Regular readers know I am almost as passionate about yoga as I am about hearing loss advocacy. I try to practice yoga every day, but without access to my normal studio during Covid-19, conditions are not ideal. I created a dedicated space for my yoga practice at home, but it is also the walkway out to the back yard. I brought in space heaters to simulate the warm temperatures of my studio, but they can only do so much.
“It’s a practice, not a perfect,” my yoga teacher reminds us as we struggle with the frustrations of taking class from home. “Optimize the conditions and do the best you can in the moment. Then try again tomorrow.” Good advice for practicing yoga, and also for living with hearing loss.
Make the Focus Optimizing Rather than Perfecting
Wouldn’t it be nice to approach each listening challenge with this same attitude — open minded, without expectations, but all the while actively working to optimize the circumstances to help you hear your best? This outlook can be the difference between anger or determination, isolation or engagement, and frustration or peace in living with hearing loss.
It is not an easy task. These thoughts may go through our minds each time we hit a challenging listening situation.
“My hearing will never be perfect.”
“Hearing aids help, but they don’t work like glasses, restoring hearing back to ‘normal.'”
“It’s hard to hear in background noise.”
“Why can’t people use communication best practices like getting my attention before speaking to me?”
“How will I ever hear anyone wearing a mask?”
It is easy to get discouraged and want to give up, but we cannot. Communication is too important to our physical and mental health. It is what keeps us connected to others and to the world. If we can change our focus to one of action — optimizing the situation — rather than lamenting the poor listening conditions, we are more likely to achieve our real objective — effective and enjoyable communication.
Practice Also Builds Confidence
A can-do attitude is important, but so is expertise — and to build this takes effort. My son’s pre-school teacher used to say, “Practice builds confidence.” She was talking about rehearsing for the class recital at the end of the year, but it is true for any difficult task. “Don’t you mean practice makes perfect?” I asked when my son repeated the phrase to me. “No, confidence,” he said.
Wise words and an important life lesson. By changing the goal from how well the kids performed to how they felt while doing it, she encouraged the children to focus on behaviors that lead to success. Kudos to this teacher for inspiring her students to embrace rehearsal time. Practicing built both confidence and expertise so the children could perform at an optimal level without fear of failure. Perfection was never even a consideration.
Putting These Ideas to Work for Hearing Loss
These same philosophies can be applied to living with hearing loss. It will always be challenging picking up a prescription at the pharmacy when people are wearing masks. We know it will be hard to follow a Zoom meeting without captions or to go out to a loud restaurant or party when those days return. But when we focus on actions to improve the situation and practice the skills we need to do this, we will feel more confident in the moment and execute the workarounds more effectively.
For example, at the pharmacy, you can use a speech-to-text-app to provide captioning support for what you hear from behind the masks. Practice with a family member at home first so you will be more adept in the moment. Same goes for the Zoom meetings or any other listening challenge. Plan your action strategy, practice it at home and begin to execute with more confidence and ease in the moment. And don’t forget to say Namaste.
Readers, is your hearing loss a practice or a perfect?