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Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationFriday, September 16th, 2016 at 9:42am
THE COMFORT ZONE — Author unknown but modified by Alan Badmington (UK)
I used to have a comfort zone, where I knew I couldn't fail
But the routine and familiar walls were really like a jail
I longed so much to do the things I'd never done before
But I stayed inside my comfort zone and paced the same old floor

I said it didn't bother me that I wasn't doing much
I said I didn't care for things like self-esteem and such
I claimed to be contented with the things inside my zone
But deep inside, I longed for something special of my own

I couldn't let my life go by just watching others win
So I held my breath, and stepped outside, to let the change begin
I took that step with inner strength I'd never felt before
I kissed my comfort zone 'Goodbye', and closed, then locked the door

If you are in a comfort zone, afraid to venture out
Remember, every stutterer was once consumed with doubt
So don't hold back - just take that step and seek those pastures new
Embrace your future with a smile, success is there for YOU
Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationSunday, August 28th, 2016 at 2:35pm

by Geoff Johnston
National Executive Officer, Australian Speak Easy Association

Are you in a “victim” role waiting for someone or something to “cure” your stuttering behaviour? It’s not going to happen!

This article is about taking ownership for your own recovery, embracing “fear” and changing your thoughts and vocabulary to become a far more positive person.

With an attitude of ownership of our stuttering and commitment to improve our speech comes a feeling of empowerment that helps us move away from pain and fear around speaking situations to feelings and behaviours of power and confidence.

There are many valuable resources available to people who stutter in Australia. However, whether they are services by speech pathologists, programmes such as the McGuire Programme or self-help and support groups, long-term recovery from stuttering will not happen unless we take personal responsibility for our recovery.

The best help and therapy in the world will not succeed unless we have the attitude to be brave, work hard and persevere to overcome a life-time of fear and negative thoughts, feelings, emotions and behaviours around our speaking. Stick at it and over time you will move from a position of PAIN TO POWER!

FEAR is an interesting word. If we consider the word as meaning False Expectations Appearing Real and apply it to speaking situations, we have a fear that we might stutter and appear to our listener as different, incompetent, disabled, whatever. We then try to suppress the fear and try hard not to stutter and you can guess the result! Our very fear of stuttering becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy and we block and stutter. Stuttering is not something that mysteriously happens to us. We trigger the behaviour; it’s an inside job!

Fear is a normal and healthy human experience. If we never experience a bit of fear, then we aren’t putting ourselves in situations that will enable us to grow as people! Speech aside, this principle applies to every aspect of our lives; career, relationships, sport, etc. Pushing through fear is less frightening than living with a feeling of helplessness and paralysis.

It’s good to realise that most people are living with fear of various kinds and causes. What is the difference then between positive and negative fear? It depends on how we “hold” that fear. Do we interact with fear from a position of pain, helplessness, paralysis or from a position of power, energy and excitement? Please note that power in this context has nothing to do with power over other people but power and control over our own thoughts, feelings and emotions.

To move from a position of PAIN TO POWER, we must move from a state of the victim who gives away their power and blames everyone else for their woes to a person who takes responsibility for how they interpret the events around them and how to react to them.

To move from a state of PAIN to a state of POWER in regards to our speech requires that ACTION be taken!

Helplessness ---------- Choices
Depression ---------- Excitement
Paralysis ----------------- Movement

That action might consist of undertaking a further programme of treatment, joining a public speaking club, assertiveness classes, drama classes, support group, attending the convention in October 2016, whatever. If you find yourself “stuck” as far as your recovery is concerned and you’re not happy to stay there, DO SOMETHING!!!

The consequence of our thoughts, feelings and emotions is always behaviour. This can manifest itself in the language we use which can also move us from a position of PAIN to a position of POWER!

“I can’t…..” ----------------- “I won’t…..”
“I should…..” ----------------- “I could…..”
“It’s not my fault…..”---------- “I’m totally responsible…..”
“It’s a problem…..”----------- “It’s an opportunity…..”
“If only…..” ----------------- “Next time…..”
“I hope…..” ----------------- “I know…..”
“Life’s a struggle…..”--------- “Life’s an adventure…..”
“What will I do…..?” ---------- “I know I can handle…..”
“It’s terrible…..” ---------- “It’s a learning experience…..”
“I’ll try…..” ----------------- “I’ll do…..”

To eliminate the PAIN caused by constant self-criticism and negative self-talk and move to a position of positiveness and POWER:

• Listen and be aware of everything you think, feel and say.
• Make the decision to stand guard over your mind and your mouth.
• Never say anything negative about yourself. Never put yourself down.
• Choose to have positive thoughts, feelings and emotions about yourself.
• Approach fearful situations with the attitude, “no matter what happens, I’ll handle it”!
• STOP being overly sensitive about what people might think of you if you have a stutter. No one is perfect. Why do we think we have to be?

