I recall my abnormal psychology professor saying that those who lose their hearing suffer more from isolation when compared to those who lose their vision. It seemed odd but it was based on years of studies so I accepted it as the way it was.
Recently I’m starting to get a feeling for why going completely deaf is so challenging from a psychological point of view. Hearing is social, more than any of our other sense. We KNOW we are not alone when we hear someones voice. When we cannot hear, we will feel isolated because we fail to receive the information we need to prove otherwise. We also fail to hear what we are saying so it’s tough to know if we are actually broadcasting our thoughts.
But, unfortunately, the psychological suffering of not having a sense of hearing is not limited to those who lose their hearing. The psychological symptoms of hearing lose can also be manifested in those who are not heard or do not feel like they are being heard. More significant here is that it can be relationship specific – the same individual can form and maintain a healthy psychological relationship with someone who listens to them, and at the same time, have a maladaptive relationship with someone who doesn’t listen. Human beings NEED to be heard by the people they are close to.
So what? Well, if you are feeling off around someone, observe how you interact with them. Do you listen to what they say, does the other people listen to what you say? Are their normal turn-taking behaviors in your conversations or is it you listening to what they are saying, engaging them, and having them talk again without acknowledging / being impacted by / reflecting on what you said? If you get the feeling that your words have no impact on what the other person is about to say there’s a very good chance that they aren’t hearing what you are saying.
Personally, I feel best around people who hear, engage and change based on the words I say. I am filled with a sense of elation when my words shape the direction of the conversation as observed by the words of the other people. I feel worst when I’m in a conversation with someone who simply waits for their turn to talk. I don’t like being around these people for very long and will eventually drift away from them if all of our interactions have them downloading / venting or leave me feeling like they are not hearing anything that I am saying.
Our best can only come-out when we feel valued and respected. If you are starting to become aware that you feel bad around someone else, observe your conversations and try to notice if your words shape their words in any way or if they are most concerned with saying what they have to say regardless of the words what come out of your mouth. If you are simply a conscious target for their words there is very little chance that you are going to be feeling very good around this person if you need to have a meaningful conversation.