Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Wise words

Image courtesy of: http://www.geekologie.com/2007/09/18/magical-weave-mirror.jpg

In response to my last post, the wonderful and wise Braja left this comment:
"Our perception of how we look is mostly driven by our false ego; we therefore have a false concept of how we look, whether we think it's good or bad. "

These are profound words and worthy of a mention here. I also believe these words are applicable to a popular phobia:


(Not a fear of shiny magazines or lip gloss...)

I recently read an article about recent research into Glossophobia, or the fear of public speaking. It is the number one fear in humans and rivaling death (which is the second greatest fear). And (as with most things!), it is believed that glossophobia stems from childhood. Apparently, the worst thing a parent could ask their child after their child has given a presentation, is if they were nervous. Children do not have a sense of understanding of what nervousness is. Parents should encourage and reward their child for their efforts and avoid the word 'nervous'. By directly using that word parents may be providing an affirmation to their child's mind that they felt was nervousness, rather than say excitedness or interest.

When we do experience concern over speaking publicly the most important thing to do is to breathe calmly and deeply. When we are nervous our breathing becomes irreglular and shallow impacting on the amount of carbon dioxide released from our body. This results in the tingling sensation around our lips, even in our hands sometimes. Another important thing to remember to do days before the presentation, is to create a mental image that the presentation is over, people are applauding, that you have responded to the questions and you are finished. When we focus on the positive then there is less chance that 'bad' things will happen, we cut out the bad thoughts and the negativity we force on oursleves, casting self-doubt aside.
I believe we can apply this behaviour to many aspects of our life to positively influence our sense of self (or, ego) and being a model to those around us, especially our children, to enable them to possess self-worth and self-esteem their whole lives. This I believe, will assist us in having a 'true ego' enabling us to be true to ourselves, as per Braja's wise words.
Thank you Braja.


Lilly said...

Yes I think its all about balance. Having a healthy ego is what its all about and having our fingers in lots of pies. Looks get taken away even if we did have them to start with and the spirit is about the only thing that cant be completed taken. Its a life long journey.

Never heard of glossophobia. My daughter never had a fear of public speaking unlike her mother. When she was 8 I was petrified of having to speak to 100 staff at work. She offered to do it for me. Never once has she ever got nervous regardless of the audience. I detest it still. She hates spiders though and I dont. We are all different and I think we have to help our children find their strengths and be confident that way. Great and thoughtful post.

Mervat said...

Thank you for your thoughtful comment. The word ego is used in a negative way so often that I think it is important to mention it in a positive light especially with teenage suicides increasing internationally over the past decade or so.

I have always had a fear of giving presentations. In my field the main way of communicating your results is by talking about them. I eventually remembered to breathe deeply etc, but I have never lost that fear of speaking publicly. I hope I haven't imparted any of that to my kids. So far so good though.

Suko said...

Wonderful post!

I had a fear of speaking in front of groups, but when I focused more on what I had to say and how I could help others, and less on my image, I found it much easier. : )

♥ Braja said...

Since Lilly, you, and I are all Aussies, you'll remember Skyhooks' "Ego Is Not A Dirty Word" song, from the 70s, right?

OK that blew my reputation on the deep or wise front, didn't it...

And I woulda totally thought glossophobia was a fear of shiny magazine covers...

Jane said...

This is such a great post- thank you Mervat.

notSupermum said...

I had never heard of Glossophobia, however so many people do have a real fear of speaking in public. I have had to do presentations and speaking to large groups (100+) throughout the course of my career, and although I found it nervewracking I still did it.

The bit about children not understanding nervousness was really fascinating, I'll bear that in mind when my girls are doing shows at school or such like. Thank you for that Mervat. x

Printemps said...

Wonderful post and a food for thought…

You have brought in an important point about being “nervous” in public speaking…the child does not have it – it does not know – who show them that…and the poor thing stumbles all his or her life with a jarred ego…

septembermom said...

Thank you for this post. I have shy children who have different ways of managing their nervousness when speaking in front of crowds. I don't think all of us have to be public speakers. I think personality has a lot to do with your level of comfort in these situations. Maybe someone "shines" in one on one dialogues. We all can't be center stage.

Ana V. said...

I have two daughters, one is shy and the other one is outgoing. My oldest one is the shy one and has self-esteem issues. She reminds me of me at her age. I have worked on overcoming this and feel more confident in myself. My other daughter is not afraid to speak her mind and is very self-confident.

I do not like public speaking and it is nerve racking, but I have had to learn to adjust and work on this fear.

Valerie said...

Thank you. I shall remember those words tomorrow night as I stand inwardly quaking to deliver a talk. I always do the breathing exercises but still have the fear. I'm okay once I get going ... it's the getting going that's the worst part.

