by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A young man explained,
I am having trouble getting started wearing my hearing aid. I have tried to convince myself to wear it, but so far, I am not able to do so. As I result, I am depressed about my future.
I am 17 years old and wish to become a CA. I sometimes think that wearing my hearing aid (a BTE) may be a hurdle in achieving my aim. Everyday I think that tomorrow I will start wearing my hearing aid, but my tomorrow never comes. As a result, each day passes stressfully. I’m afraid that people may not like to contact me or talk to me because of my hearing loss.
Please help me overcome my problem. Can you give me examples of some people who have managed to achieve a lot by overcoming their hearing problems?
I understand your problem. I was that way myself way back when. The solution is simple—put your hearing aid in your ear and turn it on. That’s it.
The thing that is holding you back is you are afraid of what other people will think of you. This is common—but you have to get past this.
Since you are self-conscious about wearing your hearing aid, put it on in a private place so people don’t see you doing that. Then just walk out into the world and act normally. Don’t call attention to your hearing aid (but don’t hide it either). If someone mentions it, just say that it is a wonderful invention—that it lets you hear better again and let it go.
When you worry about your future, you are wasting your time worrying over something that, in this case, you can change by simply wearing your hearing aid. Since a hearing aid will help you hear better, wear it and quit your worrying.
In fact, far from being a hurdle, wearing your hearing aid will actually help you achieve your goals because with your improved hearing will come increased confidence.
Unfortunately, with every passing day that you say to yourself, “Tomorrow I shall start wearing my hearing aid”, and then you don’t do it just builds a higher and higher wall between you and your ultimate success. The only way to succeed and break down that wall is to just decide that today (right now) you will put your hearing aid on—so do it! Don’t wait for tomorrow.
You are correct in thinking that people may not like to talk to you because you are hard of hearing. There is a simple reason—they don’t like repeating themselves or shouting. They find that embarrassing. Solving this problem is easy. put your hearing aids on so they don’t have to shout and they will be happy to talk to you.
You ask, “Can you give me examples of people [in your country] who have managed to achieve a lot by overcoming their hearing problem?”
It doesn’t matter where you live. People the world over have the same problem. At first it was hard for me to wear my hearing aids in public—but I had to do it in order to hear. And when I did that, guess what? I was able to maintain good grades in school and college. In fact, when I graduated from the British Columbia Institute of Technology the silver medal for academic excellence in my technology went—not to a hearing person—but to the deaf guy in the class—me. You do not have to let your hearing loss hold you back. It it is up to you. You need to be proactive and take the initiative to do the things that help you hear better. Wearing hearing aids is one such step.
I also use all sorts of assistive technology. For example, I use powerful amplified phones—and one amplifier is not enough, I add a second external amplifier on the phone so I have enough volume. This works for me.
In noisy situations where my hearing aids don’t help me (or make things worse), I use my PockeTalker and special directional microphone. Then I hear wonderfully well. (When I do this, it is very obvious I am using an assistive device, but I don’t care. This way I can hear. And when I am not embarrassed to use the devices that help me, the people talking to me aren’t bothered by them either.)
If you want to look for an example of someone who has accomplished a lot in his life, just look at me. I was born with a severe hearing loss—and it is getting worse by the year now—but I am living a happy, fulfilled and rewarding life in spite of my hearing loss. You can do the same. All you have to do is start helping yourself—and that means wearing your hearing aid, so put your @#$%& hearing aid on now! It’s the first step on your road to success.
If you need more encouragement, read Ellie’s success story on “Overcoming Your Embarrassment When Wearing Your Hearing Aids“.