Make Room For The Stuttering

Watching Yourself Stutter

Posted on: December 28, 2010

I recently read on one of the stuttering forums that a good way to desensitize yourself to your own stuttering is to watch yourself stutter in a mirror. Thing is, I don’t stutter the same when I am alone with the guts to look in a mirror.

The week before Christmas I facilitated a story-telling circle with a very supportive audience. These were people who understand the value of sharing our stories, as any one story has the potential to trigger an impact on someone else. So this group were wonderful listeners. I felt very honored sharing some of my stuttering stories with them, one a very personal one that I had never shared the way I did that night.

It was very empowering for me to tell my stories, especially to an audience of people who do not stutter. And because it was story telling, which is very different from giving a speech, I did not use notes. So I wasn’t quite sure how it would unfold, as I planned to just tell from the heart.

I knew it would be special, so I had a friend record the three stories I told. I wanted to have a record of what I told. I spent a lot of time editing the video clips, as I planned to share the clips, my message, with others.

It was very hard watching the videos of myself telling and stuttering. It is one thing to hear myself stutter, like when I do the podcasts or even just hear myself talking to others. But to “see my stuttering”, it kind of brought tears to my eyes the first time. I saw how deliberate I was, I saw what my pauses looked like, I saw what mutiple-repititions looked like. A couple of times, I saw one eye squeeze closed when I blocked. And I saw some physical tension.

Watching myself tell my stories and stutter very openly with people I did not know well was very emotional, very poignant for me. I wondered as I watched (the video) what the listeners thought as they watched me.

It was not easy watching the first time. But I did watch several more times and it was easier. I caught the point where I almost choked up, but didn’t. And I realized that sometimes I stutter a lot, and sometimes hardly at all.

I don’t think I could ever purposely practice stuttering in front of a mirror. It would be contrived, not real. It would not help me be anymore comfortable stuttering publicly.

It takes a lot of guts to be who you are in the  many different areas of our lives. And to look back on those moments and realize just that. Watching myself be myself in front of others can’t be replicated in private with a mirror.

Real life needs us to be ready to be ourselves when it counts. When sharing our gift of self can make a big difference.

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2 Responses to "Watching Yourself Stutter"

Hi Pam, I watched all your videos and you know that I felt they were amazing.
I still can’t bring myself to either hear or watch myself stammer. My SLT, tries every time I go to incorporate this into our sessions but as yet I’ve not done it and I believe apart from being videoed saying my very personally selected vows at my wedding in 1994 (now divorced) , your the only other person to have videoed m, after a few drinks lol.I still haven’t watched that either.
So my point is that at some stage I need to do this as part of the whole desensitization over what people hear, so thanks for sharing this post with us
Lisa xxx

Hi Pam-
I think it is difficult watching yourself stutter and I understand how hard it must be. When I was in grad school we had to watch our sessions. It was painful in general. Watching the stuttering was pure agony for me but I had to do it to graduate. However, when I worked on desensitizing myself from telephone fear I used a tape recorder and found that very helpful in learning how to phrase my speech and take appropriate breaths. It took a long time to do but helped. I still prefer the audiotape over a mirror. tks for this post and am looking forward to The King’s Speech post.

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