This past weekend I was invited to be a guest speaker at my friend’s public speaking class for kids. My goal was to inspire these kids to step out of their comfort zone. Within minutes of my speech I could see many of them were apprehensive about sharing their hopes and dreams for the future. It’s understandable, as most kids express themselves less each year as they progress through the school system.
For many of the us, the fear of humiliation in front of a group of people is all too much to bare, we remember the time when our parents said something that made us feel small, perhaps it was a teacher or classmate that embarrassed us when we were children.
Over time these negative childhood memories get locked away in our memory banks. As we grow into adults these experiences are unlocked when an incident brings us back to that time, reminding us to not try as we will only make a fool of ourselves. After years of playing this never ending movie in our minds we subconsciously believe we are not worthy of love, attention, or respect.
You can blame your past for your current circumstances which most people do. I’ve seen many people with great promise as youngsters grow into bitter adults, never reaching their full human potential. The good news is understand it is never too late to turnaround your current state of mind. Many people blame their parents, I once did too. I know one guy who is constantly searching for happiness but failing to find it as he still hasn’t forgiven his parents for things they did decades ago.
One of the ways you can turn this thinking around is to look at your childhood experience from another angle. Look at how your experience changed the way you do things? For example, former light heavyweight Canadian boxer Donnie Lalonde who fought the legendary Sugar Ray Leonard, was abused as a child. Instead of being bitter, he chose to become an advocate for child abuse.
I know many friends who became excellent parents as a result of their less than ideal relationship with their parents. While their relationship with their own parents may not be perfect, but from what I gather their kids will have an entirely positive childhood much different than they had.
I missed out on many things growing up, for years it angered me. I felt I wasted half of my life but as I got older I chose to not let it rule my life. There were lessons I learned from my childhood experience, teaching me to feel more compassion for children from low income homes, compassion for people who don’t feel like they are loved or respected, and helping others believe in themselves when no one else did. The experience is solely responsible for my career, allowing me to work in a field I am truly passionate about.
That is the one message I wanted to leave the kids with, to look at every problem with a silver lining, figuring out what lesson can be learned, and how to utilize it to their advantage in life.