10. How to deal with stuttering anxiety
Stuttering anxiety is a certain emotional state that seems to just happen to us, to people who stutter. Yet, we want to be very clear about why and how it is happening to us, how we produce it actually, and what we can do to make sure that instead of stuttering anxiety and tension we could feel present, and truly enjoy this moment.
At the very core, anxiety can be translated into a mathematical formula - the bare bones of it.
Your expectation ≠ your ability to deliver
I want to say it fluently (desire, wish, try) and deep down I know I’ll stutter.
For example, I’m getting on stage, stepping to the mic, and feeling how my whole body is getting covered by tension. Without even realizing it, I set an expectation myself that I have to be as fluent as I can. Which means that I want to be perceived as a regular fluent person.
So, I’ve already created a mismatch between this expectation of what I want to do and my understanding of what I can do. No matter how much I meditate or breathe or imagine myself being fluent, this mismatch will produce anxiety and tension.
Acceptance is a great step forward. Yet, if I’m still trying to say it fluently and regularly, this is still a conceptual, not an actual acceptance.
Now, let’s imagine if we put into this formula a different expectation.
The expectation is that I want to stutter on my terms / speak on my terms. I am open about it, I’m not hiding stuttering, I’m not escaping stuttering, and I’m not trying to say it fluently and regularly.
I can disclose that I’m in speech therapy for stuttering so my speaking might be a bit slower. The wording can be different, but the idea is that you’re giving yourself permission to speak on your terms.
And all of a sudden, you feel that your expectation and the actual ability of how you can deliver totally match. Which removes anxiety. Which removes the ground, the foundation of that anxiety.
No need to meditate or to breathe or visualize how perfect or cool you are. Instead, you can just give yourself permission to be YOU.
You’re in good company, some of the smartest and most talented people are people who stutter.
7 tips on how to reduce stuttering anxiety
Here you can explore your stutter and play with a stutter hunt exercise.
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