[Note: For those that read my blog regularly, this isn’t quite the departure from the subject matter you are used to that it appears to be…keep reading for the usual fare you have come to expect from me.]
If you ARE a regular flosser… ***fist bump!***
If you are NOT a regular flosser, don’t tune me out just yet.
You see, I wasn’t a flosser for DECADES. I know the pain of going to the dentist again and again, knowing you’ll hear the same words from the dental hygienist, “You need to start flossing.” UGH!
You reply in agreement but inside your head it sounds something like this: “Yeah, yeah, yeah…fine, whatever, lady. I’ll TRY. AGAIN.” Deep down inside you know you really won’t, even though you have really good intentions to do so.
I went to the dentist in November 2005 (after a lot of years of not going) and was told that I had periodontal disease. I was told that if I would “just start flossing regularly” (easier said, than done) I could reverse the disease. Then they served up this nugget of truth, “Either start flossing or plan on losing some or all of your teeth starting at age 50.” I’m embarrassed to admit that their dire warning did not change my behavior.
They tell you how bad your periodontal disease is by measuring the pocket, or the space, between your gums and teeth. Anything over 3mm is considered unhealthy.
That day in 2005 I had some 4’s, but mostly I had 5’s, and even a 6 or two(!) which is very bad…not to mention painful when they poke around your mouth…or when cold stuff touches those super-sensitive areas.
I had to start practicing self-care by showing up at the dentist every three months, instead of the normal six months between visits, to try and sort this out. Just going to the dentist was a start, but it cost me.
- It cost me money out of pocket, because insurance only covers twice a year.
- It cost me time off work for these appointments.
- It cost me my pride having to admit that I wasn’t flossing like I should have been.
- It cost me my integrity, knowing I was lying when I would say I would start flossing.
Fast forward almost 10 years to my appointment with the dentist March 25, 2015.
The report from the hygienist was as follows: One 4….and all the rest were 3’s!
ALL BUT ONE ARE HEALTHY NOW!!!
If you are wondering how you, too, can get the results I got yesterday hear me on this:
You will need to change your mind…you will need to think differently about flossing.
For me, flossing is now what I call a “spiritual activity”.
I can hear you now: “Huh?! Say what? Flossing is a spiritual activity? You lost me.”
Let me explain. It’s only a spiritual activity if you are using a sermon you heard at church about meditation (of all things) as your jumping off point for beginning a new, healthy habit.
[To hear that sermon by Jimmy Evans called “A Mind Set Free,” click here.]
Jimmy told us on November 16, 2013 how he quit smoking by changing the dialogue he was having with himself (in his mind) and with others. Once he decided to become a non-smoker he would say to himself and others, “I am a non-smoker.” And that’s how he quit smoking.
I had just been to the dentist that week (again) and had just told the hygienist (again) that I would “try” (again) to start flossing regularly. After hearing Jimmy Evans sermon, I decided that if he could QUIT a bad habit by changing the dialogue in his mind, then I could START a healthy habit the same way.
I went home that day in November 2013, pulled out my label maker and stuck this label above my bathroom sink where I would see it at least twice a day, morning and night, to remind myself of who I was (A FLOSSER!).
I began to floss every night before bed LIKE IT WAS MY JOB.
I continued going to the dentist every three months, and slowly, but surely I made progress. Each time the dental report would get better. Finally, in September 2014 I had made enough progress, and had a behavioral track record they were happy with, and the report was so good, they told me I could schedule my next appointment for SIX MONTHS OUT!!! “You mean I’m normal again!?!”
I was a little nervous at the time, wondering if I really had it in me to be trusted for THAT LONG without their probing instruments that were keeping me accountable, but hey, if they were willing to trust me to keep up the good job I was doing, who was I to argue? They are the professionals, after all! It took me from November 2013 to March 2015 to turn things around but I did it!
All that happened because I changed my mind and changed the dialogue in my head and told myself that…
…I AM A FLOSSER.
Now I feel like I can change the world!
For more information on changing your mind and the dialogue(s) you have with yourself, check out the following resources:
Bob Hamp’s books: Think Differently Live Differently and Think Differently Lead Differently; available for purchase at: www.bobhamp.com
Dr. Caroline Leaf, author of an incredibly helpful book called, “Switch on Your Brain”, available for purchase at: www.drleaf.com; along with that book’s very helpful companion app called “The 21 Day Brain Detox” available for download at: www.21DayBrainDetox.com