From Stuttering to Confidence
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I studied in an all girl’s school, and since the school was far from my home I had to stay in a dorm for a period of time, which provided me with the opportunity to meet many interesting people. During my time living at the hostel I had a wonderful roommate who was very kind and caring, but she suffered from serious depression – Let’s call her “Dana” for the sake of anonymity. She had a stuttering problem, and whenever somebody asked her anything she would tense up, struggle to speak, and finally end up stuttering intensely. This happened with even her classmates and teachers (who I thought she would trust), and she was very much afraid to meet strangers, so she would never move out of the dorm alone. If she ever needed to purchase a train ticket she would ask others to buy it for her – That’s how frightened she was of people she didn’t know. It was practically agoraphobia. Her behavior led her classmates to avoid her, and she would cry all night feeling embarrassed by how she related with the world. What was truly painful was that I could see how Dana was slowly losing hope in life and becoming increasingly distant and lonely. Her grades dropped, and I felt such pain for her that my heart cried out in desire to offer her some help.
When I started to observe her I noticed that she was speaking well with me in our room (1-on-1), but anytime she came to ask me a question in class or in any other public place she stuttered. This provided me with the insight that she was afraid of public speaking and, thus was having self-image issues. I was looking for the right moment, and on one good day when she was feeling relatively calm and relaxed I inquired about her childhood and family history. She shared with me that she was an only daughter and that her parents were teachers. As a result she didn’t have many opportunities to socialize with other people, and I was shocked to learn that she had not even played games with other children. Due to the fact that her parents had been very strict, her only job was to study. I understood this to be been the source of her problem, so I told her that her stuttering problem could be completely cured with professional help and a lot of personal effort. For her, beating depression and anxiety symptoms was key, because these were contributing to her stuttering problem.
The next week we met with our school psychologist, and she spoke with us for more than two hours – She taught Dana a variety of techniques to control her stammering in the short-term and to completely cure herself of it in the long run. She also made it clear that it won’t be cured overnight, but she added that a person who suffers must exert alot of effort on their own in order to fully recover. Since then we together started working together on her challenge, and I pointed out her best qualities and made certain that she realized how good she was, which helped to greatly improve her self-image in the long-run. Fundamentally, we were working to address how she would begin beating depression and anxiety symptoms through working with the psychologist and taking positive action to transform herself.
Truly I most deeply appreciate and respect the efforts she exerted in order to overcome her fears. She began to develop a comfort in communicating with others because that was the main cause of the problem - She was too conscious about how others felt about her and very much concerned about any mistakes that she could make during conversations. A group of her close friends and I explained to her that it’s truly OK to make mistakes and everybody does so, there is nothing wrong with making a mistake. To continue easing her anxiety she practiced daily yoga and meditation, which provided her with a sense of peace and reduced her tension. She read aloud when she was along in her room in order to improve her pronunciation, and as her parents were asked to meet the psychologist they were also counselled on how to work with Dana and provide the support right type of support in order to be of most benefit.
Another practice which bore fruit was her mirror exercise - Everyday she used to stand in front of the mirror imagining herself as a confident speaker who could present on any topic, and she would sometimes imagine her mirror image as some other person such as her teacher or our principal, because she wanted to speak with anyone with full confidence. Talking to oneself is different from speaking with other person right?
Positive School Teachers
Our school teachers also helped her a lot when they encouraged her to read a few lines from the textbook in class and later asked her to engage and speak publicly on small topics, which reduced her stage fright considerably. Finally, after 2-years of work, she was able to speak continuously without stuttering, and although she did still produce some minor stuttering during her presentations, she remained confident and smiling, which masked her mistakes. She continued to grow and make friends, and we both worked together in order to perform well on our exams. During graduation day we all (friends and teachers) asked to give a speech after she received her Junior College degree. That was the most remarkable moment for all of us. Her speech was great - She was a bit tense and anxious, but she managed to thank all of us and completed her presentation successfully. We all knew how much hard work she has put in to do that, hence we saluted her determination by responding with a standing ovation. Dana was a truly powerful and determined woman form whom I hold a great deal of respect, and I feel confident that she has continued to grow and achieve success throughout her life.
Author: Anonymous Contributor