What is Resilience?- Hanan Hurwitz

About the Author:

Hanan Hurwitz is an electronics engineer, presently working as an independent Quality Management consultant at Hurwitz Consulting. He is also presently the Executive Director of the Israeli Stuttering Association, AMBI

Hanan is a person who stutters (PWS) who started on his Journey of understanding stuttering in 2010, when he attended the National Stuttering Association annual conference.

In writing this paper, I am presenting my own thoughts and opinions which seem accurate for me at this point in time. There are other thoughts and opinions, and it will be beneficial to discuss these with you, the Reader, during the online conference. I am writing from the perspective of a person who stutters, but I recognize and respect that parents of children who stutter face similar adversity, and I hope that such parents can learn, too, about developing the Resilience they need in order to survive and thrive, and to enable their children to thrive.

It helps me to first take time to think about what ‘Resilience’ means. There are many definitions from a variety of teachers, but the following ones have helped me:

  • Sharon Salzberg, a world-renowned meditation teacher wrote in the June 2020 issue of Mindful Magazine that “When we feel pain and yet we can go on, that’s how we build resilience.”
  • Linda Graham writes that resilience is “the capacity to bend with the wind, go with the flow, bounce back from adversity.”
  • Editors of the now-defunct magazine “Going Bonkers” once wrote “Resilience is the ability to decide that you can deal constructively with the slings and arrows of misfortune.” They added in the same section, that “Bouncing back from adversity is about making the decision that no matter what happens to you, you’re going to learn from it, and move on.”

The description from “Going Bonkers” helps me the most. Resilience is not some personal characteristic that we either have or do not have, but rather it is something that we can create. This should give us hope. 

We create resilience by actively deciding to “deal constructively” with the challenges in our lives. Then, we take actions to actually deal with those challenges.

Thus, we are not dependent on whether we “have it” or not, this characteristic called Resilience, but we create it. We do so by:

  1. Deciding to take action to deal with adversity, and
  2. Taking action to deal with that adversity.

Bouncing back from adversity is part of this. By making a decision to deal actively with our struggles, and taking action aligned with that decision, we enable ourselves to bounce back.

The good news is that actively creating resilience helps us to be better equipped to face the next round of adversity. There will always be adversity of one sort or another in our lives, so it seems both necessary and rational to actively build our resilience so that we can bounce back from adversity.

How is Resilience Relevant to Stuttering?

The experience of stuttering is traumatic for most people who stutter. We face adversity when we speak, and even when we think about speaking. In the latter case, we face adversity from ourselves, from our own negative self-talk. We often face ridicule, and are subjected to opinions of others that we are diminished in our worth and capabilities. 

We face an unseen but deeply felt adversary which is the stigma of stuttering. We adopt the societal stigma of stuttering, and create our own self-stigma. We believe the stigma, believe that stuttering is something wrong or bad, and we create our own self-talk about how we should not stutter.

The messaging we get, and the self-messaging that we create as a result, tell us: You are not good enough. You cannot do what you want to do, so settle for something less. Give up your dreams and aspirations.

We do not have a choice about the fact of the stigma of stuttering, but we have a choice about how to relate to it:

  • We can accept the dictates of the stigma of stuttering, and settle back and compromise on the lives that we want for ourselves, or
  • We can refuse to accept those dictates, and decide to pursue and achieve what we want, irrespective of the stigma and the opinions of others.

It is not trivial to do this. So, how do we create Resilience in ourselves, and how do we bounce back? How do we pick ourselves up and carry on working to live the life that we want for ourselves?

The first step might be to examine the Words.

The Power of our Words

Words have power. The words that we use affect how we feel and how we behave. The language we use to describe our experiences with stuttering influences our emotions and then our judgements of ourselves. This “language” refers to both the words we speak, and the words we think.

Letting go of negative words and emotions enables us to let go of negative judgements of ourselves.

Some examples:

  • My speech today was “bad.” By using the word “bad,” I am judging myself, and finding myself guilty of doing something bad. I am making myself feel bad, making myself feel unworthy. From thinking my speech is “bad,” I quickly go to believing that I am bad, and that I must do that “bad” way of speaking again.
  • My speech today was “good.” By using the word “good,” I am again judging myself. I am reinforcing the fear and the shame that I feel about my stuttering, setting myself up to feel anxious about the next speaking situation, in case I am not able to speak in a “good” way.

The language we use affects the way we think about stuttering and about our self-worth. We create a destructive cycle since and the way we think about stuttering further affects the language that we use to describe it.

Louise Hay writes: “Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.” Interesting, right? But it’s tricky, since our negative judgement of our stuttering comes from a deeply rooted belief that stuttering is something wrong, something abnormal that is often compared to “normal” speech.

However, is that belief correct? In the context of Byron Katie’s “The Work”, can we examine if that belief is true?

So, perhaps one of the first steps in building resilience can be examining the language we use, observing how we feel when we use negative language, and learning to change the words we use. We can change the way we think and speak about stuttering. A superb resource is Stuttertalk.com, who’s byline is “Changing how you think about stuttering.”

The Power of the Written Word

Another thing that Dr Sheehan wrote in “Message to a Stutterer” is that (effective) clinical treatment will not be available to most of us, and therefore “Whatever you do you’ll have to do pretty much on your own with those ideas and sources you can use.”

In my “Journey with Words,” reading and learning about stuttering has been key to me being able to build some resilience, and to bounce back from complete and utter despair. It is helpful to read certain self-help books, too, specifically those that help us understand our fears, shame, and uncertainty. My suggested list of books appears at the end of this paper.

Do our Words Need to be Fluent?

Dr Joseph Sheen, in Message to a Stutterer, wrote the following:

Here are two principles which you can use to your advantage, once you understand them: they are 

(1) your stuttering doesn’t hurt you; 

(2) your fluency doesn’t do you any good. 

There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you stutter and there’s nothing to be proud of when you are fluent. 

