Therapy is Like a Good Root Canal

Alright, I’ll come clean.  I’ve never actually had a root canal, and like many, I hope I never have to.  Whether you want one or not, most of the time you feel better after it’s done.  It can actually help you.  Most leave feeling much less pain and much more relief than when they went in.  And that has always been the outcome for me in my therapy sessions.

English: A dentist performs a root canal on a ...
Photo credit: Wikipedia

Am I the only weirdo out there that loves therapy?

Let’s get this straight.  So I get to have someone’s undivided attention for an hour, where we get to sit and talk about nothing but little ol’ me?  Have you ever heard that if you want people to like you, you should ask them questions about themselves, get them talking, and then they will feel really connected to you?  Well, that’s how therapy was for me.  I was so charmed by the attention from both my career coach and my therapist, that I felt as if we had become great friends.  I felt so close to them, but really, I knew very little about them.  At the start of every appointment I wanted to ask about them.  What’s new in your life?  How are you?  But being respectful of the schedule, I knew there was rarely time.  It felt just like any budding friendship, forming bonds and sharing feelings, except this time it was all about me and, oh yeah, I had to pay.

Good times with friends.

The work with Melanie was the next appropriate step I needed to move forward.  Though I thought I was ready to continue on my own, I still needed to sort through some of my crap. Until this moment I was going nowhere, pretending to be okay, when I was still a complete wreck inside.  My own husband didn’t even know I was faking it.  Ahem, faking being happy.  Get your mind out of the gutter.

I was able to function to get by, but that’s not living.

Melanie used a technique and philosophy called the Sedona Method, so I had decided that if I was to work with her, I better learn it.  It’s not as if I was forced into learning it against my will, but it was all so new to me that I was hesitant about it.  Remember, at this point I was willing to do anything.  So while I wasn’t completely sure I understood it or knew how to do it, I just went along with it.  It’s not even a big deal.  It’s not a cult, or anything like that.  It’s mainly a philosophy and a practice.  Although I don’t know much about meditation, I’ve decided that for me, it’s my form of meditation.  The philosophy is simply about learning to let go of things.  Hell, I’m still not sure I get it, but I continue to go along with it, and here’s what I can say:

Since I started playing along, I have seen MASSIVE changes in my life.

I have learned to more effectively let go of things or feelings that bother me.  I have learned to respond to my anxiety or stress with much more ease.  I have learned to allow good things to come my way instead of trying to force them into my life.  I am better at simply going with the flow and not fighting or resisting things I can’t control.

If only it were this simple.

 What was the biggest thing I learned up to this point?

I learned that I wanted out of my career so badly that I kept trying to push it out of my life.  I thought pushing it away would make it go away.  Instead I was focused on pushing it so hard and ferociously that I was making it the center my universe.  It wouldn’t go away, and I couldn’t see past it to discover what might be waiting for me around the corner.  I wasn’t giving myself the space to let anything new and good into my life.  There was no room for any of that since it was all consumed by the hatred I felt for my career and my job.  It took a while to see that the harder I pushed to be free, the more trapped I became. 

As a result of my desperate attempts to control my career, instead it ended up controlling me.




23 thoughts on “Therapy is Like a Good Root Canal

  1. I suppose at the end of the day (life) nothing really matters. We’re here, then we’re not. Best try to relax and enjoy it while it lasts. A career’s fine but nothing should be allowed to interfere with living. It could be all over before it can be properly enjoyed. If you get my drift.

    1. I hear that loud and clear! That kind of thinking is what kept me focused on making some changes to my unhappy situation. Now it’s a lot more fun.

  2. You know what? I totally get what you are saying about therapy. I’ve been there and it was just like that for me too. I am so glad you are able to find something to make life seem easier. What a positive, uplifting post. 🙂

    1. Glad I’m not the only one. I know some people hate therapy, but I really do love it. I bet a lot of it depends on the chemistry with the therapist and even more so if the client/patient is willing to be real with him/herself. Thanks, SCM!

  3. Hi,
    Sounds like it was good for you, it is great if we can just let go, and take things as they come. It is amazing sometimes how life works out.

  4. I also love my therapist! And I think her helping me with other aspects of my life has indirectly helped in my dental career. She’s taught me how to put up boundaries instead of never being able to say “no” to people. I used to take on my patient’s problems and let their blame/hate of dentistry affect me personally but now I’m able to look at it from a different perspective (and not get defensive) and I find I’m much happier at the end of the day. Since I’ve made my come back to dentistry, I’ve been waiting for those old feelings to come back and so far I’m still enjoying it. I can’t help but think the work with my therapist has helped with that!

    1. That’s so cool, Kristen. Those were a lot of the things I tried to work on too, but obviously weren’t enough. Who knows, maybe if I were to take a big break like you did and then go back years later I would find joy in it too. However, I’m loving the break so much, that I am not sure I’d go back unless forced 😉 I bet a lot of that success did come from your work you did on YOURSELF! That’s cool. Glad to hear I’m not the only one who feels that way.

