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As part of an assignment for a personal development class, I was asked to refrain from speaking for 24 hours. But as I woke up on my selected day, within the first hour, I began to see the logic. By the end of the hour period, my view of communication and the words we choose had changed forever. And I learned valuable truths about myself and my motivations.
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It was, in fact, far more enlightening than I ever imagined. It is difficult to make it through an entire day without communicating at all. But when you do have to speak, immediately go back to silence. Find space to dwell on the words you chose and the motivations behind them.
After speaking and returning to silence, my mind was left to dwell on the words I chose, my attitude in my speech, and my internal motivation behind it. I quickly learned of my desire to control situations or convert someone to my opinion.
We often speak for the purpose of control: We often use our words to cover-up or hide our mistakes or faults. We use words to explain ourselves to others. And in a world addicted to noise, idle chatter, and meaningless words, silence can be very uncomfortable. It was, indeed, a heart-revealing assignment that resulted in personal and spiritual development. Even 10 years later, I remember it well and I have recommended it countless times to others. Today, I recommend it to you.
To conduct a hour experiment of your own, here are a few helpful tips: Choose a day where you will engage in normal relationships with other people. Avoid excessive external stimulation: MP3 players, radio, television, video games. Provide space for your thoughts. Inform your closest relationships. So I invited her to have a seat in the waiting room while I took the aid back to my lab for inspection. I quickly poked my head around the corner.
Thunder in a flurry yanking fistfuls of cellophane-wrapped hard candies from the candy jar and stuffing them in her little purse. If she could have heard the sound she was generating, no doubt her conduct would have been different. Upon finally coming out to the waiting room with her repaired hearing aid, I offered her some hard candies from the large jar.
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The fact is that everyday sounds are not heard by most people with untreated hearing loss. To experience what your loved one goes through living with loss of hearing, purchase a set of earplugs. Many hearing care offices provide them at no charge gun shops and drugstores also carry them for a couple dollars. Wait for a day without a busy schedule, then upon rising in the morning, insert the earplugs and wear them all day until you get back in bed.
Even a one-hour experience will be worth it. It could be helpful to carry a notepad with you, but not necessary if you have a good memory and can honestly reflect back on your experience.
What you want to bear in mind are all the nuances you miss. Even subtle vocalizations that are not words but carry great meaning. Take note of your level of operating in the world on these terms.
The missed joy in hearing pleasurable sounds is only one small part of this equation. The frustration, embarrassment, and myriad of other emotions that accompany people repeating themselves can all build toward explosive stress and tension.
While you do this for a day, you must realize that your loved one may live much this way every day. This means missing oral communication and many other sounds. That is, action taken or not taken or thoughts perceived or not perceived based on what we hear or do not hear.
Compassion for people who do not take their share of responsibility in obtaining healthcare becomes a big challenge. Developing compassion will enable you to better understand the challenges confronting you both.
He depends on you to hear and understand, and you, willingly or not, have made yourself or been coerced into an indispensable resource for his hearing needs.
You must ask yourself how willing you are to break this cycle. There have been endless jokes about co-dependency that touch the lighter side of this troubling, dysfunctional problem.
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Why did the man cross the street? While the Internet is a good resource for the humorous side of co-dependency, it can also be helpful in revealing the more serious problem it poses in relationships.
In terms of the essence of co-dependence in communication with your loved one, a reason your loved one may need you is for your good hearing, and one reason you may need him is that it fulfills a purpose in you that may tie in with your need to feel good about yourself.
By your action in helping him hear, it can make you both feel better, but it will never solve the underlying problem of him hearing better. However, in this case, as alluded to earlier, you are perpetuating the problem. Co-dependence has been applied to a wide variety of healthcare issues far beyond the scope of hearing loss. The concept of co-dependence really developed in an effort to understand the role of the spouse or family member in relation to the alcoholic.
For our purposes, this means that the hearing spouse enables the hard-of-hearing spouse that is, facilitates the problem by interceding and covering up the problem so that everything appears to be fine to the outside world. The hallmark of a co-dependent is that need to look good to the world at large. Co-dependence can occur by active support, such as constantly repeating yourself and doing anything to get your loved one to hear what is missed, or by passive support, such as you not admitting he has a hearing problem.
This reflects a terribly dysfunctional relationship usually based on dishonesty with yourself or your loved one. Nevertheless, active supporters may not realize the depth of their own involvement.
How Hearing Loss Impacts Relationships: Whose Problem Is It?
You cannot fix the problem if your loved one believes there is no problem. You cannot get your loved one to seek treatment for hearing loss based on your insistence. It can only come by his awareness of its effect in his world, then his taking responsibility for it. In the meantime, this sets you up for countless frustrations that seem to have little to no resolve because it continues to affect your world and he seems oblivious to it.
Do you feel angry that your loved one is not getting help? Do you think you contribute to the problem by being upset? Does it upset you when you have to repeat yourself? Do you resent filling in these gaps? Do you feel your loved one is vain? Do you resent this? Do you think your loved one feels it is more important to maintain the illusion of hearing normally rather than taking positive action to do something about it?
Do you find yourself arguing with your loved one over issues of not hearing? Do you get frustrated socially when your loved one engages in conversations that result in obvious hearing problems? The more Yes answers, the more work you have ahead of you. Answering Yes to most or all of the questions is enough to raise a red flag. One of the more common emotions you may have noted in this questionnaire was resentment.
