Thursday, January 18, 2018

What Can We Learn From Tinnitus?

What Can We Learn From Tinnitus?
Not What You Might Think
By Jim “Gymbeaux” Brown, January 18, 2018

This will mean very little if you do not know what Tinnitus is or how it affects those people who have it.  This is what the Internet says about Tinnitus:

Tinnitus is a physical condition, experienced as noises or ringing (or as in my case, constant buzzing) in the ears or head when no such external physical noise is present. Tinnitus is usually caused by a fault in the hearing system; it is a symptom, not a disease in itself.

I have had Tinnitus (two pronunciations, Te-ne-tus and Ti-ni-tus, I have become accustomed to the long “i”).  Either way, it is a most annoying and even depressing malady that people experience.  The problem is that there is no known cure that gives everyone relief.  Some people go their entire life without relief.  Try to imagine what it would be like to have a constant ringing or buzzing in your head every minute of every day.  It truly is depressing.

So what have I learned from having Tinnitus? 

  • There are a lot of books on the subject.  I have read many of them.
  • There are some over-the-counter medications available.  I checked the Internet and it appears that people who have taken such medications are very unhappy with the results or lack thereof.
  • There are CDs available.  These are more like guided meditation CDs.  What I like about the CDs is that they tend to put you to sleep as you listen.  That may not sound like a big deal to people reading this but trust me, trying to fall asleep with a constant ringing or buzzing in your ear is not easy.  Plus, I discovered that the noise in my head, the buzzing, is louder for some reason at night.
  • There are even hearing devices available.  Way too soon to tell you that these work.  I was fitted for them just a week before I wrote this Nugget.  The very first day, the buzzing was gone.  But the next day it was back.  Since I have had them inserted, the noise seems to come and go.  Believe me when I tell you that have come to treasure those times when the noise is gone.  I even have a “sound pillow” that is connected to an iPod looking device that plays 9 different sounds I can hear through my pillow.  It actually does help me fall asleep.  Very cool.
  • None of these treatments are guaranteed to be effective.

It is not my intention to write this Nugget for the sole purpose of informing the public about a health issue that affects millions of people around the world.  Nor is it to garner sympathy for the Tinnitus that I suffer with.  Neither of these reasons applies.  There is another that has come from reading the books and talking with doctors.

We all go through life with fears of one sort or another.  Fear of rejection.  Fear of speaking in public. Fear of heights.  Fear of flying. Fear of loss.  Fear of gain. Even fear of success.  This Nugget marries a potential remedy for Tinnitus with various types of fear you may be experiencing.

How can that be you might ask, or if you are into this Nugget, you should be asking?  Example, what has Tinnitus got to do with the Fear of heights or flying?  EVERYTHING!

This is what I have come to understand about treating Tinnitus.  It is NOT a dysfunction in the actual hearing parts of your body.  In fact if you believe what has been printed, no one is certain from where the noise originates or why; thus no known cure.  But is that true.  If there was no known cure, how can I go for an entire day and NOT hear the buzzing in my head.  How can I go for a week or weeks and the buzzing never stops? There is a reason there is no noise for just that one day or even just an hour or two on any given day because the noise is gone.  Why?  So glad you asked.

My explanation will not be scientific but will be based upon what I understand happens.  Our ears are not our hearing.  Our ears are canals that trigger other things to happen and then our brain hears the noises that enter through the ear canals.  There is no way that is an a scientific explanation; it is my explanation.  There is no external ringing or buzzing to enter the ears so where does that noise come from?  No one knows for sure.

Yet as I have said, there are times, short as they have been where I did not hear the buzzing in my head.  But why?  Somehow I have managed to trick my brain to where it does not hear or recognize the noise.  What a pleasant period of time that is for me and others who experience it.  How does that happen?  Honestly, I’m not sure but I am definitely working at making it happen more often than not.  Therein is the “trick”, learning how to extend those quiet periods.

The brain, yours and mine, can be very tricky and deceptive at time.  I will be engaged in an activity.  It may be reading, writing, listening to music, working around the house, or whatever. I will be doing something and my brain is being occupied.  It is thinking consciously AND subconsciously about the task(s) at hand.  For example, when I am writing, I am focused on what I am writing, what should come next, or what may have I written that I now contradict?  You can see, the brain, my brain is busy, busy, busy.  When it is busy doing one thing, it is almost impossible for it to be doing another.  Multi-tasking is a myth.  You cannot do two things at the same time that requires thought to do each, to be able to do them both equally as well.  They both WILL suffer.

