A lot has changed for me in the past few months.
I went through a period where I didn’t feel like I was functioning optimally. My beliefs about myself and the world around me got tested and, if needed, replaced with new beliefs. I’m back on track again.
This period reminded me of a question Hille and me received during our first ever live event with people who stutter. The question was: “How do you deal with relapses in your process of becoming a fluent speaker?”.
I answered this question by explaining what the process of growth, of progression, usually looks like, as this is a universal process. Whether you are working on yourself to overcome your stutter, get a fit body or learning a new language, the process is the same.
And that process is the following.
It’s the Mastery Curve from the book “Mastery” by George Leonard, I advise you to read it.
There are multiple points that should be taken out of this image.
First off, it is not possible to constantly sky-rocket in your results. Your body and mind need time to change. They need time to adjust to the input you’re giving them.
Result of this is the so-called “plateau”, the horizontal part of the process. During this period you might feel like you’re stagnating, like you’re not doing enough, like you’re doing something wrong. But most of the times, this is not the case. It’s your body and mind getting ready, bit by bit, piece by piece, to move up to the next level once more. Plateaus are a natural part of the process.
Misinterpreting a plateau
Secondly, do not misinterpret a plateau for being a relapse. As can be seen, the relapse is only a small part of the process. The problem is that a plateau can sometimes feel like a relapse. The reason for this is that you feel like you’re not progressing.
And no progression must mean I’m declining in performance, right?
As said, a plateau is simply a period where you are getting used to the changes that happened earlier. Don’t overreact and keep doing what you have been doing. Progression will follow.
Misinterpreting a relapse
The third and last point is that you should not misinterpret a relapse for being a plateau.
There will be times where you actually will have a relapse, where your level of progress will decrease.
While some of those moments may be a natural part of the process, others may not. Some relapses might be a sign that you do need to change something. That you haven’t done everything in your power to achieve your goal. If this is the case, you need to take a step back and reflect on what can be done better.
Applying the process to stuttering
How to apply all this to stuttering?
Fluency rocks. Progression rocks. Enjoy the moments where you can feel your body and mind restructuring itself to make you more fluent.
But after your period of progression, plateaus are sometimes inevitable. Don’t let them hold you back. Understand that they are a natural part of the process.
Keep doing your morning exercises, keep throwing yourself into “scary” situations and keep your positive mindset in place. Realize that even though you don’t see it happening in front of your eyes, progression is happening on a deeper level. Have faith that your efforts will eventually be rewarded.
While most plateaus are natural and inevitable, some are not. Whenever you experience a plateau, reflect and try to figure out if you should have been doing something in a different way.
If the answer is no: good. Progression is on its way. If the answer is yes: change your behaviour and progress will be on its way as well.
If you’re unsure about what to do next in your process of becoming a fluent speaker, you might want to check out this. Hille and me are here to help and support you.
Work hard to achieve your goals and stay calm when you encounter a plateau.
Don’t forget to subscribe to our weekly email ‘Stutter Digest’. Every Friday we send our followers our best tips, insights and inspiration from that week. Subscribe here!