How can I live with extreme tinnitus?

Jan 9, 2023

 

QUESTION

I am writing to you because speaking about my problem with some people I learned that perhaps you too have it – sorry if I tell you about these things without knowing you but for me it is a very hard time.

 

I have tinnitus in both ears. I have had it for years but recently it has become so much worse.

 

If it is possible I would like to know mentally how you handle it; practical Dharma advice on how to live with it. I have a family but I just want to die sometimes.

 

Love,

A

 

ANSWER

Yes, dearest A, your tinnitus sounds so terrible, I am so so sorry, really.

 

Yes, I have it also.

 

Before we discuss how to handle it mentally, please do whatever you can to help physically – have you tried everything? People say it can’t be cured, but surely some treatments help. Please try to stay optimistic and find what methods you can.

 

Here is what I have learned to do: two things.

 

The first method: I have trained myself to not focus on it, to not pay direct attention to it. I know it’s there all the time, in the background. But I do my best to not focus on it.

 

The second method, and this is the main one, is to label it differently. We all know that it’s possible to interpret things differently, to name them, label them differently – and that’s the only solution here. Of course, it’s hard! So difficult! But no choice. And it will take time.

 

So, instead of freaking out, being upset with it, wishing it would go away, having aversion to it, I call it a nice sound, a pleasing sound, I welcome it.

 

There are two things: 1. the sound in the ears and 2. our attitude towards it. We just assume that because the sound is terrible we have to feel terrible. But, no, we can change our mental attitude.

 

It’s hard work, but it’s possible, A. And we do not have a choice.

 

What do you think?

 

Much love and much courage to you!

Robina

 

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