Some things just can’t be explained to those who haven’t experienced them firsthand. The struggles of those with hearing loss fall into this category.
Let’s take a look at nine things only people with hearing loss will understand.
Emotional Intelligence & Self-Compassion are Absolutely Essential
When our hearing starts to decline, it’s usually a gradual process. We may miss a word here or there or take a minute to notice a friend cheerfully calling us across the parking lot at the grocery store. Overall, it’s usually pretty subtle to those around us.
But as the hearing loss progresses, we may begin to feel all sorts of uncomfortable emotions rising to the surface. The most common ones are fear, shame, anger, grief, loneliness and a sense of regret.
It’s essential for those with hearing loss to find ways to cope with and respond well to their emotional states. Listen to how you feel about your hearing loss, and you’ll better understand how to manage it.
The emotion of fear arises to protect us from future danger. However, cycling and ignored fear can keep us in hiding from others. This occurs with the person who allows fear to take them away from social activities they used to enjoy.
But when we honor our fear as a natural and healthy response to the lifestyle changes we must face, we think more clearly about actions we may need to take regarding hearing loss.
Whether logical or not, shame inevitably creeps up when we realize we’re not able to do things as quickly or proficiently as we once did. Embarrassment can be tempered by focusing on our strengths and our ability to responsibly address and remedy our hearing loss.
Frustration, annoyance, and outright anger can surface as we learn to adapt to life with our hearing impairment. When we respond to our understandable anger with compassion and patience, it will pass through us in its natural flow.
Some grief is almost always a part of coming to terms with hearing loss. While hearing devices help tremendously in recapturing the auditory functioning we once had, there are still going to be some areas where we need to let go of what once was. This can be a slow, but necessary, process.
5. Loneliness and Isolation
With hearing loss, often comes a sense of isolation and withdrawal from previously enjoyed activities. Those with hearing impairment might avoid certain social gatherings for fear of becoming a burden or being judged.
Self-isolation can lead to feelings of loneliness and separation from others. When we’re able to extend kindness and compassion to ourselves throughout the process, the loneliness can slowly but surely begin to dissolve.
6. A Sense of Regret
As our hearing declines, we may experience a sense of regret, whether it’s logical or not. For example, we might feel regret not using those earplugs when we went hunting or to that loud concert when we were younger. Or we might feel regret for things that were entirely out of our control, such as not knowing that listening to loud music could affect our ear health so dramatically.
No matter how frustrating or overwhelming the struggles with hearing loss get, patience can always make it better.
You may immediately think about others being patient with you as you adjust to a different lifestyle. But no, this patience is about being patient with yourself. Allow yourself the room to become accustomed to your learning curve. Permit yourself to mess up, to make mistakes.
When you give yourself the patience you need to accommodate your new challenges; you also encourage those around you to do the same. Any person with hearing loss knows that a little patience can go a long way.
Self-compassion is also essential during the adjustment period. The fear, shame, anger, grief, loneliness, isolation, and sense of regret can reach a point of spiraling into depression if you let it. When you allow yourself the sacred space to feel whatever you’re feeling without judging yourself, you also give your loved ones motivation to provide this for you, too.
No matter if you’re struggling with changes in hearing or any other new challenge, loving and accepting yourself exactly where you are can make a huge difference.
Sometimes, people with hearing loss will feel separate, different, or like a burden on those, they care about. Unfortunately, it’s frequently their own insecurities that keep them from embracing all the enjoyments in life. And they sometimes push others away without realizing it. Self-love can keep this from becoming a reality.
Loving Your Ears
We each have battles going on inside of us that others know nothing about. With those battles comes a responsibility to protect our most precious asset: our hearing. Be sure to get your hearing checked even before you think there’s a problem.