March 30, 2021 at 3:22 pm #29247
In the case of shutdown blockers (even situational ones), I feel that above a certain threshold of anxiety, nothing can work. Only shutdown blockers can really understand that. I’m not saying that crutches won’t work because there is a lot of pressure or anxiety. I’m saying that nothing can work when a shutdown blocker is in a situation where his/her mindset is in “extreme holding back” mode.
In certain situations, I can be a HEAVY blocker. And the only thing that helped me in those situations is a radical shift in attitude and mindset. It occurred last year during a few weeks span where I didn’t really care anymore about stuttering because I was really overwhelmed by another big problem (bigger than stuttering). I have even been able to be fluent in some job interviews, which was impossible for me in the past. Since I didn’t care about stuttering (I wasn’t holding back), I wasn’t planning my words, I was just talking without overthinking.
I personally think that mind training can help in this change of attitude / mindset, but it is not enough for shutdown blockers. They (and I) need something more powerful in order to reduce the threshold mentioned above, maybe exposure (done the right way, which is proven way better than just being exposed).
It would be great to have your thoughts on that !March 30, 2021 at 3:29 pm #29248
When I say exposure, the goal is to desensitize the shutdown blocker so that the extreme levels of anxiety / holding back that he/she feels will decrease over time. In a lot of other psychological issues, exposure (again, done the RIGHT way) has been proved to be very effective. So I wonder if it can be implemented in stuttering too.
Of course, exposure alone is not enough. But exposure + mind training and crutches might help.April 1, 2021 at 8:45 am #29260JavierModerator
my name is Javier, I’m a PWSS and one of the Certified Speech Coaches of WSSA. I think we’ve never spoken to each other before, but I’ve watched a few of your sessions with Lee.
I wasn’t a shut-down blocker, but I was a very severe stutterer though. There’s a video of the evolution of my speech in the homepage of WSSA. You just need to scroll down a bit and you’ll find it.
As I was saying, I wasn’t a shut-down blocker, but I was probably close to it. I’ve never had a day, or even an hour of fluency in my life, until I found Lee and WSSA.
And here’s what I’ve learnt from this program, and my own personal experiences. YOU are the only one worried about your speech. You. The rest of the people don’t care about your speech, of if you get stuck on a word or 2. They are not going to gossip about that bad incident with their friends or anything like that. They are not judges of how you speak. Even if you have a bad incident, they will forget about it in less than 30 seconds, I promise you that.
They have their own problems. They are no better than you. They have no power over you.
As a PWS, before I approached a stranger, or even a friend or a family member, my fears and inferiority complexes triggered. “I’m sure I’m going to stutter… what will they think about me… I’m going to embarrass myself”. Something like that was what was rambling in my head 24/7.
I had to change that mindset if I wanted to stop stuttering. I started focusing more on being loving, more friendly, passionate. It has been incredibly helpful.
Before I approached a stranger, I tried to focus on having a smile on my face, on being more expressive. It made speaking much easier. Now, for example, thanks to this new approach, most of the staff of some restaurants and bars I go to, they know me by my name, they greet me as if I was a close friend, and sometimes they have even invited me to a beer, which is nice too hahaha. I mean, this will help you not only with your speech, but with everything.
What I’m trying to say is that we need to change our mindset. There is no reason to fear speaking. There is no risk. Nobody is going to harm us. They are just people, minding their own business. When they talk to us, they are not expecting us to stutter. They don’t care. And there is no need to say what we have to say quickly because they are in a hurry. No! Actually, if we speak fast, there is a much higher risk of having a bad incident, and therefore make the person wait for us. But, if we spoke like Kings, for example, we will be understood much better, and we will be speaking fluently.
So, what we need to do is to work on this mindset. We must know that nobody speaks perfectly, and nobody will ever do that. But we must always give our best to try to improve as much as possible. That’s all that matters. That you/I/we are doing our best to try to improve as much as possible every day, to be passionate and loving.
We will have some better days than others, that’s true. But if we compare where is our speech now, and where it used to be 5 months ago, for example, we will see that it has improved a lot, and that it is going to keep on improving. And we should feel very proud of this accomplishment. Now we are able to speak fluently in situations that probanly some months ago we wouldn’t. And we should feel very proud and happy about this.
And if we have a bad incident, well, we have to try to learn from it (I should have stopped talking or forcing that word, took a pause and then start again using a Crutch), and keep on with our lives, smiling.
I know it’s easier to write it than to do it, but it can be done. It requires daily practice, determination and patience.
I hope you found this helpful, Amine, and that it answered your question. If not, please let us know.April 1, 2021 at 2:06 pm #29261
We’ve never spoken but I watched some of your videos. You’ve come along way and congratulations for that. You and many others are inspiration.
