Living More Fully With or Without Stuttering

Living More Fully With or Without Stuttering

#1 Assume personal responsibility for your thoughts, feelings, decisions, and actions. You may have had a genetic predisposition toward stuttering but what you feel, think, decide, and do about it is your responsibility.

#2 Adopt flexible beliefs about your desires. Granted you are entitled to choose your desires, however, if you falsely talk yourself into believing you need what you want, you may end up in a world of hurt. It is only natural that you may not cheer that you have a stutter, but demanding that you absolutely must get rid of all of it, may be silly and unreal.

#3 Accept reality with its good and bad aspects. Neither succumbs to the temptation of deifying the good ones such as fluent speech nor assign horror to bad ones such as stuttering.

#4 Develop tolerance for the discomfort that stuttering brings,  but even more tolerance for discomfort that comes from working to recover from stuttering.

#5 Learn first to acknowledge your stuttering and then to unconditionally accept yourself with all your idiosyncrasies such as stuttering. Meanwhile taking as good a care as you can of yourself.

#6 Allow yourself to experience healthy negative emotions about stuttering but not capitulating to unhealthy negative emotions. The difference being that unhealthy negative emotions are extreme, inflexible, lead to emotional disturbance and increased stuttering. Thus, avoid shame, anxiety, fear, guilt, depression, etc. while allowing feelings like dislike, attentiveness, concern and sadness…

#7 Think scientifically, critically, and creatively about stuttering and stuttering therapy.

#8 Develop and pursue vitally absorbing interests—focusing on something outside of yourself and stuttering.

#9 Initiate and improve your relationships with others.

#10 Develop a realistic outlook toward what you can change in your stuttering. To wit, you can change a lot about your stuttering and feelings about it with intensive and persistent effort using a good holistic approach. The holistic approach utilizes three tracks: Active, ongoing motivation; changing of beliefs, attitudes and emotions as in rational and cognitive behavioral psychology; and identifying and changing (re-learning) speech production.  (see my book and website)

 

Acceptance Is the Same of Stuttering is a Matter of Choice

Acceptance Is the Same of Stuttering is a Matter of Choice

Basic acceptance of reality

  • Sun rises in the East
  • Life is challenging for everyone
  • We are by nature fallible, limited, non-perfectible
  • We cannot make demands on universe, others, and even ourselves and expect that these demands will be fulfilled
  • But we can strongly desire certain goals and in most probability achieve them or come close

Acceptance of reality about stuttering

  • Right now you stutter the way you stutter right now; acknowledge it say london psychotherapy experts
  • You can’t demand it to change, but you can strongly desire it to change and work towards changing it
  • You can almost instantly realize that stuttering is not awful: 1) it does not cause unbearable pain, 2) you can still enjoy many, many other things
  • You can decide not to beat upon yourself (deprecate yourself) for stuttering
  • You can think hard and realize that all people have equal worth in the eyes of the universe (we all are born, live, and die).
  • Stuttering can’t make you less worthwhile.
  • There is no law in the universe that you should not stutter.
  • Stuttering causes some discomfort-but you can stand it: you have stood it so far
  • In time you can minimize stuttering severity and frequency, but there is no guarantee that you will totally eliminate it.

Acceptance of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT)  ideas about stuttering

  • Stuttering probably has genetic component and a learned component
  • With effort and time, the learned part: the forcing, struggling, hard contact blocks, and elongations can be minimized
  • With effort and time feelings of inferiority, shame, anxiety, guilt, time urgency, low tolerance of frustration and discomfort, anger at self or others, and the feelings of helplessness/hopelessness, and the avoidances can be radically cut back
  • The accessory (secondary) behaviors can be practically eliminated.

Acceptance That You Have a Choice

  • You have a choice whether to work on your speech to minimize struggle and unhealthy negative emotions or do nothing.
  • You have a choice which approach to use.
  • Not learning about the different approaches and not using blood, sweat, and tears to apply a new approach in your self-therapy (if your present one is not working) is a choice. Not doing anything is a choice to remain in the same state of stuttering. You have a right to do so. YOU can live a good life, whether you stutter or not.

