Tomorrow, I'm going into the dentist for oral surgery, and let me tell you, I have never been so excited to lose a tooth. It's strange for me to admit that, because in the past, I've cried a lot in dentist offices about needing work I can't afford. And I've had to pull teeth in the past because I couldn't afford the root canals.
This time, the consensus is that a root canal would fail, so the tooth is being taken out with the expectation for an implant later on. While part of me is bummed out that I have to pay $255 to lose a tooth, I'm actually looking forward to getting it done so I can finally be out of this pain. I'm currently on my second course of antibiotics and I'm going through ibuprofen like crazy. As much as I dread the pain of having a tooth pulled, I understand that surgery is part of the road to recovery.
Here's the life lesson
Everyone faces difficult things, but a shift in perspective is the most effective way to get through challenges. It's not that I like losing a tooth. And I certainly don't like spending more money on my teeth this year. However, I've been in a great deal of pain for more than a month. I am willing to do what it takes to live pain-free again. Sure, I won't be completely pain-free for the next few days as I recover from surgery.
But I can see some light at the end of the tunnel. Shifting your perspective isn't always easy, but it's always worthwhile. Right now, I'm going through an especially difficult point in my life. There have been several financial and work-life hurdles that I either wasn't expecting or have found more challenging than usual to overcome. I feel a great deal of pressure as a single working mom, and it's even harder to talk to other people about my circumstances because I "made more money than ever" in 2019.
So far, after taxes, all of my dental work over the past year, putting my daughter into a private school, and finally becoming a driver, my savings account is honestly not where I thought it was going to be when I first began making better money a year ago.
And I've been deeply ashamed of that over these past couple of months. Getting through that frustration and overwhelm has definitely required a change in my perspective, and it hasn't been so easy as people make innocent and even well-intended comments about how I'm doing so great.
It's okay to be honest
First and foremost, always be honest with yourself about whatever you're going through. You are allowed to be disappointed. You are allowed to think things suck. But you've got to be able to move past the suck too. Otherwise, you're going to stay miserable, and possibly for a pretty long time.
A shift in perspective for me means admitting that things aren't the greatest at the moment, but I can look at how far I've come. My work has afforded me new opportunities I never would have had in the past.
Well over a year ago, I was gobsmacked by needing about $20,000 to fix my teeth. All of that work has now been taken care of, and now I'm dealing with maintenance and new issues as they arise. That in and of itself is a huge deal and enormous relief.
And that's the perspective that I need to lean into right now. I need to remember that I've come really far and have turned my life around. Going through a rough patch right now doesn't take any of that away.
Do you need to change your mind?
Look, it's the holiday season, and that's a notorious time for stress. You might be facing worries over money, a family drama, or personal issues as 2019 comes to a close. Shifting your perspective won't change your circumstances, I know. But looking for the good in whatever is happening, even if it's just looking at how far you've come, is a positive way to get through any challenge.
That's not to say your circumstances don't suck. Or that it's "okay" when bad things happen. It's not okay when cancer strikes your family, when a job is lost, or when you're struggling to make ends meet.
Changing your perspective is all about making peace with the fact that we all face trouble and challenges, that the world keeps moving, and even the worst experiences are temporary in one way or another. So, give yourself a break this season. Change your mind about whatever you're going through. There's a damn good chance that moving forward will help get you through the pain.
Shannon Ashley is a fulltime writer
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