In conclusion, believe in yourself, believe in the person you want to become and believe in your success. As soon as that negative thought enters your mind, STOP, and change it to a bigger and more positive thought.
You are unique and important. Let your thoughts work FOR you not AGAINST you.

“Feel the Fear and do it Anyway” by Dr Susan Jeffers.
Chris Gerraty, Course Instructor, The McGuire Programme
Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationSaturday, July 16th, 2016 at 9:44am
by Geoff Johnston, National Executive Officer, Australian Speak Easy Association
This article contains some random thoughts about what I have found helpful in improving our speech and what hasn’t. My opinions are based on observations of myself and other people who stutter particularly during the 13 years working with over 1,000 such people on the McGuire Programme.
If you want to get good at anything…a sport, playing music, business, career, etc. you would do well to find someone who has excelled at that particular vocation, find out what they did and follow that example with the same attitude and persistence and it is likely you’ll get similar results.
How brave the person is and their attitude and motivation to change will determine their level of permanent success.
I want to run through a list of strategies that have worked for people in the hope that even one or two may help you.

• They take ownership of the problem and are committed to work hard with courage and persistence. They are not victims waiting for someone or something to cure them! They set goals and GO FOR IT!
• They completely and assertively accept themselves as a person who stutters (PWS). That is they don’t accept themselves as a PWS forever but at this time a PWS who is working hard to become an effective communicator.
• Assertive self-acceptance is an active task requiring the person to be open about their stuttering, to disclose that they have a stutter and to demonstrate they have a stutter by stuttering on purpose in a relaxed manner, great eye contact and a smile. Lack of assertive self-acceptance, trying to hide the stutter and trying to be fluent are the main causes of turbulence and relapse after initial treatment! Rule: If you go into a speaking situation and you’re afraid you might stutter that’s exactly what you must do! Under your control NOT out of control!
• They research and engage a treatment strategy that suits their objectives and personality.
• They learn a speaking technique in an intensive environment that will give them an initial boost of self-confidence, self-esteem and the courage for the battle ahead.
• They drill and practise that technique making it their speaking pattern of choice at least in the short to medium term in ALL situations. It becomes natural, second nature. You have to think about the technique less and less
• They refuse to entertain negative thoughts around speaking situations choosing instead to focus on past successes and the feelings that flow from those experiences.
• They learn to control their fear and anxiety by controlling their thoughts rather than allowing their thoughts to control them. If they suffer from social anxiety in speaking situations, they seek treatment options such as CBT to supplement their treatment.
• They realise to be successful they need to change their speaking world and the meaning they give to speaking situations so adopting the appropriate ego state when communicating to people.
• They embrace every speaking situation and go out of their way to create new speaking situations. For example, if they’re afraid of public speaking they join Toastmasters.
• They display great courage.
• They expand their comfort zone to the nth degree with NO avoidance. Avoidance fuels the fear and anxiety that maintains the stuttering mentality
• They join a support group or self-help group that provides ongoing coaching and support. We cannot do this alone! However, support groups for people who stutter lack ambition…what we should be setting up is support groups to help people OUT of stuttering!
• They live by their intentions rather than their own or someone else’s expectations.
• Over time they change their perceptions and beliefs about their speaking personality.
• Trying to be fluent – fluency should be the end result of life changes, shifts in attitudes and changes in the system which is you, NOT as the main focus. Measurements such as stuttered syllables per minute focus on fluent speech which in my opinion re-enforces “trying to be fluent”.
• Attending a treatment option because mum, dad or your partner wanted you to. Lack of ownership and personal responsibility.
• Negative attitudes – thinking why this won’t work for you rather than looking for reasons why it will!
• Using tricks and avoidance to try to hide our stuttering – a life of fear and anxiety awaits!
• Looking at stuttering as a problem which can be “fixed” rather than understanding changes in your speech will follow changes in you!
• Thinking a technique will cure you. Technique is 10% of the solution. How you use it and what you do with it in the real world is the other 90%!
• After an initial period of consolidation, not going for free expression, with your technique only a tool to be used as and when required. Initially we have to control the stutter to have positive experiences in talking situations. There will come a time when you can go for “fluency” but when fear and anxiety exists or turbulence hits, we have the well-practised tools to “change gears”, and cope with the situation.
• Being “people pleasers” putting the needs of others always ahead of ours, agreeing, being door mats, being passive. In the book “The Disease to Please” by Harriet Braiker the author believes the people pleasing trait, even though it sounds nice and sweet, is a serious psychological co-dependency condition. People pleasing is often a trait of PWS negatively affecting our self-esteem, self-confidence and our ability to communicate effectively.
Effective treatment therefore requires the PWS to be empowered to take ownership of their own recovery but then access resources such as the McGuire Programme, speech pathologists, psychologists, life coaches, social workers, self-development programmes and other self-development activities by attending courses, reading, listening to CDs, etc.
Our stuttering does not define who we are. It is just a negative behaviour resulting from our reaction to events in our world either current or in the past. Recent studies have shown that the brain has great plasticity and the ability to change patterns from the past is very achievable.
Is stuttering genetic, physiological, neurological or psychological? To be honest I don’t much care. I do know that the goal of effective communication can be attained by brave and persistent work and that recovery is a reality for many, many people. Knowing the root cause of something doesn’t mean that it will solve the puzzle. It is far more effective to look at the decisions that one makes RIGHT NOW TODAY as they will affect one’s future and quality of life.
Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationMonday, June 27th, 2016 at 11:19am
Great speech sums it all up really well. Inspirational for everyone who stutters.
Australian Speak Easy Association
VP Joe Biden delivers heartfelt speech on stuttering at AIS Gala
June 6, 2016 - Vice President of the United States, Joe Biden, made a surprise visit to the 10th annual gala for the American Institute for Stuttering. He sp...
Australian Speak Easy Association
Australian Speak Easy AssociationFriday, June 24th, 2016 at 3:54pm

