Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘facing change with stuttering

I recently read Ellen-Marie Silverman’s book Mindfulness & Stuttering: Using Eastern Strategies to Speak with Greater Ease. To put it simply, this is a book about change. A good book about change!

Silverman introduces how mindfulness can help us reduce the fear we associate with stuttering (or always have.) Reducing the fear of stuttering allows us to speak with less struggle, even if we stutter as we speak.

Silverman offers a clear and simple definition of mindfulness. She offers that mindfulness is a process of attending calmly, without judgement, to what we are thinking, feeling and doing in the moment.

“The more mindful we become by attending to what is rather than anticipating what might be or regretting what was, the more capable we are of creating the change we want.”  In the case of stuttering, that change is to speak with less struggle, less tension and, as the title of the book suggests, with greater ease.

Silverman reminds us repeatedly, through this easy-to-read book, that mindfulness is a process that requires practice and dedication, even if it is only for a short period of time. I liked learning that I could practice mindfulness even for only 5 minutes at a time.

Mindfulness helps change how we think about stuttering, if we allow ourselves to be present in the moments of stuttering. For me, being present in the moment of stuttering was always difficult. In my very covert days, I was constantly worrying about what the listener might think of me. I also found that I wasn’t listening to my communication partner because I was rehearsing what I was going to say next. I wasn’t paying attention. I clearly wasn’t mindful.

Being present with our stuttering is the key to how mindfulness can help us change our stuttering. We can change how we react to our stuttering and become kinder and gentler with ourselves. When we practice mindfulness, our stuttering becomes easier, which is the goal.

Mindfulness is a process that can be learned. With dedicated practice, mindfulness can help us make changes in our lives and make our stuttering easier.

Making stuttering easier with a practice that can be done anytime, anywhere, is definitely worth exploring.

I recommend readers get Ellen-Marie Silverman’s book and learn about a way to manage stuttering that can last a lifetime.


One of the papers on this year’s International Stuttering Awareness Day (ISAD) online conference resonated strongly with me. ISAD 2012 presentations can be found on The Stuttering Homepage.

The paper is titled Relapse Following Successful Stuttering Therapy: The Problem of Choice, by Ryan Pollard. In it, he discusses how difficult it is to change our identity, even after successful therapy for whatever the issue is-stuttering, overeating, or leaving an abusive relationship.

I commented on Pollard’s paper with a post that I titled “The Devil You Know.”  People often stay in bad situations because we believe what we know may be better than the unknown. Change is scary, as is uncertainty and second guessing whether we can survive whatever change it is that may (or may not) need to be made.

I went through all of that, 3 and 4 times over. I am an adult child of an alcoholic, and as with many ACOAs, it was hard to let go of invalid beliefs, self-criticism and the constant need to please others.

I also began my journey to accept myself as a person who stutters several years ago, after spending a lifetime trying to pretend I didn’t stutter and denying how much it bothered me that I wasn’t being true to myself. As I grew to like myself more, I grew more confident and began to shed the need to defer to others and pretend to be someone I was not.

And I stayed in an abusive relationship for many years, as I thought I couldn’t ever leave and be happy, or that I just couldn’t make it on my own. I preferred the devil I was living with to the devil I didn’t know yet.

All of this leads to this: just knowing the alternatives we have in our life is often not enough for a person to make a change. I knew there was help available to leave a bad relationship, but I stayed. I knew my parents’ alcoholism was not my fault, yet I believed that for many years. I knew I could learn tools in speech therapy which would greatly minimize my stuttering, yet I chose to allow myself to stutter openly.

I remember several years ago writing a piece about “my arrival.” How would I know when I had arrived at the place in life where I would truly be happy. I also wrote about changing, and asked myself 2 questions: “what if I didn’t like the person I might become if I changed? what if I didn’t even recognize her?”

Sometimes if easy to see why we might stay with the devil we know.

What do you think?

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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2022. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Same protection applies to the podcasts linked to this blog, "Women Who Stutter: Our Stories" and "He Stutters: She Asks Him." Please give credit to owner/author Pamela A Mertz 2022.
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