Here is the brutal truth.  I will enjoy some quiet minutes, hours or even a day UNTIL the time my brain asks the question, WHERE IS THE BUZZING?  That is when it returns! But in fact, it had never left!  I have managed to distract it from hearing the buzzing that was always there, just not front and present.  Don’t believe me?  That’s okay I might not have believed it myself if I were not experiencing it firsthand.

Ah, but then I realized something very important.  The loud noise of a passing train is nothing that you can ignore is it?  Still, there are hundreds, if not thousands of homeowners that live adjacent to or very near railroad tracks.  In all my years in the real estate business I can tell you that I heard the same answer to a question I would pose to them which was, how do you put up with the noise from a passing train?  Their answer?  What train?  They have managed to teach their brain to just ignore the train noise.  Just as I must now train my brain to ignore the buzzing that is actually emanating from within my head, not outside like the train.

You say you fear speaking in public.  If you are told that you must make a speech, what are your first thoughts?  Do you think about the speech or the fact that you fear speaking in public?  It is the same with any fear.  Let’s take public speaking.  The trick about speaking in public is to absolutely KNOW the material you are going to talk about.  KNOW THE MATERIAL – PERIOD!  Most people fear public speaking because they fear looking silly.  So it is NOT a fear of public speaking, it is a fear of looking silly.  If you KNOW the material, explain to me how you will look silly?  You won’t.  My advice would then be to trick your brain.  Make the brain think ONLY about the material – period! When you find the brain wandering back to the fear of public speaking, distract it; give it a problem to solve about the material you are to cover.  For example, ask it to think about all the questions that the audience might have about the material being covered. Task the brain with finding the answers to the question.  It’s all about distraction.  It’s all about keeping the brain busy. You are TRICKING YOUR BRAIN.  A better way of thinking about this procedure is that you are re-routing the thoughts the brain thinks about and in fact you are overloading the brain with thoughts OTHER THAN the buzzing in my year or the fear of public speaking.

The BIG QUESTION:  Does it work?  Eliminating the buzzing has worked for me for short periods of time.  I have to work on making it happen more often than not.  One way is that I listen to a lot of music as I am as I write this Nugget.  I am giving my brain two jobs, focusing on what I am writing AND listening to good music.  If the brain had to also listen to the buzzing that would be a third task. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much.  Still what have you got to lose or gain by trying to distract the brain? For me – peace.  For you, a good speech.

I never feared flying.  In fact at one time I wanted to be a pilot. Instead, I fear who may be sitting next to me on the plane.  Ever hear that 2 out of every 3 people have some form of mental illness?  Well…you are sitting on a plane in a row of three seats.  If the “saying” is correct and you are certain that you are not mentally ill…surprise, the persons on either side of you ARE!  If you want to fear something, fear that!  Just kidding of course.  The trick again on the plane is to give your brain something else to think about other than the actual flight of the plane.  Read something.  Better yet, STUDY the material you are going to give a speech on.  Make it think.  Make it solve problems.  Do not let it dwell on what you don’t want to think about.

One more thing.  I retired from being a real estate broker after 33 years.  It was my experience that brand new real estate agents had a fear of not making the sale.  I cannot say why I did it only that I did and it happened within the first 2 weeks of first becoming a license real estate agent.  When I went on a listing or sales presentation, I would sit outside in my car and try to clear my brain of everything.  I would literally create a blank screen and focus on that screen. 

I would then start the film rolling where I could actually see myself with the customers sitting at their kitchen table and the customers signing the necessary contracts.  When I would get that image in my head and only then would I approach the front door.  I do not believe I was arrogant but I knew I was confident and more importantly that I was going to get the sale.  There was no way I would ever lose the sale except for when a customer had unrealistic expectations like a price that was so out of the proper range and it was I that chose not to complete the sale.  I just did not lose customers unless I wanted to lose them. 

I also self-studied my ass off so I knew as much as I could possibly know about sales, relationships, real estate law, ethics and real estate in general.  In other words, I KNEW MY STUFF!  Therefore looking silly never entered my mind.  Fear of losing the sale never entered my mind.  I knew the customer needed ME far more than I needed the customer.  Why because I KNEW MY STUFF! 

Does that mean I am/was arrogant?  Hell no!  It meant I was confident.  There is a big difference between arrogant and confidence. If you do not understand what the difference is, my suggestion would be for you to hit books about your profession.  Confidence beats Luck EVERY TIME!  Was I really that good?  Heck no but my brain thought I was and therein lies the entire message of this Nugget.  Your brain can be had!  Learn to teach your brain what it needs to know for when it needs to know it!

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