I was recently at the dentists, having some pretty invasive work done – you know the type – root canal work, large syringes and all sorts of other tortuous looking instruments! The treatment lasted for about an hour. Personally I don’t usually have much problem with dental work, I’m usually able to take myself off in my mind so that I hardly notice what’s going on. However on those occasions that the work has gone on for some time and been fairly complex – I admit that at times I’ve felt pretty uncomfortable. And so I was expecting some discomfort and anxiety this time. However, it was completely different on this occasion – and not because the treatment wasn’t difficult, it was purely down to the way I coped with it.
My dentist normally talks through the whole procedure, giving a commentary both for my benefit, but also for his nurse, but to be honest I normally don’t pay much attention. But this time it turned out that at one point that he was trying to get my attention to ask me to do something – and I was so far away, the nurse had to physically shake me to get my attention! Yes I was miles away and hardly aware at all of what was going on. Even on previous occasions when I’ve used self-hypnosis in the dental chair, I’ve never before achieved that level of ‘trance’, which is what I believe it was. When I “came to” there I was with clamps and dental pliers sticking out of my mouth that I’d been completely unaware of! That suction thing (that I normally find pretty unpleasant) was doing its job quite happily, without my even noticing it.
Yet curiously, when I asked myself what I HAD been focused on instead – the answer was not waterfalls, a walk through a meadow, or a tropical beach or any of those things that traditional hypnotherapy recommends, no…. I was completely and utterly absorbed by thinking about my plans for later that day! Work, to be precise. Yes, dull I know!
Now I am aware that other Hypnotherapists may say that this isn’t helpful; that we should take our mind away from reality, to “a safe place” – or some imaginary fantasy. But on this occasion I discovered that my more practical daydreaming was the perfect distraction to take my mind off what was going on. To the degree that I hardly felt a thing, and the hour was over in a flash! At the end of the appointment my dentist complimented me on my relaxed demeanour and how well I’d coped with what he said was a tough treatment session.
However I do admit that probably the most uncomfortable part was the injections at the start – probably because at that stage I hadn’t yet taken my mind far enough away. But I do find that dental injections are much easier to cope with if you allow yourself to become curious about the sensation. Because when you are more receptive to it, the sensation is not particularly painful – I’m sure we all undergo much more painful things in our lives, such as, in my case, standing up in heels for a whole evening! The sensation is a bit odd and uncomfortable, but on a scale of 1-10 pain wise I’d put it no higher than a 3 or 4.
So, next time you’re about to have some dental work, why not try being curious about the injections, and then allowing your mind to drift to thinking about what you’ll be doing later in the day, or other future plans! It seems to work for me!