The Importance of an Outward Focus in Taking Control of My Stutter

“The biggest communication problem is that we do not listen to understand. We listen to reply.” ~Anonymous

I love this quote because I think it is so relevant for our world today. I feel as if we, including myself, have forgotten what it really means to listen to others. Between politics and social issues, people are screaming their own opinions left and right, often with little intention to consider someone else’s point of view. Sadly, just a few minutes on social media reveals how unkind people can become in their efforts to be heard. People often resort to any means necessary, whether by interrupting, criticizing, or putting someone else’s opinion down, to promote their own opinions. Even in everyday conversation, we can become so worried about responding that we fail at the most crucial part of conversation-listening.

Why am I writing about this today? Every single day, I have to make a choice. Will I let my stutter dominate every conversation, or will I take my eyes off my own situation and choose to see others? Without even realizing it, I can become so inwardly focused in the moment of stuttering. My mind rolls through several rounds of mental gymnastics, frantically searching through my reserve of synonyms, imagining worst possible scenarios, silently practicing what I plan to say, and trying to subdue the normal anxiety that always accompanies stuttering.

Think about it for a second. . .If my mind is clouded with all of these extra things, will I have anything left to give to the person standing in front of me?  Will I ever truly see others if all I’m thinking about is my stutter? In other words, will I ever see others if I am only thinking about myself? The answer to each of these questions is NO.  

At any moment during a conversation, my mind could be in complete chaos, yet the other person never even knows it. But I know it, and I deeply desire to calm that storm in my mind so I can concentrate on what’s most important~others. This is why I am on a determined mission to conquer the fear of stuttering and to find speaking techniques that will least distract my attention away from the conversation.

Stuttering completely captivates me when it happens, but I must make the choice to break free. I can’t ignore it. I can’t hide from it. I can’t do anything to make it go away. However, I can take control of it with God’s strength so that I can truly open my heart to others, give them my full attention, and shift my focus where it is supposed to be…OUTWARD.  

I firmly believe that choosing to see others is a key to overcoming the anxieties that surround stuttering. Really, choosing to see others is the key to overcoming so many of our insecurities in life. If we’re focusing on others, listening intently to every word they say, hearing about their hopes and dreams, hearing about their interests, hearing about what drives them and makes their hearts sing. . .what time will we have left to think about ourselves?

Will you take the challenge with me? This coming weekend, determine to listen with the full intention to understand, not just hear.

I don’t know about you, but I think it would radically change our world.

Much love, Kenzie


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