The Alchemy of Stuttering- A Spiritual Approach Part 2

by StutteringJack


Stuttering – In the first part of this post, I spoke about how I believe that stuttering/stammering is like a vine, that has wrapped itself around every aspect of your being, and in order to remove the influence of stuttering/stammering from your life, you not only need to look at using some of these mainstream speech therapy for stuttering approaches, but you also need to understand how these vines have formed, and how they influence your behavior, and then how to go about removing them. In this part of the post, I talk about one of the main vines that holds stuttering/stammering in place, and that is the vine of fear.

Fear
The innate emotion at the base of all anxiety is fear. We don’t have to learn
what fear is, as our brain is programmed to recognise what is a threat to us, and to trigger various reactions in the brain, to cause us instantly to react, to remove us from the stimulus causing the fear. This can be a physical threat, or an emotional threat to our wellbeing. It can be real and/or it can equally be perceived. Either way, fear will cause a reaction in our brain, and that reaction will cause both a physical and mental response in our body. As people who stutter, this reaction heightens our anxiety to some extent, either mildly or severely, but what is known is that that heightened anxiety, contributes to our degree of stuttering. If we realise then that fear leads to anxiety (or even panic), which in turn leads to increased speech dysfluency, then it is natural that to reduce fear, will result in less anxiety, and less dysfluent speech, and of course a more enjoyable existence. So if fear is at the route of our speaking anxiety, then how can we replace it with an emotion, that is more resourceful to us? What is a feeling that we could engender within our self, that would help to replace feelings of fear? What are we fearful of when speaking to other people? For various reasons, too complex to go into here, we are fearful of how we are being perceived and judged by others, and what that may mean in our life, and how that makes us feel in that moment. In most cases it is illogical, that we have fear when we are about to speak to another person, so if there is no logical reason to fear others, then we need to learn to get ourselves into a state which is as far removed from the state of fear as possible.

Many would argue that the opposite of fear is courage, but from a spiritual point of view, the opposite of fear is love. When you are in a state of love there is no fear, and the same can be said for the many degrees of love. You feel a closeness towards that person, a feeling of mutual respect, admiration and trust. In this true state, there is no feelings of judgement, only acceptance for each other.

So how can we invoke this state, when we have allowed ourselves to develop a mind-set, where we feel everything except love towards our fellow man, especially when we are required to speak to a stranger, or person in perceived authority? Can we change that mind-set? Do we want to, and why should we? Can we afford to, or do we open ourselves up to having our feelings hurt if a more open, interpersonal relationship in our communication style is not reciprocated?

From a spiritual point of view many would argue that we are all connected, and that we all share a spark of the supreme soul, but I do not want to go into that in this post other than to say, it will be resourceful to you to try to look at other people, who you are about to communicate with, as though they were your very best friend, or even your lover. It will be resourceful to you, to look beyond the face, or the tone of the voice of the person you are speaking to, and try to see the soul behind that individual. Their soul that is pure love. Now you may argue, that some of the people that you have to speak to, show a nature that is the furthest thing from love, and some even border on pure evil. Well that may be the case on the outside of a hardened persona, but deep down there is a person inside all of us, that just wants to be loved. Look for that, and speak to that in the people you speak to, and it is very likely that it will be reciprocated, and at the very least, it will lower your anxiety about speaking to that person. Now whether you accept that or not is irrelevant. What is relevant, and will be very helpful to you, is to try to approach every person you speak to, as though you are going to talk to yourself in a mirror, or about to talk to someone who loves and or respects you for who you are. As mentioned above, you will find that you approach the communication situation, in a totally different state of mind. A state of mind where fear is gone, or at least minimised, and as a result your stuttering and speaking anxiety, will be greatly improved, whether it is a one on one communication situation, or communication to a group. Why would your mind be consumed with thoughts about how others are judging you, if you have flooded it with thoughts of love for all who you speak to.

