Accessing the power of positive affirmations

Positivity has a bad rep. And pair that with ‘positive affirmations’, you have a recipe for eyes rolling. You would be let off for thinking affirmations are airy fairy chants about becoming zen as a lotus flower, but actually positive affirmations, that is short positive statements, have much grounding in positive psychology.

Why use affirmations?

Beck, the father of the thinking model, discovered that our thoughts are based on a traid of these elements – ourselves, the world and future. Affirmations are used to reprogram the subconscious mind – our thoughts on ourselves, the world and the future. Using simple positive statements, we can change our thoughts and create helpful change.

Affirmations may serve as reminders to focus our attention on certain key messages. They may serve as inspiration. They also can help in setting goals.

If you’re not convinced, consider GP Dr Chatterjee who is now prescribing affirmations in his daily practice and his recent book, ‘The Stress Solution’.

How to access the power of affirmations?

The late Louise L Hay was the powerhouse of American positive psychology and affirmations. She has written several books and her affirmation cards are particularly useful. Find them on Amazon. Many of her books are on Audible which makes for handy listening.

I am currently very impressed with another American quirky company, ‘Affirmators!’. The affirmation on the card is the first line – and the witty explanation follows.

Simply carry a card with you throughout the day. Reread it regualrly and believe every word of it. Even if its not quite how you’re feeling, the act of faith in the statement is key.

How to write your own affirmations

Some tips to get you started:

1. Keep statements simple and positive

2. Write statements in the 1st person narrative

3. Capture affirmations with feeling using emotive language. We connect to statements more when they are embued with emotion.

4. Take time to reflect on your inner chatter and use these themes as your starting ground eg if you’re struggling with feelings of imposter syndrome, write an affirmation that is uplifting and empowering, a reminder of your absolute worth and right to be in the positon you are.

I like to write my affirmations on a note on my phone so I can reread these regularly. Alternatively try writing them on pretty cards to carry around with you.

There’s an app for this

As always, for all of you app savvy peeps, there are a tonne of great apps (eg ThinkUp positive affirmations) that let you write and review your affirmations. If your stuck on ideas on how to improve your affirmations, apps can be a good place to explore. They often guide you to write adding emotion and power to your statements.

Experiment

If life is all bit a series of experiments, why not give positive affirmations a real go for a month? With so much to gain, positive affirmations could really help you access your inner wisdom.

Breakthroughs & reframes

Late last night got me reflecting on my amazing sisterhood journey and my big vision for the upcoming months. It’s come to my attention that although you may be following EWD, you may not know who I am. A big champion of raising the visibility of other women, funnily enough I struggle with championing my own achievements. Here goes leaning into vulnerability πŸ’ͺ🏾

My name is Mahrukh (like Shahrukh with a M) Hina Idris Khwaja. I’m a general dentist, working in a mixed practice for the last 9 years. Currently completing a Diploma in Aesthetic Dentistry. Interestingly, my passions are Psychology and Neuroscience. As a child, I was fascinated by the behaviours, thoughts of others and why we react the way we do. This interest led me to completing a BSc in Psychology.

My life experiences included several bumps including bullying, divorce, depression & burnout. These bumps became my BREAKTHROUGHS and I rediscovered art, Nature and explored therapy and mindfulness. The last 2 I believe are magic powers in optimising the brain. I delved deep into the world of personal development. So much to say, you can call me Well-being Mahrukh πŸ™‹πŸ½β€β™€οΈ

If I’m not reading about wellbeing, you may find me working on a creative project or writing. I always have an idea for an article. Sometimes I’ll write in between patients! Love connecting with others. Up until I was 10, I was convinced I’d be a poet or novelist extraordinaire. Its awesome to get back to this.

My goals for the future are to help improve the working lives of dental professionals. Whether its through reforms with CQC & GDC or at an individual level, I am determined to make a difference. This year I set to launch Mind Ninja – a mind optimisation intervention to help minimise stress and build emotional resilience πŸ’ͺ🏾 Essentially mind strengthening, just like we train muscles in our body. Helping you do bicep curls for your brain 🧠

Since starting EWD and writing on mental wellbeing, including the scary parts such as suicide, I get messages of support, guidance, desperation and a desire for connection. Theres a HUGE need to recognise that MENTAL WELLBEING MATTERS, our future health depends upon it πŸ™πŸΎ

The charity conference this year on the 30th November is an invitation into my mind πŸ™ˆ All the topics, beneath the surface discussions and exercises are all the elements I believe to be missing from our current education. I can’t wait to celebrate with you! A big thank you to all the inspiring women who have volunteered their time for the cause πŸ™ŒπŸΎ

Behind the scenes this year, I’ve had so many tough moments and what looked like setbacks or failures. I’ve come across people who believe I can’t succeed. That I simply don’t have the connections or authority to make a difference. My message to you if you’re at the brink of putting your voice out there and stepping out, do it 100% For all the naysayers, there are plenty who will align to your cause. In fact you will find your tribe. Sending lots of love and light as always Xxx

Celebration of sisterhood & charity

Come support sisterhood, passion, creating a big vision, wellbeing and charity at this year’s inaugural Big Vision conference πŸ₯³

We have an amazing lineup of talks and panel discussions going ‘beneath the surface’ on a big range of topics.

