How to Find Self-Help for Hard of Hearing That’s Relatable

A stack of books related to personal development

You often don’t see resources that target self-help for hard of hearing people. There is a lot of support for the general public, but when it comes to hearing loss support, there is far less.

You may be experiencing issues with achieving a particular goal in your life. Your goal may be to get up the career ladder, grow into your professional role, deal with conflict that keeps showing up, find your purpose or even meet a significant other with whom you can spend the rest of your life. 

Maybe you don’t have a goal to manifest something in your life, but it’s a feeling you want to avoid. You may feel sad or depressed at times. Maybe you’re feeling lonely even though there are people around you. And you want to find a way to feel better.

Traditional advice from self-help books and gurus may give you some headway, but sometimes, they don’t get to the real root of your issues to make breakthrough changes.

Our challenges are unique

It’s important to note that the challenges for people who experience a lack of hearing are different than those who do have hearing. It shows up in unique ways that one must examine thoughtfully and strategically. Not all self-help books can understand the intricacies of these problems from an angle of hearing loss. Some resources provide examples linked to problems you never encountered or can’t relate to.  

When we have hearing loss, we experience internalized negative thoughts and a mirage of coping behaviours that affect the results and experiences which show up in our lives. When one loses their hearing, a change of perspective on oneself gets altered. We often interpret and learn through experiences in our environment. Hence, we become accustomed to seeing the world in a specific way. 

Part of self-help is challenging yourself and opening yourself to new beliefs that can help you change your perspective and how you see the world.

If you are trying to achieve some goals in life, you have desires you want to pursue, and you feel held back but unable to identify why, seeking support from self-help for hard of hearing will help you.  It may come in the form of a counsellor who can understand people with hearing loss, like with Deaf-centred counselling.

Your biggest challenge in life is your biggest reward towards self-growth and understanding yourself a lot better. You also gain better capabilities to manage issues that you face in your life. How you choose to go about this is your decision.

I’m not a therapist and would highly recommend that you find one, especially if you are experiencing repeated issues that you can’t solve on your own. If you are experiencing thoughts of suicide, you must contact your local suicide line. Someone is there wanting to help you today. In some countries, you can communicate via video, phone or text.

Understanding the Impact of Hearing Loss

There are several factors that one might experience as a result of their hearing loss. I want to share a few arching thoughts that I see in myself and others around me with hearing loss throughout my life.

The three core groups of people with hearing loss

There are three groups of people with hearing loss. One type is those who were born or experienced hearing loss as a child or teenager. They were either mainstreamed or those who were integrated into Deaf communities. The last group is those who started to experience hearing loss when they were adults. 

Each individual in these core groups is impacted in different ways. As a child, you’re a reflection of your family and community. They shape your attitudes and beliefs that you carry on for the rest of your life. As you get older, you’re impacted by your pre-existing perception of how the world should and ought to be.

The late-deafened identity challenge

People who typically experience hearing loss later in life are going through an identity shift. They no longer recognize their old self.  Things in life have changed dramatically to the point that they have been thrown into a world they never knew existed. They may be frozen in place unable to find the available resources to help them. 

Their relationships with significant others, friends, and work need adjustments, especially as other people expect them to continue to be the person they used to be.

Issues from the late-deafened

If you experience hearing loss later in life, you realize you’re no longer the same person. You may notice that you don’t have the same status in society or type of relationship with people around you. You may withdraw from doing all the activities you once enjoyed because they are too difficult or a reminder you’re no longer the same person.

If you had negative views about people with hearing loss, and now that you have it yourself. You are less likely to accept your reality. You may be in denial and trying to disassociate yourself from the truth. 

You may think you feel the opposite and hopeless because you’re now those people. This often happens for people who believe hearing loss is associated with society’s misperception of older adults. They might feel that getting labelled as being old because they have hearing loss is a signal that their life is almost over. 

The mainstreamed child identity challenge

Those who typically experience hearing loss as a child are heavily influenced by how their family and friends perceive them or hearing loss in general. Most kids start life without judgments about themselves or others. The longer they interact with others in their environment, the more they learn beliefs from others, which they internalize. Most often, it is the belief that comes from the parent. However, it can also come from friends, relatives and the community.

Issues from the mainstreamed hard of hearing child

Children who grow up with hearing loss, particularly those who are mainstream, quickly realize that they’re different and not like other kids. While kids in your neighbourhood play, you go to speech therapy to get ‘fixed.’ While other kids attend classes, you are being pulled aside for ‘special’ support. You observed that all these activities might mean something is wrong with you.  You spend your life being forced to act and be like people with hearing just to be accepted.

Avoiding hearing loss disclosure

You may intentionally hide your hearing loss to avoid being seen as different. You make life decisions that purposely avoid being caught and seen with hearing loss. You choose careers which hide your hearing loss. You avoid roles that require you to communicate with others and choose careers like creative design, graphic design, accounting, and technical skills.