Numerous famous (and infamous) people speak fluently, and yet they often do immeasurable damage to society. Just pick from a number of dictators, despots and corrupt politicians, and think for a moment on whether their fluency actually brings benefit or harm to society.

I am fortunate to know many people who stutter who are excellent communicators. The problem is not stuttering; rather, the problem is our judgement of the way people speak, and our inability to listen patiently while someone else speaks. The problem is our judgment of ourselves and our thinking that the way we speak is important to the message we want to convey. No, it’s actually not.

You are not Alone

It is extremely difficult to manage adversity when we feel alone. Self-help and support groups for people who stutter exist in many countries. Support group meetings are (as of 2020) increasingly held online, enabling more people to join. Knowing that we are not alone, and being able to discuss stuttering with other people who stutter, is another crucial element of building resilience. When I have a tough day with stuttering, I know that I can reach out to others and get empathy and support. This enables me to bounce back, to carry on trying to live the life that I want for myself, irrespective of my stuttering.

Advocating for Ourselves

In a world where the stigma of stuttering remains prominent, and where our vision of “A World that Understands Stuttering” has not yet been realized, we need to advocate for ourselves. We have a responsibility to ourselves to not give in to the dictates of society, to not accept the opinions of others that we are less capable than them. 

The Stuttering Foundation recently created a public service ad with the message that “There is nothing a child who stutters cannot do!” We can adopt this powerful message for ourselves.

It is necessary for us to be able to explain about stuttering to others. They don’t understand about stuttering; they are often fed from the myths and stigma about stuttering, and so it is our responsibility to explain. It is our responsibility to take charge of the discussion about our stuttering.

A good example of this is the job interview scenario. As candidates for a job going through an interview, we have a responsibility to ourselves to be open and unapologetic about our stuttering, to explain about stuttering, and to explain how our stuttering will not prevent us from doing the job.

If we do not advocate for ourselves, we allow the “other” to determine the narrative about our stuttering and about our capabilities.

Changing the Way we Think About Stuttering

It is not about “overcoming” stuttering. Rather, it is about overcoming the perceived necessity to not stutter. Overcoming stuttering is about overcoming the self-imposed limitations that we place on ourselves, and overcoming the self-limiting self-talk that we engage in. It is not about fluency; it is not about stopping to stutter.

Start with “It’s ok to stutter.” Continue with changing the way we think so that we can see that stuttering is “a difference, not a defect.” These are key examples of the power of words. As long we think of our stuttering as a defect, it will limit us. When we are able to see it as a difference, we start to attain freedom from those self-limiting thoughts and beliefs. We build resilience to the myths about stuttering, and to the dictates of a world that does not (yet) understand stuttering.

Conclusion

We do not have a choice about whether we stutter or not. We do, however, have a choice about how we think about stuttering. Changing the way we think and changing the words we use to describe our stuttering give us the Resilience to Bounce Back. In many cases it will also change the outcomes of those difficult situations. 

Here is a summary of some actions that we can take to build Resilience:

  • Examine the language we use, and understand the power of our words
  • Educate ourselves on stuttering and on ourselves
  • Join support groups for people who stutter
  • Question our thoughts, beliefs and self-imposed limitations about stuttering
  • Advertise our stuttering, and advocate for ourselves
  • Actively change the way we think about stuttering

A Few References

Books on Stuttering

  • A Life Bound Up in Words: Marty Jezer
  • Inspiring Stories and Professional Wisdom: StutterTalk
  • Out With It: Katherine Preston
  • From Stuttering to Fluency: Gunars Neiders
  • Stuttering is Cool: Daniele Rossi
  • Stammering Therapy from the Inside: Cheasman, Everard and Simpson
  • Mindfulness and Stuttering: Ellen-Marie Silverman
  • Easy Stuttering – Avoidance-Reduction Therapy: Sheehan, Shanks, Mereu
  • Stammering Pride and Prejudice: Campbell, Constantino, and Simpson

Books on Changing the Way We Think

  • The Gifts of Imperfection: Brene Brown
  • Full Catastrophe Living: Jon Kabat Zinn
  • Man’s Search for Meaning: Viktor Frankle
  • The Choice: Edith Egar
  • The Happiness Trap: Russ Harris
  • The Reality Slap: Russ Harris
  • The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: Mark Manson

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Comments

What is Resilience?- Hanan Hurwitz — 59 Comments

  1. Hi Hanan,
    What a wonderful paper–as one would expect coming from you. I love the idea of the language you use and how it influences your thinking. I am a true believer that language influences our thoughts and emotions. However, I don’t believe you can change the way you think many times. Thoughts are ingrained in memories and you cannot change memories. I like to think “accept your thoughts” rather than “change your thoughts.” Perhaps even sorting thoughts into “helpful” or “not helpful” and adding to rather than changing. When you try to change a thought and it still pops up, then you can be frustrated that you didn’t “think more positively.” From my experience in working with people who stutter, thinking positively is way overrated. It buries true emotions/thoughts that surface at times when they are most unhelpful.

    Let’s embrace those thoughts, defuse or distance them, generate new helpful thoughts and develop resilience based on our experiences; be they pleasant or uncomfortable. This is true resilience.
    be well,
    Rita

  2. Hi Rita,

    I loved learning with you and from you about “The Language We Use”.

    Thank you for your comments. By “changing our thouights”, I had meant, for example, instead of me thinking (believing, actually) that stuttering is bad, think (belive) that it’s ok to stutter.

    I understand your points about accepting our thoughts, and about positive thinking. I. too, am not a fan of positive thinking, and I find the acceptance (the embracing of) of difficult thoughts and feelings to be helpful, as opposed to trying to suppress or change them.

    I should have been more specific in my description of what I meant by “Changing the way we think about stuttering”, and I welcome yuor commments.

    Thank you so much, Rita.

