Make Room For The Stuttering

Posts Tagged ‘negative self-talk

I am sure most people who stutter have experienced negative self talk. When we are faced with a challenging speaking situation, a little voice in our head tells us that we shouldn’t be speaking because we might stutter. Or when we do stutter, that voice reminds us that we’re stupid, inadequate or embarrassing ourselves.

I’ve definitely experienced this. Less so these days now that I’m more comfortable in my skin. I can remember hearing that voice tell me all kinds of things. Sometimes quite loudly too!

I have also heard the voice tell me positive things. I have heard my self-talk be encouraging, reminding me that my voice is worthy to be heard and congratulating me after getting through a challenging speaking situation unscathed.

What if you were hearing both negative and positive messages at the same time? Would that be confusing? Would the positive messages override the negative ones?

This weekend at the NSA’s 4th Annual Fall Gathering, we had a number of opportunities to explore our speech, play with different scenarios and see what happens when we listen to the voices in our head.

One particularly powerful exercise involved a fluent speaker who was asked to describe what she was planning to do for Halloween. She stood in the front of the room preparing to speak to the group. Two people who stutter were asked to stand on either side of her and whisper in her ear, one saying negative things and one saying positive things.

She was so flustered by hearing these different voices that she was unable to speak clearly. She gave up. It was a very good illustration of how listening to conflicting voices can impact our ability to think and speak clearly.

What do you think? Do the voices in your head affect how you speak? Do you ever find yourself giving up in a speaking situation?

 

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Have you ever worn shoes that don’t fit right? So tight, it hurts to walk? Or even to stand still? I’ve bought shoes sometimes that are too tight, hoping either they would loosen or my feet would shrink.

Especially leather shoes. I’ve hoped that the leather would soften with wear and conform to my foot. I have stubbornly endured foot pain for days. And blisters. Sometimes it worked. The shoe did soften up and became comfortable. Other times, I realized I wasted my money.

What about shoes that are too big? Have you ever fell in love with a certain pair that didn’t come in your size and you bought the next size up? I have, thinking I could  wear fluffier socks or even two pair.

I remember one time wearing shoes that were so wide, I feared falling out of them. And I did! One of the shoes FELL OFF as I climbed stairs!

So what do you do when shoes don’t fit? You don’t wear them! You get rid of them, ideally passing them on to someone who can use them.

But sometimes that’s hard to do. Even when we should get rid of something that doesn’t fit or we don’t even wear anymore, it’s hard to give up what we know.

I remember years ago when a brand of shoes called “Docksiders” was all the rage. I just had to have a pair. They were leather boat shoes, flat, like moccasins. They had sturdy hard cords as laces. I wore those shoes to death. They became scuffed and the cords broke. I couldn’t find the exact replacement laces, so I tied the broken cord together and still wore them!

I outgrew those shoes, but had a hard time getting rid of them. I kept them in my closet for years, finally parting with them when packing up to move.

I had a conversation with my mentor the other day. I was complaining about how dizzying my life seemed lately. I lost a job that I loved, had a serious bike accident, had to move suddenly due to flooding, and had a temporary job that also ended abruptly. All in the course of 4 months.

I was moaning (crying) about how all of this was way too much to handle and it wasn’t fair. When would I catch a break?

He just looked at me very calmly and said, “Pam, stop. This doesn’t fit you anymore. You know better than most how to navigate changes in life. You’re an expert at it. It doesn’t fit you anymore to bemoan change.”

He stopped me dead in my tracks. Of course he was right. Whining and complaining does nothing to change any of the “drama” that has gone on in my life. I can’t hold on to the old ways of reacting and panicking. That’s not me any more.

Like shoes that don’t fit, we have to get rid of strategies that don’t work or we outgrow. My mentor calmly said, “That’s it. I give you permission to stop carrying all this and just let it go. Can you give your self permission?”

I thought about this long and hard. I want to gently acknowledge all of these things going on in my life and let them go. But it is so hard. I still find myself fighting it, as tough as that is to admit.

When something doesn’t fit, we need to get rid of it and make room for newer things that fit better.

Like stuttering, loss, change and pain – we have to take control, not let “things” control us.

What do you think? Do you still have a pair of old shoes in your closet (like me) that you can’t part with? Why is it so hard?


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© Pamela A Mertz and Make Room For The Stuttering, 2009 - 2017. 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 2017.