Searching within

My divorce felt as collosal as tectonic plates shifting at the time, but fortunately it was actually my awakening. If you’re part of the club, you’ll appreciate first hand just how much that trauma can do to your soul but also just how transformative the other side of acceptance is.

The past year has really awakened in me the desire to do more then being on the hamster wheel of life. Since moving through difficult life experiences and now thriving rather then in recovery, I have this incredible drive to help others create peaceful, joyful lives. When you have Joy and Calm taken from you, you can feel violated. I spent a year trying to search for innner peace again, only to find it WITHIN MYSELF and thereby my love for well-being was sealed.

I long for changes in our profession that honour dental profesionals’ health. In an increasingly stressful dental environment, I can’t be quiet about the realness of chronic stress, the suddennes of burnout, anxiety & the bleakness of depression so many of our colleagues siliently endure. Emotional inelligience and resilience can not be sidelined any longer. Well-being deserves open discussion. It deserves your attention, even if you think you’re immune (no one is).

Let’s make a pact, even if its amongst ourselves to step up more and be mindful of our own health and the health of our colleagues. The success of our workforce depends upon it.

Quiet strength

I recently started reflecting on an old narrative of mine centred around being good enough at holding presence and making an impact. The story started as a young British Pakistani student being asked to project her voice during preparing for a presentation of our class for that week’s assembly. The feedback was to make my voice louder and bolder. I really tried. But I just couldn’t project very far. It wasn’t a conscious decision to marry this with a sense of otherness, not fitting in or succeeding as a leader but nonetheless, the story cemented secured into my mind. It becane a core belief that leaders and speakers had to be extroverted. That was were the power was.

I watched Susan Cain’s Ted talk recently on the quiet POWER of introverted peope and it resonated so deeply with me. Society seems to really value extroversion but in actuality many of the worlds thought leaders are quietly strong. For me whats exciting is seeing recognition of the good in being calmer, softer yet still being so impactful. Its a celebration of a different trait beyond your typical leader.

This brings me back to the images – beautiful feedback from mindfulness traning today. The theme in all of the messages is quiet strength. That used to be a negative for me but this weekend I got tired of my old story. I had outgrown it. I stepped into a new reframe ; strong can be gentle, kind and compassionate. I have a powerful voice despite aggression. I don’t even need to raise my voice πŸ’ͺ🏾🧠

Which stories hold you back?

Ewd at Olympia London

What an amazing first day exhibiting at the London Dentistry Show! It was really lovely connecting with women and men, talking about gender parity, women and children, women in leadership and enhancing well-being of dental practices. Thank you so much for FMC to including EWD and supporting our charity non profit Big Vision conference 🌱

A special thank you to the men who have helped me create a bigger vision through setting up EWD and the conference; Payman Langroudi and Joe Lovitt. I actually started with quite a narrow concept of just interviewing women in dentistry to open up comunication around gender parity etc. It wasnt until I spoke to Payman, and was encouraged to create my own blog, did I dream bigger πŸ™πŸΎ Thank you to Prav Solanki also for your massive support and guidance with Mind Ninja. Joe has been the person behind the scenes finding sponsors and helping the conference actually come togther in a real way. I feel very blessed to have the support from these men and excited how the future of EWD.

For anyone on the fence on their idea for a start up, a group, a podcast or blog, please please throw caution to the wind. Its tough but absolutely worth it!! I founded EWD April 2018. Since then, I’m so so happy to see EWD and wellbeing flourish. You may feel you don’t have the expertise or courage, but please go ahead, feel the fear and do it anyway. The world on the other side of fear is beautiful and expansive

#empoweringwomenindentistry #bigvisionconference #womenindentistry #sisterhood #dental #business #wellness #community #mind #charity #mentaldental #wellbeing #emotionalresilience #mindtraining #mindoptimisation #burnout

A love affair with creativity

Have you ever experienced a love so intoxicating that you want to spend every moment basking in its charming warm glow? As women, we can often get lost in the service of others, and lost in the love for someone else. But how about investing that energy in ourselves? Our dreams, our passions, our sparkle, our BIG vision?

I have been reflecting recently on my mood recently. I am energised, excited, obsessed, content, dreamy and full of passion for my start up. At other times plagued with fears of being good enough and able to pull this off. It’s as though I am having a love affair with it.

And why not? Spending as many precious moments lost in what positive psychologists call the “flow state” increases our well-being. This love could really do us good πŸ’ͺ🏾🧠

For me, its date nights by myself getting lost in reading and writing. I carve out time for it daily. Lunchtime is a good time for me to leave the dental surgery behind and focus on creating. Sometimes its art, other times its through using words. Its made a massive impact on my everyday as I get to love my work day, as opposed to being annoyed at it taking time away from me.

What can you do that can bring the passion into your life every day?

