September 17, 2011

Over... Chapter 1

1. Do you really stammer?

Accepting this fact is the most important step, difficult too. If a beggar does not accept that he is poor will he ever try to earn money? Suppose he already thinks that he is a billionaire, then why will he try to get up and work? This is why many stammerers fail to benefit from many therapies- deep down, they have not accepted that they stammer, nor have they accepted the need to change anything about themselves. They just want world around them to change- magically!
Accepting is difficult and is made difficult by our own past efforts at avoidance and masking (behaving as if we are trying to remember something, while actually facing a block, or using starter sounds). But it is not impossible. If you are desperate and if you have suffered enough, you will not turn away from this last pain. But start with easy to complex situations as you go about accepting the fact that you stammer SOMETIME and that it causes you LOT of suffering and inconvenience.
Here are suggested steps, which you must go through, before you go to next self-help lesson:
  1. You may write an essay about your stammering life.
  2. You may repeat it to yourself: I stammer sometime and it has pained me a lot..etc. etc.
  3. You may say the same to a tree, flower, pet, a child; or to God while praying etc.
  4. You may share this with your very close and trusted friend.
  5. You may say so to your close relative once- mother, wife, brother, sister etc. - and see how they react. If they react as if they were pained, dont repeat. But if they act normal and ask questions, try to answer truthfully and WITHOUT too much emotions.
  6. Introduce the idea in office in an indirect way: stick a TISA poster or have a coffee mug with some stammering related inscription or quote (“Haklao, magar pyar se”, “I belong to a VIP club- of Darwin, Newton, Churchill, Bruce Willis, Ritik Roshan..” etc. )
  7. Write a post on some blog about your stammering experiences. Self record a 2 minute video, while talking about stammering (with a smile), and put it up on Youtube. Write your life-story and share online.
  8. Talk about stammering to a small group of friends..
  9. Take permission from the teacher and talk about your stammering experiences with a group of students in a class.
ALL the above methods have been used by many members of TISA over the years. Their feedback has been exclusively positive. They found that taking the first step was difficult but once they got going, it became EASY and they felt much lighter and whole afterwards. Accepting that you stammer and being comfortable while accepting is the first step on a long journey. It is not that you accept and then sit tight. Accepting is not “giving up”; it is not resigning oneself to FATE. Accepting only means giving up denial, giving up living in fool’s paradise for ever and ever. It also means that you no more over-react if some one questions or teases you about stammering. You accept your stammering in the same way as you accept your surname or your mother-tongue. Nothing more, nothing less. It requires humility and practical common sense. After all, how long can you run away from a daily obvious fact?
Now, acceptance matures over a long period and therefore you need to repeat and revisit above activities over many months, until a time comes when you can answer the question “do you stammer?” with just one simple “yes” and feel no urge to explain, specify, justify or rationalize any further.Yes, you state the fact without getting excited about it.
Story : A little boy and the sapling
A little boy in a metro city had never seen a plant growing. One day he brought a seed, and as told by his father, stuck it under the mud in a pot. He poured a little water on top of it and then waited impatiently for the tiny leaves to sprout. He waited and waited for the miracle to unfold. But nothing happened for a full one hour. He got worried. He poked his fingers in the mud to check the seed: has it gone dead or what! Well, nothing was wrong with the seed. So he put it back under the mud again and waited for another one hour.
Oh, what misery! What impatience! Or just lack of faith in father's words? Anyway, he checked the seed again, put it back and waited. This process continued many times through out the day. What do you think happened to the seed eventually? Of course nothing! It just died. This is what happens to many of us. We practice acceptance and start wondering after a week: I have been practicing acceptance. I have told everyone that I stammer. I have even blogged about it. But my speech is still the same. What has gone wrong?
Moral of the story: If you truly accept, you will go beyond such worries and doubts. Of course it will take many months. Having gone beyond this constant preoccupation with stammering and fluency, you will devote yourself to communication skills which serve you better in the long run.
Now, how practical are these ideas? They can be most daunting, until you begin. But if you begin and fail, you may retreat in a deeper denial. So, it is important that you succeed BY starting from simple tasks. Here is a suggested routine:
  1. While in the shower (or anywhere private) whisper or say to yourself for some days - I stammer. Yes, I stammer. And this is fine...
  2. When you are comfortable with the above, say that or something similar to your pet (dog, cat, bird, lizard or mamba!) or a child - You know, sometimes, I feel totally stuck; I can't say my own name..
  3. Now say the same thing, after some days, to your nearest relative or friend (wife, mother, friend- but not to your boss yet!)- You know, sometimes, I get totally stuck; can't say the simplest things..
    If they ask a question, answer it briefly and objectively without excitement.
  4. After you are comfortable with the above steps, try doing the same with a colleague, a chance acquaintance, someone sitting next to you in a bus. Make sure that you sound casual and that the occasion is appropriate, that the other person is not in a big rush. Having said it, make a note of their reaction. Was it different from what you expected?
  5. Next, after some months of constant practice, when you have to give an informal presentation or group talk, start casually with something like this: You give me just five minutes. Unfair, because with my tongue (or my stammer) I am sure I am going to take ten minutes. How many of you are willing to give me four minutes? Please raise your hands...And then begin full steam ahead, with a smile..
Experiment with this and other ice breakers and ‘humorous’ opening lines for PWS listed on Judy Kuster’s home page. An important thing to remember, while talking about your stutter is to keep an eye on your emotions and remain calm. This will become easier as you do it frequently under different circumstances. Also, take note of your listener’s response. Almost always, they accept it as a matter of fact.
In the meantime, you can continue with other initiatives, as discussed below. Let us repeat, Acceptance is difficult but without it, no technique is really going to work. For some of us, true acceptance is both the technique and the reward- nothing more needs to be done. For others, stage is set to learn communication skills, which for many of us can be as useful as moving a mouse, ie. basic IT skills.


Er. Umesh said...

Very nice explanation of Acceptance and how to start work on it. Thanks sir!

sachin said...

@Umesh: Yes, what you are doing in Delhi is a very DYNAMIC way of practicing and strengthening your acceptance.. Keep at it..

leena dhande said...

The book sounds very good. I wish to start a self help group in Nagpur. My son stammers.

sachin said...

Great! Let us get in touch!