Is it mind over matter?

I had a toothache for two weeks. Well, if I am really honest, it was probably about six. The last two weeks were full of Nurofen and Panadol to keep the pain at bay. Why did you put up with it for so long, you may be asking? Great question.

Rewind the clock 20 years …

I needed a root canal and was sent to a dentist who was a specialist in that space. But when this dentist got to work on my tooth, I could feel everything he was doing, and told him so. He replied that he had numbed the area, and there was no chance I could be feeling any pain. So, with tears streaming down my face, he continued with his work.

Never again, I thought.

I avoided the dentist for two years …

But it got to a point I couldn’t avoid it any longer. I had been in massive pain for a month (I’m sure you are seeing a pattern by now!), so I asked around for recommendations.

My friend, Amy, suggested a dentist called Roland Chong. He was based 20 kilometres away, but worth it, Amy told me. So, I made the appointment with Roland’s assistant, Sue, and off I went. That first visit, I explained that I was in a lot of pain, and also very frightened of dentists. Roland and Sue listened to me, asked questions, then got to work.

Sue put a blanket on top of me and held my hand the entire time. They continually checked in to make sure I was okay, and by the time I left, my tooth was sorted, and I was a loyal supporter of Roland and Sue. A few years later, Roland set up a dental practice on his own (with Sue, of course) and I followed him to his new clinic.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago …

After eating Panadol and Nurofen for two weeks, I finally called Sue (and, in my defence, #lockdown). She asked questions and listened, and miraculously managed to make an appointment for me the next day. It was an hour-long appointment, but I was there for an hour and a half.

About 15 minutes in, just as Roland was about to numb my tooth, he said, “Emma, can you just come in sooner next time?”

My response was, “Roland, I love you to bits, but for 15 years, I have been waiting until I can wait no longer – do you really think I will change?” And we laughed.

You see, Roland is the kind of guy you want at your next barbecue. He is chilled, gentle, asks good questions, and is persistent with treatment. There have been years when we have spent A LOT of time together, and other years when I’ve only seen him twice (love you, Roland).

Here’s the thing, though …

As I lay there on the dentist’s chair, feeling that old fight-or-flight response as the damn needle went in, I knew Roland was going to make my pain go away. I knew I was in safe hands.

So, why had I waited so long? Why did I still have the narrative of “I don’t like dentists” when I had the best dentist in Melbourne?

The experiences we have and the stories we tell ourselves – in life and in business – stay with us for a long time, don’t they? They take a lot of work to dismantle, and I’m still working on mine for my dentist visits.

How about you? Do you hang on to an old story that is no longer relevant in your current circumstances? Do you need to do some work to reframe it?

Maybe it’s time you created a new story.

Oh, and if you want Roland’s details, just reach out.

Looking for something else?

Emma also has a podcast.