Could You Use a Better Hearing Loss Attitude?

Do you ever go online looking for advice from other people? And have you ever shifted your way of thinking about your hearing loss or tinnitus because of something you read there?

There is some seriously life-changing information out there, folks! I’m not talking about the stuff that hearing science is still trying to work out – such as how to scientifically get rid of tinnitus, or how to perk up those damaged hair cells that are shriveling on the cochlea vine.

I’m talking about what other people do to make the hearing loss life more, uh, liveable. To find these gems, we have to scroll through posts that howl at the moon or offer home remedies such as head-tapping for hours to cure inner head noise. We have to keep reading because, if we’re open to it, eventually we’ll stumble onto a rawly-written post that has the power to make us sit up and go, wow!

I’m talking about an attitude that someone describes, that’s powerful enough to shift our own thinking just a bit, just enough that it carries us more easily through our hearing loss day.

Think about your attitudes towards hearing loss – how do they affect your individual listening situations? Do they create communication success, or do they deliver one bad hearing moment after another?

When you are momentarily sidelined by a zip-lining group conversation, do you give up and mentally check out, or do you claw our way back into the game?  

If you connect with other people who have hearing loss, perhaps on Facebook or in hearing loss group meetings, you know how varied our individual approaches are. Sometimes, what other people say or do can inspire you. Or it can scare the heck out of you.

Can you see yourself in any of the following scenarios?

At a family holiday dinner, everyone’s talking at once and no one’s talking to you because you’re as lost as a single sock in a load of laundry. Do you:

  1. Stop all conversation and non-emotionally ask everyone to respect your needs and speak one at time? At least, cut the side comments while someone is telling a funny story?
  2. Since you realize that’s never gonna happen, do you limit your chats to the person beside you?
  3. Or do you pout silently and decide that you’ll host the next holiday dinner and invite only the family members you like?

When meeting new people for the first time, how do you self-identify?

  1. Are you the type that doesn’t like to trumpet you hearing loss to the world? This information is revealed on a strict needs-to-know basis – perhaps when repeatedly saying pardon has backed you into a communication corner, and honesty is the only way out.
  2. Or are you the “love me, love my hearing loss” type? You introduce yourself and your hearing needs in the same, first breath. Heck, you might even have a pamphlet to hand out, or maybe you’re wearing a button that blares I READ LIPS.

How do you wear your hearing aids and cochlear implant external devices?

  1. Do you consider your pearly-white sound processor perched on the side of your head to be stunningly beautiful? Is your hearing aid a badge of honor? You not only have nothing to hide, but you’re proud of them!
  2. You’re not exactly ashamed of the devices – but maybe you worry that others don’t see the technology in the same positive light? So you play it safe, and either cover them with your hair or ask for the most miniscule model available.

These are just three areas that I have completely switched-up my attitude approach because of other people I’ve met personally, or read their words on social media. My first hearing aid – a big, beige brute of a thing – was something I’d waited for and wanted for years. Yet when I finally had it, I hated it and did my best to hide it. I can only imagine what my 20-year-old self must have looked like, pawing at the side of my head to hide it, like a cat cleaning its whiskers, although not nearly so cute. Now – I flaunt anything that sticks to my head and helps me hear.

There was a time when I’d wait until the conversation got positively painful before offering the info that I don’t hear very well. Today, I don’t hesitate to let people know we’ll need to make some minor adjustments if we want to converse.

Family dinners continue to be a noisy nuisance, but I’m not afraid to assert my needs. And guess what – my family and friends still love me! And I adore them. We’re not perfect communicators, any of us, but we try and we get by.

I continue to learn a lot from other people working to live in peace with their hearing loss and  their head pain. And I especially learn from people wage a frustrating fight against their conditions every day of their lives. That’s a tough way to live, and I want the smoother, easier ride of more positive attitudes.

 

About Gael Hannan

Gael Hannan is a writer, speaker and advocate on hearing loss issues. In addition to her weekly blog for HearingHealthMatters.org, which has an international following, Gael wrote the acclaimed book "The Way I Hear It: A Life with Hearing Loss". She is regularly invited to present her uniquely humorous and insightful work to appreciative audiences around the world. Gael has received many awards for her work, which includes advocacy for a more inclusive society for people with hearing loss. She lives with her husband on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.

3 Comments

  1. I don’t know how I missed reading this. As usual so sun and so inspiring. And so true.
    Bless you, Gael.

    Best,
    Abha

  2. Beautifully written and so true!

    Thank you for writing this

    I feel empowered and my self worth has increased just reading this

    Bless you, Gael

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