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Who Needs Mouth Guards?

May 3, 2018 | by Emuna Braverman

Living with so much stress, we need to strengthen our faith and trust muscles.

A conversation with a group of friends began oddly the other day. “I grind my teeth but I never wear my mouth guard,” said one.

“You too?” I said. “I wake up every day with a headache but the mouth guard is too claustrophobic.”

“I know what you mean,” she replied while a third woman present piped up. “I also have a mouth guard and I always wear mine.”

How much stress are we all living with that our teeth are at risk, that it invades our unconscious sleep and doesn’t let go? That I wake up in the morning sometimes more tense than when I went to bed? Isn’t sleep supposed to be refreshing and rejuvenating?

Why are we living with so much stress?

There are big challenges in the world, but there always have been. Are our coping skills weaker than past generations? Are our expectations higher? (Or maybe they also ground their teeth and didn’t have the benefit of mouth guards to spare them!) And most importantly, how do we move past this?

The simple answer seems to be a relationship with the Almighty, to build our trust in God. But I was with a group of religious women. We’re supposed to have that and it clearly wasn’t working. I don’t think it’s that we don’t believe. I don’t think we’re insincere or dishonest in our beliefs. I think we haven’t internalized them on a deep emotional level.

Because of this, even our sleep isn’t truly restful. Because of this, my teeth are getting smaller and smaller every day! Because of this, I will probably end up with a very large dental bill some day!

Since I would like to avoid that (!) and would truly like to experience my trust in the Almighty on a deeper level, I need to do a little training.

I think I’ve read almost every book out on the topic (and there are many!). I have friends who I learn with one-on-one with faith and trust as the theme. And I have a group of friends (the aforementioned ones with the tooth-grinding issues!) with whom I regularly meet to explore this issue. And yet, I’m not only not quite there, I feel like I’ve barely scratched the surface. I haven’t made that all-important transition from the intellect to the emotions.

I need to work on my faith and trust muscles. I think one of the reasons they are weak is because we usually wait until we are in a tough situation to attempt to use them. We don’t work on them in a daily fashion. At least not in the way we should, in some practical fashion.

If, God forbid, tragedy strikes, we tell ourselves “It’s all for the best” and “The Almighty has a plan” but we shouldn’t wait. We should begin to say it even for all the little things in life. That’s how it will become a habit. That’s how it will become ingrained.

When someone pulls into a parking spot ahead of us, we should say “This too is for the best.” When we’re running late and one of our children forgets his or her lunch, we should train ourselves to say “This too is for the best.” When we have to throw out a few bags of expensive romaine lettuce due to an e coli breakout, we can smile and say “This too is for the best.” When our washing machine breaks, when our guests cancelled, when our flight is delayed…thank God the opportunities for instilling trust just keep on coming! Over and over again, day in and day out, we are put in situations where we can respond with frustration or with patience. When we can achieve that desired calm reaction, we should add in “This too is for the best.”

If we say it often enough it will become second nature. If we say it often enough it will penetrate our hearts. If we say it often enough it will be our instinctive reaction to life.

Changing habits isn’t easy but just think of the benefits. We can throw our used (and not so used) mouth guards in the garbage and talk about something far more interesting with our friends.

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