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21 Love Milestones Everyone Needs To Achieve In Life

21 Love Milestones Everyone Needs To Achieve In Life

What is love anyway? That agonizing, exhilarating, fought for, died for, stolen for, begged for, dreamed of and hoped for condition, like no other in the world. We all simply must have it, it’s the most magical and craved aspect of the human experience: to love and be loved.

Yet we can’t see love, can’t hear it, or touch it. You sense it in a place inside of you that you can’t explain, an intuitive knowing of the heart. You embark on the journey of love from the moment you are born. Because you are driven to. Because love is the meaning of life itself. And many milestones accompany this journey of discovering, having and losing love.

Here are 21 love milestones you don’t want to miss. They don’t necessarily happen in any particular chronological order, but you will experience them at some point. Which milestone are you on? Which ones haven’t you been through? And which ones do you look forward to?

1. You hear about this crazy little thing called love.

Can you even remember that far back? There was a moment in time—in your life—when you saw, heard about, or read about this thing called ‘love.’ Maybe it involved giggles on the playground, a flashlight under your covers as a young child buried in a book, or seeing two lovers kissing on the street.

2. You realize with certainty that a parent loves you.

There is a moment you can pick, if you think back, that you can look at and say, “Yep, my Mom loves me,” or, “My Dad loves me even though he may not have said ‘I love you’ since I was past the age of 10, or so.” Maybe it was a smile of pride in your direction. Through their own ‘stuff’, you can pick a moment as your parental milestone of love: a symbol of their love for you.

3. You discover books about love.

Suddenly you’re part of the book you’re reading, swept into the story of two people falling in love. It happened to me at a young age, reading L.M. Montgomery’s Anne Of Green Gables. Maybe for you it’s identifying with Betty and Veronica in the Archie comics, or Cinderella. There’s a first time you read about love.

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4. You’re transfixed by a love story in a movie.

This milestone is when you have your own moment in a movie that transfers love from the screen right to your heart. Maybe it’s the old-fashioned classic, where Bogart says goodbye to Bergman—forever. Or maybe it’s the Disney movie that gets you, that makes you want to shake it all up and make your love better.

For my six-year-old, infatuated with cars, all he could talk about after seeing Disney’s Cars movie was not the cars, but how the plane fell in love with the race car, and they kissed. He was hooked! On love, that is.

5. Your friend falls in love.

You watch your friend’s love unfold before your eyes, hearing every detail (more than once). Maybe it makes you believe in love again, or reinforces the love you have. Perhaps it stirs up the realization that there’s something they have that you want. So badly. And it may even change your friendship.

6. You see how someone loves you in black and white.

Before email, we had letters. Remember? Those things where you take a pen and write out what you want to say on a piece of stationery and put it into an envelope? Okay, we’ll allow a love email, or a love message that you print out and can save forever.

7. You did it. You fell in love for the first time.

Hit by a ton of bricks. Yup, it’s happened to you. You fell in love. Oh, so this is what all the talk is about. Knowing that, yes, you can find love, and yes, you have found love. Wow! The first time you knew you were in love is your first love ever, whether it’s the one you end up with or not. I mean, it’s your First Love! Who was your first love? Don’t have one yet? Don’t despair! This is a milestone worth dreaming about and fighting for.

8. You hold hands for the first time with someone you love.

The electricity of touch. The first time you hold hands with a beloved gets etched in your memory. Where were you when you touched for the first time, or had her arm around your waist, his hand around your shoulder?

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9. Your first kiss ever in this lifetime.

K-I-S-S-I-N-G! Where was your first kiss? Who started it? Did you bump noses? How was it? Did you tell your friends? Are you still waiting for it?

10. You hear “I love you” for the first time.

This milestone is hearing those three little words for the very first time from a romantic partner: “I love you.” You feel included, welcomed, like you’ve been initiated into the tribe of the lovers. You come alive in a way you never have before.

11. You realize there is love for you outside of romantic love.

Do you allow the universe to love you? Did you fall in love with the moon? The stars are winking at you, if only you’ll look up. Take the time, if you haven’t already, to acknowledge this love, and allow the sun to keep you warm and shine its light upon you. We often don’t realize that this is a milestone in love, to stop and realize that, yes, the world loves you!

12. You consider doing scary things in the name of love.

Here’s a scary love milestone. Have you ever wanted to stalk someone, or follow their every move because you love them? Well, of course, not the illegal kind of stalking, rather the girlfriend kind. You know, getting on the phone and calling whoever knows them and asking when and where they saw them and with whom. Or Googling his or her name, or wanting to drive by their house or work to see if you can catch a glimpse?

Has someone made you feel so passionate about them that you lie awake wondering how to find out more about them?

13. You are completely and utterly depressed over love.

You realize—shocked—that love is not everything you hoped and dreamed it would be. You shut the curtains and ignore your phone. Maybe it’s the relationship you’re in that’s let you down, or you’re not finding the love you want. You mourn, darkness descends. That is, until the sun peeks through the slot in the window dressing, and you’re driven to seek out love again.

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14. You find forgiveness in your heart for someone you love.

Your romantic partner messes up, big time, and you know they don’t deserve your loving, yet you find a way to move on and love them anyway. This is the milestone of unconditional forgiveness in love. Maybe you don’t find forgiveness; or you can’t yet. Then you contemplate forgiveness.

15. You really, really, really love yourself and say so out loud.

Did you ever stop to think about loving yourself? Go ahead, grab your phone, smile, take a selfie. How much do you really love yourself? Stop in the mirror and look into your eyes and say, “I love you,” to yourself for the first time. Then do it again and again.

16. You slam the door shut on love forever (then you open it again).

You doubt love exists, and you close the door. You see lovers in the street, and stake your claim in the disbelief of love, well, not for you anyway. The country songs are right. You realize that love does not really exist and you don’t think you will ever have it, or ever have it again. You’re OK with that. Then you start listening to the country songs backwards…

17. You receive your first gift from someone you love.

Whether it’s the first gift you get from someone you love, or the first gift you give to someone you love. Whatever it is, it’s priceless.

18. You are rejected in love and feel like you died.

It’s the R word. Rejection. Someone doesn’t love you the way you love them and says, “No.” No to your love. This arrow lands in the center of your heart and you sit and bleed, trying to stop the pain with something else, like ice cream, or hours on the phone with a friend trying to make sense of it.

This is truly a mini death. You get through it and move on, and have your first love scar that (supposedly) makes you stronger.

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19. You have your heart broken.

Your heart is completely and utterly broken by someone you love. Like Humpty Dumpty kind of broken, where all the kings horses can’t even help. Shattered love all over the floor. Someone said or did something unexpected. This is one milestone you don’t need to achieve in life, yet somehow most of us do. This is like a rite of passage. You go through your first heartbreak: it grows you up.

20. You find love in a group.

The world can be lonely at times, and knowing the feeling of being part of a group of some sort can be full of love. Be it a support group, lunch club, business network or clique at the bar or bowling alley. To know that a group has your back and loves you, and you love them, is an experience so different from love with one person. It’s a wonderful love milestone to have gone through a tough time and felt the group’s love holding you up.

21. You are promised eternal love.

Some day, somewhere, someone promises to love you forever.

Have you found the love that you dream will last forever? Maybe you’re far away from that dream. Remember this: there are always steps to finding any treasure, and love is no different.

Time spent in each love milestone, even if it’s dark and hopeless, brings maturity and growth. Whatever milestone you’re on, cherish it and know the next one is waiting to capture your heart.

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Esther Litchfield-Fink

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Last Updated on July 20, 2021

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

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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