What causes stuttering? Two real causes of stuttering anxiety and tension

So what we usually hear about causes of
stuttering: neurology, psychology, genetics, brain and vocal cords injuries. And brain
and vocal cord injuries I can understand but neurology, psychology and genetics to
me as a person who stutters it doesn’t say much to be honest. So in this video
I’ll tell you about two causes, two very direct causes of stuttering tension,
starring anxiety, stuttering state. Two causes of stuttering actually. We can
clearly identify them and we can affect them effectively. So stay tuned! First, I want you to take a look at this
tiny video. It says a lot about stuttering and I’ll tell you why once
you watch it. So what happens when we touch a snail? It tenses up it, locks up. Pretty much the same thing happens when we stutter. We feel tension, our body feels
tension and we lock up. Now, where this tension is coming from? Speech
impediments by themselves they’re neutral, they don’t bear, they don’t have
any tension. If you look at regular people, “regular” people, they have speech
impediments (glitches, repetitions) so they have them from time to time but there is
no tension. No one is born with that tension in their speaking right from the
start. First we have the speech impediments but only at certain point
the tension appears. So if we talk about causes of stuttering there’s no
neurology, psychology, genetics to tension. There is psychology, neurology, genetics, heredity to speech impediments but not to the tension. There
are basically two two reasons or causes we feel the tension, our body feels the
tension. And they’re pretty simple. The first one is helplessness. Our body, we
feel helpless in the face of those speech impediments. And it doesn’t feel
great. You want to say something, we want to say something and we’re helpless, we
have speech impediments. We naturally, organically don’t like it. Our body
actually doesn’t like it because again we have an intention and
we cannot do it. So the second reason why we feel the tension we feel negative
about it. As I said first our body doesn’t like it because it’s something
we don’t want. But second of course it’s the signals, the feedback, the assessment
we get from the outside, from the world. No parent, no friend, no schoolmate,
no office colleague, no stranger would say, “Wow, what a wonderful speech
impairment! I love it! Awesome!” No one tells that. Instead we feel different feedback: laughing, smiles, cringes, bullying, pity saying, “Come on, relax, calm down, breathe…” you name it. So the stuttering tension, the stuttering state, the stuttering anticipation, the stuttering anxiety, the stuttering iceberg,
the heart of stuttering is a concentrated negative feeling about it. And again
feeling doesn’t mean only thinking about it. It means our body’s response to that situation where we are helpless, our
body’s helpless, our speaking mechanism is helpless in the face of the
speech impediments. So the first question is how do we get positive about
our speaking, about ourselves, even about speech impediments? And you might be
thinking, “Okay, okay, okay, please skip this, give me some real tricks, what can I do?”
This is a very, very real thing. This is a very practical thing. As long as you’re
trying to hide your stuttering, as long as you’re trying to hide your speech impediments, as long as you’re trying, pretending to be fluent, normal, regular
you have a lot of enormous pressure which turns into that tension and that
is basically part of stuttering. Desire to hide it is part of stuttering. So
we want to dismantle it. We want to open up and be active and positive about
this opening up. So three practical things that I would suggest to do. The
first one in terms of being positive on a very mindset level, take a blank piece
of paper and write down how stuttering has made you a better person.
If you’re struggling with this I’m giving a link to my post about 10 facts
that can make you more positive about stuttering. It’s just a good for the
thought. Second, open up. Join Free From Sutter Facebook group. Share a post, make a post about yourself. You can go with a video speaking to the camera actually.
It’s also a great exercise because speaking to the camera pretty safe thing
but it’s still a huge step towards speaking compared to just talking to
yourself, talking to the mirror. Speaking to the camera having in mind your idea
to post it, your intention to post it it’s a bit different thing. You still
feel like you’re interacting. We have openness challenges in this group so you
can participate in different activities. We have speaking club. We meet twice a
month: once we go live so it’s public and other meeting is private so where we can
chat. You choose whatever formats is right for you. And third, be active. So I
suggest to take another blank piece of paper and write ten things that come to
your mind that you want to do but you’re afraid of doing. Not necessarily
involving speaking. Like for me still is a scary thing to go and do a couple
pull-ups because I know it’s kind of not cool especially when there are some
young ladies or gentlemen around. I feel like okay, okay, maybe I’ll do it tomorrow. So that’s an exercise to go and do it. If I want to do it, I want to enjoy it, I
want to do it right now because remember the snail we don’t want to lock up. We want to open up and we start on a very, very mindset level. That’s what we can do
first. Again, you are amazing, you’re beautiful and you’re unique. But at the
same time it’s your responsibility to see that in yourself, it’s your
responsibility to let you be you. Tap into your inner power which means just
open up and be active and positive about yourself and interaction with the world,
about speaking because speaking is the way to interact with the world. One of
the major ways. So this is our mindset level we’ve done these three things, we’re
doing great but the speech impediments with tension still don’t go away.
