Why you pretend to hear when you really don’t

Do you ‘Deaf bluff’? Do you find yourself acting as if you are following along with conversations, but you have no clue what was said?

You know what I mean if you ever find yourself mirroring people around you. You’re nodding even when you don’t know what you agreed to. You’re watching other people’s body language for clues about the tone of the conversation. You’re laughing just when they start laughing.

It is frustrating, especially when you feel like you’re downplaying your own hearing challenges. But realize that these are habits that some deaf and hard-of-hearing people have. Even when you realize it is happening, it is very hard to stop the habit immediately.

I want you to understand better why this is happening so that you are better equipped and more self-aware. I am not a psychologist, but I have experienced this and can relate to the situation at hand.

You’re showing people-pleasing traits

The habit of faking it and pretending has been your coping mechanism. You are expressing the desire to please others to fit in, keep the peace, and maintain connections.

As a people pleaser, you have not made yourself a priority at all times. Instead, you chose others as a priority over yours.

There’s a deeper issue and trauma

People fake or pretend to hear to avoid a past experience from happening again. You may or may not recall a past experience or event where you didn’t hear so well. Someone during a conversation pointed out your hearing loss as a problem. That person could have been your family, a close friend, or someone you don’t know so well.

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These shame-based environments made you feel ashamed about your hearing loss. You internalized it as a shame on yourself, as a person who is deaf and hard of hearing.

As a result, you developed a coping mechanism to avoid conflict and the feeling of shame from happening again by pretending to hide your hearing loss.

It has nothing to do with not wanting to be a burden

The misconception of a people pleaser is that you feel you are being generous and helpful to others. You may think that you are not burdening others around you by not getting people to repeat what was said.

You don’t even realize that you are not connecting authentically with people. You’re giving them a false impression and false reality of how they are experiencing your interactions together.

If you can’t understand what others are expressing to you, you’re not really forming a connection. Your not really getting to understand the people around you better.

Additionally, when you feel disconnected from being your authentic self, limiting your quality of life, or feeling lost, you hit the territory of being a people pleaser.

How to break-free

Every habit needs to be replaced with another habit. It is not enough just to stop. In the case of pretending, you should look to replace it with self-advocating for yourself. Help others be better communicators by finding a way you can hear them better. Perhaps, start in comfortable situations with people you trust. Starting with strangers they know they might never see again is easier for some people.

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Start by being honest every time you don’t hear clearly. Ask for them to repeat and direct them in a way that you can hear them. However, urge yourself not to pretend. Then slowly introduce your habit to more people in other circles, like friends and coworkers. Eventually, the new habit will be formed and you’ll find comfort and confidence from plenty of practice.

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