|About the presenter: Ellen-Marie Silverman has provided clinical services in diverse service environments. She has been a member of several university faculties and founded a staffing services company for occupational, physical, and speech therapy and interpreting and captioning services, including live theater captioning, which she pioneered in Wisconsin. Dr. Silverman is also trained in transactional analysis, which she has used to form the structure of her clinical approach. The author or co-author of 44 papers, several textbook chapters, and a novel for children, Jason's Secret, dealing with the nature and treatment of stuttering problems, she has presented at local, state, national, and international meetings. She is an ASHA Fellow and member of Special Interest Division IV.|
Copyright Notice: This is a copyright protected document. Copyright by Ellen-Marie Silverman, 2008. Neither excerpts nor the entire paper may be published in hard copy, copied to another website, or otherwise reproduced in other media without advance permission from Ellen-Marie Silverman, Ph.D. (TSSS920499@aol.com). Permission is granted to read, print out a single copy for personal use, or link to this page. --- Ellen-Marie Silverman, Ph.D., Milwaukee, Wisconsin, August 31, 2008.
BUT I DON'T!
Isn't that the way! We get what we want, and, for a while, we are happy. Then we discover what we received does not perfectly match what we expected. And, Poof! Anger, sadness, or fear replaces our happiness.
NOW OR NEVER
Be happy now! There is no need to wait until therapy fixes us, or we become a certified clinician, or our child no longer stutters. And most of us know it is futile to depend on a fairy godmother or handsome prince to happify us. So, if we wait until we and everything we care about are just as we wish, happiness will forever elude us. We will be one speech hesitancy, one clinical certification requirement, or one stuttering episode away. We do not have to live like that. We have the capacity to be happy right where we are no matter how dire the circumstance, not by relenting or settling but by altering our view, and we possess the power to do so once we realize that. For instance, centuries ago, British poet Richard Lovelace wrote from prison, "Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a cage;" and, last century, logotherapy founder, psychiatrist Viktor Frankl (2006) recounted that he survived Nazi concentration camp internment by embracing two thoughts which gave him happiness, rejoining his wife and completing a technical manuscript. Others, informed by their knowledge of sacred texts and personal experience, e.g., Tolle, (2005), Hanh (2004), and Myss (1997), also assert it only is in the present where we can experience happiness. As Loretta La Roche (1995), humor therapist, reminds us, "The past is history. The future is a mystery. Now is a gift. That's why it's called The Present."
Pema Chödrön (2006) and other students of human happiness, including Tsultrim Allione (2008) and Martin Seligman (2004), teach us to create enduring happiness for ourselves that can accommodate life's up's and down's, including periods of grief and loneliness, by accepting both "agreeable and disagreeable" as they appear in our lives. For most, doing so initially is contrary to our more instinctive response of resisting what we do not want and doggedly chasing after what we think will remove or lessen our pain. But, by resisting our unpleasant thoughts, feelings, and sensations as we stutter and others' real and imagined negative responses as we do, many of us have layered our stuttering problems with throbbing complexity. As the late Wendell Johnson (1956) cautioned more than a half century ago, a stuttering problem is ". . .an anticipatory, apprehensive, hypertonic avoidance reaction. . ." and, as such, thrives on resistance. In addition to feeding our stuttering problem, resistance delays our opportunity to learn from carefully studying how we think, act, and feel as we stutter to discern which mind-sets and behaviors we need to release and which to cultivate to speak with increasing ease and finesse. And, by welcoming, rather than resisting, stuttering, as paradoxical as such a choice seems until we do it, we gain enhanced self-esteem (Silverman, 2005).
It is hard to imagine anyone who dwells on what makes them unhappy about the way they speak and about themselves as a speaker benefiting much from speech therapy, unless and until they discover what also makes them happy about how they speak and themselves as speakers. As actor, writer, director, and producer Vin Diesel succinctly stated:
Seeing ourselves broadly as we actually function, i.e., as partners, brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, friends, colleagues, gardeners, community members, etc. demonstrating our individual strengths and weakness rather than through the tightly closed, smudged window of labels, such as female, male, Jew, Latina, senior citizen, and, especially, PWS, acronym for person who stutters, which diminish our perception of who we are and what we can do for ourselves and others is a good place to start. Therapy and self-help groups which anchor us in a larger, more realistic personal perspective than labels allow are likely to stimulate and support healing because such an orientation is apt to help us think well of ourselves (e.g, Hanh, 2004).
When we think we deserve to be happy, we treat ourselves kindly. Many of us, after experiencing stuttering-related hurt, choose to be "nice" people. We appear agreeable and encouraging in public, but, in private, especially during our almost continuous self-talk, denigrate ourselves for failing to live up to our standards with associates, family, friends, andd strangers because we stuttered or because we believed we squandered an opportunity to be helpful or for personal advancement through fear of stuttering. This sort of self-abasement that can readily lead to unnecessary disengagement from others (e.g., Silverman, 2003; 2006) contributes to a mix of dreary and miserable feelings while strengthening stuttering-related avoidant behaviors (e.g., Allione, 2008). Like the legendary French chanteuse Edith Piaf, who lived so challenging a life that she died at 47 appearing years older, yet came to personify one of her signature songs, "No. No Regrets!" we, too, gain nothing useful by burdening ourselves with feelings of regret and blame. When we release self-recrimination for stuttering, perhaps, we can relate kindly to ourselves. That is when we will find more of the contentment we seek.
Treading a Path of Happiness is not easy. Far from it! Doing so requires commitment to change, i.e. embarking on a journey which can take us we know not where; willingness to take personal responsibility for our choices; and application of honesty and courage, as much as we can muster, moment-by-moment. Some spiritual teachers (Gimian, 2008, p. 76) advise students that, "It is better not to begin such a journey, but, if you begin, you should go all the way to the destination." I believe it is more difficult to suffer without knowing a way out than to face unknown challenges. So, I have chosen to walk a path rather than wander in the wilderness. For now, that brings enough reward.
Written Allione, T., (2008). Feeding Your Demons. Ancient Wisdom for Solving Inner Conflict. New York: Littale, Brown and Company.
Frankl, V., (2006). Man's Search for Meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.
Gimian, C., (2008). Beyond Carrot and Stick. Shambhala Sun, pp. 74-79.
Johnson, W. (1956). "Stuttering," pp. 216-217. In W. Johnson, et al. (Eds.), Speech Handicapped School Children, 2nd Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Schacter-Shalomi, Z., (1997). From Age-Ing to Sage-Ing: A Profound New Vision of Growing Older. New York: Grand Central Publishing.
Seligman, M., (2004). Authentic Happiness. Utilizing the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press.
Silverman, E.-M., (2006). A Personal Choice. The ASHA Leader, Vol. 11 (16), p. 47.
Silverman, E.-M., (2005). Shenpa, Stuttering, and Me. Presented at the 8th Annual International Stuttering Awareness Day Online Conference, October.
Silverman, E.-M., (2003). My Personal Experience with Stuttering and Meditation. 6th Annual International ISAD Online Conference, October.
Tolle, E., (2005). A New Earth. Awakening to Your Life's Purpose. New York: Penguin Group.
CD's & Videos
Chödrön, P. (2006). True Happiness. Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True.
Hahn, T. N. (2004). The Ultimate Dimension. Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True.
Kornfield, J., (2008). The Wise Heart. A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology (Abridged). Boulder, Colorado: Sounds True.
La Roche, L., (1995), The Joy of STRESS. Boston: WGBH/PBS.
Myss, C., (1997). Why People Don't Heal and How They Can. PBS.
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