The Zen of Tinnitus Acceptance

Discussion in 'Success Stories' started by Aussie Lea, Mar 28, 2016.

tinnitus forum
    1. Aussie Lea
      Dramaqueen

      Aussie Lea Member

      Location:
      Melbourne Yarra Valley
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/09/2013
      steven_hayes.jpg Steven C. Hayes Ph.D.

      The Zen of Tinnitus Acceptance
      More research shows the power of embracing the ring.

      In the 1980's I absolutely loved punk rock. I lived in Greensboro NC and struggling punker bands traveling from Atlanta to DC for weekend gigs would unload their equipment-filled vans into tiny bars for mid-week performances to pay for gas money for the trip. I would move toward the stage to listen to the raging of tatted, bare chested men, roaring like aircraft engines, their words almost impossible to decipher. You didn’t need to. You didn’t listen to this music. You felt it.

      Now in my late 60s guess what I get?

      Can you say "tinnitus?"

      When it first showed up a decade or so ago I began wearing earplugs, closing doors quietly, and avoiding loud noises in the hopes that at least I could prevent further damage and perhaps turn down the volume a bit. It didn't work. The stuff the audiologists suggested didn't work either. Every time I checked, there it was, shrieking back at me. Over a couple of years time period it gradually drove me absolutely crazy. How anyone could put up with this constant, constant, constant noise! For a lifetime! Are you kidding me?! A lifetime!

      Finally a voice within explained that I had an alternative.
      “I should just shoot myself” came the voice. “That will stop the noise.”

      "Ah, dude" came a wiser voice, after a brief pause. "That is a suicidal thought."

      Then -- after years of struggle -- a brilliant and highly creative (not) thought occurred to me. "uhh, maybe you should apply your life’s work to it."

      Doh! What an idiot I am! Of course!

      I sat right down and over the next hour I did exactly that. I applied the "turning toward" moves of Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and its psychological flexibility model (my TEDx explains the basic moves: http://bit.ly/StevesFirstTED). By the next morning the “problem” of tinnitus was in the low range. In few days, the distress and interference from ringing in my ears was at zero, where it has remained in the several years since.

      Yes, I still have tinnitus (it gets slightly louder every year). But no, it does not bother me. Not the least little bit. Here's why: I don't give a damn and you can't make me! Ha, ha, ha!

      Please understand me: I'm not TRYING not to care so the noise will go away. That would be a form of caring and it would give it attention that would feed the beast. No, I don't care if it goes away or not. I respectfully decline my mind's invitation to see noise or no noise or loud noise or soft noise as meaningful one way or the other.

      Can you actually do that?! Sure you can! It's not suppression. It is the simple absence of attention and interest. It has no end in mind. No goals beyond the now. I'm just done. If it rings it rings.

      Usually acceptance has a softer feel that this, because there are many things to learn inside painful emotions or sensations. Tinnitus acceptance has a "relinquish caring" feel because there is nothing much left to learn except "that was dumb" and "tell your kids to turn down the smartphone volume." OK. Got it.

      So now there are randomized control trials on ACT for tinnitus, there are measures of acceptance of tinnitus, there are studies of how acceptance plays out with tinnitus. I've done a few of them but Sweden's Gerhard Andersson is the world's expert (in fact my work on tinnitus was done with him).

      Turns out it wasn't just me. Here is a new study from his lab showing what happens when people profoundly accept the ringing: http://bit.ly/Accept_the_Ringing

      It shows the same thing. Acceptance of the noise explains the relationship of self-rated loudness to tinnitus severity, even after taking into account anxiety and depression symptoms.

      Cool, huh?

      It is too bad it took years for it to occur to me, but I'm grateful that it finally did. I'm blogging on it here so that it will occur to others. There is an answer -- It's just in the opposite direction of what your mind is telling you to do.


      From https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/get-out-your-mind/201603/the-zen-tinnitus-acceptance
       
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    2. Poyraz

      Poyraz Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzos, Stress, Anxiety, Loud Music, Jaw Problems. Who knows
      It is good but I have a feeling that more one does not care about T the less scientists attemp to find a cure. I hate that dilemma.
       
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    3. Zug

      Zug Member Benefactor

      I read some stuff from this guy before. Don't remember quite why but I think he's quite famous in his field. Didn't know he had Tinnitus.
       
    4. Rob 207
      Artistic

      Rob 207 Member

      Location:
      Wisconsin
      Tinnitus Since:
      8/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Music, noise.
      I've heard about "acceptance" on here before. I would love to hear more people's experience about just how "acceptance" looks.
       
