February 27, 2021 at 6:40 pm #29007
Unfortunately I missed the SAM meeting today and I have a question I wanted to ask that came to my mind in the last few weeks:
I understand and truly believe the fact that I have repeatedly conditioned my brain in fearing some specific letters. To be honest, I am starting to realise that there is something like a big database in my brain 🙂 with a list of words and the specific number of times I stumbled on each of them: The more I had trouble, the more my brain developed fear for that word.
Now that I am following the program and trying to undue that behavior and erase the “database”, I have noticed that I have started fearing some letters which were not a problem in the past. So while in general I am seeing an improvement, this seems to be a set back.
From a rational and conscious point of view I do know that this does not make any sense, if I had no issues in the past there is no reasons to have issues now. However the anxiety associated to these new fears seems to be more difficult to control. In even mildly stressful situations I could reach the point of fearing most letters, however (luckily) experience tells me that as soon as I speak, hesitations/forcing will be limited to just a few words. When things go wrong though, the result of the fear is an anticipation of an unpleasant feeling in the throat (as if it was preparing for the forcing out) and this results mainly in an elongation of the letter and the only way out, if my mind is not panic mode, is stopping. I think that these elongation episodes can be classified as bad incidents as they would not sound natural, at least for the frequency of occurrence in a single person.
Have you ever had the same problem? What to do you suggest doing? I would like to know what you would do both for the unjustified fear and as practical exercises. For example, would you practice pronouncing those words using crutches or do I risk reinforcing the fear I have for those letters?
I have to admit that I am guilty of not using crutches as much as I would-like-to/should, even though I think I use C-13 in most situations (and C-4/C-10 occasionally) but the feared words come randomly as I talk. My coach (Leah) already gave me some very good tips which are hearing fluency as much as possible (e.g. reading aloud more) and to be as consistent as possible on AST’s but I am also looking forward to other suggestions (if any).
Thank you very much and have a great weekend!
MirkoMarch 1, 2021 at 10:10 am #29025
I think I understand what you mean, because I’ve been through similar situations. As a PWS I words starting with Ps and Ts were my worst nightmare. I later found out that these are just fears. When speaking, my brain planned my words before I said them, and whenever I planned a word starting with those letters, I knew I was going to have problems, and that’s exactly what happened.
When I found the Crutches, C-4 saved me from these problematic words.
I used to stutter a lot more with my grandfather (don’t ask me why, he’s the most loving person you can meet), so one day I decided to expand that “comfort zone”, and I went with him to take the dogs for a walk, and I chose to use this opportunity. so I used Crutch 4 and then linked all the words until my next full stop. The result: 1h of fluent speech. The next time I met with my granfather, the fears were almost gone. I proved to myself that I could do it.
I suggest you to do something similar with those letters/words: expand that comfort zone. How? You have to have one goal: DO NOT STUTTER (on those words). There are no other goals. You can start all your sentences with “aaaa….” if you need to, like I did in the situation I just described above. Or you can use any other Crutch. Practice it and let us know how it goes!
Have a great week!March 1, 2021 at 9:42 pm #29030
I have the exact same issue Mirko. I smoothed over my biggest problems which is/are vowels by using word-linkage and crutch 4 mostly. But now I have problems with B, D, and St. I don’t know how it happened. So for B I drop the first letter, for St I drop the second letter, and D I assume I drop the first letter or just find a synonym. But I am also like you I use the crutches sometimes and not as often as I should be.March 2, 2021 at 8:19 am #29032Leah AreffModerator
Mirko, why are you using elongation instead of word linkage and holding a tone? Elongation will never sound natural, and this is why we do not have it as a crutch. Do you believe you have mastered all the crutches yet?March 2, 2021 at 12:22 pm #29035
Javier: Thank you very much for sharing your story! I agree with you that it is all about our fears, so focusing on crutches and having proofs in real life that we know how to use them should give us enough confidence to avoid getting into a random unexpected block. I definitely need to work more on that.
Adam: I do have mainly problems with vowels too but somehow I have started fearing other letters. I am sure that these are problems we are creating ourselves in our minds and there is no difficult letter, however they are still problems so I do agree with the coaches that working on crutches, being relaxed and exposure are very useful. I am tempted to say that ultimately, mind training (and how we approach our next talking situation) is really the key.
