Believe in Yourself

Confidence seems to be a chicken or the egg equation. Low self confidence seems to have symptoms as well as high self confidence but what if were treating the symptoms instead of the virus itself?

Science has yet to find a definitive cause of stuttering. The medical field attributes dis-fluency in speech to genetics, trauma, brain injuries and abnormalities in motor control. All of these are not only possible but highly probable and practical explanations. The only problem I have with this list of possible causes for stuttering is that the condition fluctuates with the psychological state of the stutterer.

   I cannot speak for all stutterers but I’ve read a shit ton of books, articles and studies on stuttering and am a professional stutter with about 34 years of real world experience. I know for a fact that my stutter can fluctuate from debilitating to nonexistent depending on my confidence levels. This is common for stutterers as far as I know so what’s the deal? I can’t think of any other physical disability that can be relieved temporarily by a feeling of accomplishment. Stuttering is also increased by stress and anxiety. So when the mind is in a state that it lacks control or confidence the ability to speak declines. When the mind is in a state of command and confidence the ability to speak increases. So is stuttering a cause of low self-confidence or an effect?

   What about; shyness, victimhood, indecisiveness, fear or the inability to assert yourself? Are these causes of low self-confidence or effects?  Do we overcome low self-confidence by overcoming fears or overcome fear by raising self-confidence? I could work on my speech and after years of therapy and thousands of hours of practice raise my self-confidence or I could work on my confidence and improve my speech. It works both ways but both ways are a lot of work.

   Maybe there’s another explanation. Maybe it’s self-imposed…

   Why would anybody choose to stutter, be shy or be a victim? I think all of these are reactions to a trigger; transition. Transition is the process of changing from one state or condition to another. If we feel confident we tend to react to changes smoothly. When we feel unconfident we don’t react, but retract or retreat. When retreating we raise a shield. We create a buffer zone to increase the distance between ourselves and whatever it is that we are intimidated by. Basically, we need a second to change our mask…

    I see this as an inability to be ourselves. If you cannot be yourself, your true self, in any and all situations then you have to be a different self in any and all transitions. That means a transition happens every time you speak to someone or enter a different environment. In other words you stutter because you have to give yourself time and space to adjust your personality.

   Take for instance a job interview. Nerve racking right? Why? You walk in an office and convince someone you’ve never met that you are someone that could be of value to them. You have the perfect experience, personality, temperament and habits that they are looking for. If you don’t it’s all a show and basically a case of stage fright.

   Dating advice for men all time #1. Be confident… There’s definitely truth to this but do women really sit there contemplating mens confidence levels? Or are they subconsciously noticing something else? You don’t stutter, you’re not shy and you’re decisive but you’re a stammering mess cowering before this woman and can’t even figure out what day you’re free for the date that you’re initiating.

   You messed up the job interview by being a nervous wreck and the woman at the coffee shop had more pity in her eyes than attraction. Then you drive off kicking yourself in the ass and flop on your buddies couch; and without any shyness or hesitations tell him all about your day. You even laugh at yourself and become the aloof but conscious individual that you normally are.

   WTF? Who are you? Who am I?  Were broken chameleons with the camo skills of fireworks at night time and about as incognito as a nun at a strip club. Your confident around your buddy, he knows who you are, likes you for who you are and your who you are when your around him. Imagine what would have happened if you sat across from that interviewer or approached your dream girl as no one other than yourself. Maybe they would have liked you… Maybe they would have liked you because you like yourself. Maybe your authentic rough edges would allow them to show theirs and a real connection could have been made. She wasn’t consciously calculating your confidence levels she was subconsciously acknowledging that you are not showing her your true self and if you can’t stand up for you then you can’t stand up to her or for her.

   Being yourself can be scary but not being yourself can be disastrous. The concept of confidence is the ability to trust and rely upon yourself. If you can’t rely on yourself how is anyone else supposed to? That’s a huge leap of faith to ask of anyone.

   The word stutter does not only pertain to an involuntary disruption in speech but to anything with movement.

   Stutter: To move or act in a halting or spasmodic manner.

   Shyness, social anxiety, stuttering and indecisiveness are all related forms of an action being halted. There is an ebb and flow to relationships and conversation. There is a natural exchange between energies when people relate to each other. If our personalities and attitudes are inconsistent, this exchange will be as well.

   We fool ourselves everyday into believing that people think we are who we act like we are. What we don’t see are the thousands of unconscious signals people pick up in our voices, eyes and body language. People see us for exactly who we are, if we are insecure everyone knows no matter how well we think we hide it. We’ve all looked into the eyes of someone lying to us, we know their lying to us and sit there uncomfortably listening to them lie with no idea we know. We do the same thing every time we act inauthentically to who we truly are. Everyone sees it, they just don’t say anything.

   This is where the complication is. Were all insecure, shy and anxious. It’s the cover up that people are repelled by not the actual mental state. If I speak to someone and I stutter; their first thought is, this guy stutters. If I speak to someone and pretend not to stutter; their first thought is, this guy is awkward. The way you see yourself inside your head is exactly how others see you. You just don’t know it because they are trying to hide the fact they see it, just as hard as your trying to pretend. 

   I know I ramble when I write, take too long to make a point and am the king of run on sentences. This is obvious to everyone who reads my work. I’ve tried to fix it but it’s my style. It is my authentic art, I write like I talk and if I edit it the sincerity of my words are lost. I admire writers who can follow the rules and come across as authentic but I’m not there yet. I will be, but not yet. I still publish my flawed work because I’m not trying to get an A in composition, I’m trying to be real and connect with the imperfect parts of people that I’m in love with.

   Spit it out Shane, what’s the point?

   Oh ya, good idea. The point is that we don’t trust ourselves to be able to handle ourselves so we create shields and/or other personalities to hide our vulnerabilities. The more confident we become the less we need these defenses to adjust to each transition and therefore they become obsolete. Shyness, anxiety and fear are defenses. They protect us from being seen as we truly are. What we fail to realize is that showing up in the world as who we really are is the foundation for authentic relationships, advantageous business ventures and an unbridled passion for life that attracts people, opportunities and optimism.

   If you can be yourself; your awkward, stuttering, imperfect self in any and all situations the need for shields and defense mechanisms become a hindrance and they will shed themselves as you outgrow them. Confidence is not the cause or effect of the things you don’t like about yourself but the ability to be yourself.

   Photo Credit [Krasimira Nevenova] ©

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