    5. InfiniteLoop
      Sunshine

      InfiniteLoop Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Redwood City, California
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Not sure. Very high frequency hearing loss (>8KHz)
      Some level of acceptance is usually needed before reaching habituation. It looks like stopping fighting the T, abandoning the remorse about what it caused, assuming that the T is going to stay with you for the long term.
       
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    6. Zug

      Zug Member Benefactor

      I knew I heard about this guy. Turns out his work is about acceptance ;). Guess I'll read his book:

      http://www.mindgarden.se/res/Pdf/stevenhayesact.pdf

      From this link:
      "ACT helps the person with chronic pain step back from the chatter that says he or she can’t live until pain goes away, and without arguing back, simply begin to move forward. I personally don’t have chronic pain. But I do
      have tinnitus—my ears are screaming 24/7. And do you know what the literature says? Any attempt to cope with it is harmful. What you need to do is to let go of it and focus on living. I now sometimes go an entire day without noticing tinnitus even once—but every time I check, wow! Is it noisy! Chronic pain is like that."
       
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    7. valeri

      valeri Member Benefactor Team Awareness

      Location:
      Australia
      Tinnitus Since:
      09/2011
      Problem with tinnitus is that many many things can make it worse, in an instant!
      And that fact in itself is very mind destroying!
       
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    8. Mario martz
      Creative

      Mario martz Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      They say once you accept it and live with it, your brains becomes bored about it....
      you just wont notice like right now you are not feeling or noticing your clothes...
       
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    9. Cheza
      Wishful

      Cheza Member Benefactor

      Location:
      Oregon
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Barking dogs/stress
      I disagree about "any attempt to cope with it is harmful." Masking is coping. Sound enrichment in your environment is coping. Finding out what foods, if any, trigger your tinnitus is coping. Meditation is coping. And for those who need it and can get it, prescription medication to help you sleep or lower the volume is coping.

      He's right about tinnitus and chronic pain being alike. They share the same emotional pathway. It's called chronification, meaning once something becomes chronic, it shifts the brain representation to emotional circuits. Good luck getting out of it. It takes a long time, and in the meantime you have to cope, one way or the other.
       
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    10. Soul Reaver
      Depressed

      Soul Reaver Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Cold wind
      This is exactly how i feel about my T, as if day by day i become more emotionally effected by it.
       
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    11. robinbird
      Fine

      robinbird Member Benefactor

      Location:
      New Hampshire
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2015
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Diagnosed with high pitch hearing loss, both ears, right is worse
      What's the alternative!? I plan on living a few more years on this planet. So, what won't kill me will make me stronger. Mine has calmed down somewhat, so i am thankful for that. It can be unpredictable at times. I have also thought as the first reply that if we cope with this Tinnitus then we will continue to get medical doors slammed in our faces when many of us so desperately need HELP! So calling or referring this situation to anything that may remotely resemble Zen, is ludicrous. I can find my Zen elsewhere.
       
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    12. RuRU

      RuRU Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      10/2005
      I accept mine..
       
    13. B J Jones

      B J Jones Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      I got over T by having a bad infection. The pain lasted a long time. It hurt bad enough I couldn't
      think of the T. T became irrelevant.

      The pain went away. The T is still here. T doesn't bother me any more. It is like living near the
      airport or the subway. It is just extraneous noise.

      Stick your tongue out. Swear at it. Curse at it. Laugh at it. It is just an annoying noise.

      Distract yourself in any way possible. I think you can defeat it without the pain I had.

      You may say it is easy for me to say. It is easy--looking back at

      F bomb you, T.
       
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    14. rllavane

      rllavane Member

      Location:
      San Antonio de los Altos
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2006
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Do not know. Must have been a firework that exploded close to the ear
      Hello there sirs and ladies.
      I have been having Tinnitus for about 10 years. Sometimes it is hard to cope, but most of the time, is bearable.
      But the worst situation is fighting it: you will loose, no matter how. I am a Lawyer and I do not have a pychological degree to understand that.
      Simply: do not fight it. Just accept it.
      Most of the time, I do not care about it. But right now, while I am writing these words to you, I can hear it very loud. But, what can I do? Accept it. And if you accept it, check it out. Close your eyes and hear it, try to differentiate which ear have the loudest, try to hear as if it were music and that music have higher or lower sounds...try to hear them as you watch your hand and/or your face. If you want, write down your feelings and/or how do you feel.
      I do believe that some things affect Tinnitus: the economical situation, the stress, your anger, your fears, etc. Just living in Venezuela afect all my feelings, fears and worries; but still I cope with Tinnitus just ACCEPTING IT.
      So, Mr. Hayes, you are right.
      Yours truly,
      Rafael E. Llavaneras
      Caracas, Venezuela
       
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    15. Joshua Wark
      Hurting

      Joshua Wark Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2/15/2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      dental?
      I do not accept mine at all, but it's very new to me. I think maybe if it truly doesn't go away and nothing I try works for a certain amount of time I may move to the acceptance stage. Not really sure. Think it may depend on where the individual is at with it? I can understand having it for 10 years and being that the point where accepting it can be the best decision.
       