I agree with every word you say. That change in mindset is very important and I am working on it. It will take time but there is hope.
Thank you again for your answer !April 1, 2021 at 4:33 pm #29262Doug NelsonModerator
I was a shut down blocker. I stuttered until I was 57 years old and then I read Lee’s book. It took me 3 months after reading his book and 3 skypes to become a PWSS. It is all about the mind. Basically what makes you stutter is fear of speaking.
Stutter memories of the past. You have to rid your mind of the negativity and replace it with positivity.
Reading out loud at least at hour a day. Saying 10 AST’s 20 times 2 times a day and knowing the crutches will make you successful. If you know these tools like the back of your hand, they come second nature to you.
I still might have a slip up, but I make sure that I don’t look disable. Changing your mindset is the key for you. I suggest the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. It will help you with your negativity. Also make sure that you repeat several times a day .” Today, I will have a happy day.”.
Keep practicing and keep your chin up.
Doug NelsonApril 2, 2021 at 7:27 pm #29263JavierModerator
Thanks for your compliments Amine. And Doug, great advice! I loved Carnegie’s book. Incredibly helpful!!
Keep us posted with your progress, Amine!April 9, 2021 at 8:06 am #29323
Sorry, but this is where we disagree. We have had many shut down blockers who have cured, including Faris. You can watch his SS here: https://worldstopstuttering.org/
Your attitude and mindset do not make you stutter. Sure, it is a symptom of stuttering, but not a cause. Of course, having a positive mindset will definitely help you cure, but that alone, will not make you cure.
I disagree with the comment about exposure. If I am understanding you correctly, you are saying that shut down blockers need to expose themself to high-pressure situations to change their mindset around stuttering? If a shutdown blocker does this and continues to stutter in these situations, they will NEVER CURE. Why? Because they will keep forming stuttering memories and will not be fluent for long enough to cure. Every time you stutter, you are one step further from curing as you have just formed a new stutter memory.
Lee once had a shutdown blocker student who was in a retail job and he HAD to speak to people all day, every day. Guess what Lee told him to do? QUIT HIS JOB! Extreme? Perhaps! But desperate times, call for desperate measures. The point is that he would NEVER have cured in that situation as his stutter was too severe. So while I believe that some shutdown blockers will not be able to use the crutches in high-pressured situations right in the beginning, I do not believe that the solution is to expose them to high-pressure situations. The solution is to get them to avoid all high-pressure situations, do their reading aloud, practising crutches, mind training, until they are capable of using the crutches in all situations.
Lastly, MY FEAR AND ANXIETY SURROUNDING STUTTERING, NEVER EQUALLED STUTTERING. Again, fear is a symptom of stuttering, NOT A CAUSE. I had fear and anxiety regarding my speech for a year after I cured. Did I stutter? No! Because fear does not equal stuttering. If fear equalled stuttering, all fluent people would be stuttering when they did public speaking.
As long as you believe that you need to get rid of the fear BEFORE you CURE, YOU WILL NEVER CURE. Why? Because fear only fades once you have stopped stuttering. Fear only fades when you have so many pleasant fluent memories, that your brain thinks “oh okay, so speech IS NOT SCARY, therefore I do not need to feel fear when I speak”. Then every time you speak, the fear gets less and less.
Does any of this make sense? If I have misunderstood you in any way, let me know and we can chat about it. Thank you!April 14, 2021 at 9:58 am #29354
Thank you for your answer.
It is interesting to see that in my message, I mentioned the word “fear” ZERO times, while you used it TEN times 🙂 It is is very important to define “fear” here. You say that fluent people would stutter if the fear caused stuttering, which is wrong. Fluent people do not fear saying the words, they fear the situation, like someone who has fear before an exam. Two very different concepts.
You mention your example too, you had fears a year after becoming a PWSS. Again, it is very different from what I was talking about in my message. I too manage to be fluent sometimes while feeling some fear. But above a certain threshold of fear / anxiety / apprehension, the “holding back” becomes way too strong, I totally and completely fuse to it and it is impossible to be fluent then. In your case (the year after becoming PWSS), you certainly felt fear but not the kind of fear that paralyzes you, and puts you in an extreme “holding back” mode.
Now about exposure. I think that no one has the perfect answer. And that is the case for stuttering overall. Lee has his methods, other people cured using other methods, etc. It is not a science. I know exposure helped many people to cure. Again, it is important to define what is exposure. What you talk about (the case of the guy in the retail business) is not exposure, it is being exposed. Very different ! Being exposed is being forced to face a feared situation and approaching it like it is some kind of torture. Exposure is WILLINGLY engaging yourself in an activity in order to desensitize yourself and expand your comfort zone. It must be done gradually and with the right mindset which is : willingness, open mind, without judgment, and in the case of stuttering while using a new style of speaking (crutches can help here).
PS : I saw Faris’s SS and for me he was not what I would call a shutdown blocker, just a heavy blocker 🙂 Shutdown blocker is when (in certain situations) you can’t manage to say any word or even any syllable without blocking / repeating / forcing.April 14, 2021 at 1:04 pm #29355
Regarding your definition of exposure above, we agree 100 %! Exposure, but ONLY if you will NOT stutter (ie. using the crutches). See, we agree on something!!! 🙂April 15, 2021 at 10:04 am #29362
If I am going to expand my comfort zone, I might stutter even while trying to use the crutches, but it is not the end of the world. The next time I will try to do better, focusing more on the solution that the problem. Then next time, next time, next time… Until I feel confident enough in that kind of situation. I think that it is not possible to master the crutches just by practicing them in comfortable situations. If I keep avoiding every risky situation just because I might stutter, I am not going anywhere with my speech.April 15, 2021 at 12:33 pm #29363
If that works for you, AWESOME! Whatever works for you 🙂April 15, 2021 at 4:51 pm #29365LEE LOVETTParticipant
Amine, I’m delighted that you are exchanging views with other Coaches in the forum! This may be my first time to post any comment here, but Javier mentioned your posts; so, I read them. I wanted to note that my methods have resulted in 150 posted Success Stories, and no other methods have ever done that. We do have total, shut-down blockers who have beaten it too. One is Ruz. You can read and watch is SS here: https://speechanxietyanonymous.org/pwss/ruz-canada/. You did mention him in one email to me, but he has since posted his SS. He is, of course, still working on fear. I did for many years, until I beat it. Learning to love to speak in all venues is the end game. I’m there. So are many of our PWSS. It takes time. Ruz will get there. So will you. As you said, yours is a tough case, and we need to keep fishing for the right combination of strategies. If you’re patient, we’ll get there. I know of no other methods that will. I have now done over 5,000 Skypes with PWS in the past five years alone. No one, alive or dead, has done that. It doesn’t make me wise, but it likely does give me an advantage over non-stuttering therapists who have coached PWS a fraction of my time — and I DID beat it and remain fluent for four decades now and even taught myself to love to speak. You can do it, too. I’m glad that you are Skyping with me again. I have you scheduled for Sunday, April 25 at 11AM MY BERMUDA time. Let’s try to hold positive thoughts (as no non-believer will ever beat it). So, see I look forward to seeing you soon.April 18, 2021 at 11:03 am #29375SunParticipant
Amine, I found your opinion about exposure very interesting. Basically, I agree with you.
I tried to avoid stressful situations for some time in order not to produce stuttering memories. As a result, I did think my speech improved until there was a stressful occasion I can’t avoid and I had to speak there. It was a complete disaster. I felt the lack of exposure lowered my tolerance level for stress. Therefore, I stuttered more. So, I do think proper exposure is necessary.
I’m not a shut-down blocker, but I can understand 100% what you mean by “above a certain threshold of anxiety, nothing can work”. So I don’t this is limited to shut-down blockers. It just happens when the anxiety takes over whatever we should think and do. Most of us should have had that experience.April 18, 2021 at 3:35 pm #29380LEE LOVETTParticipant
Sun and Amine, I agree AND disagree. There is NO level of anxiety that can’t be overcome. Anxiety is FIRST an effect, and, later, a cause. When the original cause is removed, the anxiety will die. The original cause was bungled speech. REGARDLESS, ANY BLOCK CAN BE OVERCOME. The two most extreme methods are writing (and speaking as much as one can simultaneously) and singing is next. Amine and I are working on singing. We did so today. We’ll get there.April 19, 2021 at 10:43 am #29391
Perfect response, Lee. And as long as any PWS believes that anxiety causes stuttering, they WILL NOT CURE! Exposing yourself to situations and STUTTERING goes against the most important part to curing – NOT FORMING STUTTERING MEMORIES AND FORMING FLUENT MEMORIES, so that we may wash out the stuttering memories from your MMIB. So if you believe that anxiety causes stuttering and there are some situations where you have no control over it, then unfortunately you will NEVER cure because anxiety only fades weeks to months AFTER you STOP stuttering. And in order to stop stuttering, you need to STOP STUTTERING. There is nothing further for me to comment on this matter, so hopefully, our point is now clear 🙂 Looking forward to seeing you on Friday, my dear Sun!
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