Denial or Acceptance?
The Problem With Denial
It is not always easy to accept that we may have a hearing impairment. Denial is a psychological process and is often the first reaction people have when faced with evidence of hearing loss. People may feel their hearing loss is not bad enough to warrant treatment, or that seeking treatment would be an acceptance of advancing age. Others may be embarrassed by the idea of wearing a hearing aid and are concerned about the cosmetics.
When we are in denial we usually use these thought process:
- My hearing is not too bad, it is just people who mumble; they don’t speak clearly anymore.
- I can concentrate more and simply ask people to repeat what they have said
- I only have hearing problems in large groups and noisy situations; if I avoid these situations I will be OK.
- My hearing will get better over time
- If my hearing gets worse then I will do something about it
- My hearing is not bad enough to wear a hearing aid
So slow we don’t notice
Sometimes the slow process of the hearing loss in progressive hearing losses (such as the age or noise-related hearing loss) may even make it more difficult for us to accept that we have hearing loss. As our hearing deteriorates we become used to the hearing loss. We start filling the gaps and try to cope with these problems by turning the volume of the TV up or by avoiding the difficult situations! We may not realise what we are missing or how our quality of life is affected by the hearing loss.
The fact is we cannot hide our hearing loss. The hearing loss is more obvious than any pair of hearing aids! Friends, associates, clients and loved ones already know that we have a hearing loss. We can push the fact out of our mind, but we are only fooling ourselves.
The symptoms have already given our secret away because we:
- Answer the wrong questions
- Confuse similar words, like “fat and sat”, “cat and pat”, “choose and shoes”
- Turn-up the TV too loud
- Ask others to repeat what they have said all the time
If we keep denying and concealing the hearing problems we start limiting our social activities by:
- Avoiding the difficult listening situation
- Giving up our favourite activities
- Losing self-confidence/self-esteem
- Not enjoying being in groups anymore
- Feeling isolated and depressed
- Causing loved ones to give up on us
- Becoming a victim of our own decision to ignore our hearing loss
When we accept the fact that we have a hearing loss, it is the first step to overcoming our communication problems. We need to admit that family, friends and co-workers already know that we have a hearing loss and that our hearing is not as good as it used to be and is affecting the quality of our life and requires treatment.
If our hearing loss cannot be treated medically or surgically, we need to accept that the hearing loss is not reversible and that a positive choice is to seek advice from an Audiologist and start wearing hearing aids, if that is recommended.