    • I am sensitive to the comment of “It’s OK to stutter” because I was confronted by a young man recently, who had been very involved in my support groups since a young child. He had graduated from college and started his first job and lost a promotion because of his stuttering. He was angry at me for promoting a dialog of “it’s OK to stutter.” He said that he was finding many people who did not believe that.

      Perhaps the message that we want to promote with children, teens and adults is: accepting stuttering doesn’t mean you like it and it can feel really uncomfortable at times. That is a natural reaction and helps you develop resilience. If you never face adversity, you never have the opportunity to bounce back. What is the language you use to make you value communication over fluency? What is the language you use to make you enter into a communication situation with confidence. I have stopped “giving people the language” and allowing them to find their own to promotes acceptance, resilience and growth.

      Thanks again for the paper. I always learn so much from you.

      • Hi Rita

        Absolutely: Acceptance does not mean that the experience of stuttering is easy or comfortable. Here, however, each person will choose their approach, and that moght change over time. Some PWS write about liking or loving their stutter, and I think that’s awesome. For me personally, I try not to judge it. It simply is. Yes, for me there are many experiences with stuttering that are really difficult. I accept the fact of the difficulty, that the experience is uncomfortable. I no longer get hung up on wishing to change it.

        But as I wrote, the experience of stuttering, and the choice of language, is highly individual. I am simply writing from my perspective, in the hope that is might be of benefit to someone. I am not trying to say “Do this and all will be well”

  3. Interesting thoughts, Hanan. Although difficult, it would do a lot of people a lot of good to get beyond judging their speech, i.e., to use your example, rather than “my speech was bad” or “it was good”, something more like, “my speech was what it was, but I said what I wanted to say.”

    • I love that attitude, Dale: “My speech was what it was, but I said what I wanted to say.”. I think that this affirmation can be extremely helpful to PWS in getting beyond judging our speech.

      Thank you very much

  4. Dear Hanan. As always your thoughts are insightful. Many people asked me, when they heard this year’s theme “What does resilience mean”, and I found it hard to explain. I told you a story and you told me that my story was exactly what resilience was all about. I realized it’s like sitting on a roller coaster, screaming and wanting to get off, and when it’s all over saying ‘Let’s go back on again’. Hopefully this time with someone who’s built coasters and can who explains how they work, and shares the risks and the joys. Until you learn to enjoy the ride. I know you’ve been on many of life’s roller coasters, but now you’re taking others by the hand, leading them towards resilience. Thanks for your insight and the links.

    Stay safe and enjoy the ride my friend. 😉

    Anita

    • Thank you, Anita. You were among the first people to show me how to ride the “roller coaster” of the experience of stuttering, first without drowning in panic, and then to start enjoying it.

      Thank you so much

  5. Hello Hanan,

    Congratulations on another excellent paper. Rather than linger on our many points of solid agreement, I thought it might be more interesting and productive to focus on an area where we may substantially disagree: the work of Byron Katie, the bestselling pop-psychologist (not actual psychologist) whom you mentioned briefly in your paper. I’ve read from Katie’s work, which appears to draw from a combination of traditional cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) techniques and New Age spiritualism, such as the notion that our thoughts determine reality. I find some of what Katie writes to be downright disturbing. For example, in Loving What Is, Katie has an adult victim of childhood abuse and trauma agree that not only was she responsible for her own abuse, but invited it. There has been media coverage surrounding alleged misuse of Katie’s methods and resulting harm. To me, Katie blames and shames victims and calls it The Work, her method of personal inquiry. Here are The Four Questions, which Katie has us ask of any thought:

    1. Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
    2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
    3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
    4. Who would you be without the thought?”

    As I’ve read in an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT)-congruent critique of Katie’s work, it makes sense to be super cautious with this formulation. It would easy to get drawn into the agenda that “believing thoughts is the problem” and “disbelieving thoughts is the solution”- and all of the true/false debating that goes along with it. I find the following ACT-congruent reformulation of these 4 questions (for which I cannot credit) to be especially helpful and workable.

    Four Useful ACT Questions to Ask about a Thought:
    1. Are you hooked by it? (If no, go to 3)
    2. If yes, what effect is it having on you right now?
    3. How do you usually behave when you get hooked by this thought?
    4. What values-consistent “towards moves” would you do if you weren’t hooked by this thought?

    Notice the considerable differences between Byron Katie’s questions and the ACT-informed ones. The differences are extremely important therapeutically. Believing a thought isn’t the same as getting hooked by a thought (fusion, in ACT parlance), and disbelieving a thought isn’t the same as unhooking from it (defusion). Katie’s question, “Who would you be?” sharply contrasts with the question, “What would you do?” My contribution to the analysis is this: The thought, “Who would I be without stuttering?” is a world apart from the thought, “What would I do without stuttering?” The latter, I believe, is a much more stable and effective platform from which to launch into a life with fighting for, full of forward-moving, values-driven actions. At any rate, I appreciate your terrific and thought-provoking paper. I’ve come to expect these from you. All the best,

    Rob Dellinger

    • Hi Rob

      Thank you very much for your response. I appreciate the effort and time that you. I also agree with most of what you write. ACT has, and continues to be, immensely helpful to me in managing my life and emotions, including accepting when I simply cannot manage.

      Regarding Byron Katie in general: Yes, there are many aspects of her teachings that I personally find disturbing, and impractical.

      I do find the 4 questions useful. However, they should be used in conjuction with the basic tenent of Katie’s philosophy, and that is that we suffer when we argue with reality, and when we misinterpret reality. Regarding stuttering, the reality is that I stutter, and that it’s ok to stutter. I suffer when I argue with those statements, when I try to not stutter and when I judge myself harshly for stuttering. So, in the context of the 4 questions, asking ““Who would I be without stuttering?” is not relevant, and is contrary to the essense of the approach. In my opinion.

      A practitioner of The Work whom I know related that Katie had once remarked to him about his being a person who stutters with “Is that true?”. I.e., are you a person who stutters. In my opinion, that remark of hers is unhelpful and harmful, and goes against the basic tenet mentioned above.

