Do you like yourself?

Jan. 1, 2001
Despite all of the years that I have been writing for magazines and providing seminars to the dental industry, I realize that I've skipped one of the most basic items that needs to be covered - you.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA

Despite all of the years that I have been writing for magazines and providing seminars to the dental industry, I realize that I've skipped one of the most basic items that needs to be covered - you.

It doesn't matter how you are taught or coached: If you don't have a healthy respect for yourself, you will have a difficult time being a top performer. Dentists who suffer from low self-esteem do not believe in themselves and can't perform at their best.

You must believe in yourself before you can believe in your services. You can't sell services you do not believe in. Your belief in yourself affects your confidence, speech, body language, and presentation. Patients are savvy enough to know whether you truly believe in your services, or if you are merely espousing a line about a particular service.

The subconscious understanding of a dentist by a prospective patient is incredibly strong. Patients feel comfortable - or uncomfortable - without knowing why. I have heard many patients say "I don't really know why, but I really like that doctor," or "I don't know why, but I'm very uncomfortable with that person."

It is easy for me to tell you in this column that you should like yourself, but the truth is, it's not an easy process, nor can you accomplish it overnight. Who you are and what you think of yourself is based on factors that have affected you since birth. It's difficult to undo 20, 40, or 50 years of behavioral conditioning. But to achieve the success you're striving for, you must make a commitment to change your thinking process.

You chose this career

If you have selected the field of dentistry, your self-esteem and belief in yourself must come first. For some dentists, early successes convince them that they are on the right path; they go on to tremendous success. For others it is the opposite scenario.

The truth is no two dentists use exactly the same methodology. To simply copy what someone else does is often a useless exercise. What you do and what another person does will not work the same way. Why? Because you are different people with different appearances, confidence levels, and body language.

How do you begin to like yourself?

  • Picture yourself at your best and keep that image in mind.
  • Recite your list of achievements to yourself.
  • Encourage/praise yourself.
  • Promise that you will not use any future language that is negative.
  • Make a decision that the way you talk is the way you will feel.
  • Make a conscious decision to surround yourself with positive people.

There is no simple solution; however, the way you perceive yourself over a three-to-six-week period can begin to change your fundamental attitude. People with low self-esteem tell themselves that they cannot achieve, they cannot grow or hit targets, and that they are victims. This kind of attitude ultimately becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.

You must begin telling yourself "I am a winner," and "I like myself." If you adopt this philosophy, others will follow suit. They will gradually see the transformation. Although it may seem overly simplistic, this approach is a good first step. You can't be successful without telling yourself that you believe in the most important person on the face of the earth - you.

Roger P. Levin, DDS, MBA, president and CEO of The Levin Group and the Levin Advanced Learning Institute, provides worldwide leadership in dental management for general dentists and specialists. Contact The Levin Group at (410) 654-1234.

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