‘I take a positive attitude toward myself’ - True or False

May 3, 2016

Be second only to yourself

 Image courtesy of Stuart Miles via Freedigitalphotos.net

You don’t have to be a celebrity marooned in the jungle to have your self confidence tested. An ill-judged comment from a patient or colleague can strike a powerful blow to your ego. And you are, let’s face it, ‘fair game’ and an ‘easy target’. Behind the reception desk, in the treatment room or even ensconced in the practice manager’s office, your actions directly and indirectly affect patients and colleagues. You’re the artist on the high wire whose slightest mistake is all too obvious.

Under such circumstances it can be difficult to believe in yourself, to retain your self esteem and appreciate your own worth. It’s crazy really because you are a good person. You work hard, have stopped beating your children and guiltily returned the pen you ‘accidentally’ took from the desk of your colleague. But still you have self doubts. How can you banish them?

There ought to be a potion
Ideally, those of us without granite-like egos should be able to take a pill or a potion. It would consist of a little of Donald Trump, some of most politicians, a slice of many public speakers, parts of a stand- up comic and a dose of a solo performer. Oh, a sprinkling of that annoying neighbour who is just never ever in the wrong.
Wouldn’t you know it, medical researchers have yet to develop such a cure. Fortunately, many others have come up with alternative treatments.
For example, you can pay $69 for two CDs containing more than two hours of ‘empowering material’. Or how about a free ‘6-part self confidence course’? Alternatively, there are a host of books on the topic, including Building Self Confidence for Dummies.

What if you’re not a dummy?
Let’s take a different approach. Consider with whom you are working. That’s right – dentists. Years of specialised training and more years of experience means they are always supremely

confident and have great faith in their abilities. Has the GDC ever struck off a dentist for being unsure of themselves? I think not. You can learn from them. If you are not sufficiently sure of yourself to admit your lack of self confidence, then watch and learn. You’re looking for gestures, posture and bearing. You’re listening out for the words they use to introduce themselves, how they always keep conversations positive, how they graciously accept compliments but don’t go in for self-promotion (well, not too much) and how they deal with criticism (as if anyone would dare).

Fess up
If you do have sufficient inner belief to share your concerns, talk to your best colleague friend and agree to approach your practice manager or practice principal with the suggestion of a team confidence building session. The dentists won’t see the point of attending, of course, but may well be persuaded if you explain their crucial role as confidence imparters.
Start the session by handing out questionnaires. In 1965, a sociologist called Dr Morris Rosenberg developed the Rosenberg self-esteem scale (RSES) which is now widely used in social science research. It consists of ten statements to which participants indicate their level of disagreement or agreement (strongly disagree, disagree, agree, strongly agree). Scores are calculated as per the instructions. Note that the RSES is not a diagnostic aid and may well tell participants what they already know.
You can find it on the Internet including here: https://www.wwnorton.com/college/psych/psychsci/media/rosenber g.htm
For the purposes of this team exercise, the RSES is merely a vehicle for starting a discussion. Participants are not obliged to reveal their scores but may do so if they wish.

Group learning
It helps if you have a facilitator (e.g. me!) to, ahem, facilitate the ensuing discussion. I would do this by taking some of the RSES

statements and asking for suggestions of suitable words to describe strongly agree and strongly disagree reactions. For example, to the statement: ‘I take a positive attitude toward myself’ participants may suggest ‘strongly agree’ words such as confident, assured and cool and ‘strongly disagree’ words such as unsure, uncertain and timid. Next I’d ask for examples of cool actions and of timid actions within the practice. In this way, participants learn from each other, in a non-personalised way, behaviour that indicates high self esteem, self confidence and self belief (I have deliberately not differentiated between these) and low self esteem, self confidence and self belief. I would wind up the session by saying that if you act in a self confident manner, your self confidence will grow.

As the great French novelist, Honoré de Balzac, wrote: “Вера в себя способна творить такие же чудеса, как вера в Господа Бога.”
No, I don’t know what it means but I’m confident it’s right.

If you enjoyed reading this blog, tell me, tell a friend and tell everybody you know on social media. Please don’t let me feel a failure.
More soon, Nicki x 

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