      The question is not who I would be without my stuttering. It is: Who I would be without my struggles against the stuttering? And this relates to your remarks about ACT: The thought fusion, beeing hooked by the thoughts, causes us to suffer. That is why it is desireable to be aware of our thoughts, obeserve them non-judgmentally, and defuse (unhook) from them. Unhooking from the thoughts does not mean “positive thinking”; we are not trying to replace the thoughts. We are acknowledging the fact of the thoughts, trying to separate the thoughts from what we know to be true, and choose to act according to our values. This is helpful, to me.

      The challenge with uncomfortable thoughts and feelings (in the words of Russ Harris, I believe) is that we don’t always know what’s true. Here, too, ACT can be helpful as we can choose to tell the thought “You might be true, but you are not helpful to me right now” and then move on. Much simpler to write/say this, than to practice it.

      Sorry it took me so long to respond. I would love to read your response to my response.

      Thank you.

      • Hanan,

        No worries about any delay! I thought your reply was timely, and well considered. Thank you for inviting a response to your thoughtful response. While I’m happy to oblige, I wonder, at this point, if we should initiate a Letter.wiki on the topic to keep our discussion going for a while! That would be terrific. All kidding aside, though, you make some good points. The question, “Who would I be without the struggle against stuttering?”—which aligns with Russ Harris’ invitation to turn off our inner Struggle Switch—strikes me as superior to, and decidedly more helpful than, “Who I would I be without stuttering?” However, as evidenced by Katie’s dismissal of your friend’s stuttering diagnosis with a skeptical, “Is that true?”, Katie’s method would likely have us ask the (less helpful) latter question.

        I think a better alternative to the question, “Who would I be without the struggle against stuttering?” would be, “What would I DO without the struggle against stuttering?” This wording better orients us toward taking committed action in the direction of our values and in the service of the life we want. Depending on the individual making the self-inquiry, I’d also stand by my original question, “What would I DO without stuttering?” In this thought experiment, we invite ourselves to set aside the experiential avoidance associated with stuttering for a moment, and to envision the “towards moves” we’d make communicatively in pursuit of our “life worth fighting for”—a potentially helpful tool for values clarification, goal development, habit formation, and courage-building. There’s not necessarily a reason to choose one question or the other; personally, I’d choose both.

        With a caveat (in all caps), I’d agree with you that Katie’s four questions COULD be useful. However, we would have to be extremely cautious and skillful not to get caught up in the agenda (as I mentioned previously) of thinking that “believing thoughts is the problem” and “disbelieving thoughts is the solution,” and all of the attendant true/false debating. As you mention, one challenge with thoughts is that we don’t always know if they are true or not—and considering whether thoughts are helpful/workable, as in ACT, may be a more reliable guide. Personally, I’d pick the ACT-congruent reformulation of the four questions every time. In my view, the potentially useful aspects of “The Work” are fraught with risks and so tainted by the disturbing aspects—such as victim blaming and shaming—that I simply choose to steer clear of it, especially when better tools are readily available.

        Thank you again for the invitation to continue to conversation. Best,

        Rob

        • Thank you, Rob, for the wonderful response.
          In the way that I was taught “The Work”, the question of “What would I DO ..” is present.

          However, I completely agree with you regarding the ACT approach, which is, to me, more Values and Action focussed, and it it there, in the Doing, that we bounce back.

          Thank you, too, for the clarifications beyond the simplicity of the 4 questions in The Work. I appreciate and accept what you have written, and I am sure your response will be helpful to others in guiding them on this complicated path.

          Your guidance is valued; coming from a place of deep trauma with the experience of stuttering, we need guidance, and guideposts, that are properly helpful and that do not lead us to a different type of quicksand.

          Thank you very much

  6. Hi Hanan,
    Thank you for this perspective on resilience from the viewpoint of someone who stutters! I found it extremely helpful to guide my thinking in my current fluency course as a graduate student in Communication Sciences in Disorders. We talk about the necessity of empowering PWS with resilience, and I found that your paper provides many manageable action items for someone to begin building up this important skill. Your message that we do not have a choice to stutter or not, but we do have a choice in how we think about stuttering actually reminds me of a mantra that my dad reminds me of as I meet the many challenges of graduate school. He often says, “control your effort, and manage your expectations,” and I thought this was along a similar vein to your paper. While we are not powerless in difficult situations, they are inevitable and we can control only what we can while managing the expectations we have for ourselves. The use of constructive self-talk like this can only help someone to bounce back from adverse moments.
    Thanks again!
    Best,
    Athena Kavounas

    • Thank you, Athena, for your response, and for sharing your experience. I apprciate that.

      Hanan

  7. Hello, Hanan,
    Thank you for your excellent paper. I only wanted to share that I clearly understand why the definition of resilience from “Going Bonkers” is one that you find most helpful. I agree with you that this definition can create and sustain hope in a PWS once he or she decides to deal constructively with adversity instead of feeling like a victim. How we think about our stuttering and the words that we use matters as well, and this is something that I will remain conscious about. Thanks again!

    • Hi Lisa,

      Thank you for your response.

      Your writings often teach me how to go about dealing constructively with adversity. Thank you for that.

  8. Dear Hanan,
    Thank you for sharing your paper. Isn’t it amazing how powerful the mind can be? It is miraculous that as we learn to notice those thoughts and not get “caught in the story of them as the absolute truth” how much can change in our lives. What I have learned through my own journey as well as the journeys of my clients for about 35 years now, is that we all have our own. For all of us, we can make that choice to continue to evolve.
    Blessings.

    • Dear Kristin

      Thank you for your response. I really appreciate what you write about all of us having our own journeys. My hope is that everyone who reads these ISAD papers, not necessarily my own, will learn about the individual ways of finding our paths. And also learing that our paths can change along our journeys.

