We all struggle to create new and better habits. This is largely due to the seemingly automatic way that our brain functions.
The key to getting around this neuro-biologic roadblock is to focus on creating a new self-concept, as our current behaviors are simply a reflection of our current self-identity.
In other words, what we do now is a mirror image of the type of person we believe we are – consciously or subconsciously.
So, to change our behavior, we need to start believing new things about ourselves. Each action that we perform is essentially driven by the fundamental belief that what we are doing is possible – or not.
So, if we change our self-concept, then our behavior changes to support that new belief.*
The same holds true with our patients. If a patient believes they have “soft teeth”, or that “everyone in my family has bad teeth”, or “bite splints don’t work for me”, then they will synthesize behaviors which support those beliefs UNTIL the belief is disproven BY THEMSELVES.
And that takes time.
And it I takes trust.
And it takes self-discovery, because a logical explanation on our part will not over-ride a deeply held, emotionally-stimulative belief on their part.
And that’s a fact.
The reason it is so hard for us to get our patients to change -and stick to new habits- is that we focus too much on performance, without allowing time for the patient to change their self-concept relative to dental health.
This realization was at the very core of Bob Barkley’s work. When Bob discovered that patient motivation to change could evolve out of facilitating a change in their belief about themselves, dentistry changed forever.
Has this truth changed YOUR beliefs about patient behavior?
Paul A Henny DDS
*Maxwell Maltz, MD wrote a fascinating book on this topic called Psycho-cybernetics.
- Thought Experiments LLC, ©2017