December 17, 2013

Comm WS Pune: Q & A part 1


Dear Friends, following questions were asked by participants in Pune Comm WS. We were so busy (and happy!) with so many activities that I never had the chance of answering them. As I promised then, I am offering my thoughts on these questions. I have lumped them together based on underlying themes. This is part one (of five, I guess). Keep on reading and discussing. Science behind stammering is evolving. Let us keep on learning (sachin).

Emotions and recovery
How to counter Fear, like Interview fear? How to deal with anxiety & guilt during stammering? How to overcome the deep seated shame and guilt related to stammering?

In my opinion, you can deal with an emotion (like fear, guilt, anxiety, shame) by FIRST bringing it to your conscious mind. Quite often, becoming more aware will help you deal with it successfully. In the moment of awareness- there are TWO entities- you as awareness and the emotion in question. Once this separation occurs, you have choices: you can feel the fear, the excitement, the thumping of heart, a hollowness in stomach and STILL walk up to the stage and give your speech. Because, you know that YOU are not your FEAR. You realize that it is just a passing thought, which need not stop your day.
Now, how to bring all that to your consciousness? Some of the practical ways are: write about it, talk about it, do role plays based on those situations in your self help group. Do many mock interviews with help from senior colleagues in your SHG etc etc.

Remember the great fear you had long time back, when you drove your bike or car for the first time in a market? Where has it gone today? By doing repeatedly, you have lost your excessive fear and gained mastery over your emotions related to driving. Same applies to stammering and interviews etc.

Many pws suffer deeply from a lot of guilt: I have pained others by my stammering. I have disappointed my employer, my colleagues, friends. I have let down my parents, spouse or children by my stammering..
For dealing with guilt, there are many spiritual paths too. In a deep state of introspection you can let go of the guilt, by forgiving others and forgiving yourself, truly and without conditions. Vipassana, Brahmavidya, AOL, prayer, meditation etc. etc may help you. Find out what works for you. Experiment, explore and share back.

What is acceptance and its role in stammering?
As we said above, acceptance means acknowledging that there is a problem and I need to do something about it. As above- bringing things to your conscious mind rather than postponing it or brushing it under the subconscious mind.
We often respond sub-consciously: No, I dont stammer. I just hesitate a little bit. I am OK. I dont need to do anything about it.. it is the world which needs to change..
Many of us spend YEARS in this kind of denial. It does not help in the long run. Therefore there is a need for acceptance as the first step, in a series of self-directed changes. Just the first step.

How do we maintain the feeling of being comfortable with stammering?
How do we maintain acceptance when we go back home?
How do we know we have accepted our stammering?
Are you comfortable with your surname, your faith, your mother tongue? Do you ever entertain conflicts about these things? Perhaps not. Try and think of your stammering (you did not choose it) in the same light. If some one asked you: do you stammer? And if you could simply say -yes - and stop, without feeling any need to qualify, justify or explain your answer any further – THAT would be a very good example of “being at peace with yourself”. This may take some time, which is OK.
AHJ (pdf) gives many examples of how this state can be achieved and maintained. In a nutshell: running a SHG, physical or virtual is one of the practical ways, which has helped many of us in TISA.

No one is ready in my college to accept me as a pws; they think I am fine and a fluent speaker, but I am not. What to do?
If you notice as above, acceptance is all about your thoughts and feelings- not about what others may say or think. Let them reach their own conclusions in their own time. The bottom line is: are you comfortable with yourself? If you are, only then, you will move on to and progress in other areas of life. If not, you will be constantly battling with yourself- like a country facing civil war.

Is my stammering physiological or psychological glitch? I was not a stammerer till 6th standard; I had conflicts with my school teacher. She got me failed. From that time onwards, I stammer- till now. How has that event affected me?
If you still remember it, obviously, the incident has acquired a psychological importance for you. As far as we know today, stammering starts as a neuro-biological glitch in the brain (caused by an inherited genetic trait) but as we grow and interact with others (in class, playground, shift to a new school etc.), we undergo a psychological change as a reaction, in our beliefs (about others and self), emotions and perceptions. This is what Dr Sheehan referred to as Stammering iceberg, because these psychological changes are not visible. But they influence our life and recovery in a deep way. 
Good news: you can come out of this complex phenomena, you can have full recovery, you can overcome it. Many have done it. Some of the ways are discussed in AHJ. Participate in your self help group. Give your self some time. Have clear goals. Help others.
Last thoughts: Humor is a good antidote to fear and sadness. Read a real and funny story from pws from this page every day! Your daily vitamin pill.

1 comment:

Amol Karale said...

Thanks sir for posting this