      Blessings to you, too. Thank you.

  9. Dear Hanan,
    I really enjoyed reading this paper. There are so many great takeaways. I love the idea that resiliency is something we can build and develop over time. I think this is very empowering. As a yoga instructor, I am a huge advocate for mindfulness and bringing awareness to our thought patterns. In a neuroanatomy course, I recently learned that the more we practice thinking positively, the easier and more natural it becomes. We can essentially build pathways in the brain that promote optimism. While it is incredibly difficult to undo negative thought patterns related to stuttering, there is so much power in knowing that we can choose our thoughts. As you mentioned, it’s not about fluency. It’s about developing an outlook that doesn’t hold you back. Thank you!
    Lauren

    • Dear Lauren

      Thank you so much for your response.
      From all I read and hear, it is absolutely possible to change our neural pathways. For me, it’s less about thinking positive, but rather awareness of what I am thinking, and choosing whether to act according to my thoughts. This approach, from ACT, has been helpful to me in reducing the strength of the negative thoughts.

      Thank you!

  10. Hello Hanan,
    Thank you for your very impactful message on resilience from the perspective of someone who stutters! Your message reminded me of video that I watched recently of a comedian who stutters. She shared that it is such a common misconception that individuals who have an impediment or disability are viewed by some in society as being weaker. She added that the fact is that it is the total opposite. This connects with your message of creating resilience and strength by “deciding to take action to deal with diversity” and “taking action to deal with that diversity”. By doing this, by bouncing back, more and more strength is developed over time. Thank you for a great message, Daniela Jurado.

  11. Your paper on resilience from the perspective of someone who stutters was so informative and something I truly enjoyed reading. You brought up so many important points right at the beginning of your paper that really stood out to me. You explained how resilience isn’t something we either have or do not have but rather it is something that we can create. I could not agree more. Resilience is something that anyone can achieve and is created once we deal constructively with the adversities that we are faced with. The more we practice resilience the stronger we become. Thank you so much for sharing such a wonderful message.

    Best,
    Mandie Hill

    • Thank you for your kind words, Mandie.

      Other papers that are in this ISAD provide more practical help on how to create resilience. I am stunned by and grateful for the value that those authors are giving us. I hope that those papers have been helpful to you, too.

      Hanan

  12. Dear Hanan,
    I enjoyed various aspects of your paper you presented. I absolutely love how you state that it is not only those who have a stutter who may face adversity, but also the parents. Although my sister does not have a stutter, growing up she attended speech-language therapy. I watched my parents struggle as she struggled. They wanted her to thrive just as much if not more than she did. My parents had more resilience than anyone. Thus, I personally relate to how this paper can help not just the person who has a stutter, but also his or her loved ones. In addition, I love how you offer that resilience is not a character trait, rather it is something that we create from our experiences. I believe every experience we have is indeed a learning experience. Therefore, it is how you react and learn from those moments that build resilience. The more adversity we face and act upon, the more prepared we are for what the future throws in front of us. Even though we all face adversity, I have never thought of the constant adversity that someone who stutters may experience, specifically with an act that comes naturally for most people – speaking. Not only may one face challenges from others, but also within his or her own mind. However, I appreciate how you describe how each person who has a stutter has a choice about how and what to think about it. This change of thinking will help create resilience. When you state how much power simple words can hold, is how I have lived my life. After going through my own adversity, I began to change my own approach to how I begin and end my day. Specifically, I would think say positive things about myself in the morning and end my day by writing what things I am thankful for. By doing this, I changed my entire perspective on life and became more positive. There are so many things I enjoyed about your paper. However, the last thing I would like to touch on is how you embedded what Dr. Joseph Sheen wrote in “Message to a Stutterer.” I am currently in graduate school to become a speech-language pathologist. Last night, I was in my fluency class and my professor read the exact quote. Although I giggled to myself while reading it, you restating it just emphasizes how truly powerful and helpful this may be to someone who has a stutter. I will continue to carry this on into my future practice as a speech-language pathologist. I cannot thank you enough for writing such honest and powerful message in your paper.

    Kind Regards,

    Bailey Deason

    • Dear Bailey

      Thank you so much for sharing your experiences. It is very helpful for me to read about how others cope, and survive and thrive, and I value what you wrote here.

      What you wrote about “every experience we have is indeed a learning experience” and “Therefore, it is how you react and learn from those moments that build resilience” is so powerful. Our challenge is to recognize, in the depths of our struggle, that we are in a learning experience. This remains a challenge, and a goal for me. I thank you for clarifying this.

      Wishing much success and fulfillment with your studies, and in tour work.
      Hanan

  13. I agree with you, the description from “Going Bonkers” seems most fitting to describe resilience. As you mention, resilience is something we can create and should give us hope. Your paper brings an important point about stuttering and how resilience allows people who stutter the hope to take stuttering at face value and achieve what they want without the stigma and opinion of others. You hit the nail on the head, words do have power, not just with stuttering. I think moving away from “bad” vs “fluent” speech can help people who stutter become more accepting of themselves. Instead of stuttering becoming associated with negative experiences and emotions, people embrace themselves as a person who stutterers. With that said clinicians have an important role in helping PWS become more accepting of themselves and becoming self-advocates! Thank you Hanan!

    • Hi

      Thanks so much for your kinds words. I agree with you entirely that “clinicians have an important role in helping PWS become more accepting of themselves and becoming self-advocates”. I feel that this, in fact, is the most important role of the clinician, as it helps the PWS to move from avoidance and shame to disclosure and pride. When we, the PWS, has managed to journey to a state where we can openly disclose our stuttering, and take pride in who we are without being defined by stuttering, then we are free, irrespective of the stuttering.