How can I feel that way towards all people, you say? Why would I want to? You have not met my boss! You have not met my father! You have not seen how they laugh at me! It is not about giving the other person something that they have not earned, or are not entitled to, … your love. It is about you freely giving yourself the same thoughts that create a feeling of love, instead of freely giving yourself thoughts of fear, which your mind is going to use, to subconsciously govern your body to act on, and throw you into a state of anxiety, where your body believes you are going to either have to fight, or flee, from this other person or group of people.

You must understand, that you do not know how the other person is judging you. You think you do but you don’t. What you are perceiving are your own thoughts, so why not have loving thoughts in your head. It will certainly drive out fear in many areas, other than just thoughts that relate to speech. It is something worth trying. What have you got to lose, really? It is an approach to life that, like the other vines that hold your stuttering persona in place, will not only benefit your speaking anxiety and speech dysfluency, it will improve the whole way you see the world, and the way you move through it, with ease and grace. What I am saying is, that rather than try to put yourself in this alien state of love and appreciation for the other person only when you feel anxious, you need to try to remain in this new state as much as you can, which will mean that you need to be conscious of your ongoing emotional state as much as you can be.

So how do you achieve this? Well these tips will help.

1)      Always smile when you go to speak to another person.
2)     Look into the other person’s eyes, and try to see the loving soul that resides within.
3)     If you experience less than a loving reaction from the other person, accept it, and realise that it is more about them, and their concept of how the world is in that moment, rather than about you and how you, and your perceived influence on others, and how you believe your expectations should be met.
4)     If you experience a less than loving reaction inside yourself, and less than loving or accepting judgemental feelings towards yourself, as a result of the interchange, try to see the other person as having helped you find your own triggers for negative emotions, and use those experiences to work on changing your emotional reactions to others behaviour, in such a way that such perceived negative behaviour, does not influence your internal chemistry, in a way that negatively effects your anxiety level and feelings of love towards all other people. See those who help you find your emotional buttons, as your teacher, not your enemy.
5)     Try to look for the good in all people.
6)     Try to respect that everyone has the right to control their own emotional reactions, whether it be negatively towards others or positive, and that you have no influence over their behaviour, only your own thoughts and resultant behaviour.
7)     If people laugh at you or mimic you from time to time, realise that it is only their reaction to something that puzzles them, and is in no way a true reflection of how they see you, as a fellow human being.
8)    If people finish your words or sentences for you, realise that communication is all about getting thoughts from your head into the other persons head. It is only natura, that when people believe they have the message, they react on it. People are not obliged to wait for you to finish, when you are obviously showing signs of difficulty in getting the words out. You must love and respect all people, and not judge them for the way they appear to you, otherwise YOU are being the judgemental one, in being upset that YOUR expectations have not been met by that other person.

Allowing fear to take control of any part of your life, is not the way our creator meant for us to live our lives. This is born out by words in the Bible, where it is said that “through fear, all our lives we are subject to bondage” (Hebrews 2:15).

Anger and Expectation
Anger is an emotional response that all of us feel from time to time, but it is not a state that we should choose to go into if we can help it, as it will rob us of rational thought, and control over our stuttering behaviour, and consequently our ability to communicate well with others. If you are trying to work on controlling your stuttering, anger may give you a level of short term fluency, but it will ultimately lead to increased dysfluency. So what leads to anger.

Two of the main causes of anger are:

1)      A feeling that our ego is under attack.
2)     Our expectations not being met, and our frustrations about that.

We all know that our ego can sometimes get in the way of engendering harmonious relationships, but we are not always aware that unfulfilled expectations are one of the main causes of frustration, that can lead to anger. Our expectations of what other people should do or say, will rarely be met, as we are all different, so to allow the fact that your expectations may or may not be met, to rule your emotions, is allowing anger to enter into your life more than it should, and interfere with your quest for calmness and awareness of mind, and fluency of speech.

Finally I would like to add, that harbouring anger, and failing to forgive others for their failings and indiscretions in communicating with you, will not only cause increased anxiety in you, but can also lead to dis-ease! Just remember that.

