If you’re a person who stutters and you think, “I want to stop stuttering! I need to get rid of stuttering. Help me please!” this blog post and video are for you.
It might be counterintuitive at first, but as you go deeper you will see that it’s a game-changer!
So, the first thing I want you to understand, to realize on our journey to freedom from stuttering is that stuttering is not bad.
"What?" you might say.
Stay tuned! I told you it’s going to be counterintuitive.
You see I’m a person who stutters myself, I took my speech therapy back in the day; and I’ve been helping people who stutter get free from stuttering for quite a while now. I’m a big fan of working not only on the emotional part of speaking but also on the physical part of our speaking. And there’s a lot we can do about it.
And you might say, “Come on! Give me those actionable exercises, give me some techniques, some tools, something tangible I can use right now!”
And yes, you can find a link below to the top 10 speaking exercises for stuttering. I’m sharing the basic fundamentals that we want to bring to our speaking in quite a few other videos as well. That's great and awesome! Sure!
But, but, but…
The first thing to ask yourself and be clear about is whether you’re trying to manage, to control, or to deal with stuttering or you try to develop your speaking skills.
You might say, “I can speak, just help me with my stutter.”
Yet, your current speaking gets you to stuttering. So without working on your speaking you won’t change the stuttering.
Actually, it’s a number of skills.
How powerful, how effortless, how relaxing, how engaging it is. That’s the physical side of speaking. And since speaking is also an interaction - you become one with the speaking environment - it’s also how you feel at that moment. And this feeling accounts for 90% of stuttering. Actually freedom from stuttering is a feeling, it’s an emotional state you develop by creating speaking experiences.
You might say, “Ok, whatever. Let’s develop the skills, just help me with my stutter.”
And that’s the key point, the key moment. That’s the mindset, the attitude, the general approach we have when we join the therapy, course, program.
Imagine you get to your first piano lesson.
And one situation is that you go thinking, “Honestly, I hate this but it’s so bad NOT to play the piano. So I have to be here learning this stuff.” And another situation where you love music, you love the sound of it, and you want to learn to play. You do it and you feel, “I love it.”
Which lesson do you think would be more effective? Which effort do you think can bring better results?
Just imagine Mozart, Beatles, or Adele thinking “I have to do it because it’s so bad not to play music!”
Of course, if you hate it, if you don’t like it, if it feels like a burden you won’t stick to it. You’ll be hopping from one course to another, from one therapy or program to the other.
You might argue that those are the cases where people want to learn something and in our case, we want to get rid of the pain.
Yes, exactly! That’s what I’m saying!
In other words, there’s no way to just stop stuttering.
You can go to the dentist with an aching tooth and the dentist releases you from the pain. Feels better now. With stuttering, it doesn’t work this way. No.
With stuttering we have a situation similar to going to learn to play the piano, to sing, to do a headstand, to take a cold shower, you name it. There are so many skills that you can develop.
You want to like what you want to develop.
As long as we feel, “it’s bad, I hate it, it’s the cause of the problems, etc.” it’s always stuttering and fluency, and we simply can’t bring the focus to the right thing. Your focus is distracted. We can’t focus, can’t start developing the skills that we want to develop in the physical and emotional parts of our speaking. We can’t even start our journey to freedom from stuttering, we can’t even get on this path.
And by the way, this belief that “stuttering is bad” is simply not true. The stuttering, the speech impediments themselves are neutral.
And you might get defensive here, like, “What do you mean? You don’t understand!”
I totally understand. I can totally get what you feel. I feel the same way.
As an assignment, as an exercise I want you to write down on a blank piece of paper why stuttering is bad for you. Anything that comes to your mind.
If you don’t have a piece of paper create a note for it on your smartphone or you can get vulnerable and share in the comments - why is it bad for you? Don’t filter it. Let it all out.
And then, as you’ve poured it out and I want you to analyze it.
I want you to see that there’s always always always one of these 3 things below or a combination of these.
"They laughed at me, they mocked me, they bullied me!"
Well, what is says about stuttering? Nothing. They are doing something wrong, not you. They should be ashamed, not you.
"Why did I do it so poorly! I could have done it better! I should have said it fluently!"
Should you? You stutter. It’s unfair to say that to yourself. It’s unfair to beat yourself up for it. You did a great job.
"They rejected me at a job interview because of my stutter!"