      Take care,
      Hanan

  14. Dear Hanan,

    I enjoyed reading your paper about resilience. Thank you for sharing your perspective about the power of our words and how words can significantly affect our emotions. For a person who stutters, it is important to know that they are not alone; however, there may be days where they may feel alone. I appreciate you discussing how there are self-help and support groups that allow people who stutter interact with others. I also like how you explained, “overcoming stuttering is about overcoming the self-imposed limitations that we place on ourselves.” People who stutter are uniquely different and need to embrace their stutter as well as increase resilience skills. With that being said, it is vital that people who stutter advocate for themselves and educate others about stuttering. As a community, we need to encourage others to embrace their stutter when communicating with a conversation partner.

    Thanks again!

    Kind regards,
    Victoria

    • Hi Victoria

      Thanks so much for your response.

      You make an excellent point regarding the need for PWS to advocate for them(our)selves. I think that such self-advocacy promotes the development of resilience. And for sure, our community needs to encourage others to embrace their stutter. That is a key goal in the ISAD online conference, and I really hope that the papers and the wonderful responses are doing that: helping PWS embrace their stutter and learn to advocate for themselves.

      Thank you
      Hanan

  15. I appreciate how this article really emphasizes the importance of treating yourself with kindness. Resilience is important when people who stutter face others’ negative opinions or harassment, but oftentimes we are our own harshest critics. I do not stutter, but I realize that reframing our thoughts and changing our perspectives about ourselves can be really challenging. As a future SLP, I think I can certainly remember to educate my patients about their stuttering, find support groups for them to join, have them work on self-advocacy, and empower them to change their thinking about stuttering. I haven’t done much counseling as a graduate student clinician, but I also think it’s important to be persistent but gentle. It takes a long time to change negative thoughts we’ve told ourselves for a long time. Also, thank you for the book recommendations! I like that only half of them are dedicated to stuttering and the other half are just great self-help books. I’ve been meaning to read Mark Manson’s.
    Kimi

    • Hi Kimi

      Wishing much success and fulfillment in your chosen profession as an SLP.

      Counseling is a key part of quality therapy. The experience of stuttering is traumatic, and “persistent but gentle” guidance is needed to help the PWS in their Journey: from hiding and shame to disclosure and pride.

      It is only recently that I have been able to learn more about compassion, and self-compassion, as part of the overall mindfulness practice that I find so helpful. Russ Harris wrote about this in his second book, “The Reality Slap”, where he wrote about “Hold Yourself Kindly”. Major mindfulness teachers also emphasize self-compassion. It has taken me, personally, many years and tears to be able to start to have some sense of self compassion. If you are able to help your future clients with us, you will have helped them immensely and saved them years of agony.

      All the best, Kimi.
      Hanan

  16. Hanan,

    Every year I continue to marvel and be impressed with how far you have grown on your journey. It seems each year you find another piece to explore and then add to the growing collection of affirming tools for your arsenal.

    I think I know what it was like when you attended your first USA NSA conference in 2010. I believe I have heard you tell the story of that experience giving you the oxygen and lifeblood that you didn’t know that you needed.

    I have so much respect for how you’ve grown and from that personal growth, you are transforming lives in Israel. It seems as though you are in constant “paying it forward” mode. For that, I and countless others thank you for the unconditional sharing of your wealth of life lessons.

    You are the type of person that helps drive the mission of the ISA – “a world that better understands stuttering.”

    Thank you for all that you do and thank you for counting me as a friend.

    How long do you think you will keep this work going forward? Have you found a successor that you can start to groom?

    Pam

    • Dear Pam

      You were and are a key to my survival. A makor turning point for me was in 2013, when you asked me (or allowed me) to be part of the Stuttering Monologues panel. I can never thank you enough for that.

      We have a good set of volunteers in AMBI. While I am not actively preparing anyone to carry on from me, I am doing what I can to educate and preparing a future generation. My days are numbered :-).

      Thanks
      Hanan

      Hanan

      • “My days are numbered.” That’s the truth for all of us, isn’t it?
        Knowing that we only have a finite number of days on this earth, we make choices. To live solely for ourselves or to live to make other’s lives and journeys more meaningful.

        In addition to the books you mention, I want to call your attention to a book that I read a few years ago, at the suggestion of another person who stutters. Interestingly, she did not recommend it because we both stutter, but rather because she found it to be a resilient way of seeing life.

        Check out “We Are All Weird” by Seth Godin. If you haven’t read it, I suggest you add it to your reading list. It’s a tiny bool packed with big ideas.

        Pam

  17. Hi Hanan,

    I enjoyed reading your paper. I will take the message and concepts with me both as a future SLP and a member of society. I appreciate the neutral approach to fluency. I have only begun to learn about this perspective in recent months. I particularly enjoyed your examples of fluency’s lack of importance in regards to success: “Numerous famous (and infamous) people speak fluently, and yet they often do immeasurable damage to society” and that you know “many people who stutter who are excellent communicators”. I hope to commit these examples to memory as they resonated so well with me and strongly reinforced the neither good nor bad concept. Additionally, thank you for the list of books at the end of your paper. Again as a future SLP I appreciate them but also as a member of society who believes bettering yourself is the first step to helping others.

    Christa

    • Hi Christa

      Thanks so much for your response. It is so wonderful to read from people such as yourself about the need and desire to help others, and help ourselves along the way.

      Wishing you success andd fullfilment in your career!

      Hanan

  18. Hello Hanan,
    First off, thank you so much for your time and effort in writing this paper. Resiliency is a word that is thrown around today and one major aspect of resiliency that is often overlooked is that, like you mentioned, we have to create it. It comes from our own will and strength to choose to be resilient, which in most cases it is challenging and difficult. I loved the quote from Dr. Joseph Sheen and how you wrote that the problem never was or is stuttering. We as a society need to actively work towards reframing how people who stutter are perceived which is rooted in having open conversations about how it is okay to stutter. We must continue to educate and advocate but also work towards removing the prejudice on both ends. Thank you so much for sharing this impacting and important message.

    • Hello

      I am sorry – I am having difficulty identifying your name.
      Thank you so much for reading, and for responding.

