How Well Can You Hear Me?

How common is it to have a hearing issue, and how willing are we to admit it? Often when we are in groups it can be quite challenging to hear properly, even for those that do not have any hearing issues, but for those who do, what exactly happens?

I asked a few people and discovered that this is one of those hush-hush topics that are rarely discussed; hearing problems are looked down upon. It soon became apparent that there are many ideals and beliefs associated with hearing and the loss of it, and how that loss is often associated with being old, ageing, losing the plot, the onset of dementia, and even ‘being dumb’. Excuse me, can you repeat that?

One woman shared that when she is in a group she often feels isolated and separates herself due to the fact that she can’t hear clearly and this can often leave her feeling frustrated. What shocked me was that she was more awkward about her hearing problem than the fact that she only has one breast. She felt more comfortable going around without her prosthesis in her bra than with the thought of walking around with a hearing aid in.

Another woman shared how the hearing is affected when we are lying down and therefore as a yoga teacher she has to adjust her voice to support people, and that many of her clients do actually struggle to hear but are often not willing to admit it or do anything about it, and ask for her to speak up.

Some people are hurt from the judgement, rejection or reaction that they have received when they have asked another to speak louder: either being told that they obviously didn’t want to hear what was being presented or being shouted at really slowly without the acceptance that some people actually have a physical impairment. CAN    YOU    HEAR    ME?

And for those of us without a hearing problem as such – yet – speaking to someone that we know has a hearing issue, we can easily support them by:

  • speaking clearly
  • speaking a little bit louder
  • making eye contact so that they can read our lips if needed, and
  • to make sure we don’t speak slow and/or shout, as this can feel horrible for the person listening.

Hearing loss for many is a gradual change that happens over time, but after speaking to a doctor on the subject of hearing, I realised that for some it can just be the simple fact of ear wax build-up for example, or something else, so just visiting the doctor and having a check-up can make a huge difference.

There are some people who have tried a few hearing aids but had not had any noticeable results, let alone any great results. There has been this feeling to just give up on the whole idea and turn a blind eye to it all – or should we say a deaf ear?

But talking to someone with a hearing problem, I soon began to realise and understand the stress that it causes them, and the frustration and misunderstandings that can occur because of it. The straining to hear can affect the whole body; the leaning forward all the time, trying to hear, or the tilting the head at an angle and the effect that this then has on our muscles. Not to mention the effect on a person’s self-worth as part of the process of being unable to participate as fully as one would like.

How many of us withdraw but don’t realise that the reason we are doing so is because we can’t actually hear properly? How many of us would think it is our introvert nature, shyness or not wanting to speak up, instead of knowing that what really is going on is that we have a hearing issue? Withdrawal can occur because we can’t participate or because we can’t hear and don’t understand, but it doesn’t need to be that way.

This led me to consider that it can actually be self-loving to make a change and invest in a hearing aid or other medical support. It’s like wearing glasses, what’s the difference? Sometimes it takes people a few years to accept that they have to wear glasses and I imagine it would be the same period of adjustment with a hearing aid.

Using aids to support our sight or hearing should not make any difference as to how we see ourselves or how we see other people because these aids do not change the essence of who we are, but they can support how we relate and interrelate with the world – and also how it can support others to relate with us.

The question comes back to: are we ready to invest in ourselves and our hearing? And are we willing to be more understanding, aware of and accepting of others with a hearing impairment – and to be more supportive when it comes to our own expression, and theirs…?

By Rosie Bason, Business Owner, Massage Therapist, Northern NSW, Australia

Further Reading:
Hearing and Listening: Feeling is Really Listening
Self-care is not selfish

847 thoughts on “How Well Can You Hear Me?

  1. Yesterday I had a problem hearing some people on the phone and I realised how I allowed it to contribute to my feelings of unease and later stress. When we cannot hear well it is asking us to become much more still and also for us to communicate lovingly with the other so that they may support us by increasing the volume but not lose touch with themselves.