Summarizing Acceptance

  • Don’t demonize stuttering
    • Don’t awfulize it
    • Don’t pull off an “I-can’t-stand-it”
    • Don’t deprecate or down yourself because of stuttering
    • Stuttering does not make you a child of a lesser god
  • Don’t trivialize it
    • Accept that stuttering does have its inconveniences
  • Humanize stuttering
    • Learn to live with your stuttering in daily life until you decide to do something about it

Learned at International Fluency Association (IFA’S) 8th WORLD CONGRESS in London

Craig D. Marker Ph.D. wrote [when talking about social anxiety], “People with anxiety often perform “safety behaviors” during anxiety provoking situations. These safety behaviors make the person feel more comfortable in the situation by providing temporary relief from anxiety. However, safety behaviors have been described as the major cause of persisting anxiety and the reason why people don’t feel relief during exposures (Wells, Clark, Salkovskis, Ludgate, Hackmann, & Gelder, 1995).”

Let me (Gunars) apply this to people with developmental stuttering. The most prevalent example of safety behavior is the use of all types of avoidances, circumlocutions, and pauses. No doubt, the person may feel temporarily better by using these avoidances and getting out of the stressful situation. “However, this behavior is basically telling the person’s body that this situation is dangerous and he or she has to do something to remain safe. That is, whenever a person performs a safety behavior, he or she is reinforcing the idea that the situation is very dangerous.” Here are some other safety behaviors that a person with developmental stuttering has picked up in his journey through the world:

  1. Not engaging new persons at a social gathering, but sticking with those you know (for the fear of being rejected by someone who for the first time learns that one is a person who stutters);
  2. Choosing a location at a lecture that is out of the way;
  3. Averting eye contact;
  4. Drinking alcohol to feel less anxious; and
  5. Taking non-speaking roles;
  1. caffeine, spicy food, physical exertion,      warm clothing)

Dr. Marker continues with Private therapy london has to offer “Multiple research studies have shown that safety seeking behaviors actually harm people’s abilities to get past the anxiety in situations (e.g., Furukawa et al., 2009; Kim, 2005; McManus, Sacurda, & Clark, 2008; Wells et al., 1995).”

Dr. Marker continues– and I fully have observed the same thing–that there are many clients who have been themselves repeatedly to situations that they fear without having a significant reduction in anxiety. One of my Skype clients lamented that he has a stand-up status meeting every day, but instead of having reduced anxiety he is as anxious as ever. Further pursuit of the actual situation revealed that he still did some behaviors which I would hardly call “totally facing or exposing himself to be vulnerable in the situations. For example, he tries to remain out of sight of the executives in charge of the meeting, when there is a teleconference, he does his best not to talk more than absolutely necessary, and when a meeting ends, he makes sure that he is one of the first who is gone. All these actions are safety behaviors. These multiple “safety behaviors led his body to believe that the situation was much more dangerous than it actually was”.

One of the London speakers at the IFA Congress tended to dismiss safety behaviors as rational and excusable. I respectfully, but vehemently disagree. The Psytherapy Psychotherapists go on to say We, as psychologists, SLP’s in the role of counselors, and self-therapists should look for situations where any type of safety behaviors are used. Then we need to systematically try to eliminate these safety behaviors. Only if we over the time reduce them more and more can we expect a reduction in the intense feeling of anxiety and fear. It is necessary for us to push them, first to give them some feeling of success and later to really reduce the anxiety.

This is one instance when we cannot rely on the “wisdom of the client to do what is right.” We should ask them to push the envelope. The more they try to justify that in some situations they need the respite of having some situations where they are allowed to use avoidances, the more we should—without blaming—expect them to eliminate as much of these behaviors as possible. Of course, we must acknowledge that we are never going to achieve perfection. But we are better off installing in them a guilt-free admission that this was a slip-up, a mistake to be tried to be avoided in future.

I posit, that over time if you teach the clients to build tolerance for discomfort they will be able to do “the opposite of what their anxiety tells them to do”, “If you think it will feel bad, do it!” I suggest that the client develop self-talk akin to the body-building maxim: There is no gain without pain. Or as Albert Ellis—when you took the explicative’s out of it–said, “Push your tush”.

When I ask my clients to use easy bounces to advertise stuttering, I give them the gift of “safety opposite” or “contrarian to safety” exercises. These exercises are telling their bodies that there is nothing truly dangerous and they are fully able to cope. They have then switched from anxiety constructing to anxiety demolishing behaviors.

Let us consider Alden and Bieling (1998) study of social anxiety and safety behaviors. They found out that safety behaviors among people with social anxiety, lead to more awkward behaviors that translated in less likeability. And what was the consequence? These people were negatively evaluated, the result that they feared the most. When I look at my stuttering clients, I see the same results. If I am not able to convince the clients to drop their safety behaviors, they appear to be less socially desirable. The topping on the cake is—as I will emphasize more to my clients—“you are doing a disservice to others by playing safe. In the life—which is a moveable feast—you are depriving people who you meet to know your true self.