Hearing Loss Is a Practice, Not a Perfect

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?

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8 thoughts on “Hearing Loss Is a Practice, Not a Perfect”

  1. Wow, “ Optimize circumstances to help you hear best” and “Practice builds confidence. Those are two great quotes I’m going to take to heart! Thanks Shari!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad you found it helpful. Thanks for your comment.

  2. mama2russians – suburb of Detroit, MI, USA – I'm a stay at home mom. I have 2 school aged children who have invisible special needs. I also have invisible disabilities (mostly deaf & constantly dizzy). I love to knit & crochet. We have 1 sweet dog & 3 adorable cats. We also have a 5' long reef aquarium just getting up & running. It has 7 fish, a coral, 7 snails, 2 shrimp, 2 urchins & a boatload of hermit crabs! It's busy here!
    mama2russians says:

    Great points. I have 2 plain color masks. On one, I used permanent Sharpie to write DEAF on the left and HEARS A LITTLE on the right. I reprint each time I wash it. People tell me it’s great! My other mask has pins. One says I AM DEAF (which I pinned on the left & used the Sharpie to draw arrows toward my left ear) and another says I AM HARD OF HEARING. PLEASE KEEP YOUR MASK ON AND SPEAK UP. I get compliments on the buttons/pins for letting people know how they can help me. The only thing I really need now is a cape printed with the same notices! Someone coming up behind me, even with my hearing aid on, always makes me jump! LOL!

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      Love it! Thank you for sharing what works for you.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      So glad you liked it. Thanks for your comment.

  3. I have had to try to communicate with various help lines which is an exercise in frustration as the women speak so fast and to me sound like quacking ducks. When I received a questionaire about the service I let them have it! I told them that not everyone has perfect hearing and their agents should be trained in how to speak to the hearing impaired–Slowly and clearly. I tell the agents I am deaf and ask them to speak that way but they don’t seem to get it. It would save them time in the long run if they didn’t have to repeat, (always quacking and fast again) if they would do as I ask.

    1. Shari Eberts – NYC – Shari Eberts is a hearing health advocate, writer, speaker and avid Bikram yogi. She blogs at LivingWithHearingLoss.com and serves on the Board of Trustees of Hearing Loss Association of America. She is the former Board Chair of Hearing Health Foundation. Shari has an adult-onset genetic hearing loss and hopes that by sharing her story, it will help others to live more peacefully with their own hearing issues.
      Shari Eberts says:

      That is very frustrating. Is there a way to contact them through email or live chat? Many companies now have this as an option. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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