2. AVOID DISRUPTION
Your disruption can be your negative thoughts, your inner monologue, your words, your bad habits,
useless events, the people around you; it can be technology, social networks or simply your phone. Which one you need to eliminate?
Not all events in your life require your attention, and not everyone is meant to be your friend. Choose to be with the people with whom you share the same dreams and the same values.
You are the average of the five people you are surrounded with.
When cleaning, we are all interested in preserving the objects of value and eliminate those with no more value or attachment. This is how we need to handle our disruption on a daily basis. Make a filter all along your way to keep an eye on the things, events, people, news, content that are in line with your goals. Find your focus but ensure that it is about a positive focus that will guide you towards the expected results.
3. Practice MINDFULNESS
Mindfulness is a new meditative approach that proved to have a range of great benefits on focus, on
anxiety, stress, depression, and on our decision making. It is not about stopping the mind from functioning. It is about taking few moments every day to concentrate on one single activity to allow the mind to pause and be present.
Consider the image below. when you keep looking everywhere, your eyes may get blurred and you may even get dizzy. But when you focus on wha
t matters in your life, you may feel less dispersed.
Here some activities that can help you embrace mindfulness:
Practice mindfulness when eating: focus only on what you are eating, on the tastes, the colors, and the ingredients.
Take few minutes: pause and observe the environment around you. Try to describe 10 details you would not have otherwise noticed.
When stressed or overwhelmed, try to write something with your non dominant hand and practice releasing any frustration and judgments.
Make a list of the things you are grateful for everyday. Try to focus on the present moment without allowing your mind to wander.
Listen to music and control your thoughts. Try to focus only on the sound, the rhythm and so on.
When you practice mindfulness on a regular basis, you will start feeling a difference in terms of your level of concentration, and your stress.
4. Manage your TIME
Every week you have 168 hours to explore: 56 hours of sleep (8 hours per day), and 56 hours of work. You still have 56 hours to explore. These 56 hours are where the magic can happen. You need less disruption and more focus to explore them as it is where you can plan to learn new things, exercise, meditate or plan for your future goals.
Self-disciple is the fuel that keeps empowering you along your day. Without discipline, you cannot develop focus and you cannot respect your daily engagements.
Physical endurance helped me and can help you in developing self-discipline. If you can conquer your physical being, you can conquer your mental being as well.
You cannot develop focus and take new decisions to improve your life if you are constantly busy with your work, your relations and your phone.
You cannot develop observation, if you don’t give a break to your mind.
You cannot live happier if you keep focusing on the past and the hurt.
“The person who chases two rabbits catches neither.” – Confucius
Most people feel anxious and stressed when they have to deliver a speech in front of an audience. Some of them believe that public speaking is an innate skill, either you have or not.
According to some surveys and research, public speaking is ranked among the top fears, surpassing even the fear of death itself.
How can we overcome this fear, and how can we transform it into a positive energy?
I was the first one to experience this fear whenever I had to speak even in front of few people. I was always focused on what they may think about me instead of focusing on the message. My aim in this article is to share with you my strategies in overcoming this fear, and what enabled me to thrive as a speaker.
10 TIPS FOR EFFECTIVE PUBLIC SPEAKING
1. Choose a subject that you love
Always choose a subject that you are excited about, a subject that you believe in and that you already embrace. The impact will be rewarding as it will create coherence in your communication and build your credibility.
There are teachers or professors who teach accounting while they have never seen a real balance sheet or those lecturing about digital communication and social networks, while they don’t have any presence on social media. You cannot preach something and do otherwise.
This is also relevant for sales people who try to sell a product that they have never tried before or don’t believe in it. How can they make arguments or make people trust them?
2. Prepare your presentation
Before you start reflecting on the content and the structure of your presentation or speech, you need to be aware of the purpose of your presentation, if it is informative, motivational or aims persuasion; you need to know about your audience, their age, status and backgrounds; and the timing, set up for this presentation, will determine the depth of your content.
