Changing mindset around living with a stammer

Blog #1 – Cheryl King

(All ideas, opinions, & techniques expressed in this blog are my own and not necessarily endorsed by the Scottish Stammering Network.)

How did the one thing that caused me so much pain growing up, turn into something that I am now passionate about? 

In 2020 there was plenty free time to ponder life and where I am going in it.  The year of Covid-19 was a hard, strange year for many people.  I spent most of it navigating my way through old memories of growing up with a stammer.  Life was often very tricky and hard.  These memories have no doubt left an indelible mark on my mind and the way that I deal with my stammer.  I’ve done a lot of growing as a person in 2020 and I have come to many new decisions about how my life will be going forward. 

I have decided to write a blog about it for a few weeks with my new ways of thinking and believing, and I hope that some people who (hopefully!!!) read this blog will take bits of this on board and perhaps make changes to their own lives or ways of thinking.

Today is the 10th January 2021 and already the world is just a little bit crazier than it was at the end of 2020!  America is again in turmoil and we now have new strains of Covid-19 – oh my when will this all end and we can get back to some semblance of normal?


I have been on annual leave from work this week and spent a fair bit of it sleeping!  I have no idea why I was so tired – but it has been very restorative.  During this time off I have spent considerable time (while not sleeping!!!) thinking about my life goals. 

One of my Christmas gifts was a Law of Attraction Planner and I am certainly going to use this to its full advantage!  But … thinking of 50, yes 50, life goals is no easy feat!  These goals are supposed to be BIG for example have £50 million in the bank within 5 years, own a huge beach house within 10 years, vacation 12 times per year!! I am not kidding! This however is just not me – I am more than happy with £1 million in the bank within 3 years and a decent sized beach house!  My life goals count is currently at 32 – so only 18 to go. 


For the life goals that I have already recorded, gaining speech control is one of the most important, and I want to achieve this within one year.  I know that, certainly for me, mindset is vitally important in achieving this.  My dad managed to extend his terminal illness 3 month life expectancy by 18 months by his positive mindset, so if he can do this with something as horrible as cancer, I can surely do it with my speech, right?!


Since reading The Secret a few years ago, my mindset has changed to some extent.  In the past my thoughts were always negative, and I always felt so … yeuch.  But I now realise that our thoughts are what make us. If you constantly think negative thoughts you will always get things in life that will create more negativity.  I am no longer Negative Nelly but more Positive Polly!


How will I achieve my speech control?  Talking is the only way to do this.  As I have been on The Starfish Project I have an endless amount of people to call.  My Starfish family are always there to offer support. Virtual hugs on bad days, and virtual back slaps and high fives on good days.  I am planning on making 20 phone calls per month – look out Starfish family!!!  I am also a Toastmaster with I think 5 speeches still to present.  However, I am going to push my comfort zones again! I plan on joining other Toastmasters groups around the world to present the remaining speeches.  My first exotic destination that I am zooming in to is … Stirling (!!!) on Monday 11th January – I will feedback how it went on my next blog post.

Until next time – how can you push your comfort zones?  Give it a try and see what you can achieve. Or at the very least – read or watch The Secret, I recommend everyone reads this book/watches the film.  It certainly changed my life!

Don’t let your stammer control you – learn to control it!

Blog #2

Woah – what happened to the last few weeks?  I meant to update my blog weekly, but my life just got even busier. 


So … my zoom trip to Stirling Toastmasters was good.  I probably presented my best speech, so far, at this meeting.  Feedback from the other Toastmasters was positive and I felt really good about myself.  Keen to complete my pathway, I then zoomed into the Livingston club the week after and presented another speech.  Again, feedback was good.  This speech was on presentation mastery, so I was able to use slides during my speech.  A few months ago, I was introduced to Canva, an application for creating posters and presentation slides etc.  I have to say I’m kinda in love with Canva!!!!  My fellow Toastmasters were really in awe of the Canva slides that I used. 


I have also spent the last 3 Sundays working as a nursing auxiliary.  Even though I work full time in NHS Fife, I decided I needed to justify getting my Covid vaccination, by offering to do some extra hours at a newly opened ward for the elderly.  Boy, this was certainly a totally different experience for me.  As I was not qualified in patient care, I basically just helped out the nursing staff where I could.  No idea how many clinical waste bins I emptied or cups of tea I made!!!  The donning and doffing of all the PPE when entering a patients’ room was an experience all of its own – and it was sooooo warm!  The elderly patients were lovely though and I challenged myself when I was asked to get their lunch and supper food orders for the coming days. 


I certainly practiced my voice projection as many of the patients were hard of hearing.  It was a bit heart-breaking to see the same patients in the ward each week though, the ward was opened as these patients were not ill enough to still be in hospital but were awaiting the correct pathway to be set up to enable care in the community. 


My last week saw a patient, who I had helped to eat via a syringe with a thickened liquid, die.  Mrs S was absolutely lovely, and I am sure her family will miss her terribly.  Rest in peace Mrs S!

My nursing experience has definitely confirmed to me that I will not be changing careers!!!


With all this extra work, and the work I had to do at my rental property, there was not much time for the 20 Starfish phone calls though.  I managed 12, which to be fair, was not too bad.   I will certainly be striving to complete my target of 20 in February. 


February saw the return of our support groups, and I had the pleasure of hosting the first one.  A lot of people set New Year’s resolutions, which generally fail by the end of January!  I tend to set goals.  Therefore, at the support group, I showed a short YouTube video on mindset and the labels that we sometimes give ourselves.  I am really into the whole thing about Neuroplasticity and the fact that your brain and mind can be changed.  To me, my speech problem, is not just a problem with my speech but my whole way of thinking, along with my emotions and beliefs.  By changing those, it can only help to change my speech.  For me, the anxiety creates my speech problem – but what came first?  The anxiety or the speech problem? 


Having a stammer, does not define me either.  It is not who I am, but only a small part of who I am.  The term PWS – People/Person Who Stammers should, in my opinion, be changed to PWSS – People/Person(s) Who SOMETIMES Stammer – if we label ourselves as People Who Stammer, given we don’t stammer all the time, who are we when we don’t stammer?  So, one of my goals for 2021 is to continue to change my mindset around my speech problem.

I joined the Scottish Stammering Network to try and make a difference for Young People who sometimes stammer, and so it was an honour to host the first Young Person’s Support Group on Saturday 6th February with our Young Person’s Ambassador Alasdair Coupar.  The absolute courage of the Young People amazed me.  They are openly discussing their stammer with their peers and teachers.  And the awareness raising by them? … Wow!  I wish I had had half of the courage of these young people when I was their age. 


I have yet to reach my 50 life goals in my Law of Attraction planner – maybe I am just easily pleased and the 32 that I already have are enough?


My life should calm down a bit now that my new tenants move in on Friday and my nursing career is over!!!!!  I’m going to spend this week making some calls to my Starfish brothers and sisters and generally spending time on me and my mindset.  As of this Friday I am 2 weeks annual leave from work too, so plenty time to relax, re-charge and continue with the mindset changing!!!  I have honestly never felt so exhausted this last month – working in excess of probably 60 hours per week is not good for me!

Until next time … have you given yourself a label?  Can it be changed if you have?