How to grow through what you go through and empower your mindset

How to grow through what you go through and empower your mindset Dr Alaa Ati talks about taking on life’s hurdles, maintaining a balanced mindset and why it is important to trust the process when it comes to dentistry.

Dentistry. A rewarding profession, combining our love for science, artistic flare, manual dexterity and people. Ask any dentist why they chose dentistry and this is what they will tell you (whether you have just qualified or are more advanced in your career like me).

In essence, it is very true. But it is so much more than that.

To be a dentist, or a great one at least, you need to love what you do, and have that passion for what you do. Otherwise, what’s your motivation for persevering through the first few challenges you come across after graduating? Or the many hurdles you will need to overcome as you progress throughout your career?

Mindset is the most important

That drive needs to come from within you, and only you. Know your why and remind yourself of it every single day. It will be your inner voice that tells you ‘don’t give up, you’ve got this.’

Let’s be real, dentistry is not a walk in the park. Not at undergraduate level and not at post graduate level either. Every stage will come with its own set of challenges. The most important aspect here is not the challenge itself, but our mindset.

Reprogramming our brain to try and view these challenges/hurdles/obstacles as a process that allows us to learn, grow and become the best version of ourself is key. They are a lot more common than we think and everyone will experience them at some stage.

Remember everything in life can be hard no matter what you choose to do. Leaving your comfort zone is hard, staying in your comfort zone is also hard. Advancing throughout your career is hard, and choosing to stay in the same place is also hard.

Don’t regret the hardships

Choose your hard, pick wisely and make sure it aligns with your ‘why’. That way, regardless of what you choose, it will always bring you inner satisfaction. There is no greater joy than persevering though all the hurdles that life throws at you without giving up, to accomplish something you love.

Take yourself back to the day you found out your passed your final year BDS exams and you officially became a dentist. No one forgets that feeling.

Even though I graduated many years ago, that feeling I remember crystal clear. If you ever doubt yourself, remind yourself of that moment and the journey you took to get there, and it will empower you to persevere through anything.

Some of the most inspiring, world renowned clinicians out there will wholeheartedly admit they have had to encounter some of life’s greatest difficulties to get to the stage they are at.

Blessing in disguise

It doesn’t stop there either.  What’s even more interesting is that they emphasise the fact they do not regret any part of their journey, especially the hardships.

It was precisely those tough moments in life that helped shape the person they are today, and helped contribute to their success. So next time you are faced with a difficult day in clinic or an unexpected hurdle, regardless what stage of your career you are at, remember this could be teaching you some of life’s biggest lessons and become a blessing in disguise.

It’s not that the number of hurdles decrease as we progress throughout our career. But with time, we gradually learn to change our mindset and our resilience grows. Something that is not taught as much at undergraduate level.

Trust the journey

But that doesn’t mean we can’t learn and practice it with time, through experience and through the support available. Be patient, trust the process and most importantly, be kind to yourself. We are all a working progress. We are all learning and growing together. Growth is about continuous progress, rather than perfection.

How we think impacts how we feel which in turn creates our state of being. Our thoughts create emotions that are the signalling mechanism of the body. Remember, it is mind over matter. Our bodies tend to withstand almost anything, but it’s our mind that needs more convincing at times. This is why, it all goes back to mindset.

To win at life, you need to win in your mind first. Believe you can achieve, and you are already more than half way there. Trust the journey and remember that any hardship you go through will pass. It will all be okay in the end – and if it’s not okay, then it’s not the end. This will not only help you overcome the challenges confined to dentistry, but also in life.

Now more than ever, with social media booming, some have opened up to me about their feeling of inadequacy when it comes to dentistry and how this leaves them in a state of constant toxic comparison. Perhaps others can also relate to this, so it is important we talk about this.

The one thing more beautiful than empowering ourselves, is helping and empowering those around us. Together, we are always stronger.

You are more than social media

Social media has become a great tool in the digital age, a new norm for communicating, networking, learning and growing your business. Of course, like with everything, it can come with its problems. So this is why, when it comes to social media, understanding the following is crucial:

  1. Do not compare your life to someone else’s seemingly perfect instagram highlight. Not everyone will want to show their hardships on social media, and that is okay. It doesn’t mean they don’t encounter any hardships. They most certainly do!
  2. Do not compare your day one to some one else’s day one hundred. The most incredible before and after photographs you see on social media have taken years of hard work, dedication and perseverance by clinicians to get to that stage. You see the end result, not the journey, which can often involve blood, sweat and tears behind every case. No one graduates as an expert, and if they claim to be, then they aren’t telling the truth. Many of my colleagues and mentors will agree with me that no matter how much they advance or accomplish in their career, they are forever learning and growing-that is the best mindset to have
  3. You are more than your Instagram. Social media is merely a tool. Use it wisely, ethically, and authentically. Do not let it consume you. Use it to impact people, rather than impress people. Don’t be afraid to unfollow anyone or anything that doesn’t bring you joy or inspire you. If it doesn’t make you feel good about yourself, or inspire you to grow or learn, then you aren’t using it correctly. Sometimes we need to disconnect online and take a break to reconnect in real life. Balance is key.

‘Your biggest superpower is you’

An important aspect of growth, is connecting with and learning from those around you. Share your experiences, learn from each other’s mistakes and support one another. If you are struggling, always reach out. Never underestimate how many amazing people would offer a helping hand if you need it, whether they know you or not. Always remember, you are never alone.

Furthermore, investing in your growth and learning is the best investment you can ever do and it will always empower you. Every great achiever is usually inspired by a great mentor. They can tell you the right words at exactly the right time or teach you something to enable you to do better, and this can be life changing.

One of my incredible mentors doctor Amiee always tells me ‘your biggest superpower is you.’ This couldn’t be more true. Always remember, there is only one you and you are your own superpower.

Here is a small section of one of my favourite poems ‘If’ by Rudyard Kipling:

‘If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings,
And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew,
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you, Except the Will which says to them: Hold on!’

I hope its words will serve to inspire and empower you to overcome any challenges in your professional career and in life. Keep going, keep growing, and always remember, your life is as good as your mindset.


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