The holiday season is a series of one reflective prompt after the other.

Thanksgiving: what are we grateful for?

Winter celebrations: what matters most to us? New Year’s: what are our goals, or what change do we hope to see? 

As we moved into the 2021 holiday season, I was particularly struggling with gratitude-oriented prompts, specifically for our line of work at speech IRL.

Our work is about growth and change, after all. It can feel invalidating to tell someone that they should just be grateful for whatever struggle they are currently facing. And yet, willingness to be present is a foundational first step for so many change processes.

These paradoxical concepts come together in the concept of Santosha.

In the spirit of giving and receiving, gratitude and goals, we asked the speech IRL team for everyone’s thoughts on how all these values flow into communication fulfillment. 

Michelle said:

I've recently really learned the difference between fleeting moments of happiness and consistent contentment. I think it's all about grateful acceptance of the present moment, while simultaneously embracing and appreciating our capacity for growth and change. It's totally possible to feel positively about where you're at, but also hopeful and eager about changing and developing. The fact that I'm capable of productive change really feeds into my sense of contentment, and I feel like the last (almost) 2 years has really increased my focus on and value of self improvement.

Asma said:

For me, a very necessary component of growth is having the motivation to continue my journey. However, if I don't see the growth I want to see at the time I expect or want to see it, this can negatively affect my motivation. This is when santosha can help. Being truly self-reflective and recognizing the growth I've made, even if it is minute, can help bring about a sense of contentment. This, in turn, helps me maintain the motivation to continue on my journey. The ability to recognize disappointment that I haven't made as much progress as I wanted while still recognizing the positives (e.g., I haven't regressed, I've been able to maintain the progress I've made until this point) can be powerful.

Courtney said:

Speech therapy has traditionally been about change and growth. Many of our clients have been to multiple therapies, have been told by others that they need to change, or have been telling themselves that they are not okay as they are. It can be difficult to find santosha, or contentment, when you've been told to do the exact opposite.

Our clients have something that makes them different — whether it's a stutter, autism, social communication challenges, or language and articulation differences. They come to us because they want to be "normal".  

I hear it all the time: "If only I were fluent, I would be able to be a doctor/lawyer/professor." "If only I wasn't socially awkward, I would have a girlfriend and a great life." "If I just didn't have to worry about my language, I would be happy."

This always gets me thinking — all people who are fluent aren't happy. People who don't have difficulties with social communication aren't all happy. All people without language impairments aren't happy. 

Santosha is about contentment. It's not giving up. It's not dropping out of speech therapy. It's saying, "Hey, I struggle with this. This is really hard. But I'm going to do it anyway. I'm going to go on that date. I'm going to show up to that interview." Because if we don't, we'll never know what could have happened. Often when we own our struggles and our challenges, others respond positively. And the more we try to push it away, or avoid it, the worse it becomes. 

Amina said:

The first step to change is acceptance. If you don't accept where you are in this moment, you can't move forward from it. My speech IRL mentor Courtney told me this during a recent check-in, and I found myself repeating it throughout the week. First, to myself in a moment where I struggled to do a pull-up in a group workout session. Then, to a fluency client who had suppressed feelings of shame about her stutter for many years and was just now speaking them out loud. This statement is such a truthful one that once you see it in one context, it pops up in many places you look.

Katie said:

Explain in just one paragraph?! Try this blog post for more.

From our community to you and yours: thank you for 2021, and we look forward to traveling together in 2022.  We are grateful, we are hopeful, and we look forward to new things in the new year.