  5. I, too, love therapy and believe being listened to makes a huge difference all by itself. And, I think that once you catch onto the technique of whatever process you’re working and start to see some changes, there’s a real sense of competence and pride in having this skill set that you didn’t have before. It can be tough going sometimes, so I think of it as Outward Bound on the inside.

  6. i would love to be a personal coach of some kind. to go with someone to events and things at which they need someone to cheer them, support them, and maybe even pay attention to give reminders of what to do or not do.

    1. You would be good at that. And if there’s not enough demand you could be a douche alerter and reprimand adults for stealing fly baseballs from little kids. I like it. There’s a new future for you. 😉

  7. I also sought therapy about 6 months after purchasing my own dental practice. I had worked as an associate for several years and always had the goal in mind that someday I would own my own practice and have the ability to practice they way I wanted. I ended up being completely overwhelmed to the point that I was ready to just quit. I could not believe that I felt this way because I had a full schedule (actually I had too much), was making more money and doing what I thought was supposed to be my dream. It ended up being a nightmare because I was under so much stress trying to balance everything. After about one year in therapy I was able to make a change in my practice that helped immensely. I needed the courage to make this change and to come to terms with my feelings. While things are much better now and I have a schedule that I am able to manage, I still never came to terms with the fact that I really don’t enjoy practicing dentistry. The times I really feel good about what I do are few and far between and most dental patients are not appreciative of the service you provide. After several years of practicing and trying my best to please people I have found that there are only a few that are truly appreciative. Many patients are fickle, lack loyalty and are generally not trusting of their doctors. They also don’t like going to the dentist, don’t undertand the service we are trying to provide and they don’t want to pay for it either. I spend a lot of time trying to educate patients but many are resistant or they just think that I am trying to sell them something so I can make money. This is a difficult environment to work in when you feel you have to prove yourself over and over again. Also, dentistry itself can get boring when you do the same fillings day in and day out and feel more like a mechanic than a doctor. So between the boring work and dealing with problem patients dentistry has not turned out to be as rewarding as I thought it would be. I have made many efforts to change things but I simply cannot change the fact that dealing with people as dental patients just stinks.

    1. I have to say I agree with everything you describe here. It’s good that you were able to make some changes to allow you to tolerate it a little better. Courage was always a big thing for me. I relied on my career coach or therapist to help me find the courage within to seek out my truth. Eventually I had to come to terms with the fact that I didn’t enjoy dentistry. I really had no choice. Wow. I could have written your comment 😉

  8. Ahh.. therapy. But what is it? for some ; ‘venting’ to a non judgmental person who is not influenced by your life decisions ( a therapist, a good bartender.. or your dog ?). For others.. medication, meditation, or a hobby.. getting ‘away from it all’.
    So many times thru life, in dental school, early on in practice, midlife crisis…”is being a ‘gum gardener’ what i really want to do with my life?”… “is this it?”, etc. etc.
    but the grass is ever so greener on the other side of the fence.
    I can only speak for myself… but my biggest issue is ME. I forget (or refuse) to stop and smell the roses/ enjoy the small things, etc. And every year goes by faster.
    All I can say, is I remember 25 plus years back…. freshman year of dental school…. dumped by my fiance… could not wax a blue bicuspid to save my life… had to do summer remediation to move on in ‘restoritive’…. went on a weekend bender…. woke up Sunday night.. spitting headache in my crappy Philadelphia apartment. all my problems still there… but now sick as a dog.
    We are all wired differently.. so I would suspect different forms of therapy are morre efficient for some, worthless on others. All i know, is if I were MY OWN therapist… I would be thinking to myself; ‘this guy needs to quit bitching, and start doing’!

    1. Rick-I think we went to the same dental school. I failed both of my wax-ups and was threatened with having to attend summer restorative. The thought of spending the summer in Philly after a horrible freshman year (like you I had other bad things happen that year) forced me to practice my wax-ups over and over with a tutor and I passed my re-takes thus avoiding summer restorative. I agree that therapy is not for everyone. Therapy helped me because through my bitching, the therapist was able to guide me to find a solution to my problem. She did not tell me what to do but through talking I was able to get the courage to move forward and make the changes I needed to make my work situation better. That worked out well and I was much happier for awhile. I have only recently come to realize that I just don’t enjoy practicing dentistry anymore for the reasons I have mentioned in my above post. Is the grass greener? I don’t know but now I am trying to decide where I go from here. At some point I may consider going to therapy again to work out this issue because for me through talking I may come up with the solution I need to make things better.

