A reprint of an article I wrote 20 years ago, when I was the founding President of ALDA-Suncoast of Florida, a support group for people who have become deaf. The article appeared in the newsletter, ALDA-Sun. At the time, I was going back to school to change professions from being a foreign language teacher to becoming a mental health counselor.
Do you have a voice inside your head that talks to you?
Sometimes I hardly notice I am doing it. Other times it is obvious. Like in a restaurant with all hearing
friends. Self-talk is apparent then as I depend on that inner voice to coach me through the evening. Years ago
I coached myself with a lot of bad advice to hide my hearing loss: “smile… laugh now… nod your head…pretend you heard that”. By the time the evening was through, I would feel like I was in a boxing match. How well I dodged questions would determine how beat up I was at the end of the evening. Sometimes I felt so beat up I wanted to hide from the hearing world for weeks until the bruises faded away.
My self-talk has changed over the years to more positive self- talk, but I’ll be honest. I watch every word I say to myself when I am with all hearing folks in a restaurant. I try to nurture myself with inner dialogue that reminds me to focus on my other senses. Atmosphere, body language, texture, taste, and smell of food delight the senses I sometimes take for granted. It is so easy to let a negative self-statement slip into my mind. The evening then seems to go downhill. I am back in the boxing ring taking punches with a coach telling me to duck, fake it or take the hit.
We always have a choice in life. The same is true with our self-talk. I have a choice to make a negative self- statement “these people must feel so sorry for me that I can’t hear “ or a positive self-statement “these people respect me for how well I have accepted hearing loss”. The funny thing is it does not really matter what these folks are saying. Maybe they are feeling sorry for me or maybe they do respect the way I have coped with hearing loss. It only matters what I am saying to myself. Reality is as I see it and as I call it. As long as I am going to coach myself along in life with self-talk, I would rather listen to someone who is in my corner.