Natural Awakenings is a wonderful magazine geared for people who are looking to find ways to becoming more healthy mentally and physically. My article is about how E.M.D.R. therapy can help people who have PTSD or unexplained phobias. It's a fascinating type of therapy that doesn't use hypnosis or medication.
Chris Griswold is the founder and Academic Director of Thunderbolt Comedy and co-founder and chief education officer of Engage: Improv for Life.
Chris also works as a writer and actor in New York City, appearing in a variety of comedy videos, commercials, and PSAs for mental health and equality.
Chris spent years focusing on his teaching, working with more than a dozen teams in a week, teaching in such far-off places as Amsterdam and Kansas City, and working with remote solo clients and groups as far away as South Africa.
Chris is originally self-taught in improv, but he has trained with both the Annoyance Theater and extensively with the Upright Citizens Brigade, where he previously worked as registrar and diversity liaison.
With a history in social media and journalism, Chris also teaches private workshops for business and conferences in topics such as branding, team-building, and creativity training.
For more information:
Rhonda Enea is an enthusiastic life practitioner. She is a Qigong teacher, healer, life coach and aspiring YouTube channel host. Her specialty is the art of meditation and explores a variety of methods with her students and clients. She is the owner of Beach Plum Wellness, a network based bio-tech company dedicated to the progressive science of Redox Signaling.
Although her passions are many, her three sons and their partners are the radiant center of her heart, oh, and her pets Li-Li and Priya 😉
I’m sitting with my friend, Michele, in an Irish Pub. We are having a drink and talking about the different aspects of motivational speaking. We are both working on putting out our research in hopes that our findings will help other people. We want to be different and yet we’re worried that we are not saying anything new.
The realization is not surprising to us. We know we are not reinventing the wheel. Our passion for our projects stems from wanting to solve our own issues. We have both found, through our experiences, that our problems are not unique, but how we handled them are. It’s that perspective that we want to talk about. It’a distilling our scientific findings into something that can be relatable, that we both find overwhelming. We are working together to help each other stay on track and stay motivated. We both have to admit that failing is a real fear and that we may never leave this Irish Pub.
Our conversation turned to the topic of people who want to help others by telling them all of their pitfalls and hurdles that they went through to be successful. The promise is that they will teach you about what to avoid and keep you from making the same mistakes.
I believe that though the information is being given to help others, I can’t help but feel that everyone will experience setbacks and failures. I don’t think there is any way around it. It’s like trying to teach your children what you’ve learned so that they don’t make the same mistakes. In the end, they will still have to pray to the porcelain bowl because they drank or partied too much. We can’t keep them or ourselves from making mistakes. That’s how we learn.
I’m not saying that there isn’t value in trying to help others succeed and keep them from making bad decisions. I just think it should be said that everyone has their own journey. We will have to face our own challenges. I think that’s why after attending a rousing, energetic speech on being your best self, that a few days later, the energy seems to have dissipated. We have to find our own way of being our own cheerleader.
It’s great to feel inspired, encouraged and supported. It’s wonderful when you are in a like-minded group and the excitement of endless possibilities is in the air. No one wants that feeling to leave. How do you make it stay? How do you keep that level of enthusiasm going? What kind of Jedi mind tricks will work?
I realize that my road to success is what I make it. There isn’t a magic pill or seminar that’s going to do it for me. I’ve learned to employ different techniques to keep me on my path. I still find myself resorting to playing solitaire or wandering around the kitchen trying to decide what comfort food will eat up my time. I then will go back to my work and plug away.
One of the best things I do is to sit and have a conversation with myself, out loud. Living in my head, leaves me feeling defeated. Talking out loud, I can pay closer attention to how I’m really feeling. I can then counter argue and point out all the great progress I’ve made. I talk about my fears, my procrastination, my self-doubt, all the same things everyone does. So much for being special.
In his book ” What To Say When You Talk To Yourself” Shad Helmstetter, Ph.D. wrote:“The brain simply believes what you tell it most. And what you tell it about, it will create. It has no choice.”
That is what is great about working with a friend. Michele will tell me what she is struggling with and I can easily relate. As I tell her how important her ideas are and that she is on the right track, it reminds me to do the same.
I believe we all need to feel validated on the work we choose to do. I know that we can all learn from each other and recognize we are all trying to achieve fulfillment in our lives. Listening to someone who wants to motivate you to do that is awesome. Just remember that at the end of the day we need to find that empowerment in ourselves. We will make mistakes. We will not be perfect. We will feel like a fraud. We will also learn about ourselves; we will challenge ourselves and we will accomplish greatness. Or not. And that’s okay too. Because every step we take towards our goal is another reason to celebrate ourselves.
Whatever we do in this lifetime, to help ourselves and the people around us, makes life meaningful. To learn, to grow, to be content are all valuable goals to attain. It’s nice to be reminded that we are all in this together. The best part, having a good friend to sit and talk to in an Irish Pub.
Public speaking is terrifying for most people. Just the thought of it can make our hands sweat, our heart beat fast and throwing up doesn’t seem like a bad idea. Getting up and presenting to an audience is more than just relaying information; it’s doing our best to get our ideas across. Being able to communicate effectively is important to our business success as well as personal success, whether it’s a presentation we have to do at work, a networking event or a wedding toast. One of the first things that we take for granted when stepping onto a stage is our breathing. So far I haven’t seen anyone pass out on stage because they forgot to breathe; what I have seen is speakers holding their breath and swallowing their words. The throat is tight, the mouth is dry and the sound is not coming across clear and crisp.
