For the last several years I’ve been helping people who stutter get free from stuttering and truly enjoy speaking interaction.
So, I put together the gist of it, my best advice on how to stop stuttering and I want to share it with you!
Let’s go for it!
First of all, let's be clear about what we want. What's our speaking goal? What's your speaking goal?
And quite naturally, we often come up with, "Of course, I want to stop stuttering!" Yet, when we choose our goal - "stop stuttering" we choose the direction we're moving. So, let's see where this "how to stop stuttering" leads us.
Speaking is an automated pattern. And stuttering is an automated muscle and emotional memory. It's an automated response. The only sure way how to stop stuttering is to stop speaking. And the most effective way to reduce stuttering is to reduce speaking.
And without noticing that much, we gradually shift that way reducing our speaking until the amount of speaking gets really small. And everywhere outside that box is danger because speaking is everywhere.
And that's the invisible part of stuttering we all have to some extent. And that's the real problem that stuttering brings.
So, there is definitely something wrong with the way we put the question, with the way we put our goal. "How to stop stuttering" leads us to becoming masters of avoidance, masters of escaping, masters of running away and holding back. We want to reframe our goal from the negative "how to stop" to positive "how to do, how to learn, how to develop, how to create." I call it "how to create a new speaking pattern," or "how to enjoy, truly enjoy speaking interaction," or "how to feel great about speaking and about yourself."
So, I want you to reframe your goal. What is your more positive goal?
To reach our goal, we need a strategy.
1) Devices, apps, and medications
And the first strategy that many people try is devices, apps, and medications because what comes to our mind first is "stuttering treatment."
And it doesn't work. I mean it does work to some extent. While we use the device or while we take the medication we might feel better. But when we don't use the device, when we don't take the medication we come back to our stuttering speaking pattern. Stuttering stays the same.
2) Tricks, techniques, and speaking exercises
So we see a trick, a technique, or an exercise on YouTube, we apply it, we try it. Something works, something doesn't work, something improves our fluency but eventually after a while, we feel that stuttering stays the same. The trick, the technique, the exercise doesn't change the structure of our speaking.
3) Mental game
So, we move to the third strategy. We say, "The devices didn't work, the exercises, the tricks didn't work, probably there is something in the mental part. I can speak in general, I can speak fluently sometimes, I don't stutter alone, so it's not about the production of sounds, it's about the thought process, it's about my obsession and how I feel at the moment of speaking."
We start doing meditation, self-hypnosis, affirmations, visualization. And all of these are awesome and amazing! But it doesn't work. I mean, of course, it works to some extent again. We might feel differently, we might feel much better. I love this approach big time! What is missing in this strategy is the acknowledgment that the speaking structure, the physical structure of our speaking is still impaired.
We're trying to affect our thought process, the way we feel but the way we feel is so much connected with the physical part of our speaking. By ignoring the physical part of our speaking we're missing the essential piece, so the structure of our speaking stays the same.
The next strategy, number four, is changing our attitude. And oftentimes it happens when we've tried everything and finally, we come to the conclusion that the most effective way is to just change your attitude and say to ourselves that it's okay to stutter. There is nothing to be ashamed of and there is no need to run away, to avoid, to hide.
Again, awesome strategy! Great strategy! And if you can do it that's amazing because you instantly get to that freedom from stuttering when nothing is stopping you, nothing is holding you back.
Yet, in this strategy, we're not working on the physical part either. And not everyone can do it. I personally could not do it. Like if someone is telling me, "Come on! You can! Do it!" No way. I'm not doing it. And some people might feel really bad about it because somebody is telling me I can do it and I'm not doing it so I might start beating myself up even more.
5) Both physical and emotional
And finally, strategy number five which I'm preaching about. It's addressing both the physical part and the emotional part of our speaking.
Not just saying "you can do it" but also giving the tools how I can do it. And by the tools, I don't mean a technique or trick that we can take and use to avoid, prevent or overcome that block. It's not just an exercise, it's not just a technique, it's what I call the "training speech."
We're not trying to address the part of our speaking where the block is, where the speech impediment is. We're addressing our whole speaking, we speak with the training speech. And the training speech is nothing more than just restoring the natural structure of our speaking,
We want to feel the structure of our speaking much better, making sure that we start the first sound in a relaxed manner, making sure that we feel the airflow in the speaking piece, we're putting the stresses, we're making our speaking powerful and we also make sure that we engage your body, eye-contact, and we're making our speaking expressive as well.
And to make sure that these fundamentals don't collapse in real life we're using the hand stuttering technique giving our speaking a very physical foundation because our speaking as a fine motor activity is regulated from the same part of our brain as the fine motor activity of our fingers.