Your preparation should take into account these three aspects and aim mastery of both your content and your physiology. Keep your words and sentences simple and precise. The brain does not recognize sophisticated language. It learns faster when the message is simple.
People will remember only 7% of what you will present and 93% is about how you will make them feel. Public Speaking isn’t just about what you say; it’s also about how you say it. It is about your passion, your presence, your enthusiasm, your tone of voice, and the melody behind. Be prepared for all that.
3. Control your anxiety and stress
Your anxiety and fear are something that you can control easily when you are conscious of the physical reactions that you may experience in different ways like having a quivering voice, stomach cramps, or a dry voice. How can you handle them when you have to give a speech?
Most of your stress can be anticipated through repetition and practice. There is no magical formula but mastery and daily practice before the expected date can lessen your level of stress and control your anxiety.
Sometimes, stress can be the result of a lack of oxygen, always make regular pauses to breath and don’t forget to smile as a simple act of smiling can trigger positive neurotransmitters that can help you regulate your stress level.
4. Visualize your speech
Visualization or mental rehearsal is a powerful tool to develop your confidence. It proved to have a great impact on the achievements of our goals. It is used in public speaking to visualize your speech before the expected date.
Take 10 minutes everyday, choose a calm place, close your eyes and visualize your speech with all the details possible: your introduction, the audience, your non verbal, when you need to pause and your conclusion. This will create more chances of your success and enable you to go with a relaxed mind.
5. Use Metaphors and stories
You don’t make an impact by covering all the theories possible or presenting all kinds of data. You make an impact when you know how and when to incorporate metaphors and stories. It can be your own stories or stories about other people that are relevant to the subject. The purpose is not about the story itself but the learning behind it. The metaphors can also build your ideas with familiar language that everyone can understand.
You can look at the rhetoric of influence of Aristotle that I already talked about in my past articles which cover these aspects in details.
6. Master your non verbal communication
There are tones of books about this subject that can help you in details about all the non verbal cues that you need to embrace or avoid, especially in different cultural backgrounds.
There is one major thing to remember:
Be coherent with yourself, and make sure your acts reflect your thoughts.
This way, your non verbal communication will go smooth and create your credibility.
People can lie when speaking, but their unconscious non verbal cannot lie. Your body language can reveal easily your inner thoughts and intentions. They can tell a lot about you without being aware of it.
7. Be yourself
When you improve your ability to talk about yourself in a natural way, you will not only build more authenticity but you will also create more social influence as people will trust in you and in your capacities.
People who are unable to be themselves are often trying to hide their emotions, and pretend that they know it all. Being yourself is accepting that you are not perfect and that you can make mistakes. Embracing your thoughts and emotions can be powerful in creating your authentic self.
8. Let people talk about themselves
It is true that sometimes the nature of the speech may not allow it, but for me it is essential to create this interaction. You don’t need to speak or interact with everyone, but you can always invite one or two persons to share their perspectives, stories or their opinions.
These interactions can make the communication more appealing than maintaining a monologue which can make others feel detached and bored.
9. Be prepared for the unexpected
Not all presentations or speeches go as expected. Sometimes it may have nothing to do with you but a conflict within the audience may arise and it is your responsibility to control the situation to be able to carry on.
I experienced similar situations and my response had to be fast and adapted to the situation to avoid further misinterpretations. Remember, you cannot control the emotions of the others if you are unable to control yours. Emotional intelligence is key.
10. Get feedback
Peoples’ feedback is an important component of public speaking for two reasons: It gives you an idea of the general appreciation of the audience regarding your speech and it allows you to know how you can improve it in the future.
THE BENEFITS OF PUBLIC SPEAKING
Mastering the art of public speaking will help you develop a set of other qualities and skills:
· Your self-confidence will be improved
· Your ability to listen will get better
· You will have the possibility to meet new people
· You will get more connections and greater social influence
· You will develop more authenticity.
