The Power of “Choice” in Gaining Fluency: A Personal Testimony

By Rene Robben

Pour la traduction française, cliquez ici (PDF)


A whole lot of my mistakes in my past were based on the fact that I was unable to make choices for myself. Or, if I did make choices for myself, they would be overruled by the opinions of others, like parents, friends etc. However, I now do the things I feel I need to do and I don’t listen to the well-meant opinions of those who “guided” me in the past. You can call me “curly”, with my shaved head, but ever since I started doing this, I have an easier type of life with the coolest things happening to me. This represents a major change in my life. In my earlier life I allowed others to make my choices for me; now, I make my own choices.


What if, with some PWS, their struggle for recovering from non-fluency is too dominated by the fact they (still) cannot choose for themselves what is best for themselves? What if some PWS read the success stories of other PWS and learn how it is possible to alter ones thought patterns which will lead them to recovery? They start to really believe that fluency is possible; they are willing to try it by submitting themselves to these new methods. Indeed, the feeling to try is strong. However,  they still feel like a failure because they cannot make the choices necessary inside their minds to give in to these new methodologies as the best thing for them to gain fluency.

For instance. I’m in contact with a young bloke who seems to swirl around the same thing over and over again. From his words I can tell that he already knows the answers; he knows what is best for him to start acting on. But he still can’t make the step to “just do it”. Could it be that he’s being mentally blocked by the fact that he never learned to choose for himself? I mean, as I said, the minute I realized I no longer had to let my life be controlled by others in order for me to feel safe, I leapt forward into this new life where I’m liberated of so many old fears and “what not”.

I chose to change. Even now, when friends get a bit scary, I still choose what ever feels to me as being good for me. No one controls me any more. Heck, I even left work on Friday as I felt it would serve me better to go for a drive. (Which is a story in itself). What if, every pattern we try to alter, every old habit or belief we have is re-framed (change the meaning), but the results are not as intended, or not to satisfactory? Could it be that the mere fact of knowing one has to first be ready to choose whatever is best for oneself, and be able to choose for oneself, in order to really make “IT” happen, is missing?

What if at the base of it all lies the biggest pattern of all:

“I fear the fear of choosing what is best for me.”

What if one is unable due to childhood and adolescent programming from parents and other significant adults to make ones owns choices? Because of this earlier programming one has feelings linked to not wanting to make one’s own choices. We have these beliefs from childhood that we are incapable of making our own choices and the best thing for us to do to remain “safe” is to let others choose for us.  This is what is commonly called co-dependent behavior.  We depend on others to choose our lives for us because we feel incapable of doing so.

I can’t get over the thought that somewhere at the base of my whole change process, and thus perhaps also of other PWS with similar patterns like me, is one gigantic pattern messing things up. And what is this pattern? – it is the inability to make one’s own choices due to our low self-esteem which renders us incapable of making our own choices.

I am speaking of making choices based on beliefs and insights that change by having the ability to choose for one’s-self, by knowing somehow what is best for one’s-self. I’m surrounded by people who somehow detect that I have made some significant changes in my life. They are interested in how I pulled it off – to feel this enormous freedom. But none of them, besides one or two who are giving it a try, are able to make that same switch in their mind.

As if it is “impossible” for them to act upon the truth they see happening right in front of them (me), even fully understanding what I’m talking about, what I’m showing them, even getting to a point where they believe it can and will work for them, but that they cannot choose for what is seemingly the better option for them.

Could it be that at the base of all is this one pattern:

“the fear of fear of choosing for oneself” (or what is best for oneself)

And that this is the number one habit from childhood where choices where made by parents. Is in all this the simple truth hidden that a sweater is something a child wears when the mother thinks it is chilly? That one cannot decide what a sweater is until mom explains it as something to wear when it is getting colder, but now she thinks it is not cold, so the sweater no longer exists?


All right here we go!

What is what makes you decide to wear that sweater anyway? Is it you, because you like it, or is it because you believe you will be liked, wearing that sweater?

What is that makes you unwillingly to go to the restaurant your friend seems to prefer while you really fancy some French fries, or toasted snails with garlic butter drenched frogs?


What is preventing you from choosing what is best for you and stopping you from judging your own being as less then that of someone else’s being? What is it that makes you “do” instead of “be”?

What is that lets you form an opinion, but still makes you shut up when the occasion arises to air that opinion? And what does that mean to you?

