This week I went to the dentists for the first time in a decade. Not because I fear dentists but because it was one of those things I never seemed to get around to and because so few dentists will take NHS patients and charge so much it seemed rather a waste of money when my teeth felt fine. Now I’m pregnant I have my shiny maternity exemption certificate and the dentist around the corner was accepting new patients with those. The money saved over the last decade felt worth it as I just needed a single filling.

I don’t think of myself as being good with pain. I missed last week’s column due to a mix of exhaustion and pregnancy related pain (that I will leave described thus as I don’t want to squick you out too much). I’ve felt quite a wimp about this pregnancy truth be told and if I’d been working a nine to five would have had to have been signed off. But the dentist made me wonder.

All he did was inject above the tooth to numb it and then I felt nothing. Ok so I don’t fear needles but surely that can be the only issue because you barely feel anything. It’s no different to the needle when you have blood taken from your arm. The dentist asked me to try and stay still and with a slight bit of surprise said ‘well done’ when I didn’t flinch or make a sound. To be honest, even if I’d felt something I’d have stayed still and quiet. What with being an adult and all. I used to have the hormonal contraceptive they inject into your arse and that one dear readers does smart rather a touch but even then I’d stay still. It seemed rather rude to make a fuss over something so common and everyday.

Yet when I relayed the experience to the husband he said that the drilling doesn’t hurt but that the heat produced was painful. Now our experience of temperature differs hugely; I am almost always cold, he rarely is and where I miss the heat that seemed to get bone deep when I lived in the Far East, he starts sweating as soon as it isn’t near arctic (ok so that may be my perception speaking).

Such subjectivity extends across a great many aspects of our lives and got me thinking about some attitudes I’ve experienced during my marketing career. The first was someone who upon being made redundant went freelance and was quite open about his bitterness regarding this, the other upon being made redundant started a business as a way to regain his perceived former importance. They were a bit like a single person who rants about their ex on a date. Just as it’s not a great idea to rush into a new relationship if you have some issues to work through, maybe it isn’t great to launch a new facet of your career.

Obviously it’s tricky because while it’s possible to survive without a relationship, an income is pretty essential. But when I look at people who have embraced change and seen it as an opportunity I’ve felt far more drawn to them as people to potentially work with (just as I’d have run a mile if the husband had wanted to talk about his ex rather than get to know me).

There seems to be a wealth of advice about mending a broken heart. Less about mending a broken ego. The song Dry Your Eyes by The Streets springs to mind as an example of how we advise a friend that doesn’t seem to be moving on but there isn’t really an equivalent for struggling to move on from a redundancy, firing or need to leave a job that wasn’t fulfilling us. There’s something very difficult about trying to point out a friends attitude is to perhaps blame for not succeeding in work. Naturally this is something I’ve done in my capacity as a life coach but once someone has stepped through my door they’re already partway there to be honest.

I’m not saying luck doesn’t play a huge role in finding love or that perfect job but one can certainly impede it with a bad attitude. Our minds are powerful things and just as we have an amazing ability to control aspects of pain we may be experiencing (hyperventilating makes it far worse hence our refusal to engage fully with my eldest stepson until he’s doing the yogic breathing we practise with him. It does so ease the agonies that accompany being a drama queen) deciding to choose our attitude can really help our outlook.

Sure positive thinking won’t make the husbands teeth hurt less when they’re drilled but a decent attitude can certainly stop him from spreading the suffering by whining to me! Positivity alone won’t bring new clients to a freelancer or customers to a business but it goes a long way just as positive people attract more potential mates. I can empathise with those that find the likes of me annoying with our ‘whatever doesn’t kill me makes me stronger’ attitudes but taking our experiences and using them to motivate us is crucial to retaining ownership of them.

My mum gave me a good piece of advice before I headed to the land of torturing and suffering (no offence to my lovely dentist but he does sit surrounded by weapons and puts his patients into a chair requires killer abs to pull oneself out of!) and that was to confirm the price of everything as he went along. Hence when he said he could give me my required filling there and then I attempted to sit up slightly (something I’d have struggled with even without Tyler*) and clarify the exact details. The dentist was happy to confirm That this fell within my entitlement to free treatment and I sat back and relaxed (as much as one can when being injected in the gum) safe in the knowledge that my pain was for free.

Yes I needed the filling but I still maintained my sense of control. You can’t determine everything that happens to you but you can completely control how you react to it. Experience may be subjective but that doesn’t mean you have to be passive.

* The baby has been nicknamed Tyler on the basis of it feeling as though there are two people fighting for control of and space inside my body. The only distinction from Fight Club is that Tyler is throwing all the punches.

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