Finding Our Resilience to Bounce Back – Devora Levi and Uri Schneider

About the Authors:

Devora Levi is 20 years old. This year she is starting a semester of elective studies in a new academic institution.  She arrives at this new “beginning” with the experience of growing up with a stutter, hiding it “very well” for years. In high school she emerged from her covert cover, to reveal her true self, speaking-up and participating more fully in her life.  She found herself working as a waitress/server at the local café and completing 2 years of national service in a national security unit. These opportunities represent activities and roles she never dreamt as possibilities for herself just a few years earlier.  (She wrote this in 2018.)

Uri Schneider, M.A. CCC-SLP is a partner at Schneider Speech (USA and Israel) and faculty at the School of Medicine at University of California at Riverside. Uri is recognized for his clinical impact, educational engagement and empowering trainings.  He embodies a broad range of professional experience; deep commitment to advancing professional excellence in the field; and personal care for all people to become their best.

Uri is an international leader in clinical care, professional development and advocacy.  He is active lecturing around the world, publishing articles – most recently hosting a podcast series “Conversations” and regular virtual meet-ups for parents, teens and adults.  Uri co-produced two documentaries “Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story” and “Going with the Flow: A Guide to Transcending Stuttering” and the most recent Transcending Stuttering Series of online experiences including independent learning and group therapy.

Uri enjoys running and spending time with his family (wife and four children).

FINDING OUR RESILIENCE TO BOUNCE BACK.

  • RESILIENCE IN EVOLUTION: THE UNFOLDING SINGLE STORY
    Written by Devora Levi, a young woman who stutters
  • RESILIENCE IS ON THE WAY: THE MULTIPLICITY OF STORIES
    Video of people who stutter telling multiplicity of personal stories with collective theme 
  • KEYS TO UNLOCK RESILIENCE: A FRAMEWORK AND KEYS FOR YOU
    Professional wisdom and valuable keys for living with resilience

RESILIENCE IN EVOLUTION: THE UNFOLDING SINGLE STORY

Devora Levi is 20 years old.  This year she is starting a semester of elective studies in a new academic institution.  She arrives at this new “beginning” with the experience of growing up with a stutter, hiding it “very well” for years, and in high school she emerged from her covert cover, to reveal her true self, speaking-up and participating more fully in her life.  She found herself working as a waitress/server at the local café and completing 2 years of national service in a national security unit. These opportunities represent activities and roles she never dreamt as possibilities for herself just a few years earlier. 

And at the same time, as much as she has emerged, she is still on the journey.  She shares how “acceptance” is not a destination.  Rather, it is an unfolding process of increasing the strength, fortitude and drive to be true to one’s self, even as the feelings of fear, shame and holding back crop-up again and again.  This is her story of resilience, in real-time, in real-life, on the first day of a new academic program:

Am I dreading this group meeting today? Absolutely. This is still something I don’t enjoy, and still I know for sure my heart will be pounding as my turn to speak gets closer. 

But hey, a couple of years ago I would have decided to just run away to the bathroom and escape the situation altogether.  I’m not going to do that this time. 

I’m gonna speak and I’m gonna stutter (or not), and I’m gonna make the best of it.  And honestly, usually it works out better than I thought it would.  

For me, it’s all about the fear.  My stutter is what it is (and if I’m being honest, it really isn’t severe), but my mindset can change. 

 I used to feel; if other people saw me stutter, then it would be the end of the world for me.  But I’ve come to understand; who cares if I stutter?  It just doesn’t matter (as much as I used to believe it did.)  

When I was younger, it was about showing others I was “flawless.”  Now, I am driven every day to prove to myself that I can do it.

RESILIENCE IS ON THE WAY: THE MULTIPLICITY OF STORIES

In the pursuit of resilience and the art of bouncing back, there is no “one-size-fits-all.”  We all need something a little different.  Rather than following one story, we can learn more through the multiplicity of stories.

“Hitting Bottom and Bouncing Back” is a poignant chapter in our documentary film, “Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story”.

This chapter is a familiar one for many of us in our personal life stories.  It is the chapter of being put down by others and feeling down with ourselves.  The novelty is how we go through that chapter, and how we write the next ones.  Sometimes, in the times of adversity, struggle and even pain, we discover pivotal points of turn-around.

Each individual story will resonate differently for each of us, 

Nonetheless, there is immeasurable value in the multiplicity of stories.  

REFLECTIONS

As you watch the film clip and read the “Ten Keys of Resilient Living”

  1. What similarities and strengths do you already have in your life?
  2. What are some lessons/areas to help you “bounce back” and be more resilient?

ISAD clip from Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story

  1. Michael – independently decides to change a habit (not raising his hand in class.)
  2. Taro – takes a chance to open-up and talk to a friend, rather than panicking, stressing and suffering in isolation.
  3. Steven – restores believing in himself through the encouragement and recognition of his his coach and teammates
  4. Alan – reflects on and clarifies his values and life mission to be an advocate for victims of human recklessness
  5. Frankie – leans into music and creative expression to tap into his story and help others through theirs

KEYS TO UNLOCK RESILIENCE: A FRAMEWORK AND KEYS FOR YOU

INSIDE-OUT FRAMEWORK

Are you also looking for the secrets of resilient living?

