Remember To Breathe
Posted June 4, 2016on:
It always surprises me to hear one person who stutters advise another person who stutters to remember to breathe when facing a stressful speaking situation. It’s not something like remembering to turn off the coffee pot before leaving the house. For that, you have to consciously focus on the act of walking over to the coffee pot and powering it off.
Breathing isn’t like that. There’s isn’t an “on-off” switch that we need to remember to push. It’s not mechanical. Breathing comes automatically. We do not think about doing it. We just do it. Like the Nike slogan. The human body comes equipped with the innate ability to do that which keeps us alive. Unless of course we are injured or gravely ill and mechanical breathing is indeed needed for breathing.
So why then do we often hear people reminding us to breathe? I often get annoyed when people who don’t stutter offer me that advice. Like I have a choice. Like there is a button to push. As if “just breathing” was enough to stop stuttering.
It’s not that easy. Stuttering is a neurologically influenced disorder which interrupts the normal flow of speech. Breathing, which we already do without thinking about it, does not improve our stuttering.
I see and hear this a lot in the stuttering community. Someone will post on a forum that they are nervous about an upcoming job interview and ask for advice. Inevitably, someone will write, “remember to breathe.” That thought doesn’t enter my mind when I am faced with a challenging speaking situation. I am usually thinking about a strategy I can use to lessen repetitions or to get out of a block. Breathing isn’t a trick to pull out of the speech tool bag.
Why do you suppose people who stutter offer this advice to other people who stutter? Is it because they can’t think of anything else?