We’ve all done it…misheard something and watched people laugh at our expense. It’s part and parcel of having hearing loss. It doesn’t matter whether it’s with colleagues, clients, family or friends, it knocks our confidence which, if we’re new to hearing loss, can be a bit shaky anyway.
Here are 7 practical ways to boost your self-confidence when you encounter situations like this:
Look for the positives in your life. When things go wrong because of your hearing loss it’s tempting to focus how challenging life has become. Don’t. You are so much more than your hearing loss. Instead, focus on all the other great things in your life. Who knows some of them may even be hearing-loss related. For example I am so grateful for the fantastic people I have met and worked with through my deafness.
Focus on your achievements. Despite using lipreading skills and technology I still mishear people and, yes, I do feel utterly stupid. But then I remind myself that the fact I’ve got the other 99% of the conversation correct is pretty damn good. Or I congratulate myself that I’m still working after losing 75% of my hearing. Tell yourself the stuff your best friend would say if they were there with you.
Go easy on yourself (aka don’t beat yourself up!). Everyone makes mistakes (yes, even hearing people!). Learn from them if you need to, and then let them go.
Accept yourself for who you are. We can’t control our hearing loss. But we can control how we react to the challenges it throws in our path. And this gets easier the more we practise it. Teaching yourself to shrug off mistakes like mishearing someone can make your life so much less stressful.
Avoid comparison with others. It’s easy to give yourself a hard time because you know someone else with hearing loss who seems to manage better. But everyone’s experience of deafness is different. So even if I have exactly the same hearing loss as you, what I can hear and how well I have adapted to the loss will be different. We’re incomparable!
Choose your friends. Surround yourself with positive people who will support you in your hearing loss journey. Sure, you can’t choose all your colleagues, but don’t spend any more time than you have to with any who make fun of you.
Keep a sense of humour. If you’re the first one to laugh at mishearing something you will instantly defuse any awkwardness. I’ve learnt to say with a smile, “oh I am sorry, I thought you said xx, I can see why you’re looking confused” and then carry on with the discussion. If you don’t make a big deal about it, no-one else will.
What top tips do you have for others whose hearing loss is affecting their self-confidence? Let me know in the comments below.