Fool yourself all you like about being able to cope with a stammer… It’ll all come crashing down one day. The higher you fly, the harder your fall will be when it does happen.
There are people around who have managed to get by their entire working lives, right into retirement by mimicking fluency; faking their way through life. Eventually people start to notice the speech flaws. The cracks begin to form and suddenly your filled with anxiety for not speaking about your speech problems openly.
Especially with those you love.
It’s not uncommon for people to find a coping strategy that lets them speak a bit slower, perhaps controlled breathing, even certain exercises to improve their overall health and deal with the anxiety associated with the stammer.
The more you mask a stammer, the more anxious you become.
That’s what brings on the on-set of social anxiety disorders. Tell your doctor how anxious you are, and they’ll treat you for anxiety. Tell him or her that you’re anxious because you have a speech problem… well now you’ll get somewhere.
You might even be surprised to hear that he or she hadn’t even noticed.
It can happen.
Because you’ve lived your entire life in fear of stammering on certain words. Your mind constantly racing figuring out synonyms and different ways to say things, when all the while what you’re hearing is not what others hear.
Others may only be hearing the odd glitch here and there. But of course you are hyper-aware of your speech.
Hyper-awareness is a bad thing!
If you’re guilty of it, your mind will trick you into hearing things that aren’t even there.
Tape yourself on the answering machine. Fire up Skype and do a test voice call. Listen to your voice back and assess yourself. Then play the recording back to a friend and ask for their honest opinion of how you sound.
You’ll likely hear something along the lines of it’s not as bad as you think.
And it really isn’t.
The worst enemy is the one within
Give your mind an inch and it’ll take a mile. You have to tame your mind before you can really do anything to progress toward fluency. And when I say fluency, I really mean that. Not faking fluency because that’s going deeper down a long dark road.
There’s no point denying that there’s a part of you that isn’t perfect. Nobody is. The ones who try to please everyone with everything they do, wind up attending AA meetings or worse.
Stress is a nightmare to live with. There’s no denying that. There’s healthy and really unhealthy ways to manage it though.
The first place though is always openness
Be open with those around you. Tell them how you feel. How anxious you are when you’re in the company of others. How your mind is always racing. How you carefully pick out the best words to suit your style of speaking.
Many of your friends may be flabbergasted to hear what’s really going on in your mind.
Being a covert stammerer isn’t doing you any favours and it’s certainly not going to give you a chance to ask your friends to support you as you travel the path of finding your real voice.
The one that’s masked with avoidance tactics tailored over the years to eventually let you pass as fluent when really – deep inside you’re falling apart.
Speak up. Be heard. Get support.
Put an end to trying to trick your mind because your mind will wind up tricking you.
Image courtesy of bigvoicepictures.com.