      Hanan

  19. Hello Hanan,
    Thank you for taking the time to inform us about resiliency and sharing your perspective as a person who stutters. From other articles I have read, I have began to understand resilience more, how resilience is a skill which takes much practice. Further, I appreciate how your paper discusses the numerous self-help groups out there to support those who stutter. As a future clinician, part of my responsibility is to educate and share resources to my clients and their family members. Researching the options that are available is the first step.
    Thank you again!

    Best,
    AK

    • Hello AK,

      I believe in the alliance between PWS and clinicians, as put into practice in the ISAD conference. We work together to underatnd, and to improve our underatnding of the experience of stuttering, in order to help PWS as best we can.

      Each PWS is individual, and I feel that it is extremely wise of you that you wish to share resources and options with your clients. Each one will find the path that suits them at that particular point in time. Russ Harris writes about the need to “hold our beliefs lightly”; indeed, since as we grow our needs change, and when we have multiple resources to draw from we can more easily find what suits us at the next phase in our growth.

      Thanks so much for writing.

      Hanan

  20. Dear Hanan,
    Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts on “resilience.” One of the aspects of your paper that drew my attention was when you discussed the concept that we do not “have” resilience, we “create” it. I found this extremely powerful, and it reminded me of the final line of “Invictus” by William Ernest Henly: “I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul.” What an inspirational point you bring up, and how wonderfully you connected it with stuttering. I have learned that many times, people who stutter accumulate many negative perspectives towards their stutter due to the negative reinforcement they recieve. Professionals such as speech-language pathologists may unknowingly contribute and enhance these negative perspectives by teaching strategies that are aimed to “diminish” and “hide” the stutter. While it is important to spread awareness to others on stuttering, it is equally important to become aware of internal thoughts (e.g., self-judgment). By heightening awareness, we may learn how to re-wire those negative thoughts to become more kind and patient to ourselves.
    Thank you so much for sharing your paper on resilience. It was truly inspirational and has empowered me to be more resilient in my own life. We are the masters of our fates, and captains of our souls!
    Kind regards,
    Sofia

    • Dear Sofia

      Sorry for my late response to you. I am so pleased that you mentioned “Invictus”, as those two lines were truly my guideposts at the start of my Journey with stuttering. The two line previous to the ones you mentioned helped, for me, to recognize the trauma and pain that I had, but to find a way to move on:

      It matters not how strait the gate,
      How charged with punishments the scroll,
      I am the master of my fate,
      I am the captain of my soul.

      We who stutter do indeed accumulate negative perspectives, not only to our speech but to ourselves. All due to the stigam about stuttering. Invictus helps us (helped me) start to find a way out of that darkness.

      Thank you so much, Sofia. Please take care.
      Hanan

  21. Hi Hanan,
    Thank you so much for your perspective. I am a second-year graduate student and the day after reading your article, I shared it the next day in one of my speech fluency students. It was amazing to see the impact you had on him. I think sometimes it is hard to grasp a concept that is often described in abstract language. Being a Type A person, I can appreciate your approach to your stuttering and stuttering, overall. I think the individual that I shared it with would feel the same. The way you laid out an approach to build resilience really resonated with him and me. So many of the emotions and experiences you mention are felt by so many others. Thank you for the resources you provided at the end, I am already looking into each one.

    • Hi Tori

      I am thrilled that my paper was of some help to you.

      I am sure that we will all continue to discuss and develop our approaches, and to help others. That’s the main, or only point: Helping others based on what we have learned on our Journeys. Paying it forward. It’s one of the only things that really matter.

      Good luck with your studies!

      Hanan

  22. Hi Hanan,
    I really enjoyed reading about how you managed to tie resilience with stuttering. Your statement about how we are the ones who choose what to do with our stutter despite the opinions of others is a very powerful one and should serve as a motivator for people who stutter! I agree with you on the “Do our Words Need to be Fluent?” section about how it is not the mode that you communicate or spread your message but the content of the message is the most important part. As a result, being able to read the message itself and not how well someone can present it is crucial. While changing a person’s mentality from “overcoming a stutter” to “it’s ok to stutter” isn’t easy, being able to reshape your mind to get to this point goes a long way to improving a person who stutter’s self confidence and feelings about stuttering. This was a very motivational article to read, even as a person who does not stutter!
    Thanks,
    Chris Truong

  23. Hi Hanan,

    I really liked the way you stated that stigmas surrounding stuttering could be accepted or refused. The way you explained it is something I, as a future SLP, think would really resonate with older children who stutter because it not only presents the paths each option would provide, but it really gives them the autonomy. Considering your’s and others’ experiences that I’ve had the opportunity to read about through this conference, this outlook you’ve explained is something I definitely see myself in the future with clients. Thank you for sharing.

    Best,
    Kennedy

    • Hi Kennedy

      Thank you for writing. I am pleased that my paper was helpful to you.
      We have to explain to people that they have choices, including and especially about how to react to the opinion’s of others.

      Wishing you success and fulfilment in your career, Kenny.

      Hanan

  24. Dear Hanan,

    I love how this paper starts off with the definition of resilience. It is such an important concept to keep in mind because so many people, especially in this time, are feeling pain and challenges. I like how it is stated that resilience is not something we inherently have but can learn and create. In the eyes of a speech-language pathology graduate student, I found it very helpful hearing how resilience can be built in people who stutter (from the perspective of somebody who stutters). I believe resilience is such a powerful concept when it comes to stuttering because I have learned without it, a person who stutters might suffer deeply. It is so easy for people who stutter to gain negative feelings and emotions around their stutter that control their everyday actions in their life. It seems as children become aware of their stuttering and as the stigma of stuttering hits them, it is so easy for them to fall into a deep hole of feeling helpless. For this reason, I believe it is so important to build resilience in children as soon as they are aware of their stuttering. It was stated that the first steps in building resilience is to examine the language we use, observe how we feel when negative language is used, and learning how to change the words. This was a great takeaway for me because it is something that is simple enough to teach parents and help children with at an early age. Children need to grow up knowing that they can do anything that any other child can do and not let society tell them what they are capable of.
    I really like the quote “There’s nothing to be ashamed of when you stutter and there’s nothing to be proud of when you are fluent”. This quote really made me think because my teacher mentioned in my fluency class that you shouldn’t praise a fluent response because that means that their disfluent response was wrong. In my eyes, a good clinician would not make a client feel like stuttering is an abnormal thing because either way, it is ok! Every person is different, and it IS ok to stutter.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on resilience and the tips on actions that can be taken to build resilience. This was a very insightful paper!

