Negative thoughts and emotions are a big challenge for many tinnitus sufferers.
Part the problem is that we are predisposed to think negatively about tinnitus for the simple reason that the only times we are actually thinking about it is when it’s bothering us.
When you’re coping well or distracted from the sound by whatever it is you happen to be doing, you aren’t thinking about your tinnitus at all.
So of course your thoughts about tinnitus are all negative – the negative is all you really remember and that colors your memory in a very specific, very dark way.
When it bothers you, even if it hasn’t bothered you for a while, most people suddenly think about all the other recent times it was bothering them and say something like, “Ugh, this is so bad, when is it ever going to stop bothering me?!”
But in those first moments of being bothered, you can also notice that something positive has happened as well. And that can force a radical change in perspective that makes it a lot easier to cope.
Mentally Reframing a Difficult Tinnitus Moment:
The next time you suddenly find yourself bothered by the sound or if you’re struggling with your tinnitus in some way, all you have do is become acutely aware of how long it has been since your tinnitus last bothered you this much.
Chances are, you haven’t been suffering this much all day. Maybe an hour ago it wasn’t this bad, or maybe it a few hours ago. Maybe it hasn’t been this bad in a couple days.
The challenge here is that you have to force yourself to notice this – it won’t happen automatically. But noticing it can put you in a much better mental state to cope with the difficult moment more effectively.
Even on your worst days, it’s extremely unlikely that you are suffering at a 10 out of 10 all day long.
The intensity almost always comes and goes throughout the day – it just feels like it’s at a constant 10 out of 10 because you are dipping in and out of it all day long and when it’s bad, you’re going to be thinking about all the other times it was this bad.
Mental Frame Dictates the Intensity of Suffering:
What I’m describing here is a way to mentally reframe a difficult tinnitus related moment.
When we’re having a difficult time, the story we tell ourselves about what it means often dictates the intensity of our suffering.
I’ll give you a non-tinnitus example: think about an intense workout you’ve had in the past – muscles burning, sweating, heart pounding – it’s unpleasant but in the best way possible.
Now imagine waking up in the middle of the night feeling the exact same physical sensations of that very workout – you would probably call 911 and rush to the hospital. Same physical sensations, but a different story – a different mental frame.
During the workout, you feel great. But in the middle of the night, you would probably think you’re having heart attack. In one situation you aren’t suffering at all, in the other, you’re suffering in the worst way imaginable.
So the next time you have a difficult tinnitus moment and suddenly notice it’s bothering you, give this mental reframing technique a try!