  2. Just reflecting on someone I know that is hearing impaired. I have never considered that this person had a disability. Its definitely something I know about this person, but knowing who they are, there hearing doesn’t even come into it. I realised I think this way because they haven’t come across themselves as having a disability. Yes its something they live with, but it doesn’t rule how they live.

  3. What you share here is really valuable, thank you Rosie. Raising awareness around hearing impairments and how people can react to them, both in those who have one and in how people respond to it in another helps to bring consideration to the different factors involved and how to truly support ourselves and one another.

  4. Thank you for bringing this under our attention — a very neglected but oh so relevant and important matter to face and take along in any of our conversations and interactions.

  5. I see around me that many people resist getting a hearing aid early, as if it is a sign of defeat or incompetence when we need one. The problem with that is that the longer one waits the worse the problem gets and the less can be done. If we start early our hearing can be kept much longer than when we do not use this support. So it doesn’t make sense to not make the ears just as much part of our support as we do with our eyes.

  6. I am wondering what the background is of hearing problems.
    For example if the wax growth is the problem…I would say symptom. What is the reason some have more wax in their ears then others? Are we listening to polluted music? Music which has no love in it but just drama or Pranic (other not loving ) energies? What our ears try to tell us about our hearing?

  7. I love this blog Rosie, not because it’s something grand or that you’ve revealed something extra ordinary. What I love is that you’ve written it because of your observation of what goes on in the world around you, what you sense is needed for people to read and understand. Thank you.

  8. We can support one another in very practical ways, by asking for what we need, or reading the situation and how we can best support someone else. I recently realised that an elder family member wasn’t really engaging in conversation on the phone with me, because she couldn’t hear properly. I’d got into the habit of making all my phone calls while on the move, walking, getting a train etc, without realising the effect this was having on the quality of my interactions and the conversation. It’s worth creating the space to fully give my attention to whomever I’m speaking to – because otherwise we end up a reduced quality of conversation, and more disconnected and frustrated with one another than when we started.

  9. What a very practical topic to open up and start to share, as we all probably know one or several people with a hearing issue or maybe have one ourselves. I had never really considered people’s reactions to a hearing loss to be different than, say, an eyesight problem, but I can see that it is. I have often wondered why several friends who have hearing aids often refuse to wear them; now I understand a little bit more so with this increased understanding I know I will be able to support them more than I have. So, thank you Rosie for beginning this valuable conversation. Maybe it’s time for me to book a hearing test!

  10. I could relate to a lot of what was shared. I find when I or other people can’t hear it feels isolating and you don’t feel as much part of the group discussion. I also find that when I can’t hear properly, my body goes into strain. I have to drop this tension and ask them to speak up or just accept that perhaps I won’t hear everything.

  11. With a partner trying to learn Dutch I realize how fast I speak and how I often not pronounce clear or loud enough. My expression is not just for me it is for all to be heard.

  12. When I speak to people that have difficulty in hearing I become much more aware of how I am speaking and the words I use. I find it really helps if you make full and loving eye contact with them, then they are able to connect to what I am saying, if I am looking or doing something else invariably they will ask me to repeat what I have just said. It is a great lesson in being totally with someone when we are speaking.

  13. I have a slight problem when people speak quietly, it is often difficult for me to hear them, I would be straining to hear them, I decided to pluck up the courage to ask them could they speak louder ( that was how I felt at the time) they were happy to do so as they were not aware that I was having difficulty hearing them. Speaking up is important and a self-loving thing to do.

  14. The thing I love about this blog is it reminds me that my voice is not really there for me, when I get self-conscious or self-absorbed my voice becomes really quiet and muffled and I know it must be really hard for people to hear me, but you remind me here that it’s not about me and it’s actually our responsibility to others to speak clearly and loudly enough to hear.

  15. It is an important point to raise about supporting eachother through our clear communications, so that no one is left out or behind, so that everyone can hear and understand and in turn so that everyone can have the opportunity to contribute.

  16. There is a lot to hearing and also to listening. Sometimes we can’t hear because we don’t want to, some of us are not very good at listening and some of us don’t actually want to be heard so we say things in a way that we don’t get heard. Even amongst people who do not have a hearing impairment there is a lot going on.

