My stuttering has improved dramatically. It all came about rather suddenly and it was very, very unexpected. I say that my “Stuttering has improved”, but when I really reflect on the past three to four weeks I don’t think this is really the case. I look back on this month and think about the stress of the end of a college term; I think about the collaborative group projects, the final presentations, and the interviews for internships I’ve been doing in University, and I see that the frequency of my disfluencies actually hasn’t decreased all that noticeably. I’m beginning to realize that what has actually changed is my personality and how I cope with situations relating to my speech.
For a while there I was in a slump where I would dread going to school for fear of all the uncomfortable speaking situations I would be forced to participate in. I would have to deal with my impatient group mates, I would have to talk to an uncompassionate professor, I would have to order this item at lunch… and the train of negative thoughts zoomed on like that each and every day.
Things began to change for me after I wrote my post ON FEAR: AVOIDANCE, where I talked about how I believe my own judgments of my stuttering are worse than the actual disorder itself.
Well, shortly thereafter, I discovered a book on psychology that talked about Explanatory styles… I won’t go into detail about it here because there are numerous resources online that can explain this better than I, however, the gist of it is that there are some things called Loci of control, and these come in two flavors Internal and External. People with an internal locus of control see the world and situations as being within their personal control and that they have the power to change it. People with external locus of control see the world as effecting them and often have a cognitive dysfunction called “Learned Helplessness”.
These ideas are very important to me and are now central to my personal philosophy, because up until recently I never realized that perhaps my explanations, even the ones that sound reasonable, about my stuttering are grossly distorted.
So, in this past month I’ve taken the initiative, by challenging all these distorted thoughts about my speech. I really tried to put all my assumptions about how people will react to me, and all my assumptions about the degree of my personal power/control over a situation to the test. I have found that often my estimates of what I am capable of are inaccurate and far lower than reality. I learned from this experience that I could stand to assert myself more.
I think we all have something important to say. Before you hold yourself back, challenge those thoughts, maybe even turn it into a science. Scientifically test your assumptions. You might find out, as I have, that your doubt in your abilities is unfounded.