Have you ever wondered about what selective hearing is and how it works? In many cases, it’s easy to misunderstand topics such as selective hearing as simply being “fussy” over what someone hears. However, the reality is much more complex than this, and selective hearing can actually be a challenging and frustrating condition to live with. With this thought in mind, today, we’re looking at some of the key things you need to know about what selective hearing is, how it works, and what you need to know if you suspect you might have selective hearing yourself.
What is Selective Hearing?
Before we go further, we should first outline what selective hearing is. Selective hearing is a phenomenon that occurs when our brains naturally “sort through” the sound that we hear, allowing us to focus on one specific sound over another. This skill allows you to pick out and understand the sound of someone you’re having a conversation in an otherwise loud or busy environment.
However, while we all have the ability to focus on different sounds, this is often a conscious decision. For some people, though, this can be unconscious – leading to an individual unknowingly blocking out sounds from their environment. This is what we generally refer to when talking about selective hearing, and this process can be incredibly helpful and frustrating for someone experiencing it.
Indeed, if you need to focus on a task at hand, having selective hearing can allow you to automatically “drown out” any sounds that aren’t immediately related to what you’re doing. However, selective hearing can be a concern outside of such matters since it can leave many people struggling to have normal conversations and relationships.
Is Selective Hearing Dangerous?
Selective hearing isn’t usually dangerous directly. However, there is the potential for selective hearing to result in an individual missing potentially important instructions, such as blocking out safety instructions or not hearing someone warning of oncoming danger.
What Causes Selective Hearing?
It’s often unclear what causes selective hearing, but many people assume that this condition results from stubbornness or an unwillingness to listen. However, in reality, there are many potential causes for selective hearing, depending on your experiences. It’s often simply related to genetics, or it can otherwise be a habit that’s picked up during childhood. However, changes in a person’s inner eat structures as they age may also increase the chances of someone struggling with selective hearing.
Generally speaking, selective hearing appears to be more common in men than women. However, selective hearing can affect anyone of any gender, race, age, and the like.
Common Misconceptions with Selective Hearing
As we mentioned briefly earlier, selective hearing can be an incredibly helpful skill – but it can also come with a stigma. Indeed, there’s often a misconception that people with selective hearing are simply trying to ignore other people. However, this isn’t the case due to the subconscious nature of selective hearing.
Someone with selective hearing does not necessarily control when they block out the world around them. Instead, they tend to focus on one source of sound and automatically ignore other sounds – not out of disrespect or to be irritating, but simply because that’s the way their brain is wired.
Many people don’t understand much about how selective hearing works. If they don’t experience the condition can leave people feeling irritated and frustrated. In fact, even other people who experience selective hearing can find it difficult to live with someone else who has the condition since selective hearing can often hinder discussions and the like.
Can Selective Hearing be Treated?
Unfortunately, if you think you might be struggling with selective hearing, there is no specific treatment – since it’s not actually a health condition. However, you can take several simple steps to reduce the severity of your selective hearing and ensure that you’re engaging with the world around you. This may otherwise feel difficult for someone who has selective hearing naturally.
Some simple steps you can take to begin working through your selective hearing or living more easily with the condition include the following:
- Always summarize conversations at the end to ensure there was nothing you missed out.
- During a discussion or conversation, try to stay acutely focused on the individual talking to you as much as possible. This can help ensure that your hearing doesn’t end up focused on something else, which could leave you missing important information.
- Try to be mindful of the people around you and whether they might have reason to talk to you. For example, if you know that your spouse is nearby while having a discussion with another member of your family, try to look around for them occasionally to make sure they’re not waiting expectantly for you to reply.
- Try to avoid highly busy environments if you’re struggling with selective hearing so that you don’t end up focusing on just one thing when there’s a lot going on. This simple strategy, especially while you’re learning to be more mindful of your listening, is a good way often to begin honing your mind and ensure that you don’t miss out on potentially important information.
Make Sure to Let Your Loved Ones Know
Of course, we should point out here that selective hearing may not be something you can overcome entirely. With this thought in mind, if you’ve been having difficulties hearing and interpreting the world around you, explain how you feel to those around you.
While this won’t stop you from experiencing selective hearing, it allows your loved ones to understand that you’re not trying to be ignorant. In short: you’re not actively ignoring them, but your brain simply isn’t processing their conversations until they have your full focus and attention.
When You Should Get Professional Support for Your Hearing
Selective hearing is not a specific health condition, so there is no need to visit an audiologist for support if this is your only concern. However, if you have any further concerns about your hearing, reaching out to a professional audiologist may help you determine whether your selective hearing (especially if it’s new) might be the result of complications in your auditory systems, such as the onset of a hearing impairment. Do not opt for the likes of ear candling or other technique, but instead, speak to a professional first.