by Pat Dobbs
Over the years, I’ve received several requests for help when people with hearing loss are frustrated dealing with difficult situations.
Do any of the following situations sound familiar to you in Difficult situations?
1. I go out to lunch with eight friends of more than 30 years quite frequently. I always arrive early so I can get the best table and choice seat and, if necessary, ask to have the music turned down. My friends know I have a hearing loss; it helps if they look at me when they talk and speak one at a time. They are also familiar with my microphone, which transfers their voices directly to my ears when they talk into it. Within a very short time, they seem to forget everything and I’m left out of the conversation, except maybe with the person next to me.
At first I try to follow the conversations, but it becomes mumbo jumbo and I eventually tune out. I go for an extended visit to the ladies room to rest. But really, how many times must I remind them? How long can I keep smiling? Sometimes I just want to scream at the top of my lungs and wonder if I should stop going altogether?
2. It’s family get-together time and I know exactly what that means….trouble hearing. Everyone is talking at the same time, music is blaring, people are laughing….Yes, I can ask them to turn down the music, have conversations with one or two people in a quiet spot, or perhaps use my assistive listening device, but I am still left out of the fun of being with the group and taking part in their conversation. As much as I enjoy the one-on-one conversations, I still miss the group fun and end up feeling sorry for myself.
3. I was at the doctor’s office waiting to be called in and, as I sat close to the receptionist, I spoke to her about my hearing loss. Wanting to be discreet, I asked her to get me if I didn’t hear her. As luck would have it, she had to leave the office and a different receptionist took over. She didn’t know my needs and I missed her calling my name. I probably should have written a note explaining that I may not be able to hear them call my name, but it’s impossible to anticipate every situation. My doctor, bless him, does know to look at me when he talks and he has a PocketTalker, which helps immensely.
4. It came to my attention that I’m considered a snob because I don’t respond when people call me. Of course I explained why I haven’t responded, but their assumptions and accusation hurt.
Do any of these strategies work in difficult situations?
All the strategies these people used are excellent, but they don’t always work and we can end up feeling left out. If/when that happens, all the negative stereotypes of hearing loss, like feeling inadequate, less of a “real” person, unintelligent, defective, snobbish, etc., rears their ugly heads.
When those situations happen to me, I admit I often go to a bad place. I allow myself a set amount of time to feel sorry for myself. It may be 5 minutes, an hour or a day. But after that amount of time I have to drop my victim mentality and go to a positive place. The Nine Guiding Principles help with this.
Here are a few things that help me in difficult situations:
- I keep a personal inventory of the things I excel in and give to the world. I know, when you’re feeling low it’s hard to think of anything good about yourself. If necessary, ask a friend to help you create a list of your unique strengths and keep the list with you on your cell phone or in your wallet so it is handy for those times in need.
- I never compare myself to others; that only makes me feel bad. Rather I remind myself I’m a unique individuel with unique talents. As an example, most people hear better than I do. But because I must pay close attention to what people are saying to lip-read, I give them my undivided attention making them feel completely heard. Being completely heard is one of the best gifts we can give.
- I refer to the Nine Guiding Principles of the Hearing Loss Evolution. These principles help me regain my sense of self-worth and self-love as it provides a practical guide for living with hearing loss.
- I often speak to a friend, especially those with hearing loss as they’ve all been in similar situations and understand.
- You can seek a professional counselor or go to a religious counselor. Meditation can be helpful, too.
We must internalize that our hearing loss does not define us negatively. Although it’s a part of who we are, how we live our lives define us, not our hearing loss. It is not easy to change our perspective, but it is an achievable goal, one that is important for us to live a full filled life.
How do you deal with similar difficult situations?
Pat Dobbs is an advocate for people with hearing loss and writes a blog on www.HearingLossEvolution.com. She is proud to be President of the SayWhatClub