Tuesday, 5 March 2013

What does a stammer feel like?

Imagine you are the head of a company called “My Consciousness Inc” and you want to send an important message to another company called “A Listener,” which is located on the other side of town. The message is so important that you arrange for a courier to hand-deliver it; you are both the instigator of the content and the means of its delivery when you speak.

So you give the message to the courier who then sets out in his car to find the headquarters of “A Listener”. Sometimes the burden of the message or the burden of the journey is seen to be too much and the courier refuses to go; the message is never sent out as you avoid speaking. On other occasions the courier reluctantly agrees to go and sets out in his car. However, the journey is not simple; the roads are confusing and full of memories, fears, shame, anger and frustration, all in their own cars causing traffic jams and accidents. Indeed, they deliberately block the courier or run him off the road so the message arrives late or the block is so bad the courier turns back.

You perceive that the company’s reputation is at stake unless the message gets through to “A Listener” so you obsessively monitor the progress of the courier. You wince at every traffic jam and berate the courier for failing to arrive on time or not at all. But you are also the courier so you end up beating yourself up, which only increases the volume of other traffic on the road.

Once the courier agrees to go, he usually finds “My Listener” and hands the message over; but as the head of “My Consciousness Inc,” you only see the time spent in traffic jams and exaggerate the influence of the other cars on the road. You wring your hands over how inefficiently the message is conveyed and not whether it was delivered; the means and the details of the journey become more important than arriving at “A Listener” headquarters.

As the boss of “My Consciousness Inc,” you blame yourself for not being able to choose a different courier but you are wrong to do so; blaming the courier, who is part of the company anyway, is blaming yourself twice over for something that wasn’t your fault.

Stammering is part of your thrownness and as such is blameless; nobody, including yourself, is responsible; stammering (like the fact you were born with two eyes) just is.  You can’t change the fact of thrownness but you can change how you react to it. Choose to clear the emotional traffic from the road and choose to notice when the courier delivers your message instead of only seeing when he doesn’t.

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