As a person who stutters and who overcame stuttering if you wish, and as a person who runs Free From Stutter Program where I teach other people who stutter how to overcome stuttering, I want to share with you one single big truth about stutter that you want to know, you want to understand before you start any speech therapy or program, you also want to keep it in mind while you're in the speech therapy and even after the speech therapy, program, or treatment you will be coming back to this truth again, again, and again.
This single thing determines whether you're successful or not with overcoming stuttering.
I hope you feel a little bit intrigued. :) Let's dive into it!
As I mentioned, I run Free From Stutter Program where we attach confidence to the act of speaking, where we build a new speaking pattern, so people often expect that I can share and I should be sharing some secret how to cure stuttering or how to stop stuttering.
And obviously, in the program, we are doing speaking exercises, learning, and applying techniques, and I love all of that, that's what I do, but overcoming stuttering (stammering) begins long before that, before working on your speech. It starts with you.
And all it comes down to admitting the problem.
"What?" you might say. "I'm watching your video, man, I have a stutter! Of course, I admit the problem!"
Yeah, but it's a different problem. It's not a problem with stuttering. It's a problem with you. And me and with every person who stutters. We all have it. Now, how we deal with it is a bit question and, as I said, it determines whether we're successful or not with overcoming stuttering.
So, the problem is...
We want to look good outside and we do feel bad inside. We want to be cool, smart, perfect while inside we feel embarrassment, fear, and shame.
Why is it so bad? Because it creates a lot of tension and avoidance. And stuttering itself if a concentrated physical and emotional tension. While we feel insecure and bad inside, we try to look OK, we try to be fluent outside. Trying more, putting more force creates more counter-force, trying harder brings more stuttering.
Even when we're fluent we still feel the tension (what if? what if?) and even if nothing happens we feel like, "thank God I escaped!" We are not able to truly enjoy this moment, be in this moment, enjoy the interaction, and connection with another person.
So, what's our goal? What's the solution to the problem?
You might have guessed it. It's just the opposite. We want to feel good inside and be ready to look awkward and "bad" outside.
There are two major strategies for how we can do that.
The first one is "easier stuttering" or "confident stuttering."
It's when you open up about your stuttering not feeling ashamed of it. Because stuttering is not something to be ashamed of.
When someone says, "Did you forget your name?" You smile and say, "Oh, the thing is, I stutter." And you look into person's eyes connecting and feeling good about it.
The second strategy is working on your speech.
But the problem we have doesn't let us get to that working on our speech in the first place. Because working on our speech makes us vulnerable, awkward and "bad." We start playing with some crazy exercises and we get self-conscious. We go like, "Man, everything is fine with my speaking pattern in principle. I can be fluent sometimes or most of the time. So everything is fine with me I just need to fix something."
And we usually start looking for that "something," for some trick, for some cure, for some secret. And it doesn't work, and this doesn't work, and that doesn't work. So, we just keep looking for something still not getting to the point of admitting the problem that we want to be fluent, we want to be perfect, we want to look cool, that we're not ready to be awkward and vulnerable.
It's exactly like me shooting this video. First, I was thinking that the t-shirt was not the right one. I have some yellow spot on it. Then I was thinking that I don't look good today. Then I thought about the lighting. Then about the backdrop, etc.
There are a million reasons why we can postpone, delay things till "someday." We all know that this "someday" never comes. The only way to stop it is actually do it the way it is, be awkward, be "bad," look awkward, look bad, but do it, feel good about what you're doing.
The same goes for working on our speech - we can always tell ourselves a million things: "I'm fine. I'm still better than this other guy." Or "That's the way I am, I can't change it anyway." Or "I failed (it didn't work) in my previous therapy so why try again?"
In fact, I failed with my video yesterday and the day before yesterday. I've been failing through this week each and every day. What finally made me do it and shoot this video was the idea that somebody is waiting for this video to come, somebody needs this video. The same goes for you.
That's a good reason to finally go to that speech therapy where you would feel your speaking pattern is changing, where you would feel you're building your confidence.
For example, in Free From Stutter Program, we build a new training speech. We learn to easily launch the phrase, we feel the airflow in the phrase and we make sure it all doesn't collapse in real life so we also use the hand stuttering technique.
But the point is that the training speech of course, especially at first, is rather visible. We can't hide behind it. We want to open up and use it. And speak it.
We want to sound and look a little awkward and feel great about your improvement effort, feel great about building a new speaking pattern, feel great about being active, that now you want to speak more actually.
And when you ask, "Do you have margarita pizza?" using the training speech and get a response, "Yes, we do!" which sounds like your training speech you just smile back and say, "Oh, I'm in the speech program for stuttering, so my speaking might be a little slower."
To be honest, I don't remember those thousands of times where I was "successful," where I got support or people just didn't notice me using the training speech. I remember a couple of times where people laughed at me.
The most important thing is how we react to that.
In my case, people thought that I was actually making fun of them, so they got defensive and tried to make fun of me. Once they knew that I was in the speech therapy for stuttering, that I was working on my speech, they instantly got supportive. Again, even if they don't get supportive our goal is to find that inner strength to feel good about ourselves and what we're doing.
Let's take a look at a couple of examples.
Here's the interview with Broca Brothers "You are already a fluent speaker." So, imagine you are a fluent person. Try to feel that. How would you act if you were a fluent person? You would go and speak and do stuff. So, if we act like a fluent person we stutter easier with not that much tension.
Here's Drew Lynch saying "did I stutter?" at America's Got Talent show. It's a joke but it's not a joke. If you take a look at Drew Lynch he acts like a fluent regular person. And that's powerful, that's beautiful.
You can also check out my interviews with LeRon Barton, Rick Scuotto, Pedro Pena and Chase Gillis. The central theme of all those interviews is opening up and feeling good about yourself.
Another great example is Elon Musk. He doesn't have a stutter, but his speech is very stuttery. He's too busy to think about perfection in his speaking, he's so much focused on what he actually does rather than how he sounds.
And the natural response to that is saying, "Yeah, I kind of understand but these are courageous, brave, strong people, I'm not quite like that. Maybe you still can share some secret?"
The reality is that opening up either through easier stuttering or through using your training speech that you're building in your improvements effort, being active and positive about what you're doing actually makes you strong, it makes you a hero, it builds up your character.
You're not set in stone, life is the river, tomorrow will be a new day and it's only you who decides what you'll do tomorrow. Your action is a brick of a new building. Your action, single action, is a seed of a new tree.
Let me know what you think! Would love to hear your ideas!
Thank you so much for staying in touch!
If you are a person who stutters and you're not quite satisfied with how you feel at the moment of speaking interaction and if you want to go deeper into what we can do about stuttering I invite you to my free Improve Training - 10 Immediate Steps I challenge you to take right now!
And for more interaction join the Free From Stutter Facebook group. It’s crucial not to stay isolated, it’s vital 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!