Slowing Down

I can feel myself coming to this blog more frequently to write simply about things that concern me within my own life. Yet, I feel less inclined to write in-depth about subjects such as depression or anxiety. I’m not wishing to signify that I am ‘recovered’ in any way. I just intend to be able to write about things in general that I am not comfortable sharing with everyone else.

Image courtesy of a Google search.

 

Today, I’m writing about issues regarding my own speech, which appears to have deteriorated gradually over the last ten-years. I stutter, slur, stammer and stumble a lot more than I have ever known. As a writer, I’m more confident, clear and coherent. It may be another symptom of social anxiety and my general fear of people but I realised recently that I often feel a ‘need’ to speak a certain way; to force myself to sound upbeat and happy.

I was bullied a bit at school (among other things) for having a very flat, dull and monotone voice. When a friend verbally mocks and imitates you infront of others, it’s a memory and thought that never leaves my mind. Even now, in what must be a good 15 years since that significant occasion; it pops in to my head at least once a week, as a reminder of my ‘failings’. I’ve always been very conscious of that and, as a un-constant-smiler, I’ve made my own efforts to counteract my ‘natural’ tones but this only seems to result in a rushed approach of illiteracy with no commas; each sentence is filled with an insufficient number of spaces to account for the murder of words.

I used to try and think about why I’m so much more confident behind a computer screen, as so many others seem to be. Why I become almost ‘manic’ when I’m putting under even the simple pressures of talking to a close friend. Thinking about it beyond that didn’t really get me anywhere and so, now, I’d like to look at ways in which I can improve this and, if you have any suggestions at the end of this post, I would love to hear from you.

Breathing is one issue that I’m aware of. My mum has, in the past, told me to slow down and to breathe more when I’m talking because she can’t always understand what I’m saying. I’m also a very quiet speaker although, I don’t agree when someone accuses me of mumbling and the words sound perfectly clear between my own ears. I’m quiet and I’m not really concerned with changing that because it honestly feels like less of an issue.

I think that my big key to the door of success could involve visualisation. This isn’t something I do previously… As a writer, I write in a constant ‘stream of consciousness’ allowing myself no time to reflect or review (if I was unconscious, it was be automatic writing, I think). When speaking, I know what I want to say but I still try to rush it through and, if I’m not repeating even short phrases that have already left my mouth, I can too often be reiterating a well-known phrase or saying, which just isn’t really me. It’s not who I am as a writer and I believe I’m giving a false account of my true personality each time I do this.

I would like to try visualising the words as if I am sat here writing them. All within my mind; ahead of the time at which I need to verbalise. I pressure myself to respond quickly, for fear that others will run out of patience but, I do feel as though my perception of this time in between a conversation is exaggerated by my mind.

Breathing could be the key and the question then is where and how to stop and take those breaths… Do I wait until my chest is tight, my throat has become dry and I have a tight feeling in my chest?

I think I should try to focus on where I want to place my commas in my own dialogue, as I would do when writing something. Each time I reach an ‘and’ or ‘but’, it’s a chance to take a breath, to stabilise my position in the conversation and to gain an extra ounce of self-confidence. Because it’s those who appear to be confident who always receive the right kind of attention. Those are the words of a friend recently and also, my first-hand experiences as an online… Friend, blogger, e-mailer and more!

If my own efforts don’t begin to work then perhaps I might seek the support of a speech therapist. Maybe that thought is a bit much at this stage.

Thank you for reading and, as I said earlier; if you have any advice, feedback or suggestions then I would love to hear from you.

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2 comments on “Slowing Down

  1. janonlife says:

    I feel I should have some answers for you – my son stammers and I also have a post grad degree in teaching kids with speech and language difficulties + 8 years experience of doing that!
    I think you’re right about the anxiety (social or otherwise) affecting it. Like driving a car or something: if you had to stop and consider each time you change gear or think which pedal to put your foot on and how hard, it would be far harder than just doing it automatically because it feels right. Having to consider when to take a breath is bound to disrupt the flow and make it difficult.
    The idea of stopping for commas and breathing is interesting. Worth trying, certainly.

    You have so much negative baggage there connected to your speaking – memories of bullying and criticisms from well-meaning people and that is weighing you down each time you try to talk.
    My son was taught a technique called ‘glassing’ by his speech therapist. He had to visualise his words floating easily over smooth glass as he spoke. He’d mentally rehearse a short piece of speech, hearing it ‘flow’ in his mind, then say it with the same flowing intonation.
    Best of luck. Hope you get plenty of helpful ideas. 🙂

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