There are many ways people get free from stuttering. I want to tell you about one which I see working.
The Improve Program is just a number of steps that are feasible for you to go through. You go from one to the next one. One step at a time. That’s it.
We try to incorporate the best or the most effective elements from various stuttering techniques. The core element of the Improve Program is using our hand to synchronize all the processes that go along as we speak.
And it's based on the fact that our motor activity and speaking are regulated by the same area of our brain. It was the core piece of the intensive therapy that I took myself.
You can get inside the Improve Program by clicking on the image below.
It's totally free.
Even though it always looks like we need the technical part, the hardest part is ourselves, our mindset.
Once you have the technical part, the roadmap to freedom from stuttering becomes nothing more than going from one limiting belief to the other, passing them by and doing it anyway.
It's our internal talk that we're having with ourselves.
At some point as a child, I thought how come that people ride a bike. I mean two wheels - it should fall, right?
It seemed just impossible.
Then I felt that balance on the bike. When you go left and right - and don't fall. I felt like a miracle. Like I learned to fly.
With everything, it's mostly in our mind.
With stuttering, it's also strongly supported by what actually happens, by our everyday experiences. And that becomes an automated pattern.
But the question is, is it possible?
Is it possible not to worry about your speech impediments and just enjoy speaking, emotionally connect with your audience and be present in that moment?
Well, that's a wrong question. The right question is this: do you want it? Do you have a reason why you want it? What is your WHY?
Listen to your heart.
If you really want it, that's enough reason to try.
It's absolutely fine to feel that it's impossible. Because we've proved that over and over again.
I vividly remember that I felt with my entire body and mind it was impossible for me.
Now, let me inspire you a bit.
It is possible.
When I began taking my own therapy, I quickly realized that the prospects of success frightened me much more than failure. So, I'll have to talk to strangers? I'll have to speak in front of an audience? No way. Let me fail, please.
Just remember the right question: do you want it? Do you have a reason why you want it? What is your WHY?
Listen to your heart.
If you really want it, that's enough reason to keep going.
Speaking exercises look weird.
We open our mouth wide, image ourselves to be a balloon, move a heavy piano, turn on a car and emulate a helicopter with our lips, sing weird sounds, and do other stupid things.
“Are you guys sane here?” you might think.
Well… yeah, it funny. Now, imagine the emperor Julius Cesar walking into his garden to see… you playing tennis in there. Weird picture, right?
I also love this story about laying bricks.
“A man came across three masons who were working at chipping chunks of granite from large blocks. The first seemed unhappy at his job, chipping away and frequently looking at his watch. When the man asked what it was that he was doing, the first mason responded, rather curtly, “I’m hammering this stupid rock, and I can’t wait ’til 5 when I can go home.”
”A second mason, seemingly more interested in his work, was hammering diligently and when asked what it was that he was doing, answered, “Well, I’m molding this block of rock so that it can be used with others to construct a wall. It’s not bad work, but I’ll sure be glad when it’s done.”
”A third mason was hammering at his block fervently, taking time to stand back and admire his work. He chipped off small pieces until he was satisfied that it was the best he could do. When he was questioned about his work he stopped, gazed skyward and proudly proclaimed, “I…am building a cathedral!”
“Three men, three different attitudes, all doing the same job.”
So, my point is, if you’re clear about what you’re doing it doesn’t matter what others might think. If you believe that it makes sense, it surely does.
We’re not laying bricks; we’re building a new speaking pattern. We try to feel and understand our speaking mechanism.
My speaking mechanism is part of me, right?
On the one hand, we see that our efforts to improve wrack as a flimsy boat smashed against the solid and cold rocks into pieces.
On the other hand, we read the science and experts saying that they find roots of our stuttering in our neurology, heredity or genes.
And we get to the conclusion that something inside me is broken and that’s it. Since I can’t get inside and find that gene, I can’t fix it.
And we find out there many varieties of saying the same simple thing: there’s nothing much we can do about it.
I can’t fix it
Well, it’s hard to argue. We’re born this way. It’s part of our nature.
But stuttering is a pattern. It’s a state we get into.