You won’t find “out there.”  Because the greatest wisdom is “in there.”

No one knows YOU better than YOU do.  You are the expert of you, more than anyone else.  

Are you looking for the strength to “bounce back”?

You won’t get it from someone else.  The “strength” you need is inside of you.

No one else can flex your muscles for you.

Whether it’s the courage to rise-up and rise-above the hurdles, or strength to endure the journey, the power lies within.  

You might not feel it yet, but it’s there. 
When it gets squeezed, pressed and tapped, the power within starts to flow and express itself more and more in your life.

TEN KEYS TO RESILIENT LIVING

This is a practical framework for developing our resilience, from leading professional, Dr. Robert Brooks’ “Ten Keys of Resilient Living.”  

Resilient individuals possess a particular mindset and accompanying skills that help them respond to life’s challenges with confidence and grace. Dr. Robert Brooks

Ten Keys to Resilient Living, Robert Brooks, PhD. 

Key #1: Rewrite Your Negative Scripts

Key #2: Choose a Path to Become Stress Hardy Rather Than Stressed Out

Key #3: View Life Through the Eyes of Others

Key #4: Communicate Effectively

Key #5: Accept Yourself and Others

Key #6: Make Connections and Display Compassion

Key #7: Learn to Deal with Mistakes

Key #8: Learn to Deal with Success and Build Islands of Competence

Key #9: Continue Developing Self-Discipline and Self-Control

Key #10: Maintaining Your Resilient Lifestyle Takes Work

“A Resilient Mindset Will Change Your Life” Dr. Robert Brooks

RESOURCES

ISAD clip from Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story

Dr. Robert Brooks
Assistant Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School

Read:

Ten Keys to Resilient Living, Robert Brooks, PhD. 

Watch:

Lecture at Harvard University

Short Bite-Size Clips

 666 total views,  1 views today

Comments

Finding Our Resilience to Bounce Back – Devora Levi and Uri Schneider — 25 Comments

  1. You go Devora! You have a voice, and I’m sure what you say is worth repeating. 😉 So proud of you for coming this far. You learned from the master and I’m sure your going to pay it forward to other people who stutter and to the public, because we have a story to tell to make people understand what stuttering is all about and to skip the shame, the fear and all the rumours around stuttering. Instead they can get information from the expert: you!

    Stay safe and keep talking.

    Anita

    • Thank you Anita!
      I know Devora saw your comment and had some trouble logging in.
      Thank you for your leadership and example… and friendship.

  2. Devora, your story is beautiful and honest – thank you for sharing it with the community. It’s so special that although we all have similarities our voices and stories are uniquely ours. Our ability to accept ourselves and learn from ourselves allows us the ability to truly be present for other people. Uri, the resources and words you shared here are valuable and have provided me (once again) an opportunity to self-reflect.
    Thank you both for inspiring!

    • As usual, Tiffany you are very thoughtful and generous.
      Thank you for your comment.

    • Thank you Tiffany! I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share with the community.

  3. Hi Devora,

    What a lovely story. Congratulations on your journey so far. Funny, I’m 54; I’m a speech-language pathologist; and I’ve been working on my communication for 30 years; and there are still times when “I know for sure my heart will be pounding as my turn to speak gets closer”! What you have discovered, much earlier than I ever did, is that it’s not the pounding heart that matters – it’s having to heart to lean into what frightens us, and to keep on going. Wishing you all the very best in your continuing journey,

    Rob Dellinger

    • Thanks Rob – for your comment, openness and sharing…
      You are a role model for many many of us.
      PWS, SLP’s as well as non-PWS and non-SLP’s…
      Humans.

    • Couldn’t agree more with what you said – “it’s not the pounding heart that matters – it’s having the heart to lean into what frightens us, and to keep on going”
      Thank you Rob for the comment!

  4. Hi Devora,

    Wow, thank you sharing your story. I really appreciated how honest you were in saying that where you are now is something you worked to get to. You stopped trying to be “flawless” in front of others which in turn increased your confidence and drive to just be yourself. I feel like so many people, including myself, sometimes want to put on this display to others that isn’t who we are. But, as we all know, no one is “flawless” and trying to always act flawless just increases our self-awareness on everything we view as negative about ourselves. Once we accept and love ourselves for who we are, our whole attitude and outlook changes. We stop worrying about the little things and start focusing on the positives. Thank you for sharing your story with the community and educating others on resilience.

