It’s been weeks and I’m still thinking about the National Stuttering Association’s One-Day Conference.
I could write numerous posts on the many topics discussed at the event, but I’ll wrap up my series on the conference with this little ditty.
My buddies Stavros and Chris led the first workshop of the day, on self help. Particularly, the two asked why self help may be met with resistance — especially in the stuttering community. But first, the attendants were asked to define self help …
“The name is pretty self explanatory. Self help is anything you do (or don’t do) to better yourself,” I said. (I was pretty chatty at this conference :) Whether it be reading a book on something you're struggling with, seeing a therapist or going for a run in the morning. It’s what you do to improve your life and yourself in any way.”
I will emphasize that therapy can be a form of self help. The “self” aspect of it doesn’t mean other people aren’t involved in your improvement, it just means that the “help” was initiated by you.
So, why is self help met with resistance? Why are we sometimes afraid to admit that we need help and why does that sometimes lead us to not seek help at all?
When it comes to stuttering, I have a few ideas. I’ll be honest, I spent years researching how to “make my stutter go away.” So, once I came to terms with the fact that my efforts would always go in vain, I began to see any efforts to improve my condition a result of my perceived naivety — my blind optimism.
So, maybe one reason self help is met with resistance among stutterers is because we often confuse managing our stutters with “curing” our stutter. We resist self help in fear of giving ourselves false hope. But managing and "curing" are two different things. I will stress, seeking help to manage our stutters is so necessary and helpful, even for our emotional and mental health.
I believe that the first step toward self help is admitting that we need help. Society doesn’t make doing that easy, though.
Stuttering has always been stigmatized, so I used to believe that admitting I need help was like admitting that society was right — admitting that there was something “wrong” with me.
This way of thinking plagued me for years, I’d avoid or look down on speech therapy(and self help in general) because it wounded my ego — which was already fragile when it came to my stutter.
But, as I mentioned above, self help is necessary for stutterers. Admitting we need help with managing, accepting and living with our stutters is necessary, and we should never be ashamed of that.
So, let’s not meet self help with resistance, let’s meet it with excitement and pride. It takes a lot to want to better ourselves and to actively do so.
Seeking help is brave. Living with a stutter is brave. And for that we deserve a pat on the back… and a cookie!