Warren Baldwin said...

Excellent thoughts. In our church I have young children speak b/c they aren't nervous,and they get a lot of positive feedback at a young age. What a boost to their self-image! They learn to like public speaking before they have a chance to be nervous about it.

Something that has helped me when I have been nervous before a large group - look for 2 or 3 friendly faces scattered in the audience. Keep going around to them, and it looks like you are speaking to the whole group, and you have the comfort of the friendly listeners who are encouraging to you. wb

La Belette Rouge said...

Glossophobia, I think, is often related to another fear, scopophobia, Scopophibia is the fear of being seen. Standing up and being the center of attention and every one looking at you. Gasp!!
I worked with a voice coach who works with actors and he told me that I lost my voice when I was doing public speaking as I was preparing for everything to go poorly. He was right.

Pearl said...

Have to be careful around Braja -- she makes you think!

I've never been afraid of speaking in front of crowd.

A swimsuit, though? Another matter!


Life with Kaishon said...

I never thought about this before. I will be now though : ).

Aspiring Writer said...

I read an article about actors who are generally very shy people. Interesting, I think. They're so focussed on playing a role, another person, it removes them from themselves.
I think some people can stand in front of crowd without any fear and some can't. It depends on how often they speak publicly, their personality, the environment they grew up in and so on. I also think one can conquer their fear of public speaking or anything through visualisation, meditation etc but some will be better than others. This is a stimulating post. Thanks Mervat.

Kim said...

So interesting! I would never have guessed that asking a child about his/her nervousness would actually work the opposite effect.

elena-lu said...

thank you for you words! ive always been in fear of public speaking and of attention! its not as bad as it was but its still there and i do think that i was taught to fear it but wont go into that anyway just wanted to say i appeaciate you bringing this out and talking about it! :)

lakeviewer said...

I've encountered an unusual phenomenon in this small town I retired to. All children and adults who have lived here all their lives are equally comfortable in front of a small group as in front of a full auditoriu. I do not know why.

I assume it comes from not fearing the audience's reaction. Most are relatives or friends, and they have supported each other for generations.

Somebody ought to research this phenomenon.

Mervat said...

Suko: Thank you. You make such a valid point. If we remember the reason we are presenting and try to ignore how people perceive us then this should make it easier

♥ Braja: I have to admit I do not know the song (but I did look it up)! And yes, we should exercise our Ego regularly...you know what they say about not using 'it'...

And your reputation is perfectly intact m'dear!

Jane: The subject of this post rings so true for me.

notSupermum: Glossophobia is such an ugly word to say...d'you notice how you have to really get your tongue around it! Blukh!

I suppose you just have to bite the bullet and give the blasted presentation (I certainly have winged a few in my time!).

As always it is yet another thing we have to be cautious of with children.

Printemps: Thanks! Yes, you are absolutely right.

septembermom: You have posed an absolutely valid and appropriate response. I totally agree with you that we are not all born performers (and I am certainly not one). Even in a small group setting we may have to come out of our shell and say the odd sentence or two and that alone can be difficult enough. The more we can support our children and try to negate their fear the better they will be even if they are not going to speak publicly. We and they can only do our best.

Valerie: Hope all went well. I am sure you knocked them out with your presentation!

Warren Baldwin: I think this is great. The earlier these children are positive about themselves the better.

And I think this is fantastic advice. I mentioned this to my Almost-16-year-old son who has a presentation today...will see how he goes.

La Belette Rouge: Yes, I see the connection between glossophobia and scopophobia. And I think this is my main issue with public speaking. It would be terrible to loose your voice. Mine goes shakey...I can hear it and I am convinced everyone can as well.

Pearl: Yes, Braja provoking thought can't be good for anyone!!

I have major issues then...I have problems with both the swimsuit and the speaking!

Life with Kaishon: As parents, the earlier we know the better, I guess.

Aspiring Writer: It is very interesting what you say about actors...you would think the opposite, that they would not be shy. I also think that some people are born with it (you see it in them as toddlers sometimes) and others have to work on it and yes practice does make it easier but I don't know if it totally removes the fear.

Kim: Thank you. This was totally out of left field for me too.

elena-lu: You make such an important comment. I totally agree that it might actually be the attention people give you not the fact that you are speaking. That we might not be deserving of that attention. Very interesting. I need to think about this more. Thank You.

lakeviewer: This sounds peculiar. Are all these children being brought up with the same ideas re public speaking, healthy self-image etc? And with all being relatives/friends then they must feel comfortable with eachother. I wonder how someone from your town would react presenting in front of an unfamiliar group in another town or city?

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