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10 toxic behaviors found in your daily life


You stress about money, time, business, staff and patients. You ask all the ‘why’ questions like, “Why don’t I make more?” or “Why can’t they just do what they say they will?” or even “Why can’t we be happy?”

The reason can lie within these 10 toxic behaviors that hold you back, keep you stressed and stop you from living your dream life.

1. Victim attitude

A victim attitude keeps you stuck, believing there’s no choice, and seeing your life trajectory as irrevocable. You see others as better than you and feel that your power or influence to make change is limited. This “I can’t” attitude limits out-of-the-box thinking and your ability to find creative solutions, so your situation doesn’t change even though you’ve “tried”.

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2. Black or white decisions

A black or white filter is created when your versatility to tap into other ways of thinking is low. It taints your worldview, the lens by which you interpret what you see, hear and take in from every situation. Often a single detail is focused on and all other elements, regardless of their validity and truth, are dismissed because they don’t fit through your lens and support your worldview. You become a prisoner in your practice and life by your own way of thinking.

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3. Perfect or not at all

Dentistry and perfectionism seem to go hand-in-hand. Since dentists and hygienists have been trained to do perfect work, they transfer that mentality into thinking they must be perfect people. Chasing the idea of perfect, whether you measure it in margins, pounds, dollars, cars or offices, is the permanent act of self-defeatism.

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4. Compare yourself to others

Comparing yourself to others is an easy way to feed your fear. Fear of success, fear of failure, fear of change, fear of being found out are all validated by looking at someone else that has more, done more, achieved more or brags more. You measure what you have and what you don’t against others’ materialistic possessions. You make declarations of what you can do and what you can’t based on what they have and you don’t. You stay safely in your comfort zone not having to take risks.

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5. Play the blame game

When you point the finger at external people and things as reason for your lack of achievement or success, that’s playing the blame game. The three common areas blamed are:

Environment: Not enough equipment, old technology, practicing in a small town or in a large city, insurance companies

People: Team members, patients, lab techs, vendors, family or colleagues

Process/Systems: Front office doesn’t talk to back office, no consistency in tracking numbers, lack of job descriptions.

By playing this blame game you sabotage your solution choices by removing yourself out of each equation and focus on resolutions you have no control over.

6. Take things personally

Defending yourself to others is a reflection of your level of acceptance of who you are and how you do things. It goes as a way to measure your level of self-confidence and esteem. Taking things personally shows others your resistance to growth, change and openness to new things. Becoming defensive and shutting down the opportunity to hear how you show up in the world opens a door so others can witness your internal running dialogue around what you tell yourself.

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7. Lack of self-control

The difference between reacting and responding is directly proportionate to your ability to have self-control. Reacting is having the impulsivity and quick emotional burst to move through a situation without forethought, curiosity or strategy. Responding is the act of moving forward with intention, thoughtfulness and knowledge while engaging others for productive resolutions. Your outcomes, creativity and problem solving are all impacted by how/when/if you react or respond. Without self-control, there is only one way to be: Reactionary.

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8. Being judgmental

Being judgmental is the act of going through your day categorizing people, things and situations into boxes labeled good/bad, right/wrong, worthy/unworthy. Using judgmental qualifiers limits the way you interpret and view the world around you. It also keeps you thinking small and living smaller because of the series of litmus tests you instinctively put everything through. The more you close off, the less you experience and, ultimately, the more insignificantly you live.

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9. Believing others’ truth

It’s easier to believe others’ truths than your own. You avoid having to be curious, ask questions or come to your own conclusions when you accept what other people say as truth. Gossip, misunderstandings, miscommunication, bullying and confrontation are all direct results of accepting others’ truth without the use of discernment. This behavior is clearly identifiable in youth: “Sally told me that Roger told her that McKenna said she doesn’t like me anymore!”  As adults, the behavior is cloaked with maturity so there is more of a tendency to believe without question.

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10. Go it alone

Avoiding collaboration with colleagues, team members, coaches, consultants, CPAs and other professional partners keeps you thinking small, so it keeps your practice small and stress levels high. Dentists are independent by nature, which is what has gotten them through 20+ years of education, exam after exam and boards after boards. In reality, the business of dentistry is way too big for them to think they can do it all on their own and do it stress-free.

You can’t change what you don’t acknowledge. If you find yourself doing any of these behaviors, stay tuned for the next installment: From Toxic to Untethered.

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