Speech Is Perception
Everything is as we see it,
the way that we choose to see it,
nothing more, nothing less.
Do we see the donut or the hole? Do we see the glass half-empty or half-full? Choose the donut and the glass half-full every time, and we are well on the way to a happy life. Choose the negatives, and misery will be ours.
As the blind man sees ONLY the images that HE creates, WE create our own unique impressions of what we see. Choose to focus on the positives and see the prism of life’s radiant colors that are so apparent to open eyes.
During WWII, there were cases of soldiers being confined for months to prison cells the size of man’s body. Some emerged from these cells quite insane and never recovered, but others survived largely unimpaired. How can that be?
Mind control: the ability to see things as we wish to see them. Controlling our thoughts is the key. As John Milton wrote in Paradise Lost,
“The mind can make heaven in hell
Or hell in heaven."
Life and speech are as we perceive them to be. It is OUR JOB to perceive them in the most positive light. We must hold to the thoughts that we wish to dominate our minds, repeating them, and visualizing ourselves living them -- as frequently as needed until those desired thoughts become our dominant thoughts, and, hence, our realities.
Speech, like life, is neither more nor less than we perceive it to be. Most of us backed into stuttering, because we are perfectionists. and because we are overly concerned with what others think of us.
As to perfectionism, since nothing, on this terrestrial ball, will ever be perfect, no one is going to have perfect speech, including any of us. So, Step One to improved speech is to ACCEPT normal imperfections. This does not mean that we must accept disabled speech, BUT we cannot and must not stress over ANY speech imperfections that fall short of the clear appearance of speech-disability. FOR EXAMPLE, “normal” speech mistakes can be like this: I-I-I was on-on-on the way to work. . . . ..” [Then, illustrate speech-disabilities.] We mean way too many repeats or too many forced words or silences that are clearly too long to be normal. Any speech short of that is NOT disabled speech. – and we must not punish ourselves for it.
As to the opinions of others, we perceive our speech as halting and sometimes disabled. So, we stew about appearing inferior, and the snowball of stuttering keeps growing.
The simple fact is that others spend virtually NO time thinking about us (or anyone else), because most people are hanging onto life by their proverbial fingernails. As the iconic French philosopher-Voltaire wrote, “Most men lead lives of quiet desperation.” Simply put, most people spend zero time thinking about our speech imperfections. They either don’t notice them or don’t care and quickly forget them. IF we communicated our message at roughly a normal pace, we must chalk it up as a success.
More importantly, if we would have others think well of us, we should be focused on our CONDUCT, not on our speech.
There is only ONE opinion of us that really matters:
Our opinion of ourselves.
What is needed to earn SELF-esteem is not great speech, nor is it money, fame or good looks. To have a high opinion of ourselves we need to do two things: One, Be productive to the maximum (that is, give our 100% efforts at any constructive work, and, if we don’t like our work, change it) AND, second, be as loving as we can possibly be to all mankind and domestic creatures. This is extremely difficult, of course, but, the closer that we can get to it, the better opinion we will have of ourselves – and the positive opinions of most others will follow as does the night follow the day.
Turning back to our perceptions of our speech, what might we do to change them to positive?
We need to hear our speech at its best. To do this, we read aloud massively, day after day, and we slowly create new perceptions of our speech as fluent. When we read with great feeling, our speech is ever better, enhancing our positive perceptions, while training ourselves to speak with passion, which takes our focus off feared words and drives fluency. We can hear even more of our voice speaking at its best by playing recordings of our Affirmations at idle times throughout the day – and, best of all, during our sleep, a time when our conscious mind sleeps and our subconscious is in a quasi-hypnotic state, namely, is open and receiving.
