Stuttering is a mysterious thing. We always look for some solution. It seems to us that stuttering is a riddle and we need to solve that riddle. We either look for causes of stuttering or some tricks or techniques. Thinking like, "What is that one thing?"
In fact, stuttering is not a riddle and there is no one thing. Our speaking pattern is a puzzle, so stuttering is a puzzle. There are several pieces that we want to put together to get the whole picture. There are seven layers that we can clearly see in our speaking pattern that we want to work on. What are these seven layers? Let's find out.
Our speaking is either relaxing or it's getting us tense. Interaction with the speaking environment usually brings some anxiety. That's a regular and natural thing. The point is how we deal with that and how we get through it.
For us, tension means tension in the vocal cords, tension in the air flow, so it ends up in our blocks, repetitions, prolongations. It's all a sign of that tension interfering the natural flow of our speaking.
The first thing we want to do is to make sure that our speaking is relaxing. That's the first layer of our speaking pattern. Our speaking is either relaxing or we're getting tense.
So, the first set of exercises that you want to do is relaxation exercises. They can go both separate from speaking like meditation, physical exercises where we get rid of excessive tension, but probably the most important thing is how we combine our speaking with relaxation.
One of my favorite exercises is the balloon exercise where you just get tense and just relax. Then combining that with saying some sounds, just anything that comes to your mind. That's the first thing we can do just combining our relaxed breathing with saying on top of that some words, going from tension to relaxation.
The second layer of our speaking pattern is how much power is there in our speaking. How much substance is there, if you wish. Is it weak, shallow or is it resonating, powerful? Where is it going from? Is it going from the top, from the chest or it rests on the diaphragm giving support to our speaking?
Belly breathing is a huge thing. Singing is a great thing. Please don't underestimate it because I hear again and again people saying, "Everything is fine with my speaking. I can speak with myself. I can speak to my friends. I just like the way I speak." That's okay. You can record your speaking. You can take a look and see whether you like it or not. But what we're missing big time is the power in our speaking. We miss the substance in our speaking so we want to increase the capacity of what's possible for us.
We'll talk about the confidence. Confidence is not just a mental thing. It starts with the very, very physical stuff. When your voice is resonating and when you can put the substance in your speaking and go from a stressed syllable to the stressed syllable that becomes the way to find the confidence, to feel the support in your speaking.
The third layer of our speaking pattern is what I call "expression." When your body is speaking not just the vocal box. Because speaking is motion.
And when I say "expressive" it doesn't mean that we want to be artificially expressive but we can clearly see whether a person is stiff or relaxed. There might be tiny body movements but when you're putting accents to what you're saying, again it serves as a relaxing factor, it serves as giving confidence factor and it serves as a factor that puts substance and power to our speaking.
Right now, the central line of code in our automated speaking pattern, in the program that automates our speaking, is "I will stutter at some point." We want to change it to another line which says "I will say it again in a relaxing, powerful, expressive way without any speech impediments." So, how do we do that?
We're looking for some tricks, for stuttering techniques. There are many ways how to get through speech impediments but most of them interfere the natural flow of our speaking.
What happens basically, we're just letting stuttering be there. We agree that it stays there. We get around it somehow.
I'm preaching about the hand stuttering technique where we just restore the inner structure of our natural way of speaking. We add relaxation, power, and expression to our speaking. We add these three ingredients, but that's your speaking. You choose the way you want to speak. You choose where you want to put those stresses, what you want to emphasize. You choose that and your hand just serves as a foundation, as a support for your natural flow of speaking.
We're going from physical to psychological, mental, emotional pieces.
How do we feel when we get to a speaking situation? Do we feel like I want to get around that block and run away from here? Or we feel that we are present, that we're leading here, that we are having something to say and we're doing that in a confident way?
This is a quality of our speaking pattern. And that is something we not just learn, this is something we earn because we need to do it once, twice and again and again. We want to destroy the very core of the stuttering iceberg - avoidance behaviors and stuttering fear. The only way to do that is to show up for new speaking settings, to go for it.
And again, we want to go for it when we feel the confidence to go for it. It's not just the bare confidence. It is much more prominent and sustainable to go step by step up the staircase than just make a huge leap.
It's not the confidence that we've talked right now when you go and do it crushing your stuttering fear and avoidance behaviors. It's the confidence to be you, to reveal yourself. These two kinds of confidence are very much connected and form one confidence, but I want to separate them for us.
We crush one of the core elements of the stuttering iceberg which is hiding our stuttering and hiding our improvement efforts as well. It's the confidence to not hide anything and reveal ourselves the way we are. We want to have the confidence to be ourselves.
Using the hand technique is often pretty much visible. Your speaking is a bit more relaxing, a bit more powerful, a bit more expressive than we usually speak. Because again, our regular usual way of speaking is pretty shallow, pretty choppy, pretty weak. For most people that's okay, for us it's not okay. That's the moment where you start building your confidence in yourself the way you want to be, the way you are. When you start speaking on your terms.
You approach and enter a new speaking setting. What can you bring? What stands behind you? What kind of feeling? Do you feel that you can cooperate and collaborate with these people?
We want to get to the point when we have this quality. Some people might say, "This is a different thing. This is not our speaking pattern." Oh, no, this is a very important layer of our speaking pattern. When you enter a social setting, when you enter some social environment it's very clearly seeing how you approach it.
Do you want to just be there, be fluent, be normal, be regular, or you want to bring something? You have something to say, you have something valuable. Maybe it's just a good emotion that you want to share, but your presence there is active, collaborative, cooperative, and supportive.
Stuttering is mysterious, but there is no magic. There is no one thing that we can do and get free from stuttering. There is no trick, there is no technique that we're looking for.
It's a complex thing. Our speaking pattern consists of both very, very psychological, emotional pieces and very, very physical pieces. We want to put all those pieces together to get the whole picture. We want to start working on that speaking pattern as a whole.
Join the discussion. Say what comes to your mind. Please leave a comment - would love to know what you think!
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!