Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘mindfulness and stuttering

I am not sure what has made me think of this, but I’ve noticed that I’ve been paying attention to this more and more, and only lately. I’ve begun to notice that sometimes when I am thinking what I am getting ready to say, or “thinking my thoughts,” what I think and how I say it, don’t always match.

I think a fluent thought and intend to say a certain word, but sometimes that word or thought changes mid-stream. It’s almost like somehow the word goes through some type of “parsing system” before it’s allowed out as a verbalization, and if my brain thinks the word might come out stuttered, something different comes out.

This is certainly not a new phenomena for me. As a seasoned stutterer who was extremely covert, I was always very conscious of word switching. I was afraid of stuttering and being judged or laughed at, or both. So I spent a lot of time anticipating what I might say that might come out stuttered, and I would intentionally switch the word. Or more than word. And as I’ve shared in different forums, the switched words didn’t always make sense in the context of what I was trying to express. But oddly, I was OK with sounding scattered or nonsensical, as long as it came out fluent.

What I remember most about word switching then as a covert stutterer was the reasoned choice I was making. I chose words that I believed I would say fluently, to save myself from embarrassment or the pain of being judged.

What is happening now, from time to time, is that I notice that a word or group of words comes out differently than how I thought it. I’ve never been aware of this quite happening before. I am not rehearsing before I speak so as to not stutter, but instead, almost reflexively, the word(s) are not the same as I thought them.

I am always fluent in my head. I am not always fluent when I speak. These days, I am quite fine with that. I’ve grown to accept and even respect that I talk differently than the norm sometimes. It doesn’t bother me.

But maybe it does, on a deeper, unconscious level. I have been very aware of this from time to time. Somewhere in the milliseconds it takes for a thought to become a spoken word, something changes. I can almost visualize my brain having the word “pass through” a system that deems it OK for the word to come out.

It kind of reminds me of the game that used to be on “The Price Is Right,” an old game show from the past. A chip or marble is let loose and what you think might just be a straight line trajectory actually veers off and goes a slightly different way, and comes out at the bottom. That’s what I have been sort of visualizing lately when I notice that my spoken words do not match my “thought words.” The new word that lands on the bottom gets higher points than the original stuttered word might have.

I wonder why this is happening now, 10+ years since I’ve actively stopped trying to not stutter. There must be a lot of chaos going on upstairs, given that I am seeing this quite clearly and the words don’t always match.

I am not worried about this at all – just being mindful that this is happening.

Has anyone else experienced this?

He-StuttersEpisode 23 of the occasional male series features Ian Mahler, who hails from Salt Lake City, Utah. Ian is married and stays busy with three girls. He is also a full-time receiving manager for a large wholesale club. Ian works long days, usually 10-11 hours a day.

Listen in to a great conversation as we discuss acceptance, mindfulness techniques, and self confidence.

One of the things Ian does to advertise that he stutters is that he adds a line in his professional email signature that he is a person who stutters. He also has a line that reads #LetMeFinish. If someone cuts him off, he always finishes talking so that the person has to hear him anyway.

We wrap up the conversation talking about resilience and empathy.

The music used in today’s episode is credited to ccMixter.

 

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.

 

He-Stutters

It’s been a while since I hosted a conversation with a guy about stuttering. So, I’m delighted to bring you today’s show.

Episode 20 of the conversations with men who stutter features Oli Cheadle, who hails from South London, in the UK. Oli is a student at University College London, studying to be a speech language therapist. He enjoys music, playing the guitar and singing.

We discuss the speech therapy that Oli had as an adult that strongly impacted how he really feels about his stuttering. He has decided that he wants to work with people that stutter once he is qualified.

We also discuss Oli’s interest in mindfulness. He runs two blogs about mindfulness – about stuttering and walking. Oli describes what mindfulness is and how helpful it is to be more aware and get into the moment of stuttering when it happens. Oli is currently on a clinical placement with a speech therapist who is well known for using mindfulness in the UK.

Oli shares how he has been influenced by Ellen-Marie Silverman’s book Mindfulness & Stuttering: Using Eastern Strategies to Speak with Greater Ease. He also references a book titled Stammering Therapy from the Inside, for which his placement supervisor wrote a chapter.

This was a great conversation that only scratched the surface about mindfulness. We were both so amazed how quickly the time flew.

Please feel free to leave comments or ask questions. Feedback is a gift and is encouraged.

The podcast safe music used in this episode is credited to ccMixter.


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2019. 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 2019.
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