Your goal is to be invisible in the mainstream social group. You may wear your hair long to cover your hearing aids or buy smaller ones not to disguise the truth about your hearing loss.

Lacking self-respect

You may end up developing a lack of self-respect for yourself. You’re hard on yourself to achieve a high level of perfection. 

For some, you may have your ceilings lowered. You don’t try to go after what you want because you see yourself lacking. You aim for what is achievable and easy without stretching yourself to grow.

Treating others negatively with judgement

You may judge others more critically, expecting that they should be better than you because they don’t have any of the challenges that you face. 

You may start to develop internalized oppression where you no longer want to associate with other people with hearing loss for fear of being like them. 

Developing healthy relationships with others

Some children with hearing loss were sent away to special boarding schools to get specialized training because there were no resources to allow them to be part of the mainstream school system. 

You may have only seen your parents for ten weeks or less a year. You spent your whole childhood with a lack of deep relationships with your immediate families, relatives and community.  Your boarding school may have treated you in ways where you developed a lack of self-esteem.

You may feel rejected by society, especially if you’ve understood what kind of life others were living. It was very different and more appealing than your life. 

You may have developed a lack of human connection and experienced avoidant attachment styles that cause you to reject or push people away. Anyone who wants to get close to you can’t because the negative feeling of being unloved shows up.

You may have shame about who you are. You can’t fully show up as yourself, and when others try to get close, you feel more ashamed.

You may confuse love and caring as pity. When you see others treat others with hearing loss with pity and charity, yet transactional, When people genuinely care, you confuse it with pity.

Allowing others to treat you badly

You may develop a low expectation for how others should treat you. If your parents, siblings or friends didn’t speak up for you when people teased or bullied you as a child, you would start to internalize what others said about you as the truth. 

The Deaf child identity challenge

For those who are Deaf and who desire to be more mainstream, you might feel like you are abandoning your community. You may think family members are punishing you for choosing a life outside their circle.  You may develop resentment if you stay to keep the peace.

The key to making breakthrough changes

Begin with self-awareness

You can overcome all the barriers that stop you from getting what you want or when you consistently sabotage opportunities that life throws at you. You now better understand how some of these issues might relate to your life. 

Self-awareness is the key to untangling the issues preventing you from reaching your goals or resolving negative feelings in your life.

You’ll need to understand the core beliefs driving you to think and behave in certain ways. The first step in making any change is awareness of the issue. If you are there, you are in an excellent position to improve your life.

Embracing Self-Acceptance

Knowing that you are who you are and nothing is wrong with you is crucial. Your hearing loss is part of your identity, among other things. It shapes how others interact with you and how you show up. 

Understanding that all human beings are flawed by nature. We connect to fill the gaps and become powerful together. We’re not meant to be perfect individuals without relying on others.

Bringing self-compassion and positive self-talk 

If you are not doing it already, listen to the voices in your head. How are you talking to yourself when you make a mistake? Are you verbally abusing yourself in your mind? Are you expressing hatred for who you are? 

It’s important to develop self-compassion and positive self-talk to yourself. The more that you can treat yourself with kindness as you would to a baby who could do no wrong, you will become a better person for yourself. You may notice a shift and change in how others treat you. 

You’re your greatest ally, and it’s easy to give yourself all the love rather than expect others to do the same.

Connecting with peers

If your journey with hearing loss is starting or if it’s been a long journey, finding others similar to you in values and goals can be incredibly rewarding. More so when they are a few steps ahead of you. 

You can see firsthand how they live their lives and receive encouragement and inspiration on what you can do to achieve what they can do. 

Engaging with others with similar experiences can help validate your feelings and understanding of the world around you. You might uncover new learnings about yourself and how you have been coping daily.

Asserting your needs

One of the greatest tools in helping us overcome most of the challenges we experience is through assertiveness skills. Learning how to advocate for yourself and being able to articulate your needs and wants is an important tool to develop as you navigate a world. 

Not everyone can or will see the world how we interpret similar experiences in life. It’s important to learn how to assert yourself in situations to avoid being excluded, trying to make others happy, or even doubting your needs and wants. 

When you have assertiveness skills, you gain capabilities that can help you understand what’s important to you, what is worth asserting and what isn’t worth your time and effort and ways to remove yourself from those situations.

Conclusion

Self-help for hard of hearing people comes in different forms and challenges. Our unique circumstances due to our upbringing and how others were taught to interact with people with hearing loss shaped who we are. It also explains why we behave and do things that don’t always work in our favour. It allows us to uncover the core issues that might be driving some of our beliefs about ourselves and the world around us. 

Explore these with a therapist or through available resources; it may be the way to get to your goal and remove the emotional blocks you are experiencing.

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