Reply To: Misophonia at work becoming unbearable

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Hi Susan,

I totally understand, from the bottom from my heart.

Every day miso trigger sounds have the same impact on me and every time, in that moment, I feel intense panic accompanied with intense upset, anger and frustration.

Because it has such and intense impact (almost akin to someone jabbing you really hard or screaming in your face) it feels, in that moment, implausible that the person making the sound couldn’t know how cruel/disgusting/uncivilised these noises sound. And to do it several times… well, that just feels beyond any kind of reason.

The thing that helps me counter this feeling – and this is very difficult to do in the moment and usually comes afterwards – is to rationalise it (as I mentioned above in my previous post). Challenge those heat-of-the moment beliefs. Write them down on a piece of paper and read them to yourself outloud afterwards with a clear head. Do they make sense? Is it really that this person making the noise is being vindictive or that they have something very wrong with them? Or is it more likely that we are hypersensitive to every noise they make.

Sometimes it can help to step outside of the misophonia.

Imagine, instead of misophonia, someone has a hypersensitivity to the colour red. They find it excruciating that Bob and Sally often wear red in their outfits in the office. As someone without a hypersensitivity to colour you would understand that they were just wearing their clothes. They’re not trying to hurt anyone and they’re not doing anything unusual. Moreover colour isn’t actually dangerous or a threat. But the person with the hypersensitivity is so aware of it that they notice the slightest fleck of red in Bob’s watch strap… or the red on the bottom of Sally’s shoes. You can see how the sense of frustration and the feeling that Bob and Sally were ‘doing this on purpose’ would build and build.

It’s certainly the case that some people are noisier than others. It’s also the case that some people are less polite than others. It doesn’t make it any easier but I think that’s true with everything in life. For example some people are more extroverted than others… some people are more emotionally aware and so on. Then there are different customs and cultural norms. We all sit on different scales.

What I do think is telling though – with my own experience with misophonia – is that even with the quietest, most considered and polite individuals – if I spend enough time with them, my misophonia will get triggered.

In terms of dealing our hypersensitivity I’ve put every technique I’m aware of (from myself and others) here:

I hope some of these help.

Your question about sensitivity and empathy outside of misophonia is a very interesting one and in my opinion very relevant. In fact I know it’s something that is being researched at the moment. I don’t know if it applies to all misophones but I certainly know that a lots of us seem to have higher than normal levels of empathy.