It’s Face Your Fear Week on Sage Grayson Coaching. I’m sharing posts about confronting your fears so you can live your happiest, most-authentic life.
Today we’re talking about one of the most popular fears—going to the dentist!
When I was 11 years old, I feared the dentist more than most kids. You see, I had really crooked teeth.
Like totally JACKED UP.
My front teeth stuck out at a weird angle, and I couldn’t even close my lips around them. I looked like Bugs Bunny…well, until I chipped a tooth in a playground incident with my older brother. Then my smile looked just like Lloyd’s from Dumb and Dumber.
I hated my teeth, and I hated them being poked and prodded. But it was obvious that I needed braces. My orthodontist, Dr. Jones, was probably a sweet old man. I mean, as sweet as you can be with kids crying and biting your fingers all day.
But to me, he was the evilest person in the world.
Since this was the early ‘90s, orthodontic options were somewhat limited. The braces Dr. Jones put on me were like something out of my worst nightmare.
The metal bands wrapped all the way around my teeth. I had a metal spacer across the roof of my mouth to widen my jaw. I had 4 rubber bands. But worst of all was the headgear.
Needless to say, I was not a popular kid.
And every month I’d go back to Dr. Jones to have my braces tightened. Imagine washing your favorite jeans, putting them in the dyer on high so they shrink 2 sizes, and then stuffing yourself back into them. Now imagine that tightness on your teeth.
Yep, it was torture.
Whenever I’m going through a particularly awful time in my life, I always find one beacon of hope and hold on to it for dear life. I had braces for 3 and a half years, so I needed something to make it bearable.
When Dr. Jones crammed his dental instruments and fingers into my mouth with such force that I was choking back my screams, I was desperate for something—anything—to distract me from the pain.
My salvation came in the form of…hot air balloons.
On the wall opposite the dental chair was a painting of hot air balloons flying over a city. It was peaceful and serene, something my visits to the orthodontist were not.
I found myself staring at one particular rainbow colored balloon. Everything else that was going on (the pulling, the drilling) faded away, and there was just me and the balloon.
At that moment, I was in the basket feeling the wind in my hair, flying high above all my problems. Nothing could touch me.
My breathing slowed. My body relaxed. I could get through this.
This type of mindfulness is something I use often in my life. Mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment and not being concerned about what has happened in the past or what might occur in the future.
There’s beauty and wonder right in from of you, from the coffee in your mug to the blades of grass outside your window. When I modeled in college, I used mindfulness to meditate on where I was right then…usually while fixating on a mark on the wall.
Because when you think about it, the past and the future don’t exist.
All we have is this moment.
I might have looked a little crazy staring at one spot on that painting, but Dr. Jones often complimented me on how calm and still I was during my appointments.
I was his best patient.
How can you use mindfulness in your life?
Sometime today, pause for 5 minutes and focus all your attention on the present moment.