“To describe my mother would be to write about a hurricane in its perfect power. Or the climbing, falling colors of a rainbow.” Maya Angelou
After 22 years of being a busy Mum, a working Mum, an involved Mum, a helicopter Mum, a kind Mum, a nagging Mum, an insecure Mum and a taxi driver Mum, I am still asking myself: is there an easier and less complicated way to be a good Mum?
The answer is thankfully yes, there is a better way and I found it when I met Sarah – a self-proclaimed joyful mother. She actually said to me she was a “joyful mother” of 7 children. The fact that she had 7 children was amazing enough however what I also couldn’t get over was how fantastic she looked!
I wanted to know Sarah’s secret about how she managed to look so great and happy while being a mother to 7 children. Secretly I was hoping that she would turn out to be a Wonder Mother, who is so perfect that I wouldn’t even try to follow her advice.
Sarah is definitely not a wonder woman and as I got to know Sarah, I discovered that her secret for being not only a great mother but also a fantastic woman, is that she truly is a joyful mum, who loves her family and lives a happy and fulfilled life.
I now believe 100% that the secret to being a good mother is to choose to be a joyful mother. I also realise that it is hard for us to be great mothers all the time however by being joyful we can be good mothers most of the time.
With Sarah’s guidance I am working towards being a joyful mother which thankfully releases me from all the constraints of having to play all the other roles of motherhood – it can get exhausting trying to play out what I believe to be over 50 Mum roles.
As a joyful mother I get to play only one role. Life is simple, my parenting skills have improved and the husband and kids are happy! It’s a no brainer.
So what is it that makes being a joyful mother so appealing?
“A joyful mother will have sticky floors, dirty ovens and happy kids!” Unknown
Well, joyful mothers understand 10 things about being a mother that many others just don’t get.
If you are planning to become a joyful mother, then these 10 things that only joyful mothers understand, will give you a really good insight into the mind and life of a joyful mother. I guarantee that once you have read these 10 things there is no way you can do anything but become a joyful mother!
1. They understand that it is an impossible job to aim for perfection – so they don’t.
They aim to be the best mothers they can be, with imperfections and all. Perfection creates a huge distraction from the joy of being a mother – that’s why joyful mothers have no interest whatsoever in being perfect and everything to everyone.
A joyful mother would rather be a real mother,who does not get everything right all the time, than a super efficient perfect mother. Joyful mothers understand how important it is not to sweat the small stuff.
2. They will happily take time to be alone to revive and energise themselves.
Joyful mothers know how important it is for their families wellbeing and happiness for them to look after their spiritual, physical, mental and emotional well-being. Joyful mothers will happily and with no guilt take a time out from their families on a regular basis.
3. They understand the power of their intuition.
They trust and have faith in themselves and will act on their instinct. Joyful mothers use their intuition to guide them through the minefields of challenging times. A joyful mother will know immediately by looking at their child, if something is wrong. Joyful mothers focus on getting to know their children and they use this knowledge along with their intuition to support and parent their children.Advertising
They understand that their number one role is to be a parent to their child. There second role is to be their friend. Joyful mothers strive to build loving, respectful and happy relationships with their children.
4. They are not afraid to ask for help.
They understand that by asking for help, they enable themselves to be an even better mother. Joyful mothers are not hung up on the fact that they have to do everything for their children. They believe that it is “healthy role modelling” for their children to see that their mother is not perfect and that she will ask for help. By asking for help everyone in the family benefits – its a win – win situation and joyful mothers get that.
5. They understand the importance of letting go – so they do.
A joyful mother understands the reality of parenting and knows that there comes a time when their children leave home. A joyful mother will encourage and support her children to go out into the world and live their lives to the fullest. She also understands that her children need to be independent and will make mistakes, wrong decision or wrong choices in life.
She will not shelter her children from the reality of life. A joyful mother understands that her role as a parent, is to instil in her children the core values and behaviours that will keep them be accountable for their own life – their successes and their failures.
Joyful mothers trust their children and know that by letting them go, they will always come back to her because they love and respect her.
6. They understand how important it is to take care of relationships.
Joyful mothers value their relationships and will work hard to take care and nurture them. Joyful mothers in any relationship, with or without partners, will focus on ensuring that communication is flowing and conflict is resolved as quickly as possible.Advertising
A joyful mother does not like to have unresolved conflicts as it impacts on her role to be a good mother. A joyful mother is solution focused. She works hard to ensure that her children are able to manage and deal with conflict constructively.
A joyful mother understands how important it is for her children to experience “positive and healthy relationships” in their lives. She knows that these healthy relationships will lay the foundations for any future relationships her children will have.
7. They understand the value of friendship.
Friendships are highly valued by joyful mothers. Having friends is a way for a joyful mother to stay sane and feel connected to people who are going through the same things as she does. It is good to be surrounded by your comrades in arms!
Friendships allow you to let off steam, get advice from like-minded people, have fun, relax and laugh. Joyful mothers know what to look for in a friend and will also be a very loyal and supportive friend themselves.
8. They understand how important it is to forgive.
Joyful mothers are able to forgive themselves and others. They love their children unconditionally and one of the gifts of unconditional love is forgiveness.
It is a challenging role being a parent and joyful mothers. But they do not hide away from the pain and hardship that can come with parenting. They accept that they will make mistakes and that their children will also make mistakes – however it is forgiveness towards themselves and others that keeps joyful mothers emotionally strong and resilient.
9. They love to laugh.
Joyful mothers understand the immense happiness laughter can bring to their families and to their own lives – so they laugh a lot.Advertising
Joyful mothers make a conscious effort to find things in their lives that they are grateful for and they choose to be joyful every day. Gratitude and happiness are daily habits joyful mothers religiously practise.
Playing,cuddling and hugging their children even when they are adults, brings mothers great joy and happiness.
10. They understand how important it is to be a “Future Thinker”.
Joyful mothers plan for the future. They focus on raising their children to be future leaders and to be accountable for how they live their lives. A joyful mother always has a plan on how she can build her children into future leaders. She will not abandon that plan and succumb to social pressures. She knows her children really well, she listens to them and she encourages and supports them to be the “best people they can be”.
A joyful mother understands that her behaviours, actions and values have a huge influence on how her children live their future lives. She therefore chooses to live her life demonstrating the values, behaviours and actions of the leader she wants her children to be.
To be a joyful mother one has to wake up each day and choose to be joyful. It takes work, commitment and the desire to be the best mother you can be.
The thing about being a mother, is that you only get one shot at it and you want that one shot to be the “best one shot” ever.
By choosing to be a joyful mother you are definitely on the right path to being the “best mother in the whole world” for your children.
“A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials, heavy and sudden, fall upon us when adversity takes the place of prosperity when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine, desert us when troubles thicken around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts.” Washington Irving
Featured photo credit: Portrait of happy mother and baby playing outdoors via shutterstock.com
Last Updated on July 20, 2021
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:
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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:
- How to Give a Presentation Like a Pro
- 10 Tips for More Effective PowerPoint Presentations
- Tricks to Deliver an Impressive Presentation Every Time
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