Throughout my teenage years I grew up being insecure of being deaf and my hearing aids. I would go as far as hiding them from sight. A lot of the things that I did or didn’t do in public were determined by my deafness. I would rarely ask for help in shops because I feared I would not hear them or they wouldn’t understand me. Or at a party I would avoid talking to someone I was not familiar with. If it seemed like someone was annoyed at me for not hearing them I would I feel bad. When it came to meeting someone new, I would wonder to myself what they would think of my hearing aids. Deep inside I was frustrated.
This mindset changed when I read the following passage from book Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle:
Illness is not the problem. You are the problem as long as the egoic mind is in control. When you are ill or disabled, do not feel that you have failed in some way, do not feel guilty. Do not blame life for treating you unfairly, but do not blame yourself either. All that is resistance. If you have a major illness, use it for enlightenment. Anything “bad” that happens in your life use it for enlightenment. withdraw time from illness…. The condition that is labeled “illness” has nothing to do with who you truly are”
I remember reading this passage and the words hit me like a brick. That was the moment I realised being deaf is not the problem; it was the way I thought about it that was the problem. This passage has changed the way I think and also the way I act. This inspired me to start doing things that I thought I couldn’t do and stop using being deaf as an excuse.
I no longer hide my hearing aids, which are there to help me hear. If someone gets annoyed communicating with me, I now realise that this is their problem and this does not define me. I started to notice that actually, there are people who are willing to make an effort to make sure I can communicate with them. For example, the instructor in an exercise class who made sure he was facing me when he spoke so I could lip-read; or those people who took out their phone in noisy areas in order to be able to communicate with me.