Do you know where you feel your fear? Mine is right in my gut. I feel like someone has punched through my belly button, grabbed my intestines and squeeeeeeezed. Often, I don’t realise I’m frightened until I feel this. I might know I’m feeling a bit off, a bit short-tempered,but when that gut sensation occurs, I realise that the emotion I’m experiencing is fear.
We all feel fear. As I’m typing this there’s a lot to be frightened about. The price of food, energy and fuel has rocketed. Mortgage rates are increasing. And the big spending splurge of Christmas is looming.
And, of course, there is our tinnitus. Unless you have tinnitus that has stayed stable for years there’s always fear lurking. Will my tinnitus get worse? Will I be able to cope? Will I still be able to work/listen to music/enjoy my hobbies?
What we do when we notice that feeling of fear determines whether we are going to be miserable or not.
Do you feed your fear monster?
Feeding your fear looks like:
- scanning Facebook groups and forums for posts that confirm your tinnitus fears might become reality
- being hyper-vigilant – listening to your tinnitus regularly to see whether it has changed or not
- wearing hearing protection more than is necessary (for example, whenever you leave the house)
- being alert to every tiny change in your tinnitus experience and catastrophising about what it means
- visiting your doctor or audiologist frequently for reassurance
- living life exhausted by your fear of what could happen
Sound familiar? Many of us with tinnitus have moments when we experience some of these. It’s perfectly natural.
The key is to notice that it is happening. When I feel my gut being squeezed, I realise I have a choice. I can feed my fear monster, or I can acknowledge it and choose not to let it dictate how I spend my time or how I feel.
What might that look like? Some of the things I do include:
- taking three deep breaths whenever the urge strikes to open Facebook and immerse myself in the tinnitus groups
- using the three minute breathing space to help me notice how I am breathing, and how my body is feeling. That short amount of time can be enough to disconnect from the fear I’m experiencing.
- messaging a good friend who I know will offer constructive advice
- acknowledging the fear then choosing to do something I know is good for my tinnitus, such as walking around the block
- reading an inspirational quote or mantra. One I love is from Joshua 1:9 “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” This quote from Albus Dumbledore, Headmaster of Hogwarts, is another favourite: