I own a very weird dog. It is probably incorrect to say ‘I own it’; since childhood, it has been imposed on me. Its name is Stammer dog.
In my early days, this dog used to always stick to me, especially as I go around meeting people. May be he was trying to compete with me -- whenever I start to speak, he started barking. I would bury myself in a heap of embarrassment. When I asked him to keep quiet, he would pretend to do so; but as soon as I attempted to utter my next syllable, he would start barking again. Listeners would get fed up with his barking, and seeing their reactions, I would sink deeper in the quagmire of embarrassment. I would curse myself, others, and life in general. Pitying myself, I often prayed that somehow this Stammer dog should disappear from my life.
In case you own such a stammer dog, I have two important news for you -- one bad and one good. The bad news is that this stammer dog is our lifelong companion. The good news is that each and every stammerer can tame his or her stammer dog! Taming means that the stammer dog stops being a hurdle in your development and growth. For years, I ran after an incorrect goal: to get rid of this dog. Ever since I started focussing on the goal of taming him, life has become quite pleasant, rewarding and fulfilling. I would like to share my experience in taming this dog.
Stammer dog is Capable of Being Quiet, Importance of Anxiety-Free Practice
- When I talk to myself, alone, without thinking about anyone else, the stammer dog doesn’t bark. My mouth, tongue, windpipe, lung, etc. cooperate very nicely to produce a fluent voice. This definitely proves that there is no physical defect with any of the speaking apparatus.
- Where does this dog get his energy for barking? It is I who give him the food that stimulates barking. Filled with self-pity and depression, I used to curse myself and everyone else. Such food gets the stammer dog bark more!
Instead, I started feeding him wholesome food: no matter how he is, he is my dog! I am at peace with myself, just the way I am. Once I became at peace with his existence, there was a magical change in the stammer dog; barking began to reduce.
- Even if this dog wants to stop barking, he can’t because I have become so habituated to his barking. It takes hard work to get rid of any deep-rooted habit. I benefited a lot by the following techniques:
- As if telling a story to three year olds, prolong every word with clear enunciation and appropriate vocal variety
- For letters and words that I fear, repeat them in various situations using my preferred technique. Freedom from fear is essential!
- Meditate using any preferred technique to quiet the mind. Even the stammer dog quiets down.
Practicing these techniques in a group with other PWS was beneficial, and kept the motivation going.
Focus on Effective Communication, Empathize with Audience
- Among the various speech therapies I underwent, some instructed me to direct my attention to something else other than the stammer dog. As long as the mind could be fooled, it worked; then I was back to the square one. If it is important to focus the mind elsewhere, why not focus on Effective Communication?
- Personally, there is a lot I want to communicate to the people in this world. When I write, I pay attention to ensure that readers can clearly and completely comprehend my writing. While talking, I do the same thing.
- Why substitute words or sentences and reduce the effectiveness of my communication? Stop using substitution.
- Talk with direct eye contact with my listeners.
- Some of the listeners giggle; let them. I would rather pay more attention to those interested in listening and understanding what I have to say.
- Listeners are often pained by seeing any secondary symptoms that accompany stammering. I practice hard to get rid of these symptoms as they didn’t help anyways.
- When I block, ignoring my ego, empathizing with the audience, I use simple unblocking techniques that have worked for me. In case, the block is too bad, I pause and take a deep breath, laugh at the situation for a second, or say a quick sorry to let go off the weight on my mind. And then, forgetting all that transpired, start afresh! Most of the audience appreciate my effort and salute my courage.
- It is extremely fulfilling to be able to effectively communicate what you have to say. In front of this achievement, other things such as ‘what do they think about my stammering’, etc. seem meaningless. Without attention, the stammer dog further reduced its barking!
Happily Ever After …
My stammer dog and I leave happily together; he teases me once in a while, sometimes I laugh at him. He doesn’t come in the way of my progress and I respect him as an essential aspect of my being.
I assure you, each and every stammerer, with hard work, persistence, and patience, can tame their stammer dogs.