The downside of hearing loss is clear: we don’t hear well, or at all. And that causes barriers in our communication, touching almost every aspect of our lives.
But it’s nice to take a break from all that barrier-smashing and recognize that there can be an upside to living with hearing loss. Try taking a moment to reflect how hearing loss has impacted your life. By looking for the positive, you may unpack at least a couple of benefits or skills that came in your hearing loss package.
- You listen better. You have to. If you don’t focus on what’s being said, you won’t get it. ‘Hearing’ people can hear without focusing; they can multitask – which isn’t necessarily a good thing either. But, when you listen better, you are more likely to get the message.
- It builds insight and compassion. Understanding the reality of hearing loss and its impact on human behaviour and mental health is the door to understanding how other people must deal with challenges that are outside of your experience.
- It gives you a platform. The above insight may give you a better appreciation for the need for diversity, equality and inclusiveness in society. The lived experience of hearing loss gives you a platform to advocate for these fundamentals.
- You’re a better problem-solver. You learn to search for alternatives to difficult listening situations. Yes, most of them can be difficult. But instead of your usual go-to reaction of getting mad and yelling or, worse, retreating into sulky silence, you look for ways to make it work. Manipulating the environment, using devices and reminding others of what you need from them.
- You communicate better. This isn’t a given. Understanding the need to communicate better doesn’t automatically guarantee it. People with hearing loss are often guilty of the things we accuse the ‘hearing’ people in our lives of doing. Mumbling, not talking face to face, tuning out. But with practice and the will to improve your communication style, you will achieve it.
- You find joy in what you do hear and understand. Or at least, a better appreciation for the sounds of life. Even with sophisticated technology and superior self-advocacy skills, there is much that people with hearing loss simply can’t hear. So, when we do hear, say, birdies twittering and the stones crunching beneath our feet, it’s a beautiful moment when we acknowledge the sound and be grateful for it.
These are just a few “benefits” of hearing loss. How has changing your attitude towards your hearing loss enhanced your life?