I'll share with you a funny story about myself and through this story, we'll see how stuttering works on the one hand and how overcoming stuttering works on the other hand.
If you're in peace with stuttering, you can skip this video, but if you're still thinking about how to develop your strategy with stuttering or how to dramatically improve your strategy with stuttering - let's get down to it.
So, here's me doing the pullover exercise this summer. You can see the hesitation as I was doing it. When I was putting my legs up I was constantly terrified to fall down. As you can see I still did it but there was a lot of insecurity in it.
I was beating myself up for giving in to some stupid obsession. Why can't I just do it the first time? As you'll see next, it was not a mere obsession.
So, the next time I tried putting in a little more force and doing it straight away. The funny thing was that there were some guys doing pull-ups so they stood aside looking at me. They noticed I was recording myself so they expected something special.
They were shocked to see me falling down from that bar. :) I was lucky to have other bars around so I could hold on to them and not fall my head down.
Wow. I was shocked. I was also quite happy that it all ended well for me.
After that, I laughed a lot about how funny I actually did it and how other guys reacted. But the truth is I didn't even try to do the pullover the next month or so. The fear became so real. It just paralyzed my body and mind. That was my new reality backed by this real-life experience. I lived with a firm belief that I cannot do it.
Very similarly, our stuttering starts as insecurity in our speaking, as hesitations and speech impediments, more or less severe, and then as we're pushed to speak in front of other people we stutter publicly and at those moments self-consciousness, negative feelings, emotional pain arise and attach to stuttering. And that emotional pain becomes part of stuttering.
Back to my pullover thing, I started thinking about what I could do about it.
I googled for it, like does anyone have the same problem as I do? I was trying to find an answer. And I just came to the conclusion that that's the way I'm wired, there's something wrong with me definitely. I'm weird. Maybe genetics, maybe my brain injuries, who knows.
At the same time, I decided to work on the fundamentals - doing abs exercises and pull-ups hoping that if I work on the fundamentals sooner or later they will help me somehow. But they didn't seem to bring any change with my pullover efforts.
And similarly, we work on speaking exercises. Breathing exercises, articulation exercises, voicing exercises, singing, etc. And similarly, they don't seem to bring critical change to our stuttering.
And then this happened. I was with my kids at the playground and there was a low bar designed for kids. My younger daughter is doing all sorts of things there and I usually do the pullover because it's easy to do it when you're not hanging but you're jumping pushing yourself up from the ground feeling the support of the ground.
I thought what if instead of just doing it I try to hang in that position with my head down trying to find where that insecurity is, where that fear is coming from.
And I did exactly that. I was hanging this way with my head down. And since the bar was low I didn't feel the fear. And I managed to do a pullover exercise a couple of times starting from this position.
And that was a breakthrough in my mind, and in my muscle memory as well. Exercises didn't seem to bring results to my pullover practice. Same with stuttering - relaxation, articulation, singing, reading out loud, they all help, but they don't quite sum up when it comes to real-life speaking.
And for us, the fear and the insecurity live in speaking, in interaction. At the same time, we want to find that low bar where we can feel the freedom to play with our speaking.
And I'm preaching about the hand stuttering technique which gives our speaking very physical support. It creates that low bar for us. I'm teaching how to use it properly in the Free From Stutter Program.
But even if you don't use any technique or maybe you're using some different technique I want you to play with recording yourself.
I suggest starting with shooting videos and posting them to the Free From Stutter Facebook group.
It's very similar to that low bar. For most of us, it's much easier than the real-life interaction. There's no pressure of judgment, it's just you and the camera. You can re-shoot it, again and again, playing with your voice in the exercise mode. We don't need to be perfect here, we can just play and feel what's going on with our voice, with our breathing, with our articulation, with the eye-contact and the body - is it stiff and tense or maybe I can relax and drop my shoulders. There are many things to observe and to play with.
It's still a challenge. So, shoot your video to yourself first. But then muster the courage and post it.
There's a big chance we might feel that speaking and opening up is not that scary. It might be even fun. In any case, it's a much lower bar than the real-life speaking. Yet, it's a form of interaction. Because we talk to the camera thinking that potentially other people might see this video at some point.
We want to have both. Doing exercises give some more confidence to show up and open up and be more active. And being more active and feeling good about ourselves gives more confidence to feel our speaking better.
In my case with the pullover story, I realized very soon after overcoming my fear that I was doing the pullover in a not very right way, not a very efficient way at least. I was doing the pull up first which I really didn't need to do. I was using my pulling motion a bit differently, but it made a huge difference.
Regarding our speaking, I like the analogy with an airplane taking off. The airplane needs to create some forward movement, to get some speed, but then we also need an upward force of the wing which moves our airplane up. We want to move not just forward but also up. The same way with our speaking exercises: we can do a lot of them but this is just the forward movement. We can create some speed and go this way miles and miles and miles and miles not taking off.
To take off we need speaking, to get to that point where the fear lives, where the insecurity lives. That's where we create that upward movement. A combination of these two motions makes the airplane take off.
So, I'm wishing you the patience and dedication to work on the physical side of your speaking and to work on opening up, showing up, appearing, revealing yourself and feeling good about it no matter how technically you do it.
If you are a person who stutters,
and you're not quite satisfied with how you feel at the moment of speaking interaction
I invite you to my free training where I share my view on getting free from stuttering.
And for more interaction,
join the Free From Stutter Facebook group.
Please, don't stay isolated! It's crucial to feel you’re part of the community!
If you have thoughts or observations, anything that comes to your mind - let me know in the comments!
Thank you so much! See you soon!