And you might be wondering, “Okay, if the tension is a concentrated negative
feeling, if I’m becoming more positive about my interaction, speaking, even
speech impediments, why the tension is still there?” Well, and the truth is our
behavior is regulated, is directed not only by our conscious mind. Most of it is
pretty much automated. So it’s directed from a different place. Let’s call it
subconscious if you wish. And it gives a much faster and more direct response to
what’s happening around than our conscious mind. And let’s take an example.
Imagine you see in front of you a shark. You’re in the water, you see the
shark, what’s your reaction? My reaction and most people’s reaction is we freeze,
we tense up so much that we cannot move. At that point every cell of your body
starts thinking how can I survive. So we freeze, we tense up and we lock up again.
So even before we get to that thinking mindset level our body has already given
a very direct and fast response. The same thing happens with our speaking and speech impediments. Our body feels that helplessness that we have about the
speech impediments. So you might be wondering what’s the cause, what’s the
reason, what’s the ground for that helplessness? Why our body feels helpless
about the speech impediments and what can we do about it? So imagine this is a
space for your sound, syllable, just the unit our praise, our speaking consists of.
So instead of the whole sound, syllable I’m putting half of it. I’m taking half
of the space. So what happens? It builds up, it sums up into an empty space at
some point which is a speech impediment. And our body on a very physical level,
subconscious level it reads that, it knows that so it starts to sabotage our
speaking right before we even start speaking. It builds up that tension
because it doesn’t want to play a game that it will lose. And let’s take a look
at Speech Easy devices and other delayed auditory feedback devices and apps. So
what they do – they give a signal to our ear, they give us a signal that we are
further along the way, that we’ve put more to our speaking. In fact we haven’t
and it doesn’t change the way we speak, our speaking pattern. But it tells
our body, “Ok, no worries you’re on the right track, you’re at the right spot.”
What singing does? “Oh, misty eye of the mountain below! Oh, misty eye of the
mountain below!” Of course we feel that we’re putting more than enough. We safely
feel, our body safely feels we’re on the right track unless it’s a very fast
singing and again we’re not singing properly, we’re not putting enough there. And take a look at actors, singers, public speakers. Every time you are performing
you’re free to put there enough, you’re allowed to do that, you give yourself permission. It’s not exactly you, it’s somebody else doing it.
Like me right now. I feel that I can put more to my speaking. It’s not asking
directions, “Excuse me…” It’s a different state. There is a lot of energy, outgoing
energy that lets you express yourself. Like this guy from Tony Robbins show.
“Guys 30 years of stuttering, stammering, but that was the condition that I chose, I
chose to stay there, I chose to identify as a stutterer because why I was
afraid of greatness, I was afraid of my light shining but no more because today
I am the voice, today I am the warrior, today…” The guy was expressive on the stage which is awesome, which is
great but again it doesn’t change the speaking pattern this way. Because we
have tons and tons of muscle and emotion memory. We’ve created, our body has
created those neural pathways. Neural pathways? So what do we do? I suggest
three practical steps on this physical, subconscious level to make sure that
we’re putting enough to our speaking and to make sure that we replace that
helplessness our body feels about the speech impediments with confidence that
we link, associate with the very act of speaking. Again in a very physical,
subconscious level, on the level of that direct response that our body gives.