Leah: No, what I meant is that when I am not a good Speech COP I have noted a tendency to mechanically elongate the feared words. That is a old habit that I need to stop by using the crutches. So I think that have not reached the point where my brain would use a crutch automatically yet and need to practice more.March 2, 2021 at 3:26 pm #29036
Mirko, Yes I totally agree. I am still fearful of saying my name so the anticipatory anxiety will set in until I finally say my name and then feel relieved for the day. But I agree that the mindset you go into a situation with will either increase or decrease your speech. As soon as I get anxious about knowing that I have to say something I immediately think of a crutch.March 13, 2021 at 11:00 am #29137Leah AreffModerator
Mirko, I would like to follow up on this question. After our session, this week, do you still believe that you fear certain letters/words? Let us know!March 16, 2021 at 9:01 pm #29174
Leah, I stll have trouble with some letters. Some are new and some were feared for a longtime.
The funny thing is that when I do not have time to anticipate hesitation I do pronunce most words with no problem. However, sometimes I struggle with some also if no fear is anticipated, especially in nervous situations. This is probably my habit.
The thing is that this is frustrating and gives a sense of powerlessness so I am still working on crutches.March 16, 2021 at 9:30 pm #29175
Mirko, I feel the exact same way about my speech. I face threats of new and old feared letters/words so I practice more and more of the crutches to see if I can smooth it out.March 17, 2021 at 9:28 am #29178
Hi Mirko and Adam,
I know what you mean. Are you attacking those fears with a particular affirmation? For example: “I am able to say any words anywhere, anytime, effortlessly.”
Speaking in short increments (not more than 5 words, or so), and linking all those words helps a lot.
You have to be very alert (alert, but not afraid; just like when we drive a car, we are alert, paying attention to the road, but not worried or afraid of suffering an accident, simply alert, so that we can react in time and avoid accidents), so that at the first signal of “danger”, we STOP TALKING, take a break and use a Crutch.
The most important thing here is STOPPING, and not so much the Crutch. Any Crutch should work. The important thing here is not to fall off Stutterer’s Cliff, as Lee puts it.
You need to focus on STOPPING TALKING and taking the two count, during which time you should grab a Crutch, most any Crutch, and start again, LINKING the next 1-5 or so words AND STOPPING.
If you do this, you will succeed at speaking fluently. So, celebrate it, smile. You succeeded at speaking fluently. Most likely some months ago you might have had a bad incident in that same situation. But not now.
Could you have done it better. Probably yes. There is always room for improvement. I can always do it better. But we must not punish us for that. We have to have a constructive point of view. “Maybe I could have done it a bit more slowly, or more passionately…”. But, you succeeded.
In terms of our speech, it is either a pass or a fail. Failing means appearing CLEARLY speech disabled. If that’s not the case, it’s a pass. Even if you hesitated a bit, or had a few hiccups. As I said, if you didn’t appear CLEARLY speech disabled (so, nervous speech is not the case), it’s a pass. You spoke fluently, just like anyone else out there. So smile, celebrate it, and say to yourself something like, “see? I made it! It wasn’t so hard; I can do it again!”.
The next time you face a stressful situation, remind to yourself that you’ve been there before, and you succeeded at speaking fluently. If you’ve done it before, there’s no reason to think that this time you won’t be able to do it. You are going to succeed again, and it’s very likely that you’ll find it easier that before.
This mindset is very important! It’s part of the program. Stuttering isn’t only a speech problem. It is a much deeper problem, as you can see. We have to “fix” the entire person.March 17, 2021 at 1:47 pm #29183
Hi Javier, you are totally right.
I think I was being a bit too negative in my previous message and I definitely need to change that. In fact, I think this is very important and I totally agree that the whole person needs to be changed. Part of this is how we approach things and grade ourselves. The process should be seen as fun and not has “hell”.
I can see that I am slowly improving and that I am starting to see that the glass is always half full, and we must only compare ourselves against how we were in the past. Any failure (or perceived failure) should be viewed as a step towards the whole improvement.
Practice, Crutches and Positive Mindset are key!March 17, 2021 at 3:20 pm #29184
Exactly!! 🙂March 17, 2021 at 6:17 pm #29189
I will definitely follow your advice.
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