Here is a word that most people don’t associate with hearingloss: JOYAs we embark on a new year, self-reflection is moreprevalent. This year I have spent thinking about joy and how it related toaudiology, this practice, and my patients. Many of my friends and colleaguesknow that I started Audiology & Hearing Services of Charlotte because Ilost my love of practicing audiology in a place where my time was micromanagedand I couldn’t provide care in a way I felt best served my patients. Thischange brought the joy back. Everything we experience is about perspective. For a person with hearing loss, the big word theynotice is “loss”.
How is that joyful?! Changing the perspective from hearingloss to the advances in technology and aural rehabilitation can bring more joythan dwelling on what is missing. Some of my patients find joy in that theyhear better in certain environments using their hearing aid accessories thantheir friends with normal hearing do. Others find joy in taking out theirhearing aids to have quiet time when the grandchildren are jumping off thewalls and screaming. It’s all about perspective. Having a sense of humorand being able to laugh at yourself and situations you find yourself in increasejoy. How can you not be joyful when laughing? This applies to mishearingcertain words, finding out you agreed to something you didn’t mean to becauseyou nodded like you heard the question, and – once you are able to hear better– finally getting the joke with everyone else. Acceptance isanother way to bring joy to your life. Accepting that your hearing has changedand that using hearing aids is the new normal creates peace.
It reducesfrustration and enhances communication with friends and family. Using hearingaids is often just as much, if not more, for the loved ones of the person withhearing loss. Around the holidays we talk a lot about gratitude, but gratitude can be experienced every day. ArchbishopDesmond Tutu explains “Gratitude means embracing reality. It means moving fromcounting your burdens to counting your blessings.” Having more gratitude for thehearing you have and the options that are available to improve your hearing themore joy you will find in experiencing everyday sounds.
Compassion issomething we often think of as giving to others, but self-compassion is just asimportant. Instead of being angry at your body, your genetics, your job orbehaviors that may have contributed to your hearing loss, accept yourself – with all the strengths and weaknesses yourbody has. Your hearing is one part of what makes you who you are. Instead ofdwelling on the rock concerts, noisy hobbies, or illnesses that may havecontributed to your hearing loss show compassion for yourself. Treat yourselfwith as much compassion as you would have for a loved one.
This self-acceptanceallows joy to creep in. I look forward to 2018 as a year of embracing joy for myselfand helping my patients (and friends) find their joy.