    Best,
    Mandie Hill

    • Mandie, thank you. I love what you wrote:
      “Once we accept and love ourselves for who we are, our whole attitude and outlook changes. We stop worrying about the little things and start focusing on the positives”

  5. a. Hi Devora,
    I really enjoyed your story and if I am able to work with students who stutter once I am a speech therapist I think that I would try and make this required reading for all of them. I am sure that being able to find your true self must have been a very difficult task to accomplish, especially in the high school years to boot. Being able to tell yourself for situations such as public speaking that you will stutter and it will be okay just shows how comfortable you have become with your stutter and is definitely something to admire. Your closing sentence of proving to other people that you can “do it” is something that I believe other people who stutter should aspire to achieve as well. Being able to “overcome” a stutter is no easy feat, and changing a person’s mentality to achieve that same level that you are at is something that I hope to be able to coach my students through as well one day.

    Chris Truong

  6. Thank you Anita!
    I know Devora saw your comment and had some trouble logging in.
    Thank you for your leadership and example… and friendship.

  7. Devora,

    Thank you so much for sharing your story! I love the emphasis you place on acceptance not being a destination but an ongoing process of being comfortable with yourself and with your stutter. The juxtaposition between your old and new self in your 2018 article demonstrates how your shift in perspective resulted in personal resilience and acceptance. As a graduate student in speech-language pathology I hope to convey these foundational pillars of self-acceptance, strength, and fearlessness to the individuals I serve.

    -Justin

  8. Hello Devora and Uri,
    I really liked how you included your personal experiences and your journey to acceptance. It puts into perspective how people who stutter feel about their challenges and fears of stuttering. I also appreciate how you mentioned that resilience is not one size fits all. This goes hand in hand with “no one knows YOU better than YOU do.” I completely agree with this. It is important to note that everybody is different and deal with adversity in different ways, but ultimately you know yourself best to bounce back. However, it is still important to support and accept one another (Key #5). Thank you, I really enjoyed reading this article and learning about your journey that continues to influence many people.
    -Jessica Hoang

  9. Hi Devora and Uri,
    This was a really great read! It was really interesting to see what your exact thought process is as you mentally prepare yourself to speak on your first day, from recognizing and accepting the fear and still choosing to speak no matter if you stuttered and the thoughts of others. You took power over your stutter by accepting it and choosing to make the best of whatever happens, building your resiliency. This aligns with the inside-out framework in that it focuses on the individual and that they are the ones who truly have power over their stutter. As a graduate student in speech language pathology, stuttering is something I am still learning about and it is so insightful to learn about your own firsthand thoughts! In addition, I really enjoyed the ten keys mentioned toward resilient living. I really enjoyed Key #4, “Communicate Effectively” because this tells me that what is most important is that you are able to convey your meanings across, stutter or no stutter. I find that this have been one important lesson that has frequently been reiterated in my class, which is to be able to speak your mind and not let your stutter get in the way of finishing your thoughts. There is still so much for me to learn as a student and reading this paper has certainly broadened my knowledge on stuttering. Thank you so much!

  10. Hi Devora and Uri,

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories and thoughts. I really like your idea that “acceptance is not a destination.” I believe this holds true in all areas of life, not just stuttering. However, as a future SLP, I think it is very important to consider the fact that just because a PWS has found the strength to be themself, doesn’t mean they won’t have days where that fear creeps back in. Your description of how you were dreading the group meeting but still decided to go was inspiring and empowering. Like everything in life, we accomplish big and scary things in steps. Whereas once you ran away, it just took one time decideding to show up; whereas once you only showed up, it just took one time to decide to speak. The hardest thing to come to terms with is that it is what is and in the grand scheme it doesn’t matter as much as you think it does. I found the point that the strength for resilience cannot be found through anyone else interesting. I definitely agree that ultimately the power lies and must be found within. However, I’ve learned that the nurturing and growth of resilience can be heavily influenced by support from adults or even other PWS. Do you think that PWS can benefit from support from others on their journey to resilience in addition to finding the strength within? Thank you for including the video clip in your paper. I really enjoyed hearing all of the unique stories. Each individual was resilient and didn’t let the challenges set them back. They learned from their experiences which allowed them to bounce back.

    Best, Nicole

    • Nicole, thank you for your thoughtful response.
      If you liked the short clips, you can see the full documentary “Transcending Stuttering: The Inside Story” and “Going with the Flow: A Guide to Transcending Stuttering” online.

  11. I want to thank the founders, sponsors and moderators of this wonderful conference!

    More than ever, we have YOU to thank for making this possible.
    Before Zoom was a thing, before a pandemic forced us to submit to our global connectivity and planetary universality…
    YOU had the vision and made the ffort to make THIS happen, year after year…

    And it gets better and better.
    Thank you!

  12. Hello Devora and Uri. Thank you for sharing such an inspiring story. Beginning your journey towards acceptance despite your fears and vulnerabilities demonstrates great strength. As an SLP graduate student, I had the chance to listen to other adults who stutter share similar stories of forging ahead through the arduous, and often nonlinear, journey to acceptance. I think you bring up a great point of cultivating a form of acceptance and resilience that is personally meaningful to you. I also think it was insightful to bring about the concept of accountability for yourself during the journey, and finding strength and willingness to keep moving forward inside of you.