Well, did you show up as a confident professional who is able to solve their problem? Did you say that you stutter and it doesn’t affect your professional capabilities or you tried to be fluent and you were nervous about not revealing yourself?
What was more important for you - to hide and escape the stutter and be “normal” (they won’t hire me if they know that I stutter) or to reveal yourself openly as a person who can do this job and who wants it badly? Did you really feel that you are the best fit for this position or it was like, “I want it, but maybe I’m not good enough.”
And these are not the stuttering itself. I mean it is part of this big stuttering iceberg and that’s why I call it the invisible 90% of stuttering, but these are not disfluencies. These are the product of our belief that stuttering is bad.
Look at regular people. They don’t bother. They don’t care about their glitches, about their stuttering. They laugh at it. They take it lightly.
We don’t take it lightly, we cry at it at times.
So, thinking, believing, and feeling that stuttering is bad distracts us from elevating our speaking to the next level, distracts us from dealing with shame, hiding, and avoidance, and ultimately, it distracts us from really dealing with stuttering effectively.
I want you to start letting go of this story that we’ve been telling ourselves that stuttering is bad.
And a great way to start letting it go is to see why we really tell ourselves this story.
At the very base level, it’s our expectation and other people's expectation as well that we should and we can be fluent. Our parents' expectations (you can do it, just slow down, just breathe) and we don’t want to fail them, our classmates, friends, colleagues, our boss expectations, but most of all our own expectation we created in our mind that I should be fluent and I can be fluent, I’m fluent, I just need to try harder.
It’s so hard to embrace this simple idea and the simple fact that I stutter and there’s nothing to be ashamed of.
It’s not a mistake, but we feel like it is. We try to hide this mistake. Remember how you felt when you make a bad mistake and you didn't want your mom to see it.
It’s not a mistake. That’s the way our brain aligns with the speech mechanism. It’s an automated pattern with a broken structure that we have right now (it’s an automated muscle memory). It’s a state that we get into (it’s an automated emotional memory as well).
But we like to come up with stories, like,
“I have difficulty with the words starting with the sounds K, D, S, T, P and it’s hard to pronounce my name. Can you help me with this?”
“I’m fluent in the speech therapy room but I can’t handle phone calls. What can I do about it?”
“I’m fluent when I’m alone or even I’m fluent most of the time, but once I start thinking about stuttering I actually stutter. Is there any way to remove this anxiety?”
And on, and on, and on. These are great stories, they are true, but...
they describe only one thing. You stutter. And there’s nothing to be ashamed of. It’s not a mistake to hide. It’s a good reason to start developing new skills.
So, let’s recap.
When we feel it’s bad we tend to work on stuttering instead of working on our speaking (give me the tools to stop my stutter). We want to work on the fundamentals of our speaking and the structure of our speaking. We don’t want to work on the stutter. We want to work on our speech and how we feel at that moment. We want to make our speaking secure, powerful, effortless, relaxing, and engaging.
As long as we feel bad about it we constantly shift to our stutter, that’s where our focus goes distracting us from the real work we want to do.
Bottom line - we want to feel that stuttering is a friend. Speaking is not dangerous because stuttering is not dangerous. We’re not escaping stuttering better, we’re learning to present ourselves, to open up and be truly present in the interaction.
And it’s much easier to feel that stuttering is a friend when it doesn’t bite, when you feel the structure of our speaking.
I’m a big fan of working on the physical side of our speaking using the hand stuttering technique.
And even though it’s called a “technique” it’s not a stuttering technique, it’s not addressing stuttering, it just helps us to feel and restore the natural structure of our speaking, to align our brain with the speech mechanism. It helps us rewire our brain and gradually build a new speaking pattern.
Becoming friends with stuttering is basically the essence of the transformation, the journey to freedom from stuttering, to a new state where you truly don’t bother about speech impediments when they happen and if they happen.
And I know it’s hard to imagine that it could be the case,
“stuttering is a friend - no way!”
but once you see and acknowledge all the shame, hiding, avoiding, and unrealistic expectations that we impose on ourselves and carry as a burden,
once you start working on your speaking and the way you feel at the moment of speaking interaction, the way you present yourself to the world, not on stuttering (escaping stuttering better),
So, I want you to do this internal work, I gave you the assignment, it’s not sexy, but as I said in the beginning, it’s a thousand times more important than rushing to do some exercises or learning some new technique.
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!