The conference uniquely combines dental with business and wellbeing. For a dental conference attendee of 10 years, I was longing to attend a conference that combined all 3 domains. I’m so excited to see this vision come to life.

I am very grateful for all the lovely, inspiring women who have sharing their passions with us on the 30th November. A massive thank you to our sponsors also in believing in the concept – Six Months Smiles, PFM, Swift Dental and Harley Street Institute. Joe Lovitt and Gemma Barking for their incredible help.

As mentioned, there are limited spaces and all proceeds go to mental health charity Mind πŸ™πŸΎ If you’re keen to support the cause, please dig deep and help me raise as much money as we can for a great cause πŸ€ΈπŸΎβ€β™€οΈ

For programme details, see below and the website page http://www.ewdbigvisionconference.com. Tickets available via Eventbrite: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/big-vision-conference-tickets-59357324355

Overcoming challenges with creativity

A very strange thing happened to me during my divorce. It was an extremely tough time where the things that had previosuly lifted me up no longer did. I felt “numb”, disconnected and living moment to moment.What helped me through the stages of grief was therapy and a passion I didn’t even know I had..creativity! During this period, I tried my hand at upcycling furniture, painting, making tiles, pottery and even stained glass windows. I became so lost in that creativity and ‘flow’, that in those moments I felt alive again. I find it truly magical creating something..getting lost in the vibrance of colour 🎨

We are more then teeth and Dentistry. Whats your passion outisde work? How can you use creativity and art to enhance wellbeing?

#emotionalresilience #creativity #mentalwellbeing #health #painting #upcyclingfurniture #tiles #colour

Unforgiving perfectionism

What is the difference between striving for excellence and perfectionism? Does perfectionism allow for growth? Is it possible to even achieve perfectionism?

Mindblowing workshop today on redefining perfectionism πŸ™ŒπŸΎ I wouldn’t classify myself as a perfectionist but dig deeper and it turns out a lot of my fears stem from this..also prone to procrastinating at times, another tool to cope with anxiety around failure/success.

Interestingly, the number 1 theme that came up over and over again during my well-being research with dental professionals this year was this..I need to be perfect, but I’m not. Unforgiving perfectionism. Stay tuned with some more posts on this. So much to talk about when it comes down to our thoughts and mental well-being. Lets go beneath the surface.

So I won something (first time for everything!)..a book signed from our teacher. The note sums its all..Stay perfect. You are perfect as you are and in every given moment you are truly doing the best you can. We could all do with this self love, self acceptance mantra every day πŸ‘ŒπŸ½

Sexism in Dentistry & supporting mothers

An alarming statistic; female physicians are 2.5 to 4 times more likely to commit suicide then the general population (Hampton et al, 2005). What could be the factors that make women at risk? One theory is sexism at work and the work life balance of mothers.

There is a lot of work to do in tackling sexism in Dentistry and supporting women as they juggle motherhood and working life.

Sexism

You only have to look at the Facebook grouos to see the number of inappropraite sexist comments dressed up as “lads banter”. With regards to sexism, it starts with educating men and raising our men differently so they appreciate the nuances in the words they use. Same applies to everything – from devaluing mental health to making offensive comments to women in dentisry- sensitive choice of language is key. Many industries have mandatory courses teaching how best to communicate well and this is certaibly something that could be introduced to enhance well-being at work.

Supporting mothers

For helping mothers, continued flexibility is great but also a profession that reflects the shift in households currently. Men are increasingly being involved in childcare duties and more teamwork then ever before. If the culture could permit 10am starts so they could drop the children, or early finishes etc. then it would certainly help the family unit and women in dentistry. Scandinavian countries LOVE supporting their people – you’ll find the work culture has been created so that they all finish in the afternoon in time for spending dinner with family. Denmark and Sweden sit on top of the list for work life balance πŸ‘ŒπŸ½

#empoweringwomenindentistry #mentalwellbeing #sexism #supportingmothers #challengingbarriers

Well-being at work

How do we enhance emotional resilience?

The good news is that much of the stress we experience at work can be controlled. Emotional resilience is a skill that can be strengthened. The way I explore the topic of wellness and enhancing it is through a combination of psychology and neuroscience.

Chronic stress and anxiety is caused by an ongoing cycle of unhelpful thoughts and ingrained beliefs. These thoughts and beliefs in turn cause physical emotions which lead to unhelpful behaviours.

The brain has a very cool feature, that is its ability to rewire and change unhelpful behaviours and habits by creating new neural pathways (neuroplasticity). A well established technique Cognitive Behavioural Therapy helps to change the wiring of your brain. When you challenge your negative thinking, you create new brain connections. The more you practice your new way of thinking, the more you strengthen those neural pathways.

The key takeaway from CBT is that our emotions and behaviours are not directly linked to life events. We have some control over how we react and respond.

I am currently creating a CBT and mindfulness based intervention called Mind Ninja, alongside doctors and with the guidance of health psychologist Prof Newton. It aims to improve the working life of our profession through helping dental professionals help themselves in changing these unhelpful thoughts, beliefs and habits πŸ₯³