Make Room For The Stuttering

What Does A Good Day Look Like?

Posted on: May 3, 2016

So often, I read on social media about people who stutter being frustrated that they stuttered. People share posts that they had a bad day because they blocked on every word during a presentation. Or they didn’t order what they wanted at a restaurant because they couldn’t say the word lettuce that day.

Some people describe an upcoming speaking situation they have and how nervous they are that they are going to stutter. They ask for good luck to be sent their way. They hope for fluency.

We who stutter are so quick to describe our bad days – stuttered out of control, stuttered really bad, or didn’t finish speaking before someone interrupted or walked away.

We might beat ourselves up for how we’ve reacted to our stuttering moments. That’s something I continue to work on. I often stutter and then feel embarrassed, and then beat myself up for being embarrassed. I’ve heard and read similar from others who often second guess what they should have done or how they should have reacted to their stuttering. I guess it’s just human nature to commiserate with each other.

So, given all this, what then constitutes a good speech day? Is it when we don’t stutter?

I don’t think it can be that, since as people who stutter, we stutter. Right? We’re going to stutter every day.

I’d like to suggest that a good speech day is when we’ve said everything we’ve wanted to say, stutter and all. We got through our presentation, we had the important talk with our boss, we ordered what we wanted at the restaurant. And we stuttered.

I think conveying our message and getting our point across in the way we talk, as stutterers, is important. That can be our measure of success, instead of trying to be unrealistic and hope that we don’t stutter.

What do you think?

 

 

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5 Responses to "What Does A Good Day Look Like?"

Pam, This is great! I think even getting rid of “saying everything we wanted to say” is important. How many people actually say everything they want to say? Probably very few. The most important part, as you say in closing, is making that connection with people, getting our message across, being authentic… Thanks for this. Keep being awesome!

You’re right, to be sure. Any day we speak, when needed, is a good day, but I still intend to beat stuttering, and I get closer all the time. As needed, I get as relaxed as possible, sitting in a comfortable chair somewhere and deep breathing for a few minutes (semi-self-hypnotized), and then give myself a 5 to 20-minute visualization treatment, always envisioning myself speaking fluently. Seeing myself speaking so well is a huge help. I have done this one, two, three and sometimes more times a day. It always helps loosen my tongue somewhat immediately. Then, when I hit the next stutter word, I quick grab an alternate word or, if none, just skip the first syllable, or whisper it, or take a deep breath and sometimes I blow it out, inhaling and then exhaling as I say it, with a gust of air: LETTUCE, and keep right on talking. Try it. As I succeed with such tactics and visualizations, my incidences of stuttering diminish, so do my fears of it. Success comes slowly but grows more and more frequent. It took me a bunch of years to mask stuttering to the point that it’s undetectable – it’s still there, but hard to detect. The fear is also still there, every day, but less and less, and, when needed, I still substitute words or manipulate the problem word. It’s not perfect, but it works. I’m old and have lived with it longer than most. I have nothing to sell. Yes, I wrote a book, but I give it away. I hate stuttering, and I just want more people to get a handle on it. I love Pam’s website and what she does.

Hi Lee – thanks for the feedback. I am glad to see you checking in regularly on this site and offering your thoughts and ideas. I used to do word substitutions when I felt my stuttering was shameful. I try not to do that anymore, as I am largely OK with how I talk and present myself to the world. Keep sharing!

This is a really great post, Pam. Psychologists recommend that everyone should be quite deliberate about thinking positive thoughts. They claim that negative thoughts have almost four to five times the strength of positive ones. When you think about this, it makes sense.

For those of us who stutter, it’s all too easy to gravitate towards negative appraisals of our speech and to berate ourselves for our multiple ‘failures’. Once you get caught in this mode of thinking, you quickly descend into the realm of embarrassment, shame and self-hatred. Negativity wins out every time.

In this context, your comments are thought-provoking and challenging. Without doubt, a good day for me is one when my speech is better. I would consider this to be a no-brainer. However, maybe this automatic association of fluency with positivity needs to be re-thought, as you suggest. Perhaps a good day should be considered to be one when you struggle to speak but manage to get through what you have to do. At the end of those ‘bad’ days, it would be infinitely better to strive to think positive thoughts rather than allow the malign power of negativity to take hold. Of course, this reconceptualization of what constitutes a good day requires effort and a fundamental shift in thinking but if our self-esteem had a voice, it surely would be loudly shrieking “hey, go for it!!!”

Hi Richard – great, thoughtful feedback. I love your last line about our self-esteem shrieking “go for it.” I wish everyone felt comfortable enough to indeed go for it and just express themselves as is, without the fear of judgment or the prickly feeling of shame creeping in. I totally advocate for us who stutter to re-frame our thoughts and not equate fluency with positivity. To me, that’s a losing battle.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I hope you put some of them into play, and blast out negativity in favor of the positivity that being authentic brings.

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