  17. This goes with everything and not just hearing aid, if we need a prop to hold on to while walking, a trolly on wheels because we can’t carry heavy bags, or gloves while cleaning – why not invest in these and lovingly support ourselves in every day tasks?

  18. These are all great points and also a reminder for us all to consider others when we communicate and say it in a way that we can be heard. I don’t have a hearing problem and yet very often have to keep asking people to repeat what they have said as they have mumbled or spoken very quietly – I see that happen a lot even amongst people with good hearing so must be awful when you have a hearing impairment.

  19. I discovered during my studying time with Universal Medicine for the last ten years that ears are interesting parts of the body.
    If I become hard in how I speak it affects my ears. When I am less present in my body I can hear less equally when with others. Yes we can learn a lot from each part of our body.

  20. At age 67 my hearing is not what it once was although hearing tests tell me it is normal for my age. I find that I cannot discern so well between sounds so, for example, when a radio is on and someone is speaking to me, I find it hard to concentrate on their words. I find it hard to concentrate when there is any background noise, for example, as I am writing this there are dogs barking non-stop behind my house. In groups I find it very helpful to see people’s faces, there are definitely fewer misunderstandings when we are facing each other and can lip read, so it is, as you say, Rosie, really helpful to be aware of other people’s hearing difficulties and make sure we are clearly understood.

  21. It’s a great point about not judging ourself or others for needing an aid to help with sight or hearing, it doesn’t mean there is something ‘wrong’ with us – we are not lesser for needing to use such a thing.

  22. There needs to be a lot more decency and respect given to people who do not have the same abilities as everyone else, for example, hearing loss. We can all support with this by bringing acceptance and understanding, first to ourselves and then to others.

  23. Could it be that we are putting up a measure to the physical body, a measure that tells us that a body that needs any aid, being it a hearing aid, glasses or any other prothesis is inferior or less intelligent and with that are championing the perfect physical body?

    1. Great question, Nico. I would say that a lot of people don’t like and don’t want to listen to the signals their body is giving them. Not wanting to admit they’re ‘wrong’ or needing support and different choices. Almost like we are less when something in our body doesn’t function like we want it. Could it be that this is why we have such a different definition of being healthy today from back 50 or 60 years ago? Admitting something is not working for us asks us to look at the way we live our life.

  24. Hearing loss is much more common than we think, much like vision loss and there are various degrees of it, occurring any time through our lives. Hearing aids sometimes assist, but sometimes cause more annoyance. I know someone well who is hearing impaired and has been his whole life and when it comes to aids they say that you need to keep going back for adjustments until the sound is right for you. There are lots of little adjustments needed and of course anyone needing hearing aids has to go through a period of adjustment with them also. As you say Rosie support and understanding is what is required as adjusting to hearing loss is a big one for people, for its part of how we communicate, we can miss out on so much of life if we are not hearing properly. But with the support and understanding people can adjust well and live life well with a hearing impairment.

  25. Hearing can be a big issue. A popular meeting venue in town has no sound deadening items so, once 40 or more people enter the room and talk, the noise is deafening and I am surprised how much people are ready to tolerate this.

    1. That is a very good point Christoph, what harm to the body do we tolerate as a society or community in rooms or situations which are in fact disfunctional to the human body. It makes me remember of someone I know who likes to go with his friends to music festivals but chooses to wear ear plugs because of the loud music that is being played. But of course it should be the other way, why does no one asks this question to lower the sound level on this festivals in the first place to make it a friendly place for people to be.

  26. Humanity is losing its patience with each other, that is what I got from this today. That we need to bring in my understanding and compassion for each other, and lessen our grip on perfection.

  27. I have been around people who have been hearing impaired my whole life having worked with many people who are hearing impaired. Connection is the important thing for communication. When we are connected, everything is heard, regardless of the voices tone.

  28. I can feel that I do have a reaction and get frustrated when I have to repeat things to someone who can’t hear. It is exposing the lack of patience that I can have and the judgement of ‘why can’t you get this’ and how imposing and unloving this is with people.