#empoweringwomenindentistry #wellness #creativity #entrepreneurship #mindninja #mindtraining #emotionalresilience #wellbeingindentistry #empoweringdentists #cbt #mindfulness #blogging

Failing upwards – Apply intelligent sympathy to our inner voice

It is strangely ironic how society is often so silient when it comes to failure.

Yet everyone fails. Big or small. Yet we know we need to become friends with the concept of failure if we are to progress throughout our ventures. I call this emotional intelligence skill ‘failing upwards’. In this series, I look to reframe our notions around failure and discuss how we can fail well.

Inner critic test

Try this inner voice test and see if you are being too harsh with yourself.

For each question, mark 1, 2 or 3 to how likely the statement matches to your inner dialogue and add the scores.

0 – not at all

1 – sometimes

2 – medium

3- very true

1. When a patient complains, I am sure they are right and I messed up

2. When a dental procedure goes wrong, my first thoughts are that I am not good enough.

3. It is hard for me to start new dental skill because it is unacceptable for me to make mistakes even when I’m learning

4. Other peoples evaluation of me is more important than my evaluation of myself.

5. Even when a do a good job of rectifying a mistake, I still feel guilty.

Add up your ratings;

If you scored upto 6: a relatively kind inner voice

7 – 10 : this kind of inner voice can make it hard to fail and still pick yourself up

11 or above; the burden of the inner critc is often unreasonable and unbearable

Retelling our story

Failure becomes painfully unbearable when we pair it with the pressure from our innner critic. This is the harsh voice that speaks rather unkindly when we fail. We could do with developing the skill to gently nudge that harshness to a softer, gentler more compassionate voice. We all know this skill. We often show this level of compassion to our friends, colleagues and patients.

Failures sting so much often due to perception of the situation wrapped around self worth. A kinder approach my be to flip the script on this voice, and remind ourselves of a more balanced view. We are certainly not the sum of our successes or failures.

A letter to fear

Dear Fear,

Despite being old acquaintances we are yet to write to each other. I thought it best to awknowledge your presence. Especially now that, as I make increasingly (courageous) small steps, you present yourself in earnest once again.

It always alarms me how present you are all around the world, felt by so many but spoken by so few. You are the shadow that no one dare to speak in an insta glossy world. You are the voice that reminds me that I dare not get out of my small box. Tells me its no good trying. Its too hard to create change. The voice that mocks me, are you good enough for such a BIG dream?

The more I resist you, the more you manifest in other ways – sometimes physically I feel you as anxiety in the pit of my stomach. With time, I’ve learnt that it does me no good to silience you. For you are a part of me.

So I sit here and acknowledge you. I recognise your service. For you are only trying to protect me in the way you know how. I remind you that you don’t need to worry so much. That my friend (your foe) Courage is here.

She’s a passionate, compassionate big dreamer. She has incredible faith in me. She knows I deserve my blessings and makes sure I keep aligning to my greater purpose. Courage reminds me not to feel like an imposter. She reminds me every day, sometimes in a whisper and other times a push, that I got this.

Neuroscience of mindfulness

There has been a great increase in research in the effectiveness of mindfulness in the last 10 years. The results are pretty mind blowing (pun intended!) 🀯

A recent systematic review of the research found that just 8 weeks of mindfulness based stress reduction induced brain changes similar to long term meditation practice (Rinske et al, 2016). The brain rewired in those 8 weeks! See diagram above showing the reduction in volume of grey matter in the Amydala and hence decreased activation, improved connectivity with the prefrontal cortex and earlier deactivation when exposed to an emotional stimuli.

This all translates to enhancing emotional resilience and wellbeing πŸ’ͺ🏾🧠 Pretty mind blowing indeed πŸ‘ŒπŸ½

#mindninja #mindtraining #emotionalresilience #wellbeingindentistry #empoweringdentists #healthcareprofessionals #mindmanagement #mindfulness #neuroscience

Motivation, mindset, inspiration and passion day

The well-being of dental professionals is synonymous to having a healthy, thriving, passionate and productive career and life.

Since starting my well-being research and focused interviews in April this year, it is clear that the stress epidemic is real and impacting us in countless ways – whether it is us losing our spark for dentistry, or becoming burnout to feeling demotivated. This is why a day DEDICATED to enhancing your motivation, mindset, inspiring you & bringing back the passion is so TIMELY & simply NECESSARY. Thank you to Dhru @dentinaltubules for having the VISION, EMPATHY and PASSION to create such a beautiful lineup focusing on helping us thrive.

It is an immense honour to be inlcuded in the lineup. I don’t have a traditional slot but will instead be injecting useful mind optimation hacks throughout the day to help you live your best life πŸ™πŸΎ

Tickets are available now via Eventbrite. Please come and support this very special day.

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/mindset-inspiration-passion-and-motivation-day-tickets-70254042733

#mindninja #mindtraining #emotionalresilience #mindoptimisation #dentinaltubules

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