It is closely tied to anger and together is the most common emotion a person will experience with a hard-of-hearing loved one who does nothing about the hearing loss. First you resent the action you must take on behalf of your loved one. Then you get mad at yourself for taking that action like continually repeating yourself.
Then you express this anger directly at your loved one! In the meantime, your loved one has no idea from where this tornado came. All these incidents can silently gather within you and can eventually culminate in your own rage and anger.
The early stage of co-dependence with hearing loss is merely reaching out to help your loved one hear better. This starts quite innocently, but eventually gets to a point of habitual self-defeating coping mechanisms. In fact, why should he? Have you developed a rich and rewarding relationship with one another or have you taken each other hostage in the dance of co-dependence?
One of the downsides to co-dependent hearing help is that old resentment you can develop. It also becomes a strain and distraction for you because you lose your concentration and connection in conversation when you must continually repeat and interpret.
It will never solve the core problem of having your loved one hear better on his own, at family gatherings, at work, on the telephone, during leisure moments without you, and so forth. You should stop being his ears unless he either cannot be helped with hearing aids or wears hearing aids and still needs the extra hearing clarification you provide. Conversely, you cannot live in a vacuum completely devoid of the influences of co-dependence, nor is that our goal here. Your Own Self-Realization The single identifier of a co-dependent loved one tied to someone with hearing loss is that need to help.
Coming to terms with your mission of helping your loved one will better enable him to finally take action. So long as you continue to help him, you are pulling out the carpet of motivation from beneath him. If your loved one has not yet tried hearing aids, be sure your co-dependent behavior is not a major factor in his resistance.
Then prepare yourself for change. Change of any kind is never easy. However, to avoid a recipe for emotional or communication disaster, it will take consistent and predictable effort on your part. Here are some of the ingredients required by you to help your loved one in a transition toward awakening him to the need for hearing aids.
They parallel the basic rules for communication previously presented and are fundamental to the steps toward resolving his co-dependent hearing issues. The more you and all family members adhere to these guidelines, the more your loved one can anticipate what to expect from everyone. These tips will help you establish firm boundaries within which you can help a loved one: Do not stop helping him.
All you need to do is preface what you repeat for him by each time saying, "Hearing Help! In turn, he will come to realize how often he depends on you. You both may even start laughing about it. This suggestion is only for a loved one who resists the idea of getting help.
Your offer of saying "Hearing Helper" might serve his needs best in the privacy of your home. This results in stressing your throat and vocal chords. Stop being the messenger by carrying the communication burden for your loved one. Do not report "He said" and "She said" when he needs to be responsible for getting this information directly from the source. Do not engage in conversation from another room as tempting as this is and as convenient as it appears.
This sets up your communication process for failure. Create a telephone need. This means for you to stop being his interpreter on the telephone. Allow him to struggle and even fail in order to recognize how much help he needs. By continuing to help him in this regard, you are depriving him of one more communication channel that he may well be able to use effectively with hearing aids especially receiving calls on a speaker phone.
This is not to suggest that your loved one will move from one level to another or that there is any sequence to these levels. However, all resistant hard-of-hearing people get trapped at a point that results in inaction. Once you recognize it, you will then know how to best proceed.
There may even be two or three levels of resistance coexisting. This usually takes the form of two characteristics: Denial of hearing loss in the early stages of its progression is actually quite common. I remember when my waist shifted from belt size 30 to I called the salesman over to ask if my favorite belt manufacturer was trying to save on leather by making shorter belts! The first thought was not the possibility that my waist was a little chunkier.
When confronted with the truth of a situation, if one persists in rebuking whatever truth confronts them, this is denial. After all, who would welcome such turmoil? But true denial of hearing loss occurs before the emotions have even struck. That is, if one misses hearing something, he attributes it to being the way someone said it or the circumstances of room acoustics or brushes it off as nobody can ever hear so-and-so anyway when she speaks.
When people realize that the problem is their hearing and not the circumstances of the environment or something else, it can be alarming. Hearing healthcare practitioners inform their patients of this daily, with many patients hoping the problem is not their hearing. Armed with this information and choosing to do nothing about it when a hearing healthcare practitioner offers help is not denial, but resistance.
While true denial is rare among hard-of-hearing people experiencing hearing loss for years, resistance is common, as the survey pointed out at the beginning of this book. The fact that treatment is not sought is denial of treatment and cannot automatically be construed as denial of the presence of hearing loss. To confront someone in real denial could result in psychological decompensation—a disintegration of their defense mechanisms that have been protecting them.
You do not want to suddenly thrust your loved one into crisis, confronting issues before he is psychologically prepared to deal with them.
In such cases, psychological intervention by a licensed and trained therapist might be an option. This will be discussed further in the next chapter. The fact that your loved one may not be able to talk to you about his hearing problem does not preclude that he cannot talk about it or that it is denied.
He may not feel safe with you, feeling that perhaps you may have an ulterior motive like treatmentyou may berate him, or the topic brings up feelings of embarrassment, and so forth.
Under the umbrella of therapy, you can safely express your concerns in his presence without the greater risk of decompensation.Importance Of Communication In Relationships - Talk To Your Partner The Right Way!
It also gives the person who would like to talk about it a non-denier an opportunity to express his views on the matter in an environment of safety and comfort. Since getting him to agree to go to therapy in itself may pose a problem, you can do so on the grounds that it is you who needs to discuss issues, without being specific and leaving his issues out of it altogether.