Tinnitus Habituation: Why Spikes are Part of the Process

hey everyone Glen here from rewiringtinnitus.com. So I talked a lot about habituation because I really believe
that it's our best hope to find lasting relief from tinnitus. Now it's not a cure,
but it's entirely possible to get to this place where it stops bothering us, a
place where your brain can start to tune it out like it does
all other meaningless background noise. Now I've also talked a lot about the
various strategies that people use to habituate, all of which typically involve
changing the way we react to the sound emotionally, which is the obstacle that
prevents habituation from happening in the first place.
But what I don't talk about nearly enough is the extreme volatility of the
process itself. You see progress is rarely ever linear and each day is not
typically a little bit better than the day before. The habituation process is
usually more like a rollercoaster. It can feel like you've taken three steps
forward and two steps back over and over again.

And experiencing that kind of
setback especially if you've had a string of good days can be completely
devastating, can feel just utterly hopeless. So it's important to understand
that bad days are a part of the habituation process and not some sign
that you've gone backwards or undone the progress you've made. Your progress
hasn't been erased. You've just been triggered back into the
old reaction and the old pattern that you've developed with the tinnitus
because when you work to replace the old emotional reaction of fear and
frustration and anxiety and panic and depression it doesn't just go away. But
on the flip-side, that new mental pattern that you're developing doesn't just go
away when you have a spike. I'll give you a good analogy to help you understand
what I mean by this. So I work very hard to be a better person. I actively try to
improve myself on a daily basis and that's reflected in the way I act around
my friends and my wife and my colleagues. And then I visit my family in my
childhood home and I might as well be a teenager again.
We all start yelling over each other, pushing each other's buttons because the
family dynamic never really changed.

That old pattern, it didn't go
away. I just developed a new pattern of behavior that became my dominant
behavior more of the time. But being around my family triggers that old
dynamic and it pops right back into the forefront. So a very similar thing is
happening on difficult days during the habituation process. Remember the goal of
habituation is to create a new emotional pattern – a new response – a new emotional
response to the sound that enables your brain to tune it out automatically more
and more of the time. But the old pattern of fear is deeply ingrained in your
brain and it will be triggered repeatedly throughout the process. So
whatever strategy you use to habituate, whether it's the tinnitus focused
meditation techniques that I teach, or any other habituation strategy, it's
important to understand that spikes and setbacks are going to happen. And it's
probably going to feel like you're back to square one, but you're not. You're not
back to square one. The trick is remembering that when times get tough
and remembering that even if you can't lower the volume in the moment you can
always make yourself more comfortable and more calm because spikes always pass.
They always do, but this also raises an interesting question: with all the ups
and downs along the way how can you possibly measure progress? You see when
you live with tinnitus you tend to obsessively measure the sound and
constantly check to see if it's louder now than it was before.

But that's not a
helpful way to quantify your progress with habituation. Instead simply take a
step back and look at your overall picture of quality of life ask yourself,
"Is my overall quality of life better than it was before? Am I doing more of
the things that I want to be doing and bothered less by my tinnitus more of the
time?" If the answer to any of those questions is yes when you look at the
bigger picture then you'll know you're on the right track.
Because ultimately, habituation is about improving quality of life which is
really important to remember and something that not nearly enough doctors
are talking about these days. So that's all from me! I
hope you guys learned something today. Talk to you soon!.

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