  29. Gosh we are so concerned with what people think it is scary at times. That is one thing that I absolutely LOVE that Serge Benhayon has taught me to renew – a disinterest in what people think about me, letting me be me no matter what’s going on.

    1. I will give a hearty ‘second’ to your comment Michael about letting go of any concern about what other people think about me, and have been recently observing myself with more focus when I slip into that pattern of changing the way I communicate and work in order to pander to what I thought others wanted to see in me for acceptance. But whenever I do that, it feels awful now, and I feel like I lost myself for a bit, like a bobber drifting around on the surface of the water, being blown around by the will of others.

  30. I sometimes find it difficult to hear in a yoga session when i am laying down, once I would have said nothing but now i am more able to speak up and when doing so i have found some of the others have felt the same.

  31. I can sense that our issues with hearing aids or any other aid is because we want to be perfect in everything so too with our bodies, and not needing any help. But too I can feel an arrogance in this as we put more value to our physical body than to the essence that is our true core which is actually very debilitated if we do not present a body that is able to communicate in this world with our without any aids. So what is more important, the uphold of the so called perfect body and with that completely ignore the expression that can come through us from our essence or, will we choose for our essence and accept any aid that is needed to support us to have a body that is able to give expression from our soul.

  32. At the same time people who’ve a hearing problem need to also take responsibility and that is of not giving up and retreating but to make sure they take care of what they need to stay in connection with those around them.

  33. I have found that people with hearing problems do not feel supported in their handicap and therefor easily give up and retreat into their own little cocoon. It seems that for those who do not have a hearing problem it is very difficult to stay aware of those that do and take care of how they communicate for longer than a few minutes. Having someone around with a hearing disability is asking of all others to be very present and aware of this fact and to take responsibility in how they communicate and make sure they include the person that does not hear as well.

  34. This made me realise how when I take things for granted and stop appreciating what I have for myself or what my strengths are, I am likely to see the lack when that is not so for others, or myself at times, and react with frustration and judgment.

  35. Being considerate and respectful of other’s physical limitations is very important, as well as supporting them to deal with their reactions to their physical limitations.

  36. It is not the hearing loss that is the problem per sec; it is the way we react to it that is the problem. It is the same with everything in life. Our response or reaction determines how well we work with things that occur in our life.

    1. Yes that is very true. I have a friend who due to a physical condition can only whisper and hardly speak and yet I can hear her very clearly. She has a physical condition but energetically and in every other way I find her very clear and easy to understand. I have other friends who don’t have a physical condition and yet I find it really hard to hear what they say as if they are not speaking to be heard.

  37. ..actually who says that being deaf or having hearing problems is a disability? It limits you from a practical point of view, but whatever we are designed or became to be in this life is an opportunity to grow and evolve from.

  38. What a great topic I’ve never read someone talk about before. In my family one member was half deaf and she never communicated this to the outside. I never understood why, because it would have made a greater ease being around with people and feeling being part of it. That shows, that there is a distinctive decision in ourselves, that uses a disability to actually retreat from society. Pictures and ideals have of course a huge impact with that, but bringing it back to responsibility, my family member just did not want to connect deeper with people and used the caused insecurity to not go out in the world how she should have.

  39. We are tough on each other, I mean very few fit the current view of whatever the normal is of the day and yet we can be so dismissive to anyone we perceive as being ‘different’. So if we accept this then we would be pretty much dismissive of most people. Next time I am in a conversation or see someone I will remember this and before I jump to a judgement I look for the person first. There is always something to appreciate and the more I put my energy or sight to this the easier it is to actually see the person in front of me first.

  40. There seems to be a stigma connected to having hearing issues, and while that exists, people are trapped within that stigma. Hearing loss, like losing your 20/20 vision as you age, or getting wrinkles on your face is something to be supported and understood by those around us. Nothing more, or less.

  41. I remember first reading this blog a year or so ago and I had no idea. It’s such a hush hush topic that many people don’t even know that hearing problems are common. Thanks for bringing it up and into people’s awareness.

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