Slow Talk and Overcoming Use of Filler Words and Fear of Losing Train of Thought


Hi everyone,

I’m just started the training sessions yesterday and I’m on session 2. I like the idea of slow talk and it does help reduce my level anxiety but I have run into a few challenges that I hoped others could help me with. How do you prevent yourself from using fillers like “um” when you are speaking slowly? I find that I typically speak fast because I don’t like lulls in conversation and silence (even a couple seconds) makes me anxious. The other area I struggle with is memory and losing my train of thought while speaking. Often times I rush through what I’m saying because I don’t want to forget anything or leave something out. I believe the forgetfulness is linked to my anxiety. Any recommendations on how to tackle these issues while I implement slow talk In everyday interactions.

Lastly, there is a handout on slow thinking that I would like to implement while sleeping. Any ideas on how to stop your mind from racing while sleeping or ways to distract myself so that I can calm my thoughts and have a more restful sleep. I find this happens especially the night before an upcoming event that will bring anxiety(speech, meeting new people, etc). At times I wake up feeling drained because throughout the night my mind is rehearsing the upcoming anxiety provoking event.

Thanks for listening. It is reassuring that I’m not alone and I now have a support system of people shared experiences that are looking to support and uplift one another.

Atlanta, Ga


Hi Erica,
I was thinking about the same thing with slow talk. I’m worried I might stumble over my words, and that I might forget my train of thoughts. I too have a really bad memory.
Any advice anyone?


For me, talking quickly was never a solution to my problems with nervousness or forgetfulness or awkwardness when speaking. It was what I thought people wanted, but through experimentation I learned that most people like it better when you speak calmly.


This is good stuff! Great to hear some relate-able situations…I too am guilty of the “ummmms” and worries about lulls and what to say and I typically want to rush to get it over with so I can avoid. What I’m most often worried about is being interrupted when slowing down, then I feel like I have to stop talking, which I do mostly. Wondering if it’s just better to continue your train-of-though rather than bow to someone’s interruption.

If I run into anything helpful I’ll surely post it here this week. I just started session 2 today, so hopefully I’ll have a better idea in the weeks to come what might be helpful.



Hi all,

I’m just a few weeks ahead of you in the course (in week 5 now, so obviously a total expert… :wink: ), but I would just urge you to not rush ahead and not think ahead too much. And yes, I know that’s hard – we’re all probably experts in anticipating difficulty and failure. But resist that urge and just focus on the step by step of the process of the course. In these early weeks, we’re really just working on the Cognitive part of CBT and the Behavioral part comes in later weeks. In other words, we’re really just starting to work on changing our thinking not how we act in social situations.

So regarding the use of slow talk, at this point just work on reading the Slow Talk (and other) handouts using slow talk and don’t try using it with other people yet. For me the key is to do this when I have serious privacy and don’t have to worry that someone else is going to overhear me. The point (I think) in the first few weeks is to just practice slowing down (talk and thoughts) with ZERO social pressure. There’s a handout in either week 2 or 3 about actually starting to use slow talk with other human beings, but it stresses that this should only be with someone that you’re super comfortable with (best friend, relative, partner, etc) – my embarrassing admission of the day is that so far I’m pretty much only using it with my 6yo daughter and my dogs. :slight_smile:

So my advice is to force yourself to take it slow and just do the homework everyday. If there was a quick fix for social anxiety, then we’d have all been cured long ago.

Hope this is somewhat helpful.

Good luck,
Canberra, Australia


Thanks, Erik. That’s helpful. I have to admit I go through phases of thinking that my SA isn’t that bad … that being said I tend to think that I might be ahead of the game, so to speak, and that I could push forward into slow-talk interaction already… today I’m seeing that I’m not ready to do that. I’ve tried it at work and it has made me feel more awkward. Just to let you in on the “ahead of the game” mentality… I’ve been suffering from this for a long while (diagnosed at 25 and I’ll be 40 next September - regretting not being more proactive) without treatment and I’ve held a good job for 17 years. I feel I’m pretty good at faking it to get along… but meetings, talking to neighbors, interacting with family, etc has always been a mental struggle for as long as I can remember. So I guess in short I feel like a highly functional personal with SA with the mental anguish to go along. So I will be taking your advice! :slight_smile: Takes the pressure off to just let it sink in and go with the program. Thanks for responding.


Thanks for the insights Erik. Good to have some expert advice. :wink:

I think the fears we have of losing trains of thought or getting interrupted is just our anxiety trying to keep us where we are. (I think of my anxiety as a living entity, hell-bent on preserving itself.)

For the first few sessions, our job is to learn the techniques in a non-stressful environment. Once they are second nature and we start using them to control anxiety in the big, scary world, I suspect that by slowing down our thinking and speaking, our anxiety will shrink to the point that we don’t lose sight of the end of the sentence when we’re halfway there.

Keep up the practice, and I look forward to hearing stories about how we beat this thing.