There’s a wide range of emotions that can come from being a dental hygienist. From dealing with co-workers, staying on schedule, the satisfaction of a patient improving their homecare, or the opposite – a patient not caring in the slightest about their health. However, there’s one emotion that can be hard to deal with because it continues to grow inside you every day and doesn’t just end when the day is over, and your last patient leaves.
This emotion is envy, and more specifically, envy toward a co-worker. No matter if you work in a large corporate practice or small family practice, when there are groups of people, it’s very easy to start comparing yourself to others around you. Once you start comparing, it becomes very easy to become envious of people who seem to have it better than you.
It’s not easy to admit that you may be envious of someone else.
We are taught that we must always be professional, and emotions like this simply aren’t allowed as a dental professional. However, keeping these emotions bottled up inside can lead to the feeling of resentment. Even small talk like “How’s your day going?” can become irritating which then leads to even more resentment.
The first thing you can do to curb the feeling of envy is to break down where it’s coming from. Is it jealousy or envy? The two seem to be the same, but there are differences.
Jealousy is when you feel like you deserve something that someone else has been given or unfairly taken away you. For example, if you wanted to work more days in an office, but another hygienist was given those extra days instead of you, this could cause jealousy of the other hygienist.
Closely related is envy. Envy is when you want something that someone else has. An example of this is if you are a part-time hygienist in an office, but would like to be full-time, you might envy the full-time hygienist in the office.
Being envious of someone at work may not seem like a big deal, especially if you keep it to yourself. However, over time, resentment can build which can lead to hostility. This hostility and resentment come from compensating for your envy. If your envy begins to consume you, you may start to find things “wrong” with the person you are envious of which can lead to passive-aggressive behavior. This not only affects you and who you are envious of but can cause tension for the entire office.
So how do you stop envy from consuming you?
First, you need to be honest with yourself and recognize envious feelings exist. It’s natural to feel envy from time to time, but don’t allow these feelings to become negative. The quicker you recognize envy for what it is, the faster you can address it before it becomes resentment.
Secondly, you have to make it a goal to stop comparing yourself to others. Though it’s obviously easier said than done, making an active, conscious effort will help your negative feelings slowly fade away. To do this, focus on the positive things you accomplish every day. For example, you got that perfect PA on a severe gagger, or an SRP patient listened to your homecare instructions, had an “ah-ha moment, ” and their oral health has drastically improved. Let go of any competition you feel with a co-worker; it’s just taking up space in your brain and using effort that can be spent elsewhere.
Lastly, remind yourself of why you went into dental hygiene in the first place. It wasn’t to compare yourself to other hygienists by having the better car or any of the other things you could compare yourself to. I’d hope it was to help your patients be as healthy as they can be! Your success, whether it be at work or in life, is ultimately defined by you, not others. Live by your own set of standards and don’t let others define you!