Now that was all a bit controversial, and everyone may not relate to or agree with what I have said, but I wanted to write that anyway for those of you who can appreciate and learn from that wisdom, as I have. In future posts I will get back to talking about more main stream approaches to treating the symptoms of severe and chronic stuttering. In the meantime, I again urge you to subscribe to my RSS feed or email notification, so that you do not miss posts about subjects and content that you will not read anywhere else. If you found this post useful or thought-provoking in any way, please make a comment.

Comments:

  • Marie

    Thank you very much for this helpful post. Reading something like this early in the morning was very encouraging.
    I'll try to remind your tips as often as I can.

  • Aniruddha

    I sincerely agree with you that the approaches you have suggested will definitely help someone to loosen the grip of stuttering over themselves. But it needs a lot of courage and determination to accomplish this. People should get over the short term benefits of being in the comfort zone and explore the long terms benefits that are obvious from the approach suggested by you not only to cure stuttering but to take life to the next level.

  • Anonymous

    Great stuff!

  • Manish

    This is brilliant! Amazing that probably a combination of your own problem, coupled with the desire to help others has led you to realize such profound and deep truths. Thank you so much.
    Please do keep writing such helpful articles, for these lay the strong foundation for all other approaches, at the very least.

  • Amsterdam86

    Your blogs are amazing Jack! I really like the idea that people who stutter project their own negative judgements on others. With the Hausdorfer programma, which I did a few years ago, I improved my speach a lot. But only untill a few weeks ago I realised that I really have to accept that I stutter.

    I struggle a lot with feelings of fear, which makes me want to
    control any speaking situation. In my mind I think about words and possible words I might have to say all day long. I experience a lot of brain fog and tension in my body, especially in my lower legs. I try to become more conscious of my own actions and thoughts every day in order to move towards a more relaxed state of being.

    With this blog you made me aware of the fact that feelings of fear are actually the emotional reaction to negative judgements. Feeling love for the person you talk to and seeing him or her as the vulnerable soul he or she is (with all the ‘good’ and ‘bad’ sides), we actually remind ourselves of the fact that we deserve love and give ourselves permission to be who we are.

    I wonder if this has a link with the cause of speech disorders. From my own analysis, my experience as a psychologist and people who
    stutter that I met, I would say stuttering is a symptom of not accepting
    yourself for who you are. The voice is the single biggest way to show your
    uniqueness. And is the movement of stuttering not the same as wanting to show yourself to the other and to the world, but somehow holding back at the same time?

    This hypothesis would complete a circle. Stuttering is a
    symptom of not totally accepting yourself the way you are. And isn’t that a
    thing almost every human struggles with? Isn’t that a life long challenge for
    everyone in which you gradually develop yourself into more acceptance and self love? Isn’t this where we can look the other in the eyes and feel connected because we are the same? And feeling love for the other person is feeling love for ourselve? Where other people may have the option to park the issue of self acceptance and be not true to themselves, people who are stuttering (and are not accepting this) are challenged to face this issue every day and find an answer to it.

    Since I’m still in the proces of accepting stuttering and letting go of fear I wonder if there are any readers out there would say they totally accept that they stutter. How does that work and feel psychological and
    physically? I also wonder how you guys think of mindfullness. Could being more aware of the present (for example in the way Eckhart Tolle proposes) let us help to get rid of fear and judgemental thoughts?

    Greetings from Amsterdam!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for writing about the connection between stuttering and mindfulness and the reference to Eckhart Tolle. This is what I’ve been wondering too. I have been studying Eckhart for some time now and have been a stutterer for most of my life. I do believe there is a connection between being in the present moment, being truthful with yourself and stuttering. I long to no longer stutter but more importantly to be able to speak without a “thought” about it. Because we tend to “live in our minds/thought” as Eckhart teaches, for me, I believe this is the connection. When I am present and not having much “thought” going on in my head, my speech is fluent.