    Kind regards,
    Cierra

    • Hi Cierra

      Thank you so much for your response.

      You wrote that “as children become aware of their stuttering and as the stigma of stuttering hits them, it is so easy for them to fall into a deep hole of feeling helpless”. Indeed. In addition, the feeling of helplessness and of shame creates, I believe, the stuggle, the secondary behviours associated with stuttering. Without the stigma, and with simple patience by parents, family members and teachers to simply listen to the child without comment or judgement, perhaps the struggle would not develop, and the experience of the child who stutters would be completely different.

      Thank yo
      Hanan

  25. Hi Hanan,
    Thank you for this insight on resilience. I believe that individuals who stutter are extremely resilient and deserve to get recognition for that. I have been learning the importance of building up confidence and empowerment while working with individuals who stutter and I feel that your thoughts provide great ways to bounce back and take advantage of the situation. Thank you so much for providing your insight and knowledge regarding resilience and stuttering.
    Best,
    Melissa Francis

  26. Hi Hanan,

    I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on resilience. I think this term is a perfect way to describe the journey of a person who stutters. It’s unfortunately all too common that others don’t realize the adversity that people who stutter face. The strength, determination, and resilience people who stutter show day to day is very admirable. I was particularly interested in the part where you mentioned that, “Knowing that we are not alone, and being able to discuss stuttering with other people who stutter, is another crucial element of building resilience.” I agree that is it extremely important to be able to lean on others for support. How do you feel about discussing stuttering with other people who don’t stutter, such as close friends and family? How does that change the type of support you receive? Do you think they can still help you build resilience in the same way?

    Thank you for sharing!

    Best,
    Nicole

    • Hi Nicole,

      In general, discussing stuttering with people who don’t stutter is extremely helpful. Disclosing our stuttering to others, from a position of self-acceptance, is empowering. It reduces the anxiety that we might feel when being concerned about the other person noticing that we stutter (in those cases where we are able to be covert about our stuttering), and it explains to the other person what is going on. Most people know very little about stuttering. Their reactions are often based on ignorance, and on their own discomfort. When we explain, without apology, the other person understands, and we reduce the tension for both parties. This act of disclose helps build resilience, especially when the other person understands and accepts.

      Not all people are able to get an explanation and accept it. Some family members can be cruel, and reject the PWS even when that person explans. I think this is rare, but it happens. So, the support we receive depends on the other person, to some extent. Our challenge is to accept ourselves irrespective of what the other person thinks or says. In cases like this, connection to the community of PWS is crucial.

      I hope I have managed to explain.

      Hanan

  27. “ Just pick from a number of dictators, despots and corrupt politicians, and think for a moment on whether their fluency actually brings benefit or harm to society.” Never thought of it that way! Excellent point. Reminds me of the scene In The King’s Speech where King George VI is watching a newsreel of Hitler and commenting on his fluent speech.

  28. Hello Hanan,

    I enjoyed reading your paper and learned so much from it. Thank you so much for writing this incredible paper! I took away so many great points from your paper that I can’t wait to share with others, especially people who stutter that I will be treating when I complete my masters in speech language pathology. First off, I loved that you began your paper by defining resilience, especially through the “Going Bonkers” description. I really agree with the belief that resilience is something we can create through deciding to take action and dealing with an adversity we face. Another great point you made was in regards to the stigma of stuttering and how an individual can choose to relate to it. Instead of allowing the stigma associated to stuttering to dictate your life and negatively impact you, a person who stutters can instead choose to live an uplifting and empowering life where they don’t let other people or their stutter get in the way of what they desire. Your closing statement was a great ending to a great paper! Changing our mindset and changing the words we use to be words of encouragement and empowerment can greatly affect our ability to “bounce back from adversity” and overcome any hardships that we face.

    Thank you,
    Ariana Arakelian

  29. Hello Hanan,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful perspective on what it means to have resilience! I really enjoyed how you talked about the importance of support groups as a way to become resilient. Some of these support groups may be very intimidating, but you are exactly correct that they are a way to build confidence/resilience!

    Thank you for sharing!

  30. Hello Hanan,

    I never thought of being resilient as a personal characteristic that we either have or do not have. My experince as a PWS, I agree resiliency is something that we can create. In my life I have decided to take action to deal with adversity, and to take action to deal with that adversity because of my stutter. Stuttering lights the fire that forges resiliency and the need to become fierce advocates for ourselves. Thanks for sharing your thought, I enjoyed reading “What is Resilience?”.

    Semper Fidelis,

    Frederick Canteen

  31. Hi Hanan,

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts and perspective. I appreciate how you added references as well. I love the analogy of “going bonkers” and that we can find hope in creating resilience, rather than accepting it as something we either have or don’t have. It gives us the strength to change our mindset and our lives. The way you framed how words are not just what we speak but also what we think really struck me. I have always heard that the words you say are powerful. But the words that you think are also very powerful! I heard from an SLP who stutters on the Stuttertalk podcast who mentioned she is proud of her stutter because she is an excellent communicator. She has met many people who are fluent speakers but are not effective communicators. I agree it is so important to bring awareness about stuttering to society, especially one with such demeaning opinions. We can take charge of what is being said about stuttering.