|About the author: Sybren Bouwsma – 39 years old from the Netherlands. I have been stuttering all my life and I am an active member of the Dutch Stuttering Association. I attended and organized several international meetings for people who stutter. I have a background in Public Administration, Ethics and Social Research. I recently graduated as Outdoor Life Coach and now working as Nature Coach and Online Coach and coach people in their personal development. See http://www.orangeraven.org/en for more information.|
Stuttering has caused a lot problems and frustration in my life: bullying at school, it was hard to make contact with other people and for a long time I had a low self-esteem. Although my stuttering is still a limitation in my life, it has also become a huge driving force in my personal development.
When I get into a situation in which I stutter, I still feel a lot of unrest that impede me. Besides the impediment, I learned to use my stuttering as a signal to stay with my attention close to myself in order to help me to speak better. Because I stutter, I am much more aware of myself than I would have been otherwise.
I am not only very aware of myself, but I am also conscious of the reactions of others to my stuttering. These reactions (of people who don’t stutter) can be very different, from empathy to impatience or insecurity. Especially negative reactions or laughter can be very arduous to me. However, I don’t see it as a direct response to me anymore, but that I am just triggering a feeling. The emotion I evoke by the fact that I stutter says a lot about the other person, as I am a kind of mirror for the feeling of the other. I sometimes ask about the feeling that the other experiences behind his reaction. This can leads to a very interesting conversation, in which they often admit that because of my stutter I help them to understand themselves better.
In my life I have met a lot other people who stutter. Many of the people I’ve met seem to be very self-aware and sensitive to their environment. I think behind our self-awareness and sensitivity lies an enormous power that we can use to create more awareness in our direct environment. And if we combine our experiences we could be like a big mirror that can help to bring more reflection and understanding in the world…
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