So, we reach those neural pathways much more effectively and we establish new neural pathways much more prominently.
We're pressing with our fingers on the thigh aligning our speaking with pressing our fingers.
And first, we start really slow with one sound using the thumb feeling how we flow into the phrase. Of course, we give ourselves more time first to learn and to build that new physical skill.
So we say, "I think you're right" using four fingers. And gradually we increase the pace pretty much to regular pace saying, "I think you're right" using three fingers feeling the stresses a little more.
And again, the main idea is that we are speaking this way, it's not a trick or technique to address the speech impediments. We want to address our speaking, the whole structure of our speaking.
In the Free From Stutter Program, for example, we not only practice in the classroom. Right from the start, we start performing, start revealing ourselves, start presenting ourselves speaking. And here we start playing with the emotional part of our speaking because speaking is interaction, it's presenting ourselves.
We start building a new state associated with the act of speaking where you're open, active and positive about yourself and that interaction.
Even though we're technically playing with the training speech and use the training speech, 90% of that effort, of that process is building that emotional muscle of being open, active and positive, not running away, not trying to escape but being truly present, truly enjoying the speaking interaction.
And the same way as stuttering is an automated muscle and emotional memory that reproduces itself over and over again we want to come to the point where we feel a new state associated with the act of speaking. The state of confidence, enjoying it, and being truly present. We want to reach the point where this new state starts to reproduce itself.
This way we remove the obsession and that physical and emotional tension we often feel about speaking. Instead of thinking what I'm gonna say or how I'm gonna look we start really engaging in the conversation, truly listening to another person and not being in our head.
And when it's your time to speak only at that point you take your time, think and start speaking. You don't pre-form any thoughts, any sentences, any words. You take your time, as much time as you need.
The number one thing I want you to take away about how to stop stuttering, how to overcome stuttering, how to get free from stuttering is that the real measure of our success is not the number of speech impediments. It's not how well, how perfectly we escape, run away, avoid or prevent speech impediments.
The number one measure, criterion, and goal is how active you are.
So, if you want to stop stuttering or overcome stuttering or get free from stuttering take a sheet of paper and put there a habit of "being active." And you put that piece of paper on the spot that you see every day.
For your inspiration and as food for thought, here's a picture of the habits that I was working on in Rob Dial's 60-day challenge. I put it on the fridge as you can see. :) A friend of mine invited me to that challenge and the biggest challenge for me here was the habit of taking a cold shower.
I didn't have personal guidance on how to start taking cold showers, so I went step by step. A tiny step at a time. The coldest water possible but only the feet first. The next day I went to the ankles, sometime later to the thighs and then to the stomach and chest and so on.
The same way with speaking. Do something small and enjoy it. Mark it as "done." Feel good about it.
That's way more important, way more effective than thinking, watching videos, and doing exercises at home. This is something to start with.
At this point, people usually say, "Yes, Andrey, I see you're right, I'm gonna do it!"
And we just talked about this strategy "I'm gonna do it." It's cool and awesome, but usually, it ends up like doing it once, feeling something about it and then getting back to normal regular stuttering life.
On the one hand, I keep saying that stuttering treatment mindset is the number one enemy of ours. We don't want to feel helpless like, "Somebody, please help me! Please remove my pain! Remove my stuttering!
Even when somebody is teaching you something it's you who are learning, you are taking those steps, you are going that way, you're building your new training speech, you're building your new speaking pattern.
At the same time, I see over and over again that people say, "Yes, that's true what you're saying but I'll do it myself."
And I get it, I've been there. It took me 10 years to go to the speech therapy that I actually wanted to go to. There's certain internal work we need to do to build certain determination and actually go and do it.
But when we're doing it at home with ourselves we are always staying in that shell practicing, playing with ourselves, conquering that room.
It's so crucial to have certain accountability, to operate at a certain frequency and energy level when you really start doing things, you really start opening up and becoming more active and positive.
And it is a certain sequence. We want to build that skill, that muscle step by step. We don't want to lose that momentum. I like the analogy with an airplane - we want to put some extra effort to overcome gravity and take off.
So to overcome that gravity, to feel that momentum, to live at that higher frequency and energy level I do suggest joining the programs.
I run the Free From Stutter Program and I believe that it's the best one. :)
You can also take a look at other programs that do bring results. I see people in the stuttering support groups actually doing a great job after various programs. While choosing, just make sure that you are clear about the path that you're going to go, you're clear about the strategy. If you see only the "before and after" videos that's by far not enough. You want to be clear on how the transformation is going to happen.
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 video training - 4 Steps To Freedom 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!