    16. Theadora

      Theadora Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      As long as I can remember.
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Meningitis
      I had Meningitis as a baby and as a result, I have had hearing loss and T since I can remember. I also have Meniere's and one of the last stages for me (my episodes last about 3 or 4 months)is an increased loudness, different pitch and sometimes pulsating T. Other than when I have these Meniere's attacks, my tinnitus RARELY bothers me. So I find that "accepting" the increase difficult to cope with. Having to walk around my house with headphones playing fan and wind noises is not fun, but unlike others, I'm fairly certain that eventually it will quiet down again.
       
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    17. John G

      John G Member

      Thing is ..you can accept it,but for people that have more than just the noise. Add the pain and confusion on top of it. Thats a whole new ball game
       
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    18. Brenda Austin

      Brenda Austin Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2009
      I accept I just keep busy, it only really comes back when I'm doing nothing so I try to never do anything!
       
    19. Brenda Austin

      Brenda Austin Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2009
      sorry meant I try to never do nothing!!!
       
    20. fightingamy

      fightingamy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      May/2015
      Almost as soon as I developed Tinnitus, I started seeing a CBT therapist. We came up with a mantra, "If my Tinnitus doesn't effect my day to day life, then what does it matter if I have Tinnitus ?" It helped me and a year later I am coping so much better than in those first terrible 3 months. I believe acceptance is a huge part of habituation of Tinnitus .
       
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    21. fightingamy

      fightingamy Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      May/2015
      YES! You must abandon the remorse about what caused it! That is imperative. I had to forgive myself for going to that concert and forgetting my earplugs. Coping with Tinnitus is very much like going through the stages of grief.
       
    22. hurtingdream

      hurtingdream Member

      Location:
      Michigan, USA
      Tinnitus Since:
      01/2002
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown/ETD since 11/2015
      True! I have ETD and sometimes the pain and pressure is worse than the T itself.
       
    23. B J Jones

      B J Jones Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2014
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Unknown
      Acceptance does work. It's just background noise to me now.
       
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    24. Poyraz

      Poyraz Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      February 2016
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Benzos, Stress, Anxiety, Loud Music, Jaw Problems. Who knows
      If you have T which keeps changes severity and volumes hour by hour then how are you supposed to accept it? Whenever I attempt to have sex, I feel like we are 3 in a bed!(which is I don't really like).

      Acceptance? Yeah, right.
       
    25. mindovermenieres

      mindovermenieres Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      4/2000
      Does anyone have any links or know how exactly they teach acceptance and commitment therapy in regards to Tinnitus? I can't seem to find anything.
       
    26. john riley

      john riley Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      12/2013
      I saw a commercial about Dr. livingston hearing aid center that have hearing aids with tinnitus masker built in. I took the trial and it brought noise down immensly. Mine went from probably a 7 to a 2 on 10 scale. They are a hassle but who cares. I have lost 25 % hearing in left ear and 10% right ear since i contracted tinnitus 2-1/2 years ago
       
    27. bill 112
      Studious

      bill 112 Member

      Location:
      Republic Of Ireland
      Tinnitus Since:
      02/2012
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Noise exposure
      I've accepted my T numerous times unfortunately.Ive fully habituated 3 times to the point where I never thought about it,not once during the whole day!Only time I though about it was when we were somewhere noisy and left because I didn't want to harm my ears.Its the H that you can't accept,that's what makes everything so much harder:(
       
    28. Mike Francis
      Jaded

      Mike Francis Member

      Location:
      New Zealand
      Tinnitus Since:
      04/1996
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      meningococcal meningitis
      I agree with some posts here – acceptance is easy but to have to be thinking to yourself constantly to avoid listening to the T is not healthy. When in a peaceful place listening to other external sounds – mixing the internal and external sounds can soften the T. Playing ambient sounds very quietly if you are awake at night can bring down the T volume. What I find is a mystery though, are the few times there is a sudden switch to a completely different frequency. What is that?

      Also I have never sung and I wonder how being able to make music in your head can affect the T.

      I still hope that there will be something that can remove the T, even temporarily when it is at its worst – when it is almost as loud as a freight train – it is hard to admit there is so much internal noise is going on for you to a loved one when you are in place of rest especially at night.
       

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