For Women Who Stutter, saying your name is one of the most difficult words to say. You know it well, and yet, when you are asked for your name, you can’t. It can be most embarrassing. You may repeat the first sound in your name or you may block completely, not able to get that word out for several seconds. You can’t substitute another name for yours. It has to be your exact name.
Your name holds your identity – all the parts of yourself that you associate with. This includes your personality, your intellect, your integrity; it is who you really are.
People who are fluent can easily say their name automatically and on demand. It just happens.
Not being able to say your name casts an emotional scar. This scar thickens and spreads, becoming stronger each time you are asked to say your name. Even just thinking about having to say your name or knowing that you will be asked for your name, triggers anxiety.
Pain, Shame and Embarrassment … When You Can’t Say Your Name
And Turning That Around
Because your name is such a fundamental part of who you are, not being able to say it causes pain, shame and embarrassment. These feelings accumulate on all levels: physically, mentally and emotionally.
While there are many downsides to not being able to say your name automatically, here are some positive ways to counteract the negative.
Let’s look at each side of the Name coin
Stuttering and Saying Your Name
|Seeing Another Side|
|Your intelligence is questioned.||You appear confident and intelligent.|
|You’re embarrassment and stress skyrockets.||You show confidence and tenacity by getting through saying your name and not giving up.|
|Everyone stares at you.||You are noticed. This may be the first and only time fluent people have a chance to witness stuttering and develop compassion.|
|Stuttering on your name adds stress to every episode.||Your confidence and determination grow when you don’t let your stuttering hold you back.|
|Fluent people don’t know what stuttering really is. They are rude, cut you off, laugh and mimic you.||
By letting the moment happen, fluent people will know that stuttering is real. This is a profoundly educational for them.
|You consider changing your name to one that is easier to say.||You have tools to help you say your name fluently.|
Try This Technique – To Easily Say Your Name
There are many tips and tricks to help women who stutter. Often you just want to get through the situation and then not worry about it until it happens again.
But each time you have difficulty saying your name, fear accumulates. Then it dissipates when the situation is over. But that fear is quick to rise again the next time you have to say your name. A habitual cycle is developing,
This technique provides you with an integrated cue to help to say your name. We are interrupting that habitual cycle. We’re using other senses that you already have, to stimulate a new and fluent path to your brain. This new neural pathway prepares you to say your name easily and on command.
- In front of a mirror, look at yourself in the eye and say your first name.
- Notice how you said it and if there was any tension in your face, mouth, throat, neck or shoulders when saying your name.
- Now place your hand underneath your chin casually, as if you were holding your chin in deep thought. This is a natural, subtle gesture.
- Looking in the mirror and keeping eye contact, say your name again, lightly touching your chin with your hand. Was your name easier to say? How did it feel?
- Repeat step 4, three more times.
- Practice saying your name to close family and friends, using this hand to chin contact. Tell them that you are rewiring your brain so you can say your name more easily. You need practice. Ask them to say, “ What is your name?”, to catch you off guard and to put pressure on you to say your name more quickly. Practice this technique 20 times with 5 different people. Notice your experiences, successes and challenges. Observe the other person’s reactions.
- Repeat step, two more times with different people and in different situations. As you become more comfortable saying your name, gradually move your hand away from your chin, touching with one finger and eventually, with no contact.
Notice how you feel saying your name fluently.
Now reflect on stressful times saying your name, for example:
introducing yourself to a new group,
checking in for an appointment,
saying your name to put on your Starbucks cup or
leaving voice messages.
Compare your stress level. Do you have less fear and anticipation?
Now celebrate and enjoy your accomplishment.
Linda Hurkot is a communication enhancement ambassador for People Who Stutter, specializing in women who stutter. Linda helps professional women who stutter integrate speech into a natural way of communicating with a proprietary program called, The Easy Speaking for Stutterers’ program. You can take a sneak peek