So the first step, the first thing I suggest doing is feeling, just feeling
the air flow, feeling our breathing out as we’re saying a piece of speaking, a
phrase, something that we say in one breathing out. So to tap into the air
flow thing, to feel it better I suggest three exercises. The first one is just
humming with the sound “M” and then we go to “Ma” and back but we still keep one
airflow. So it sounds like… [humming] We don’t interrupt the airflow as we
close our mouth. It’s not like “Ma -m.” It’s [M-ma-M-ma] So we want to feel the air flow going even
though we close our mouth. And I suggest doing it as long as you can
imagining like you’re speaking, like [M-ma-m-ma] And I suggest doing it like seven times in a row to really feel your diaphragm getting tired. It’s a great
exercise to relax the vocal cords, to train your diaphragm and just to feel
the air flow going. The second exercise which is very similar, I want you to just
produce some sound, let’s say “uh” and I want you to close the vocal cords so
that the air flow becomes really, really, really tiny like “uh” and then go back and
forth. And also do it as long as you can like
7/8 times to really develop the diaphragm, relax the vocal cords and tap
into the confidence associated with the airflow, with your breathing out. I also
suggest to start different words with that, I call it “fax, old fax machine
exercise” like we started with “uh,” let’s say “us.” So we say “uh-us.” Let’s say “what.” “W-w-what?” Let’s say “me.” “M-m-me?” You can play with different words, with different sounds
but eventually it’s a good exercise to feel how you can start your speaking
instead of feeling that anticipation and tension. We can just take our time and
think a bit like, “This one.” “Would you like a big bottle?” “Hmm, yeah the big one!” And the third exercise I suggest to play with phrases. Imagine
you want to say the phrase “I can see you from here.” So my body is getting tense
subconsciously even before I kind of think much about it because it feels there is
a “K” sound, there is a “S” sound and I feel that these sounds are like the wall
in front of my airflow. And I go like “I- I-Kkk…” “Actually I, actually I” and I’m thinking how to get over that “K.” So a great exercise I call it the airplane exercise
when you feel your sound, your voice goes up up up and then down. So
let’s try to grow that sound so it goes like “I can” and you can throw it to me
as a ball “I can.” So we climb up the mountain and then
we go down. It’s like a roller coaster, first we need to create the airflow and
then we use that airflow. I call this exercise the airplane because we go up
up up and then down “I can.” So it’s not I-I-I K-k-k. “I can.” So if “K” sound is the wall this wall doesn’t exist anymore because we get way
higher than this wall. Now this is just an exercise and we also want to make
that “I” a bit shorter because in “I can’t” I is not much stressed. But we still
want to put something, substance, some substance to that “I” to make sure we
step on a firm ground. So we say “I can see you.” Now the next point is “S.” “I can S-s-s.” So “N” is stopping the airflow
and “S” feels like another wall. I don’t have the air flow for that “S.” We want to connect them together. I want you to imagine it’s not “can” “see” but “ca” “nsee.” “N” goes to the second, next finger. We’re using hand technique but
let’s imagine two kind of spaces: “ca” “nsee.” And “nsee” is a great articulation exercise: give me one “nsee” please, two “nsee,” three “nsee.” And you also throw it to me as a
ball “ca -nsee,” “ca-nsee.” So we say “I can see you.” “I can see you from here.” We’ve created
the airflow for our speaking piece, for our phrase, we’re making sure we’ve put
enough this way to our speaking. We use some of the singing if you wish because
every stressed syllable, every time we put more we do exactly the same thing
what singing does. And every nice speaking, nice sounding speaking sounds
like music. There is some melody inside. We want to make sure that the stressed
syllables are emphasized and each time we emphasize something we feel the firm ground because we are putting enough at that point. That’s why we want to put
more expressing ourselves. Imagine you are an actor, imagine you’re a public speaker, imagine you’re singer, you are a performer on the stage. The second step on this
very physical level that we can take is using the hands stuttering technique. Being
expressive is awesome and if you’re a actor, singer, speaker, performer you are
able to tap into different states when you’re expressive but most of the time
we still are kind of in our regular life and we want to make sure that when we see the shark, when the speaking is coming and there is always danger and our body is
giving that direct response of tension we want to make sure that we are able to
tap into that moment and participate in that direct physical response and what
our hand does when we use our hand, when we synchronize our speaking with using
our hand we make sure that we launch our speaking with our hand, we get into
stresses, we’re making sure that we’re putting enough into each of the stressed
syllables in our phrase and we make sure that we split our speaking into nice
pieces. And I’m not teaching the hand stuttering technique in this video obviously. It
takes some time and some practice and we do it in Free From Stutter Program but I want you to get a feeling of it. And if you play just a bit with yourself it’s still
a great exercise. So first we just want to get a feeling of connection between
using your fingers, pressing our fingers and producing sounds. And we launch our
speaking with our thumb so we say, “I can” growing that sound, first feeling that
connection. “I can.” Then we say our phrase one finger – one syllable, “I can see you
from here.” First, you can give yourself more time just to get a feeling of that
connection. “I can see from here.” But we want to feel it’s one breathing out.