The success of your speech will not depend on the sophistication of the content or the language but it will depend on the number of hearts you touched.
Communication is more meaningful when it is simple and drives action.
My first reaction was “what about the others” who are deprived from the basic needs and resources.
The science of happiness came as a result of the evolution of positive psychology, which has nothing to do with positive thinking. Being positive does not mean that your life is perfect. Positive thinking will enable to accept your situation the way it is but it does not mean that you are happy about your life’s conditions.
The whole approach of this new science, which began in 1998, acknowledges both the light and the dark sides of life. According to Dr Martin Seligman, one of the founders of this field, if the person learns to be helpless in his or her life, then this person can also learn to be optimistic. This implies that we are all able to recover from adversity, bounce back from our challenges, and live a happy life.
Positive emotions are the only emotions that can help us thrive and succeed. It can be nurtured and developed to provide us with reservoir of hope, wisdom, well-being, and optimism to face our challenges.
His theory of how to live happier is based on five core elements, which is known as PERMA. Dr. Seligman believes that applying these five elements can help people reach more happiness and fulfillment. Organizations and institutions can also embrace this model to enhance the life of their people by developing the appropriate programs.
Let’s discover the five elements of PERMA model, which stands for Positive emotions, Engagements, Relationships, Meaning, and Achievements:
1.Positive emotions : feeling good, pleasure, joy, and optimism.
We all experience ups and downs in our lives, and light and dark moments. Focusing only on what does not function instead of what functions may increase depression and anxiety. To live happier, you need to focus on what you love, what makes you feel joyful, what brings positive emotions as “your brain is hardwired to perform at its best when it feels positive.”
2. Engagement: fulfilling work, and enjoyable hobbies.
Most people are unhappy in their jobs; or they are doing activities that they don’t like. They are scared to change or move into new jobs as they are unable to go beyond their comfort zone while frustration itself is a great risk on their health.
When you pick up a job, a hobby or activities that bring enjoyment to your life, your body is flooded with positive hormones like dopamine and endorphins that raise your sense of well-being. This engagement will add more to your optimism, create focus, and flow of energy.
3. Positive Relationships: social interactions, love and intimacy
Positive relationships with your parents, your friends, your siblings, and colleagues are key element to your overall well-being. Having great support from others in tough moments is also a key ingredient in developing resilience.
The more support you get from others, the more positive you will be. The opposite is true. When you help others, in return, it can be a greater source of positive emotions and a wonderful experience that can empower you and give you a new sense of purpose in life. It will allow you to renew your vision to overcome life difficulties and carry over into your personal and professional life.
4. Meaning: having a sense of purpose or ikigai
History proved to us that not all happy and successful people had an easy life. A lot of examples experienced lifelong challenges and even tough conditions like Nelson Mandela, but managed to overcome them and live happier.
These people had a great sense of purpose and high level of optimism that enabled them to go over the self and contribute to the life of others. Having a strong faith can also give us a meaning to our lives, or volunteering for a greater cause.
5. Accomplishments: ambitions, realistic goals and achievements
What would you like to accomplish in your life next month, next year? in 10 years? Research proved that people who live happier have clear goals and they keep challenging themselves in order to improve their skills and strengths. Developing a growth mindset as discussed in the early articles can be the cornerstone of improving your whole vision about life.
How can you apply this model in your life?
Your happiness should not depend on the weather, the situation, the people or specific events. Your happiness should be a decision, a commitment, and habits. Life is not a competition but worth living by focusing on what you love. Everyone can change. Everyone has time to change. It is a matter of priorities.
I myself push my heart and brain further to see the light, only the light, the sun, the brightness, the beauty…
To envision the future, to feel the joy in advance, the happiness..
To consider only the positive side of everything, to pick up the learnings, and to trust every step in my journey..
“I am not what happened to me but I am what I choose to become”