by Geoff Johnston
National Executive Officer, ASEA

Over last Christmas I read an interesting article about being happy. What occurred to me was that the 10 top tips to be happy could be transposed directly to the processes required to recover from stuttering.

1. Know where you're going
Successful people working to improve their speech have clear, well-defined goals. Work out where you want to be and what you need to do to get there. Ensure your goals are:

Specific – clearly defined and measurable
Realistic – based on where you are now
Attainable – within your present situation
Short range – daily or weekly
Worthy – of value to you

2. Know why you're going there
Remind yourself continually why this journey is important to you. Why did you begin the journey? Why is it still worth the work and effort? While working out where you want to get to, make sure you have a good reason for going there. What’s your compelling reason to transform?

3. Go with your strengths
Recovering from stuttering long-term requires confidence and self-esteem. Work out what you're good at and find ways to do it as much as possible. Recovery is not as much about fixing your faults and overcoming weaknesses as about finding ways to focus your life on your talents and qualities, and use them to continually expand your comfort zone.

4. Don't go alone
Enlist the support of family, friends, work colleagues and your support network. Those who have good relationships and those who actively and consistently work to improve the quality of their relationships tend to be happier, more confident and successful. So invite others to join in your endeavours, share your experiences, and don't forget to support them as well.

5. Go with a positive attitude
One of the most significant, contributing factors to recovery is optimistic thinking. Changing those negative “stuttering” thoughts into positive “can do” beliefs. Although you won't always have a choice in determining what goes on around you, you will always have a choice in how you think about it. Learn from your “bloopers” and decide to do it differently and better next time, then cancel the experience as soon as possible.

6. Ensure you have the energy to go all the way
Being eloquent depends, at least in part, on having a healthy and positive “system”. It depends on keeping active and exercising regularly, eating an adequate and well-balanced diet, and ensuring you attain enough sleep and rest. Attend to your emotions and ensure that your intentions always follow through with appropriate behaviour.

7. Control which way you go
Maximise the control you have over your life. Life has many distractions that will seduce you along paths that many times do not benefit your end goal. Practise being a cause rather than effect when it comes to daily decisions in your life. Take control by not letting circumstances dictate our lives but rather be empowered to take control over the circumstances. Accept that we will make wrong decisions but with our new found goals ahead, we can accept our mistakes, take control and enjoy the journey.

Learn and practise skills such as problem solving, time management, meditation and communication. At the same time, however, no one has complete control and so it is also important to be realistic and to accept that over which you have no control.

“Grant me the wisdom to accept the things I cannot change,
the strength to change the things I can,
and the wisdom to know the difference.”
American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892–1971)

8. Maintain discipline along the way
Eloquence is the result of good technique used all day, everyday. Stuttering/blocking and relapse are bad habits, tricks and avoidance repeated every day. Although desired eloquence might not be yours today, you can certainly implement the recovery strategies today. Maintain focus and the improvement and your speaking confidence will improve day by day.

9. Be present every step of the way
Successful people tend to spend more time thinking about and "being in the present" as opposed to dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Learn from your mistakes and plan to achieve, but practise living life in the moment and enjoy improved eloquence now.

10. Go, and keep going all the way
We all face problems at times. Successful recovering stutterers don’t expect perfection and when the problems arise they respond immediately and intensely with good technique and self-discipline. All of the components required for recovery are skills that can be learnt. Just like perseverance. Stick at it and effective verbal communication will be yours.

Acknowledgement: Dr Timothy Sharp, The Happiness Institute.