I watched a man audition for one of the American Idol type shows. As he was telling his story before his performance, he was stuttering pretty severely. He told the world that he had a stammer his whole life and he always felt that it held him back. When it came time to sing his song, he performed it flawlessly.
I marveled at that. If one can sing without stuttering, why can’t one speak without stuttering? I’m sure science has some answers about different brain functions of sorts, music using the right brain and language using the left, etc. However, I wanted to question it from a different perspective, because there are many children (and adults) who stutter and perhaps this might offer some food for consideration.
I am a student at a center for self-study. At this school, we are encouraged to get up and speak in front of class. Sometimes we are given a topic ahead of time and sometimes it is simply impromptu. Did you know that the fear of public speaking is at the top of the list next to dying? Have you ever questioned why that is?
I can’t tell you how many people when up at the microphone to speak in class, stutter, stammer, cry, lose their train of thought, go absolutely blank, say what they didn’t want to say, forget what they wanted to say. The problem doesn’t appear to be a right brain/left brain problem.
What I have noticed in my journey in speaking in front of a group of people is that in the times I’ve pre-rehearsed what I was going to say, I was able to recite that dialogue pretty seamlessly. When a person wishes to audition for a singing competition, they typically rehearse the song. They sing it over and over again so they can perfect the imperfections. That’s how we learn to not only be great singers, but great gymnasts, great pianists, etc. We do things over and over again to perfect the imperfections.
When we speak in front of others without rehearsal, we make ourselves vulnerable. What that vulnerability exposes are the fearful parts of us that are so concerned about what others think about us. It exposes parts of us that not only seek the approval of others but believe our life actually depends upon that approval, hence the reason why public speaking is the second fear next to death. When we act from that fear in those moments, there can be desperation… loss of thought and word retrieval, stammering, stuttering, going blank.
Those fearful parts come up in the form of a fearful inner dialogue. We may not hear its voice, we may just feel it, but it’s there. As I have mentioned in prior blogs, those are old parts of us that come up to try to keep us afraid of doing the right thing in the moment, which is to simply wait for that fear to pass and allow the moment to guide us.
There is a lot of pressure and pain in those moments, and that is why most people are unable to bear the waiting. If one gives into that pressure instead of waiting, it pushes the person to just start speaking, which then can create the fumbling or stuttering of words, loss of thought, etc. The person then ends up speaking from old parts of themselves instead of from something new given to them in the moment.
My own experience proves that if you do, in fact, wait to allow all those thoughts and feelings to pass through, they will. The waiting creates an open space to receive what is being given to you to say. We were always meant to speak from the heart and not from the mind. Agreeing to wait doesn’t mean that you won’t stutter or stammer, be filled with emotion, or that it will come out perfectly as you believe it should. Who came up with that idea anyway?
When one speaks from the heart, others can feel the connection to the person that has agreed to be open and vulnerable. Any so-called imperfections that took place in that communication (shaky voice, stuttering), aren’t seen as imperfections by the witnesses of that moment. Instead, the witnesses feel and experience the vulnerability and willingness of the person expressing themselves, and that is what is impressed upon and within them instead. It’s a true communication from heart to heart. What a beautiful thing to know and remember.
I will say one last thing about the man I spoke of at the beginning of this post. That man may have had a true love for singing, and therefore something in him knew how to align himself with that Love in the moment of the audition. In being aligned with that love, which is the same as being present in the moment, the song poured effortlessly through him, just as it would in speaking, if he were properly aligned with that same Love as well.
As always, good things to just question and ponder.
Here is a quote by Guy Finley that sums it up perfectly: “Life will empty whatever you fill, and whatever you empty, Life will fill.”
Exercise for the Week: Work to watch a part of yourself trying to rehearse a conversation you are going to have with a friend, a co-worker, your child. Drop that dialogue. No rehearsing. If you need to speak someone, let the moment speak for you. Be willing to be vulnerable and imperfect.
Image courtesy of: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-and-white-blur-child-close-up-289923/