That’s when you should remember to be a B.R.A.T. Breathe-Relax-And-Talk.
I have three steps for you to take to calm your nerves, project your voice and breathe through your speech.
Step 1: When we are nervous we tend to take short breaths, which keeps our heart rate up. To reduce anxiety before going onstage, learn to breathe deeply.
Please place one hand on your chest and another on your stomach. I want you to take a deep breath that expands your stomach, not your chest. Inhale through your nose, breathe in for four counts. Hold your breath for four counts and release the air through your mouth for four counts.
This type of deep breathing is great when we are feeling anxious, nervous or ready to punch someone in the face. It will help lower our blood pressure and keep us calm and focused. Before taking the stage, stand up tall, pull shoulders back and take a deep breath. This gives the mind and body a chance to feel confident.
Step 2: Learning how to project our voice without yelling at the audience. It’s important to be heard throughout the room when a microphone is not available. Please stand up. Place one hand on your chest and your other hand in front of your mouth. Take a deep breath and say “Hello. How Are You?” Place your hand on your stomach. Take a deep breath in that expands your stomach. Now place your hand near your mouth and say “Hello. How Are You?”.
The force of air the second time should’ve been stronger than the first. Expanding your stomach with air is how you can use your diaphragm to project your voice. This will make your voice stronger and clearer. This will also give your voice more resonance. Your voice will sound fuller when you breathe from your diaphragm as opposed to breathing from your chest.
When giving a presentation, it’s a good idea to warm up vocal chords and face muscles. Move the jaw around and stretch the mouth. Do a large yawn. Gently move your neck from side to side. Lift your shoulders and release any tension that may be there. Slowly say the vowels A,E,I,O,U and exaggerate each letter. Do some tongue twisters: Red Leather, Yellow Leather, She Sells Seashells by the Seashore, Peter Piper Picked a Peck of Pickled Peppers, Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear, Fuzzy Wuzzy Had No Hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy Wasn’t Fuzzy Was He? Here’s a link for more tongue twisters.
Keep your vocal chords from getting dry by staying hydrated, drink water.
Step 3: When you are practicing your speech, practice breathing through your speech. My suggestion for understanding what that means is to put marks on your speech where you should be pausing to take a breath. This will slow down your speech making you aware of pronouncing all of your words. We have all heard people speak and found many of the words inaudible. We know through experience what the person is trying to say, but we are left with the feeling that the speaker isn’t very polished. Breathing through your speech helps you to enunciate, which makes your voice ring clear.
Remember to be a B.R.A.T. Breathe, Relax and Talk. Practice breathing techniques, relax your neck and shoulders and talk at an even pace. All of this will help you become a more effective communicator.
Advice is so easy to give, but harder to actually follow. Take the overweight, smoking, alcoholic doctor who admonishes us for not living a healthy lifestyle. There are so many things we should and want to be doing for ourselves. We know to stay away from sugar, processed and packaged foods. We know we should exercise, meditate, stay in touch with family and friends and be mindful through all of it. Honestly, writing out this list makes me feel guilty and a little stressed.
It’s noon and the most I’ve accomplished was to eat a healthy breakfast and talk myself out of having a chocolate chip cookie. I still have to find time to workout, go grocery shopping, and figure out the rest of my life. I spoke to a friend yesterday who told me she can’t let herself sit and relax for too long because she feels it’s a slippery slope to never being productive ever again. It makes sense to constantly feel that we are never doing enough; enough for ourselves, our family, our friends and our business.
I research everything I can to understand how our mind and body work together. I feel like a fraud if I give suggestions or advice to people that I’m not following myself. I try to follow my own recommendations because I know in the long run, I do feel better. I’m more mindful, more optimistic and more content. I also know that when I get off track and not do everything I need to do for myself that it doesn’t help to beat myself up over it. It’s also something I’ve been able to tell other people: it’s okay to not be perfect.
Life gets in the way of our best laid out plans. It doesn’t mean we have to abandon the path we are working on, it just means we may have to take a different route. Our best stories come from our experiences with challenges that we faced. Our own sense of inspiration comes from recognizing just how far we have come.
I can appreciate hearing other people’s stories of how they found success through their persistence. I understand that they want to share their knowledge and give advice to others. I think we all want to encourage and support each other. I just don’t believe that we can give anyone a shortcut to their own accomplishment. We all have to undertake our own journey. We learn from our failures. We all have to go through trial and error to find what works for us.
I do have a strong sense of resentment when I hear someone say: “If I can do it, so can you.” Everyone has their own set of circumstances and experiences. What works for one person will not work for another. I think a better statement would be “let me guide you through your journey to success.”
The one piece of advice I have is to ask for help when you need it. It’s amazing how people seem to come out of the woodwork when you accept the fact that you can’t do it all by yourself. We do need each other. We need to be able to bounce ideas off on people; the wall simply will not offer feedback. Taking your thoughts out of your head, putting it down on paper and sharing it with others is how we begin to take action.
When we help others, we end up helping ourselves. We start to recognize that we want more from our lives and we start to find the time to make it happen. Some days will be more productive than others. We will have setbacks and it will be frustrating. If we can embrace the pitfalls and recognize them as part of the learning process, we will stay motivated to keep going.
The reality is the process is never ending. We will always strive to be better. I will take my own advice to take care of myself and not push and pull on my life today. We’ll see about tomorrow.