Conquering Fear on the Journey to Lasting Fluency

Fear – a seemingly insurmountable obstacle that lurks in the shadows of many individuals who stutter (PWS). It is the quiet but pervasive adversary that lies beneath the surface, fueling anxiety and apprehension. While the battle against stuttering is a primary concern for PWS, the battle against fear is equally significant, if not more so. In this blog, we will delve into the role of fear in the journey to fluency, explore the relationship between fear and stuttering or stammering, and provide guidance on how to overcome it with the wisdom of those who have triumphed over their speech-related anxieties.

The Underlying Cause: Fear

As you may know, fear is at the core of all anxieties. Whether it’s the fear of public speaking, the fear of judgment, or the fear of stuttering or stammering, it all boils down to this potent emotion. But what makes fear particularly challenging is that, even after achieving fluency, the fear remains. The question then arises: how long does it linger, and what can be done to address it?

For many PWS, years of humiliating speech incidents, negative thoughts, and painful memories have created the habit of stuttering, stammering, blocking, or experiencing embarrassing silences. Despite achieving fluency, the fear of slipping back into old speech patterns persists. Is there a way to break free from this cycle?

The Journey Beyond Stuttering or Stammering

Before delving into how to confront fear, it’s important to understand that the journey to fluency typically has two major milestones. The first milestone is to stop stuttering stammering – a significant achievement in itself. However, the ultimate goal is to reach the second milestone: learning to love speaking fluently.

Until a PWS reaches the second milestone of embracing fluency and finding joy in speaking, the risk of relapse remains. The fear of stuttering, judgment, or public speaking may still haunt the individual.

Overcoming Fear on the Path to Fluency

The good news is that, despite the persistence of fear, it can be confronted and gradually extinguished. The key to eliminating fear is to avoid a relapse. As long as PWS continue to maintain their fluency and avoid embarrassing speech incidents, fear will diminish over time.

How long does it take to conquer fear entirely? The answer to that question is unique for each individual. For some, three to six months may suffice, while others may need more time. What matters is not the duration but the determination to persist until the fear of speech is gone.

To avoid relapses and conquer fear, PWS can follow a structured approach:

  • Reading Aloud: Read aloud passionately and regularly. Hearing fluency in your speech reinforces your ability to maintain it.
  • Auto Suggestions and Self-Hypnosis: Incorporate Auto Suggestions (ASTs) or Self-Hypnosis Techniques (SHTs) into your daily routine. These practices can help cultivate a positive mindset and reduce fear-related thoughts.
  • Affirmations: Throughout the day, repeatedly say affirmations like “I love to speak” with genuine belief. This helps reinforce a positive attitude towards speaking.
  • Crutches Practice: Continue to practice your Crutches, even when you don’t need them. This helps keep them sharp and ready for use in case of relapse.

The Fear Game

Fear should not be viewed as an insurmountable adversary but as a challenge to conquer. To win the battle against fear, replace every fearful thought with a positive affirmation. It is crucial to recognize that you are in control of your thoughts.

Dr. Caprio, a prominent psychiatrist, emphasizes the importance of using your “mental switch” to dictate your thoughts. His words, “We have free choice: to accept or reject thoughts,” underscore the idea that you have the power to control your thought patterns. This mental exercise can help you diminish fear’s influence.

Remember, fear is not stuttering itself; it’s a response to your past experiences. The journey to lasting fluency is about distancing yourself from that past and embracing a new way of speaking. While fear may linger, stay on course, and it will gradually fade away.

The Importance of Community

In the journey to fluency and overcoming fear, the company you keep plays a vital role. Associating with ex-stutterers and those on their way to becoming ex-stutterers can be highly beneficial. They understand your struggles and can provide invaluable support and motivation.

Conversely, mingling with non-stutterers and speech therapists who have never stuttered is less helpful. In these settings, acceptance is often preached, and the pursuit of fluency is ridiculed. Such negative environments can exacerbate the problem and ignore the substantial evidence that PWS can routinely stop stuttering or stammering by applying effective methods.

To truly conquer fear and achieve lasting fluency, create a supportive network of individuals who have walked a similar path. Surround yourself with those who understand the journey and can offer guidance, encouragement, and the reassurance that you are not alone.

In conclusion, fear is a formidable adversary that often lingers in the background even after achieving fluency. But it’s a challenge that can be overcome. The key is to continue practicing the tools that got you to where you are, stay persistent, and replace fearful thoughts with affirmations of positivity. Your journey to fluency is a process, and the joy lies in the path you take, not just the destination. Fear is not an insurmountable problem; it’s a shadow of the past, slowly fading away as you persist in your quest for lasting fluency.

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