We need to train our minds and learn to dictate our thoughts. Meditating, as in the forms I have tried, is not sufficient. We need to use self-hypnosis or at least auto suggestion, as it was propounded by Emile Coue, the putative father of Modern Auto Suggestion, which dictates implanting SPECIFIC thoughts. When we do this daily mind-training, we hear more fluency as we repeat our positive Affirmations, while we simultaneously visualize ourselves speaking those Affirmations beautifully in the most pressured situations. These images and sounds (as repeated 20 or more times each, Coue’s suggested number) gradually become imbedded impressions in our minds, further replacing negative speech-perceptions with positive ones.
Then, as we speak during the day, we avoid all stutters by using our Crutches. This we must do to become fluent. Stored perceptions must be fed and reinforced constantly, or they shrink. This applies to fluent speech AND negative speech. So, we feed the fluent memory bank and starve the stutter memory bank. In time, we will forget the habit of stuttering. We have thus re-programmed our perceptions of our speech, as we can of our lives in general
Also important, when our minds are idle and fears of speech creep in, when we immediately drown them in a flood of positive, contrary Affirmations, we prevent our perceptions from sliding to the negative.
AGAIN, we must IGNORE any imperfections that do not rise to the level of speech disabilities. This does NOT prevent us from improving our speech, but it does bar us from viewing imperfections as making our speech or us INferior.
While we work on our perceptions of our speech, it will help to work on our perceptions of other people. / / Search for the good in all situations, in all people, AND in our lives – and in our speech. By so doing, our perceptions of good becomes our realities.
I am reminded of the inspirational, cracker-barrel philosopher, comedian, Congressman and American icon, Will Rogers (1879-1935), who, in 1931, at the Democratic National Convention, when commenting upon his peers, innocently observed,
“I’ve never met a man I didn’t like.”
It’s hard to say that, exactly, but we can get close: We can find something to like in everyone. What a joy-giving view! Just think how wonderful our day would be today and every day, if only we found something to like in everyone! We can do it 99% of the time anyway. Each time we do that, our day is happier, as is the day of all about whom we find something to like, because, feeling our approval, they naturally reciprocate by approving and liking us, and we launch our own little snowball of happy relationships and happier days. Isn’t that really what’s important? And, when we focus on that, our perceptions of our lives (and of our speech) become positive indeed.
To conquer our speech, we must conquer “the whole man”. We must discard the mental chaff and supplant it with mental wheat.
Our job can be approached in much the same way. Just as there is no shame in any honest labor, there is something good to be found in every job, if we look for it, really look for it. I’ve waited tables, dumped coal cars, cleaned sewers, sung in bars, driven a cab, worked in the U.S. Senate, done door-to-door selling, and more. Jobs, like people and life, are perception. This is not to say that we shouldn’t strive to do whatever job appeals to us the most; it’s just to say that happiness can be found in infinite ways; indeed, happiness, at its core, is simply our perception of our then life.
The legendary German philosopher, G.W.F. Hegel (1770-1830), as far back as 1820 or so, asserted:
“The only thing real is the mind.”
While that statement seemed laughable or only a metaphor in his day, some of the world’s greatest scientists now espouse surprisingly similar views. Can matter be made of “strings” or, perhaps, simply of “thought”? Don’t be dismissive, lest our physicists leave us behind.
At the very least, our minds determine our feelings: Whatever our minds feel is what we experience, but the important point is that we are not at the mercy of our minds. We are the bosses of our own minds. Indeed, the subtitle of the 1st Edition of my stuttering book was, “Become the Boss of Your Mind.” The mind, like a steering wheel, directs our feelings in different directions, but we are at liberty to seize that wheel -- and steer it wherever we like, by removing any negative thoughts and implanting positive ones.
Stephen Hawking contracted Lou Gehrig’s disease and lost the use of his limbs at age 21. He went on to marry and become the greatest scientist since Einstein. Here are a few of his profound words:
“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21.
Everything since then has been a bonus."
“Mankind’s possibilities are unbounded.
All we need to do is make sure we keep talking."
“Remember to look up at the stars and not down at your feet.
Try to make sense of what you see...
However difficult life may seem,
There is always something you can do and succeed...
It matters that you don't just give up...
While there's life, there is hope."