Self-Worth….. What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you say “self-worth?” Is it confidence? Is it prosperity? Is it success? Perhaps it’s an image; one that cultivates positivity and growth. It may be the idea that how you feel comes from some inner place of power and strength. Herein lies the juxtaposition of me and the inner place of my stuttering self. If you are from my generation – born around the 60’s – then you may have grown up in a world where stuttering wasn’t talked about much. My world was a time in which stuttering wasn’t even well known. I still remember the many myths about stuttering cures such as speaking with a pencil in your mouth so that you won’t stutter. Perhaps it was the one that if you didn’t brush your teeth for one year, then you’d be cured from stuttering. My favorite was the one the therapist told me which was that the reason I stuttered had to do with feeling safe. Somehow I stuttered because I didn’t feel safe.
So what does the logical associations of self-worth and the myths about stuttering have to do with SELF-WORTH? ……..In my experience, stuttering impacts self-worth and self-worth arises from stuttering. In other words, my relationship with my stuttering provided me with little self-worth and as our relationship grew and morphed, it birthed powerful self-love.
This process of reflection, self-awareness and commitment was NOT easy. I describe this process like a war – a war with my stutter evading speaking opportunities then sinking into the black hole of self-hate and anger. As I began to attend self-help groups I began to see a different way of being; a different way of living. I was forced to address the imposter that took hold of my authentic self and eventually took off the mask of fluency.
My battles were bloody and often I felt that I couldn’t win the war with stuttering. It was when I surrounded myself with others in the same line of fire that I felt I could walk one more day with this pain yet have some hope even if it felt dim. This hope grew with time. During these meetings, the space of speaking in your own way honored my broken-down self-worth. It was my fellow fighters and their stories that gave me the insight to merge my stuttering self with my authentic self and herein took root my growing self-worth. I grew to stutter well and acknowledge the intersection of my identity – one that had many social realms.
What is your definition of self-worth and does it relate to stuttering?
Dr. Liz Mendez-Shannon, MSW
Wednesday, October 5, 2016
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