As a person who stutters, working on your self-confidence through altering the way you talk to yourself, facing challenging speaking situations head-on and working on your self-image, can all help with dealing with the emotional problems associated with stuttering, or stammering. However, overcoming the anxiety of stuttering is something that takes real effort; sometimes months and even years’ worth. What can really assist you on your path in overcoming the anxiety of stuttering is learning to create powerful states, and practice getting into those states whenever you need them; doing so can help you during those moments when the anxiety of stuttering comes back. Below is an exercise you can use to overcome the anxiety of stuttering using your most highest and meaningful belief (I would like to give credit to Dr Bobby G. Bodenhamer as the following steps are an adaptation of his ‘Bitter Root to Jesus Pattern’).
Using Your Highest Belief to Help Overcome the Anxiety of Stuttering
In this exercise, you will learn a very powerful technique to eliminate the anxiety of stuttering when needed. I will talk you through each step using a hypothetical character whose name is Rod and he is a person who stutters. Read the steps in the exercise a few times to get familiarised with it first and then come back to the start to begin it.
Step 1 – Identify the challenging speaking situation that makes you anxious
In the first step, think of a particular speaking situation that makes you anxious. This could be a situation that has already happened where you stuttered, or it could be imagining one in the future where you might have to speak and you are worried you will stutter.
In this step, Rod’s difficult speaking situation, which makes him anxious, is going to the house of a close family friend at the weekend where he knows there will also be other guests there. He usually stutters in such a situation.
Think of your own challenging speaking situation and write it down.
Step 2 – Get a visual image of the speaking situation that makes you anxious on the screen of your mind and notice its qualities
Get a visual image of the difficult speaking situation on the screen of your mind and notice its qualities (e.g. its colour, size, location, brightness/darkness, distance, focus, sounds, feelings, associated/dissociated etc.)
Notice what the image of the situation looks like in your mind. Are you looking out of your own eyes? Or can you see yourself in the image? Where is the image located? Is the image in focus, or blurred? Notice any sounds in it, other people talking, music, etc. and notice how you feel in it. Notice any anxious feelings, or any fear, or frustration or any other unhelpful emotions you are experiencing. You will most likely begin to feel anxiety in your body. Just remind yourself that you are not in the situation for real. You are only thinking about it.
For Rod’s example, he gets a visual image of himself at the family friend’s house. The image is right in front of him and is bright and in focus. He is looking out of his own eyes and is feeling very anxious in his body. Rod is sitting on a chair at the dinner table and he can see the host sitting near him at the table. His wife is pouring drinks in the kitchen and their two adult kids are standing up. He can see his own family sitting further away in the living room. There is also another family there as well. A husband and his wife are sitting at the same table as Rod. They have two young children who are playing in the middle of the living room. Another couple, a husband and wife are sitting in the living room. Rod is feeling very nervous and is worried someone at the table he is sitting at will start a conversation with him and that he will stutter.
For your own difficult speaking situation get a visual image of it on the screen of your mind and notice its qualities
Step 3 – Think of your highest belief
In this step, think of your highest and most powerful belief. This is something that you really believe in, very strongly. For example, your highest belief could be your belief in God, Jesus, Allah, Krishna, universal love, or universal connectivity.
For this step, Rod thinks of his highest belief. His is his belief in the universe.
Step 4 – Get a visual image of your most powerful belief on the screen of your mind and notice its qualities
In this step, get a visual image on the screen of your mind of your highest belief (in God, Jesus, Allah, universal love etc.). Once you have an image of your highest belief, notice its qualities (e.g. colour, size, location, brightness/darkness, focus, distance, sounds, feelings, dissociated/associated etc.).
For Rod’s example, he gets a visual image on the screen of his mind of his highest belief, which is his belief in the universe. He can see a huge image of the universe high above on the right of the screen of his mind. He is looking at the image as opposed to looking out of it. The image is made up of dark space that is interspersed with huge, shining lights representing planets, stars, and galaxies, and the rays from these lights are pouring out and are bright yellow. Rod can feel the enormous power from these lights all throughout his body.
Get a visual image of your highest belief and notice what it looks like. Is it big or small? Is it bright or dark? Where is the image located? Usually, our highest belief is located up high. It may help for you to hold your head level and without moving your head, keeping your chin, level, role your eyes back into your head and see your highest belief. Are there any sounds in the image of your highest belief? If so, what are the qualities of the sounds? As you do this, notice what this image of your highest belief means to you and how it makes you feel.
Step 5 – Get both images on the screen of your mind
In step 5, you will prepare to merge both images together.
For Rod’s example, he does this by entertaining two images on the screen of his mind. One is of him worried that he will stutter at the social gathering at his family friend’s house. He sees this image right in front of him on the screen of his mind. He then sees the image of his highest belief, which is the universe, high above on the right of the screen of his mind. Do something similar with your two images. Get an image of the difficult speaking situation on the screen of your mind. Next, get an image of your highest belief.
Step 6 – Give the image of the challenging speaking situation to the image of your highest belief
Next, keeping your head and chin level, using your eyes only, with your eyes, move the image of you struggling in the speaking situation to the location of the image of your highest belief and give it to this image. As you move the image of you struggling in the speaking situation towards the image of your highest belief, allow the image of you having difficulties to merge with the image of your highest belief.
Using Rod’s example, keeping his head and chin level, with his eyes only, he moves the image of him worrying about stuttering at the social gathering hosted by the family friend up towards the image of the universe and the challenging speaking situation image merges with the image of the universe.
Do something similar with your two images.
Step 7 – Notice how you feel now
In the final step in this exercise, notice how you now feel about the negative image about your speaking situation after you have given it to the image of your highest belief.
Typically what happens when you do this is you no longer feel anxious about the image of the difficult speaking situation. This is because you have given it to the image of your highest belief. The meanings you have attached to your highest belief are very strong and powerful and usually overbear the negative feelings associated with the image about the difficult speaking situation.
When Rod does this with his example, after he moves the image of the social gathering situation where he is worried he might stutter up to the image of the universe and merges the two, the negative feelings associated with the difficult image of him at the social gathering completely disappear and he feels like he can approach this situation with confidence.
Notice any changes in how you feel and how your perception towards the challenging speaking situation has changed. Make some notes of any changes you experience.
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.