Make Room For The Stuttering

Preaching To The Choir

Posted on: February 17, 2010

I used to love the phrase “your preaching to the choir”. A friend of mine at a previous job used to say that all the time. We would commiserate with one another and talk about how we would do things differently if we were ever in charge. I used to share my ideas of what we could do to make something better, and she would say that I was preaching to the choir.

I have never really considered any of my thoughts or ideas that I share with others to be preaching. I never try to persuade people that only my way of thinking is correct, or that everyone else is all wet if they disagree with me.

I started writing this blog a year ago just to put down on paper my thoughts and feelings about how stuttering has affected my life.  It has had such a grip on me for so long.  Putting voice to my feelings, worries and fears has been tremendously helpful and freeing. When I discovered that other people often felt the same way, and seemed to resonate with what I wrote it seemed to fuel my desire to write. I began to lose the fear I always had about my stuttering self.

This week, someone said that I should not be preaching about “acceptance of stuttering”, that my writing actually discourages people from working to overcome their stuttering. The person further went on to say that the reason I “preach” about acceptance is that I have not been able to overcome my own stutter. And what would happen if pilots, doctors, police, military personnel who stutter only focus on acceptance rather than work to overcome their stuttering. Lives would be at risk.  Promoting acceptance of stuttering is likened to putting lives at risk. I don’t think so – but everyone is entitled to their opinion.

Given that we know there is no known cure for stuttering, it makes a great deal of sense for people to accept that they stutter and may always stutter. Sure, for many people, the use of fluency shaping or stuttering modification techniques helps to manage the stuttering and help the person feel more in control. I like that too. I like to feel  in control, not the other way around. And for me, that has largely occurred because of accepting who I am, all of me, and valuing those very parts of me that I want others to see and value in me too.

We all wish we were more than we are, were more perfect “at” something or could “do” something more perfectly. Sometimes we chase after unrealistic goals or spend too much of our time missing out on opportunities because we have not accepted that part of our self that we wish we could change, or trade or make disappear.

I think it is much easier to move ahead with our life when we have accepted who we are and made a decision to love ourselves as is. When we love self, we can love others and allow others to love us. Acceptance of our stuttering is the core message of Friends, The National Association of Young People Who Stutter and the NSA, The National Stuttering Association.

Adults who stutter need to be accepting of self and show that acceptance so young people (and their parents) don’t fall into the traps of doubt and self-hate. When we accept ourselves for who we are, the stuttering just becomes a part of us and not all of us, and that is a message of hope. We need hope.

So if it sounds like I am preaching when I talk about MY stuttering and how it feels and what impact it has had on MY life, so be it. I would much rather talk about it, embrace it and share it than hide it away as something to be ashamed of that needs fixing. Because not everything needs fixing.

Right?

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12 Responses to "Preaching To The Choir"

Hi Pam,

There’s nothing wrong with acceptance in my books. For me meaning of “overcoming stuttering” is not complete fluency, it’s being able to communicate effectively.

Whoever told you pilots, doctors and soldiers shouldn’t be accepting of their speech needs to do a little more homework. I was a medic for 10 years with my overt stutter without putting lives at risk. Quite the opposite in fact.

I’m glad you keep preaching acceptance because once you know who you are and you become comfortable in your own skin you can do amazing things.

P.S. definitely try skiing, it’s great

Thanks Heather,

When you say that quite the opposite is true about your experience as a medic with an overt stutter, do you think were more deliberate as a communicator, and therefore more in tune to the needs of those you care for? Thats what I get from what you shared.

And yeah, my friend J who stutters keeps convincing me to try skiing – he’s convinced it will help me with control! Now two of you saying it it – hmmm, might try next winter. You never know.

Honestly my stutter was more of a non-issue than anything. Because I did my job well even the people who were initially uncomfortable ended up ignoring it.

I think however, that because I was used to controlling myself and making an effort to speak clearly in all situations I had an easier time transferring skills from course to the field. If I had not been accepting of my speech I would not have been able to do my job. If I had been counting stutters or avoiding words I would have had a much harder time doing what needed to be done. Instead I was focused on the task at hand and had the tools to be clear despite a significant stutter. There are people alive today that may not have been if I hadn’t been there; ask them if they would rather have someone who was confident but stuttered or someone who was overtly fluent but unwilling to say what needed to be said.

I don’t know about skiing as speech therapy but it’s great for learning to stay calm and loose and confident. It’s also really fun once you get the basics and you can just go.. I love the speed, it’s like flying sometimes. The hot chocolate and Bailey’s is also nice.

The hot chocolate and Bailey’s sounds great. Might be the best therapy yet. If we are ever lucky enough to meet up, I’ll buy the first round.

Those people were incredibly lucky to have you there for them at that time – thanks for sharing. You just affirmed a thousand times over how very important it is to accept yourself and confidently put yourself out there as is.

You rock my friend!

Pam,
What can i say except I don’t ever see it as preaching and if thats what it is then you should be proud that you do indeed preach ,because people don’t have to listen or read if they don’t want to it is a persons chioce.
I choose to listen and read what you say as you have inspired me to make my own choice and direction in accepting my speech and at no point in reading or listening to you have i ever felt pressured to believe that i didnt have those choices .
I teach children and at no point has my stutter got in the way ,children actually make it easier to be myself .
I’m grateful to you for writing and sharing and anyone who thinks otherwise should keep those negative opinions to themselves .
lisa

Thanks Lisa! Most agreed.

Children are much more accepting of themselves and differences when they see us adults positively modeling for them.

There needs to be a balance between acceptance and what you called “treatment”.

I don’t like the word treatment. It implies curable disease and ignores the non-physical aspects. But, I don’t have a better alternative.

If the “treatment” worked 100%, I would agree with the person who said you shouldn’t preach “acceptance”. But, it doesn’t.

You’ve never said, “Don’t get treatment.” You’ve said, “Add acceptance.”

It doesn’t make sense to keep trying things that don’t work. It’s a waste of effort that could be better used on things that do work.

The world balance is too far on the side of “Treatment will cure it,” and “If treatment doesn’t work, the only options are to be miserable and get more treatment (which still won’t work).” We need more on the acceptance side of the balance.

Right!!!!! everyone should learn to accept themselves. Keep up the good work.

I can’t remember who, but someone else said, quite simply, in order to make progress in therapy, I’d have to accept my stuttering.

Hannah

Agreed, keep on with the blogging! I loves it!

Chris

Hi, you know it’s me! I think what you said is right on the money. If you are able to be accepting of yourself, and your differences, not flaws, then everything else is just easier because then you don’t have to worry about what you “sound” like, as your already cool with it!!! You know I love everything about ya, you so rock!

Very interesting. Acceptance can be applied in so many things in life. For me I have found once I find acceptance of one of the parts of what makes me me I feel so much better inside. Deep within there comes a calmness.

Someone once shared that recovery is a journey not a destination. No they did not say cure. For me I have an issue in life where there is no cure for it but I have learned and each day live acceptance for it. It is only a small part of what makes me tick. This always brings me hope.

Thank you for sharing your story I am learning a great deal from it.

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