I can go on with this. No problem. But let me tell you that the number one thing that surfaced from my thoughts and ponder on my recovery trip so far is that I finally dared to choose for myself. It took five months of my life; living like a hermit in my studio, reading, thinking, writing and what not, and yes, going out in the mine-fields and battle zones to face the explosions of fear and shrapnel like emotions piercing my soul.

Put on your best armor; which is to wear nothing, except for your smile and some clothing so you will not get arrested as a streaker, and face those fears, embrace them, tell them you understand why they are there, that you know they only want to warn you. Make that CHOICE, and step into the world, and realize you are just as unique a hump of carbon, water and thoughts as the next hump of carbon, water and thoughts.

If Harvey Keitel can become my number one friend in the movies, like Samual Jackson, without me even knowing they were PWS, then why the friggen opposite of heaven should I think I am less than anybody else?

Get out there and walk up to that person you would like to talk to. Walk up to that boy or girl and stammer as much as your brain will allow you to. You might find out that this person will show interest, as he or she senses the respect you have for yourself, and at the third date you’ll find out they have their own “thing” that makes them feel vulnerable. They may have smelly feet. That reminds me of the most gorgeous brunette I ever knew – which was not the reason why it did not work out by the way.

Get out there and by your own given powers (your fantastic brain) spread your opinion on matters that have your concern and contend and show the world that you have this respect for yourself by making that choice to respect yourself and feel how people respect you for who you are. And while doing so, remind yourself of this Dutch PWS who needed 30 years to convince himself that he couldn’t be every one’s friend and because of that he became an even better friend to those who respected him.

So what is next?

What if you recover from non-fluency, and you then think your voice is not that nice… Wouldn’t that be a stinker? Yep it would. So get it inside your head that what is you right now, is you right now, just as the rest of the world is them right now, and nothing else, right now and in the future.

Guess what?

This morning I looked in the mirror and again I saw that same face that once belonged to that dreadful, negative thinker, who felt constant tension, filled with fear, ego crap, and low-self esteem. The same face. Perhaps with lesser hair but I can’t tell for I didn’t do a recount. Perhaps I have a wrinkle or 30 or more, yet still the same, but yet so different. And all I did was to commit myself to the needed change and discovered that I did not have to leave 3 months of paychecks at some clinic to do the trick. Instead I increased the stock value of and read the books until I achieved what I feel right now.

Happy thoughts. Positive thoughts. Fearless thoughts. Self esteem increasing thoughts. Helping others thoughts. Brighter thoughts. No more Dark thoughts. No more do I need to “look at the ground” thoughts. And much more of those thoughts that made me feel so detached from a world appeared to have nothing to do with such thoughts.

If you like me, you got a friend, if you don’t, don’t expect me to lower myself, stand in your shadow, while I think I can become your friend by doing that.

If you like me, you got a friend, if you don’t, I suggest you try to find someone else that is more compatible. There’s a planet full to choose from.

If you like me, I bet you base that on the respect you feel, and I’ll keep track if that is the agenda, if not, I suggest you get to a Neuro-Semantic training and read a Wayne Dyer book, or Goleman paperback. If you don’t like me, I suggest you start to listen to yourself, pay attention what is that makes you feel you don’t like me. Perhaps you’ll discover what is keeping you from feeling as free as I feel right now.

The above is an excerpt of the inner-dialog I presently have and one I keep working on to keep. I made it a habit to no longer accept that anyone can, will or could make me feel less, angry, frustrated or whatever else negative frame one can think of. I do however accept the feelings when they occur, but I know they are just thoughts that I’m working on to flush out of my system – like I already did with so many else. I made a choice, a vow, to choose what is best for me and this is that I need to feel free to excel in the years that are to come. There’s just one person you have to answer to and that is yourself. Till the last second, your last breath, you’ll have to deal with yourself on this lump of dirt in a galaxy that extends beyond any human comprehension (which should really get you to think on how so called important we are :-), and thus why not start with making sure you did what you felt you had to choose for in the life that is given to you..

You are your own god in your holy brain, get that and stay on top of it.

Happy scripting your own life,


Would you like to learn more about how Neuro-Linguistic Programming and Neuro-Semantics can assist you in developing more choice in your life and therefore the gaining of more fluency?  I have added several links to René’s article and placed them below. Please read them  in the order of their listing.

Bob Bodenhamer

Articles by Bob Bodenhamer and Michael Hall


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Articles from John Harrison:

The Hawthorne Effect and It’s Relationship to Chronic Stuttering