    2. Rick- Your comment has really intrigued me. I agree– in a sense therapy can come in different forms. Whether it’s venting to a friend or even a therapist, self-medication, or even in my case traveling as much as I could to escape, the question for me is: is it effective? I personally don’t see drinking or getting away from it all as therapy (that stuff’s just fun) 😉 because those things are more of an escape or a distraction, not a method to actually address the problem. It can make you feel better from the outside, but not the inside. The problem never resolves. It’s like putting a band-aid on a broken arm. (Wow, I’m starting to sound like someone who’s drinking the therapy kool-aid.) Interestingly, my therapist is NOT big on hours and hours of “bitching” or telling a story. She’s about practicing the skills that will help you to move on and act. I found it odd at first when she stopped me from telling stories, but now I get it more than ever. I don’t know much about therapy, but I assume some believe it’s helpful to just sit and vent. But, really, where does that get us?

      I agree and think that everyone’s biggest issue is “ME.” For me, therapy is part of what allowed me to discover how I could change me– so that I don’t take “ME” wherever I go. I am not trying to convince anyone that therapy is awesome and they should all do it, but I find it fascinating that some people are either embarrassed about it or find it as miserable as getting a root canal. I also think some people don’t want to face the reality of who they are because maybe it’s too painful. And some think it’s a sign of weakness. I think that may be a generational thing.

      The grass is always greener… I love that saying because have you ever tried to find a good spot in the grass to sit? It’s ALWAYS greener on the other side! I think sometimes the belief is so true, and it is helpful to keep us grounded. But sometimes I think it can be used as an excuse to stay in brown grass. For me and getting out of dentistry, I can say that the grass was not greener. In the past 10 years, I have never been happier and more at peace. I barely take home an income (hopefully that’s temporary) and I’m LESS stressed about money than I ever was when I had a decent steady income doing what I hated. I don’t miss all the things that blue heron describes in his/her comments. I can’t imagine going back to that right now. Plus, I finally like my job.

      I’m not preaching anything here, especially a stop and smell the roses mentality, but I guess what intrigues me most is that you acknowledge that you refuse to stop and smell the roses, and I can’t help but wonder why not? Just curious.

      1. You are fortunate Lolabees that you have the ability to not worry about money at this time. I am not saying that with any malice but just stating the fact. I am sure you hope to make more money and I am glad you are finally happy. 🙂 If money was not an issue I would probably quit dentistry today. However, the one good thing I have from dentistry is a decent income right now that I can’t afford to lose. That being said, I am not in major debt or anything like that, it is just that it could negatively affect my family if I were to take a sharp decline in income. That is why this is not easy for me. I can’t just quit, I have to be able to find something that will also provide me with a reasonable income. I could take a small hit but I don’t want to take a substantial one. I went to therapy before, made changes and that did help. However, like I already stated, I never realized until now just how unhappy I was with practicing dentistry. That being said, I may seek therapy again to talk through this issue and see if I can resolve it. If I stop and smell the roses (so to speak) I do have a good income, reasonable schedule etc. However, getting very little satisfaction from a career I have worked so hard to get and excel in is just disappointing. This is the crossroads I face right now. I believe I have done everything I can to make dentistry better for me so do I quit and face an uncertain future or do I plug along and be thankful for what I have? Thanks again for this blog as it is therapy for me just to be able to comment and vent about my experience and find that I am not alone in this struggle.

        1. I went through all those same things. One of the reasons I was stuck was because I felt I needed the income. I also didn’t admit/know that I hated dentistry until the last 3-4 years. So based on financial restrictions/fears and an unwillingness to flat out quit without a safety net, I was in my job for 3-4 more years before I was actually able to leave. It was a looonnnngggg few years. Anyway, everything you’re saying about your feelings was similar (I won’t dare say the same because I don’t have kids.) In fact, I always felt so bad for anyone (stereotypically the men) who felt like I did but probably felt even MORE stuck because they had a family and were the sole breadwinner. You are right. I am very fortunate, but the truth is I didn’t decide I wanted a change and woke up the next morning where I wanted to be. My point in that my whole state of mind was driven by the unhappiness in my life. I worried when I had no reason to, whereas now that I have more reason to worry, I don’t let it bog me down minute to minute, and I have faith that it will all work out. I’ve also learned that I can live at a lower income, and it’s worth the trade off for me. Yeah, it’d be nice to go clothes shopping since I’ve only gone twice in the last 4 years, but I choose to make those types of sacrifices. And… making a living is important to me. I just try to remember that it can be slow to build a business, and hope the savings don’t run out 😉 Oh, and I didn’t have business loans, but when I paid off student loans only 8 months before I quit, I finally felt free to go.

          Though it’s tough, I think you are in a great place. At least you now know how you truly feel about what you do. You know have the chance to face your reality with honesty and figure it all out. Who knows, you may even start to like it again. Er, I won’t hold my breath on that one. 😉 Thanks for the kind feedback. It’s nice to know someone other than me is getting something out of this.

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