Pitner Orthodontics October 2018


October 2018

No More Masks Learning to Be More Authentic

One of the scariest things I’ve ever had to do — besides swimming over a school of tiny, little fish in the Caribbean — was learn how to take off the mask of Dr. Pitner. No, I don’t mean I’ve been walking around wearing spy tech from “Mission Impossible.”When I talk about the mask of Dr. Pitner, I’m referring to my role around the office as the all-knowing orthodontist. It’s a lot of pressure to be the doctor.You have to have all the answers and know how to fix everything, right? The reality is that as much as we want to believe everyone in the medical profession will have all the answers, this just isn’t true. We’re human, and sometimes we just don’t know. But admitting you don’t know something is really scary. For a long time, I was afraid to admit when I didn’t know something. I was convinced people would think I was a complete idiot for not having all the knowledge in the universe! But as I have learned recently, the few times I take my mask off and say I don’t know, patients respond with, “That’s okay.” They’re

happy I’m not just guessing or making something up. It has made me realize there is tremendous value in being honest and authentic in any area of our lives. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be liked. It feels good to have the respect and admiration of those around us. But when you start to hide parts of yourself or do things just because you think that’s what someone

else wants, you are falling into a painful trap. When you put on a mask for other people, you’re being inauthentic to yourself. It’s pretty darn tiring to go around not being yourself. There comes a point when you start to feel like no one really likes you because no one really knows who you are — including you. Hear me out — I don’t mean we shouldn’t try to improve our negative traits. Recognizing that we can be short-tempered, judgmental, or apathetic and trying to change and bring less negativity into the world is different than being inauthentic. We have to look at the intent behind the change in our behavior and ask, “Am I doing this so other people will like me better, or am I doing this so I can like myself better?”

how to be me. And you know what? I like being me a lot more. And I’ve discovered a lot of other people like me too. I’m not saying it’s easy to take off your mask and be authentic. It takes a lot of faith to be yourself and believe people will like you. But when you make the decision to be brave and take off the mask, it can be really rewarding. My first step toward being more authentic was to stop trying to be perfect and admit when I didn’t know something. Dr. Christine Carter has a lot of great advice on being your authentic self at greatergood.berkeley. edu/article/item/five_ways_to_be_fully_ authentic . This blog is a great read, and I highly recommend checking it out. Will it help you? To be honest, I don’t know, but it’s certainly worth a shot. –Dr. Leslie Pitner


I spent a lot of time being a person who wasn't really me, but I’ve made myself relearn


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