How Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) Presuppositions Can Help You to Deal with Stuttering

Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) offers various tools to model unhelpful states such as anxiety associated with stuttering, or stammering. To counter negative emotions, NLP also offers techniques to develop new and empowering states as replacements to those that hold a person who stutters back in life.

Underlying the NLP model for creating change is a number of ‘statements’, beliefs or assumptions that are taken as granted. As a person who stutters, or stammers, you can apply these to yourself no matter what your current circumstances maybe. In the NLP world, these are known as the ‘NLP Presuppositions’.

They are very powerful and can prove to be great resources. Below I share five NLP presuppositions, describe what each one means and explain how each one can help you to deal with stuttering.

  1. There is no failure, only feedback

This is my favourite presupposition and arguably the most well-known. It is an attitude, which supports any activity you do in your journey to overcoming stuttering. By adopting it and living it, you give yourself permission to try out things, which push you out of your comfort zone such as public speaking or speaking to random strangers, experiment while doing such activities and make mistakes.

Because when you make a mistake, it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It’s just feedback you can use to change and adapt what you’re doing, in order to continue increasing your self-confidence and breaking down fears associated with stuttering.

  1. Our map is not the territory; it is but a map, a symbolic representation of the territory.

This NLP presupposition helps you to challenge your perspectives about your stuttering. As an example, let’s say you gave a sales presentation at work in front of a client and two of his colleagues. You stuttered quite a bit during it. After you left the meeting, you thought you did really badly and felt you had humiliated yourself because you stuttered. However, your client and his colleagues when reflecting on your presentation felt you had really got across the message about how your company’s services could help them.

What this illustrates is your ‘maps’ about yourself and stuttering are never complete. You can’t recollect completely accurately what happened during situations where you might have stuttered. Your ‘maps’ may contain information about stuttering incidents that is distorted or deleted even. Therefore, this gives rise to the opportunity to challenge those ‘maps’, which are not helping you to navigate the world happily and alter them into better ones.

  1. We respond according to our map of the territory, not the territory

What this NLP presupposition can help you understand is what you believe to be reality about yourself and your stuttering only exists in your mind. You respond to this ‘reality’. This reality is created by your senses (your eyes, ears, feelings, taste and smell) and the way to talk to yourself (self-talk). And you have these experiences through filters of thoughts and beliefs you already have about yourself as a person who stutters, or stammers.

Let’s use the previous example I used when describing the ‘our map is not the territory’ NLP presupposition, which is giving a presentation to a client and two of his colleagues at work. The presentation represents the ‘territory’. You deliver the presentation and create a ‘map’ about it. Your ‘map’ is that you did terribly because you stuttered. Your client and his colleagues listen to your presentation. However, the ‘map’ your client and his colleagues create about the presentation is that you explained the benefits of your company’s services really well.

This realisation is a very important one. By responding according to your own ‘maps’ of the ‘territory’, you’re responsible for them because you created them. You needn’t believe or feel any other person or anything external to you is the cause of your problems associated with stuttering. After all, remember, you’re not responding to ‘what is out there’. You’re responding to your ‘maps’ of what is out there and these can be changed, because you’re the one who made them in the first place.

  1. The meaning of communication is the response I get

So you stutter when talking with other people. However, the way you communicate is far more than the way you speak. Rather than focusing on your speech, try focusing on getting across the message you want to convey to the person you’re speaking with, and consider whether you’re getting the response you want.

For example, if you’re trying to explain directions to a stranger on the street and you stutter, and find the person you’re speaking with doesn’t understand you, or you’re not getting the response you want, rather than blaming the other person for judging you because of the way you’re speaking (which the person probably isn’t doing anyway!), you can just change the way you are communicating, using a whole host of tools at your disposal. This could involve using a different tone of voice, or certain words or a particular facial expression.

  1. People are not broken; they work perfectly well

This is an extremely helpful NLP presupposition.

What it means is you may be experiencing problems related to stuttering. Although it may seem like life isn’t a party, nothing is wrong about you. All you’re doing is running ‘unhelpful maps’ in your mind really competently.

For instance, if you’re a person who stutters and just the thought of picking up a ringing phone makes you get anxious and fearful, then what this means is, you’ve just learnt to create anxiety in this particular context in an expert way!

And if you’ve learnt to create anxiety in the context of answering the phone really well, you can learn to create another more resourceful response, such as a state of confidence to help you pick up the phone when it rings.

How you can use these NLP presuppositions to help you deal with stuttering?

In this article, I’ve explained five key NLP presuppositions and shared some ideas of how you can apply them to your stuttering. In order to help you embed them within you, contemplate on them and imagine ways of how you can apply them to various situations where stuttering is causing you problems. Say them out loud to yourself 10 times a day. Use them as daily affirmations, to help engrave them into you, so they become powerful beliefs by which you live your life.

About the Author

Hiten Vyas is a life coach, author and speaker. In his coaching practice, he specializes in helping people who stutter overcome speaking related anxieties and increase their self-confidence.