You can play differently putting more stress to different fingers feeling how
they respond, feeling that connection. So we say “I can see you from here” and then
as we practice and as you nail it we get to a faster pace we say “I can see you
from here,” “I can see you from here.” So we get to a pretty regular pace just putting more to the stressed syllables and we use our
fingers mostly just to feel the stresses in our speaking. And again we do this
in Free From Stutter Program, we nail that, you nail it in a couple months and then it’s
all about using the training speech and that’s a separate topic where we create
different real-life situations using the training speech. Again being expressive,
playing with our voice, doing the exercise is awesome but when it comes to
real-life speaking it happens too fast and we have this shark, this danger in
front of us and we have tons of muscle and emotional memory, neural patterns that work automatically. If we want to tap into that physical level and really
profoundly change that we want to have some physical ground, some physical
foundation. Otherwise, once we get into that tension, once we feel that tension
we just tap into our default speaking and all our exercises that we do at
home, in the therapy room and in front of the mirror, even in front of the camera they
collapse. So using hand creates those new neural pathways, patterns much faster in a
much more profound way. Now the third step is consistency. This is a very
simple math. If you’re tapping to your confidence on that physical level, let’s
say you’re using the hand stuttering technique or maybe your other tool. If
you’re using it ten percent of your speaking and the other 90 percent
you just let it go as it goes you get back to your default speaking. You might
be fluent but your speaking is insecure, your body reads that, it knows it’s insecure, the speaking is insecure. It is still in that alerted, in that tense mode. So it’s all about how much we put to our
muscle and emotional memory, how much confidence we put there. We literally
want to outweigh tons of muscle and emotional memory that created certain
neural patters, neural pathways with new experiences where we link, we associate that physical reaction, that subconscious reaction to speaking to
speaking setting, speaking situations with confidence, with putting enough to
our speaking. So it takes consistency and it takes time. That’s why I call it a
“training speech.” It’s not a trick or technique we’re using from time to time.
We want to feel that our speaking is safe and confident, we’re putting enough to our speaking on a constant basis, on a consistent basis. This way we really start forming
new neural pathways, new neural patterns so the speaking, that shark creates a
different response, it’s not dangerous anymore. So we start feeling differently about the act of speaking and the speech
impediments. We don’t feel the tension about the speech impediments anymore. Yes, we have the same neurology, psychology, the same brain and we might have more speech impediments than other people but what is important is your feeling about the
speech impediments. At this point you’re really okay with your speech impediments
because your body is OK with them. I hope this video helps in your understanding of stuttering. And the two takeaways I want you to have after
watching this video: the first one it is okay to stutter. And the second one, there
is a lot we can do about stuttering. If you like this video gave me your thumbs up. For more videos subscribe to this YouTube channel. For more interaction
join Free From Stutter Facebook group. And if you want to go deeper into what we
actually can do about stuttering head over to freefromstutter.com and join my
free Improve Program. And see you in the next video! “Oh, misty eye of the mountain below.” First, I want you to take a look. Doesn’t say much to be honest. It’s not “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba.” We put there… It’s not “ba-ba-ba-ba-ba.” And again we do this in Free From Stutter Program, Free From Stutter Program…


  1. I have found that i can go for a while without stuttering then will stutter again. I had not in a while but I took Dramamine yesterday and it got bad again.

  2. I want to really THANK YOU for making this videos, I do not know how to express my self about the relief that Im feeling right now… Just thank you so much buddy!
    Best wishes…

  3. Ive been stuttering for ALMOST 7 YEARS IVE HAD THIS SINCE 1ST GRADE NOW IM IN 7TH GRADE AND I CANT HANDLE THIS I always get bullied at school and people make fun of me 🙁

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