Stuttering, Avoidance and Fear

Joze talks about how he avoided speaking situations due to his stutter and how he now faces his fear head-on.

Jose defeats his stutter

"Stuttering and Avoidance had always been interchangeable concepts for me. Why engage the world when I could just hide in the isolating yet comforting cocoon of my silence?

I avoided every speaking situation that I could and those that proved unavoidable never failed to trigger deep feelings of shame, embarrassment, and anger. 

I despised being “different”. I despised this merciless affliction that prevented me from saying the words to express my thoughts, feelings, and emotions. I despised myself.

In spite of completing my first McGuire course when I was 17 and experiencing an initially euphoric change, the subsequent years were far more challenging than I had expected. In fact, in my second year of university, I asked all of my professors to exempt me from all my presentations and in-class participation. While I did witness the occasional burst of motivation right after one of the many McGuire Programme courses that I have attended worldwide (I particularly loved the one in Mexico City!), that effect was short-lived and it wasn’t long until my avoidant disposition reared its ugly head again.

Fast forward to February 14, 2019 - I’m in the backstage of the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Toronto, about to do stand-up comedy in front of one thousand people. One. Thousand. People. After the performance had elapsed and I had delivered one of my best sets ever. I rushed to the backstage and felt extremely…emotional. Fine, one or two tears might have been shed! Every situation that I had ever avoided out of fear began flashing before my eyes. I was in utter disbelief that the 19-year-old who once stood on his balcony completely soaked after a shower, hoping to catch a cold and avoid a family reunion (true story), was now willingly performing in front of thousands. Had you told this to my teenage self (or even to Joze from just a few years ago), he would have never believed you.

One single change that had a drastically positive effect on me in recent years was my decision of embracing the challenge of talking to strangers (pre-pandemic days!). 

Between 2016-2019, I went to the shopping malls or busy streets almost every weekend to talk to 50-100 people.

While I did not feel like putting myself into these highly uncomfortable situations on a regular basis, the accountability of the McGuire Programme proved essential to my journey. 

Specifically, I would like to give a shout-out to a few McGuire Programme members with whom I endlessly practiced over the years: Tim Pierce, Neil Chandhock, Cormac Everitt, Junior Babatunde, Majd Khalil, Chris Cooksey and Geoff Johnston. There are so many others. 

What a logic-defying and deeply transformational journey this has been. I look forward to what’s next. After all, the best way out of fear is always through it"