Before you cross the street, take my hand. Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.- John Lennon, “Beautiful Boy, Darling Boy”
Think for a moment about your childhood and all of the small, sometimes unnoticed, maybe even embarrassing gestures your parents performed for you. You probably hated it when your mom kissed you on the playground in front of your friends, for instance. As adults, however, when we find ourselves in a stressful, sometimes unfair workaday world, we long for those reassuring acts of kindness, reminding us that someone loves us no matter what we do or what anyone else thinks of us. Here are fifteen little acts of love parents perform for their children that we miss as adults.
1. Checking for monsters
They lurked in your closet. They skulked under the bed. They went bump in the night and sent you running to your parents’ room, and it didn’t matter how many times a night Mom or Dad had to pick you up, carry you back to your room, and switch on the lights to show you that everything was safe. No matter how grown up you are now, you probably wish every now and then when you hear a noise outside your apartment that you had a parent to reassure you. Of course, you could always do what I recently did and FaceTime your dad for a virtual monster check, but I’ve been told that grown women in their 30s don’t usually do this. Who knew?
2. Giving you piggyback rides
I always used to think that if I sat on my dad’s shoulders I could touch the clouds, and I never worried about falling. Dad’s operate on some kind of superhero code of conduct; they’d never drop a girl, especially their daughter. As an adult, I sometimes find myself longing for those days if for no other reason than that they represent a time when I naively believed my parents could protect me from everything.Advertising
3. Making your school lunch
Whenever I’ve had to wake up early to prepare my lunch for work because I forgot to do it the night before like a responsible adult, I’ve really appreciated all those times my mom did it for me growing up. Not to mention the hearts she drew in my peanut butter sandwiches. Mine just don’t taste the same.
4. Letting you lick the spatula while baking
Okay, you can do this one on your own (not that I’m guilty of this, or anything), but face it, it felt so much more like a treat when Mom or Dad let you lick chocolate chip cookie dough from the spoon. Like hearts in peanut butter sandwiches, cookie dough tastes sweeter when it’s offered in love.
5. Taking care of you when you were sick
You probably heard people warn you that the first time you’d really miss your mom while away at college would be the first time you were sick. Your roommates didn’t have a problem finding miracle cures for your hangover, but nothing soothes a scratchy throat and fever like Mom’s chicken noodle soup.
6. Reading you bedtime stories
As fun as it is to curl up with a good book and a cup of coffee on a rainy Saturday, sometimes it’s not half as fun as listening to Mom or Dad read your favorite story for the tenth, or twentieth, or thirtieth time. If You Give a Mouse a Cookie remains my all-time favorite. Whether they read slowly and paused to let you stare at the pictures or gave their best Oscar-winning performances of all of the character voices, nothing matches the simple pleasure of escaping into the fictional worlds they brought to life for you.Advertising
7. Kissing your injuries
Whether it was a skinned knee, a scraped elbow, or a cut finger, there was nothing a kiss from Mom and a Mickey Mouse band aid couldn’t heal. You can’t really expect your roommate or partner to perform this loving gesture, and in any case they don’t make adult-sized Mickey Mouse band aids. I’ve looked. (Don’t judge).
8. Displaying your Kindergarten artwork for all to see
That finger-painting of the family dog wasn’t exactly a Rembrandt or Picasso. It didn’t even look like a dog as much as an abstract brown and white-speckled blob that might have resembled a living creature if you tilted your head slightly to the left. It didn’t matter though; it went on the fridge, or on Dad’s desk at work. Some parents might argue that celebrating everything your children do gives them a participation trophy mentality—the idea that they should be rewarded just for showing up. However, the truth is that it showed you that what you did mattered to them and made you feel special in a way that as adults we rarely do, especially when the work we do often goes unrecognized.
9. Redecorating your room every time you developed a new obsession
SpongeBob, Power puff Girls, Batman, Pokémon—you name it, they put up with it because they knew how important it was for you to be able to express yourself, growing through your regularly reconstructed identity. Now they have to keep up with your selfies and Facebook status updates, which change much more frequently than the SpongeBob wallpaper and are sprinkled with acronyms they don’t understand.
10. Asking you how your day was
If you talk to your parents regularly, they probably do ask you how your day was, but they can’t follow you around and pester you for an answer the way they did when you were a teenager. As much as you hated it then, you miss it now, especially if you live alone. This was your parents’ way of emphasizing the importance of communication and expressing to you that they cared about what went on in your life, and it’s one of those things we don’t miss until it’s gone.Advertising
11. Making you clean your room
Maybe on the surface this doesn’t sound like an act of love, but it is, and your parents can’t technically “make” you do anything as an adult. Sometimes I luxuriate in the liberty of not having to do my chores when I can’t be bothered. The truth forces me to admit, however, that more often than not I find myself frantically tidying the apartment at the last minute when I’m expecting houseguests, and by tidying up, I naturally mean shoving everything into the closet out of sight of said houseguests. “making” you do anything you didn’t want to do, from Saturday morning chores to homework, was your parents’ way of teaching you the value of responsibility and how to appreciate the sense of accomplishment at having fulfilled that responsibility.
12. Playing “airplane” with your spoon at the dinner table to get you to eat your vegetables
Did your parents ever make that “zoom” noise while coming at you with a spoon-full of broccoli? You have to give them credit for the ingenuity because they weren’t making you laugh for your own amusement; they had only a split-second to shove the spoon into your mouth while it was open, and as a result, you got your daily serving of necessary vitamins and minerals. You might not “miss” this in the same way you miss Mom’s chocolate chip cookies, but it’s hard not to feel a little twinge of nostalgia at the ridiculous antics she was willing to stoop to in order to get you to clean your plate.
13. Pushing you on the swings
Remember those lazy summer Saturday afternoons you spent picnicking at the park and playing on the swings, convinced that if you swung just a little higher you’d become airborne like a superhero? In those moments, there was nothing equal to the simple pleasure of feeling Mom or Dad’s hands at your back, responding to your insistent exclamations of “Higher! Higher!” with another push no matter how tired their arms became. Life was so much simpler when they propelled you forward and gave you a boost to get to where you wanted to go, but hopefully the memory can serve as a lasting reminder that they’re always behind you in everything you do.
14. Writing sick notes
We all have days when we wish our moms could write a note to get us out of that duller than ditchwater business meeting, but as adults we have to invent our own elaborately constructed plots to play hooky from work. True, you have the autonomy as an adult to decide whether or not to use up your vacation day nursing a tequila hangover, but somehow staying home and binge-watching House of Cards would feel a lot better with written parental endorsement.Advertising
15. Picking you up when you fell
This last one sums up everything it means to be a parent: supporting you in everything you do, whether learning to ride a bike or getting into your dream college. It also means encouraging you when you fall short of the mark, which everyone does from time to time because nobody is perfect. There’s nothing quite as comforting as being scooped up in a protective hug after falling from your bike, knowing that however badly it hurt, the pain would go away eventually and you’d find the strength to give it another try. Maybe your parents no longer pick you up and dust you off, but if you’re lucky, they’ve never stopped giving you the support and encouragement we all need to forge ahead in life.
Featured photo credit: Father and Daughter via pixabay.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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