We’ve all dealt with it at one time or another: the noisy neighbors, the douchebags in rush hour who believe that we all want to listen to their low-quality speakers spewing a rap song the artist wrote in three seconds, or that one annoying family member who has such a problem with silence that, any time it does pop up, they behave as though their behind has caught to flame. Noise is everywhere in the world.
This phenomenon is called misophonia in the medical community, although this definition doesn’t always apply to every aspect of the issue for our minority. What is it? In short, misophonia is oversensitivity to noise. The word translates to “hatred of sound,” and for good reason!
For the Empath, and especially those with LLI, noise can be a serious cause of stress. Having LLI means that you can’t drown things out the way most people would, and being an Empath means that you’re hypersensitive in a way that impacts you emotionally. Most people can just turn to ear plugs, or turn on some music, or read a newspaper, and everything around them goes quiet. For people like us, however, there aren’t any instantaneous solutions.
What can you do when the noise of the world is too much, and you need to put an end to it? Well, that’s going to depend on where you are and what works for you. Some people can effectively cover up background noise that keeps them awake at night with white noise, such as a noise machine or a box fan. Many of us use music as a way to escape in most everyday situations – such as when you’re walking around in Wal-Mart and don’t care to engage the weirdo who likes to wear pink panties over the top of his camo pants. I’ve even known people who pretended to be deaf so that random strangers would leave them alone!
When headphones or ear plugs aren’t an option, the world can become a quite hostile place. We’re left with two choices: either find a better way to cope, or suck it up and try not to blow a gasket on anyone nearby. If you’re like me, you’ve probably done the latter throughout your life. What other choice do you have when nothing else seems to work? Stuffing it down and trying to heal after you get home is probably one of the worst ways to cope, though. Eventually, you’ll find yourself in a situation that doesn’t allow for you to recharge, and you’ll either blow up or start to have health problems.
The first thing you need to do is to figure out which noises are triggers for you. No one is truly sensitive to every type of noise 100% of the time. Usually, there is a situation, person, or specific noise that triggers your hypersensitivity. For example, if I am sleep deprived, I will be annoyed by everything from the clacking of the keyboard keys to the sound of a car door shutting outside. Normally, I notice these things, but they don’t cause an emotional response.
A majority of people who are sensitive to noise find that their sensitivity increases exponentially when they’re stressed for one reason or another. It can be helpful to recognize this in yourself, but that isn’t necessary in the beginning. What you can do is try to prepare yourself for the extra sensitivity when you’re in any sort of stressful position. Simply remaining conscious of the issue is often enough to hold it at bay – even if it’s just until you get home, where you can don your boxing gloves and blow off some steam. Or just do some yoga.
Here is a list of the coping strategies fellow Empaths have tried:
*Telling those you interact with the most about your sensitivity, and offering suggestions, such as not trying to have a serious conversation in a location that has a lot of background noise.
*Using a charm or totem to remind yourself to remain grounded when the world is too much. It can be anything, even a button or a piece of ribbon.
*Try to turn the noise into a song, if only in your head. This is especially helpful when the sounds are rhythmic, such as a ticking clock or a beeping noise.
*Sing a playlist of your favorite songs to yourself.
*Do something creative, or turn what you’re doing into something creative. Our sensitivities can disappear if we’re having fun, if only temporarily!
*Do something physical with your body, such as dancing or repetitive exercise.
*Tell those around you that the noise is getting to you, and they might try to help you drown it out.
*Mimic the noise. This sounds counter-intuitive, but it can help you to take away the power the noise is holding over your mind!
*If it’s another person annoying you, try to synchronize your actions with theirs. That way, you’re mostly hearing your own noises, and you can begin to mentally downplay theirs.
*Try to associate your most problematic noise triggers with a positive memory, and use that as a starting point for changing your emotional ties to that noise.
Take a look at these classifications and see where you fall on the misophonia spectrum:
If you have any other suggestions for coping strategies, please suggest them in the comments, or on the LLI page on Facebook
Originally written and published by Natalie Marsh on wordpress.com