Stuttering itself is not a gene. It’s great if we could find that gene which causes or facilitates stuttering.
But we don’t need to find it for a change!
We can change patterns. We can change the states we get into.
It’s a stable and persistent pattern. But it still doesn’t mean we can’t change it.
The fact that we’re born this way does not mean we are destined to be that way all our life.
We still can change it.
Once I had a comment to one of my videos which went something along the lines: “False fluency can never change the way I speak in real life.”
That’s a huge topic. And this is the hardest thing. So, let’s dive a bit deeper into that.
Let’s be honest. The process of real change is dramatically simple. Just 3 steps: 1) you learn a skill in the classroom, 2) then you apply it in the real life and then 3) after applying it for some time you feel the change.
As you can see the third item is something that takes time. It doesn’t happen overnight. It depends on whether you use the new skill in real life or not.
As long as two worlds exist totally separately (the classroom where I practice my technique and the real world where I speak “the old way”) no change is possible.
Now, the usual expectation (both the therapist’s and yours) is this: you learn a skill and then use it in real life.
All the time. With no exception.
That was the condition of my therapy that I took. And it felt like a burden too heavy for me. I knew I couldn’t do it.
I was telling my therapist that I was using my new speaking skill in the real life. While in fact, I wasn’t.
It was like all or nothing. Either you go “all in” using your new speaking skill, or you lose.
So that was the perception I was having. I was not tough enough. Not brave enough. I’m failing. I’ll fail for sure. I’ve failed.
While I appreciate this “all or nothing” approach because it makes you mobilize all your energy and willpower and try to do it, I’m a fan of a more gradual approach.
What I found in my own experience and in the Improve Program with many different participants going through the same struggle was this:
We don’t want to wait for real life to come. It will come and smash us.
So, we create real life situations.
It’s much easier to use our new speaking skill in the situations we create rather than react in a new way in our usual settings. At least at the first stage.
So, we get on the video calls, make real-life phone calls from there, role play different situations, launch debates, and do a lot of other cool stuff.
In “all or nothing” approach we concentrate on the fact that we don’t stutter using the new skill all the time. If we fail, it feels like we failed totally.
So, we don’t worry much about the negative. We concentrate on growing the positive.
Each new experience we’ve created builds up that land. Until we have enough land to stand on. Until we find confidence and foundation in that new land.
Once we feel that, then we expand our land further. Until we get the confidence to use our new speaking skill in the hardest parts of our real life – the work environment, our boss, our class, our friends.
It doesn’t happen overnight. We all have setbacks. And the group provides a great support in this case.
And again, and again, what is you WHY? Do you really want it? Your answer will keep you going.
Many people say, “I’m fluent most of the time. It’s just when I’m around a group of people or in the emotional setting. My stuttering is psychological.”
Well, while we have different levels of stuttering severity in a nutshell every stuttering is a state we get into.
It’s stable and persistent.
It’s an automated pattern we’re having.
The Improve Program works for you the same way.
You’ll just get through many steps much faster than people with severe stuttering.
Mild stutterers might say, “I don’t need these speech exercises. I just need more confidence. I want something psychological.”
Sure, try different things, try other stuttering techniques, acting for example.
If still nothing works, you’re absolutely welcome back to the Improve Program!
I totally get it.
There was an experiment about wild animals that were put in the cage. First, they tried to jump over the fence, they were furious, they tried to get out. After a while, they got used to it and stopped trying.
Very natural. Why spend energy if that’s useless, right?
But then, and that was the experiment actually, the fence was lowered to the point where they could jump over the fence.
The discovery was – no one even tried. They could do it now, but they, as we humans would say, no longer “believed” they could do it.
That’s why we want to start with simple exercises. To enjoy speaking on a very basic level. Something that we can do. To build some confidence and move further.
We always want to do something that is feasible to reach. So that we feel accomplished and confident we can achieve more.
If you say, “I don’t even want to try anymore.” Well… Become a buddy to Thomas Edison.
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” – Thomas A. Edison
This approach works not only with stuttering for sure ;)
So, what’s holding YOU back? Please leave a comment! I'll keep updating this roadmap based on your input.
And see you inside the Improve Program!