“If I have seen further, it is because I stand on the shoulders of giants.” – Isaac Newton
A mentor is generally someone who gives advice or demonstrates know-how to a younger or less experienced person. They model behaviors that others would like to learn and develop. Our parents are our first mentors. We learn how to do things through their example, be it good or bad.
Because Codependents have had dysfunctional behaviors modeled for them, they, more than any one, need mentors to show them healthier ways to function in the world.
Tony Robbins once said, “If you want to learn how to do something find someone who is already doing it and do what they do.” Mentoring isn’t just for business, it’s for any behavior you would like to incorporate into your life.
Author of Reinvent Yourself, James Aulcher, identifies 3 distinct types of mentors:
- Direct Mentoring – Someone who is in front of you, who will show you how they did it and what it is.
- Indirect Mentoring – Books, movies. You can outsource 90 percent of mentorship to books and other materials. 200-500 books equal one good mentor. There are 200-500 good books to read. Underline key points and read every day
- Everything is a mentor – Everything you look at has the potential to be a metaphor for what you want to do. Every day we have the opportunity to learn and grow and be inspired by things and people in our environment.
Obtaining a Mentor
I don’t think we should ever stop growing and learning throughout our lifetime. There is always an area that needs improvement. If you’re not already reading and learning and growing, you should get into the habit of reading every day, watching videos, going to seminars, talking to people and gaining knowledge on how to make you the best you possible. So many people rush to my blog to try and figure out what is wrong with their partner. They devour every bit of information about what’s wrong with their partner, but seem less inspired about their own development. It’s important that you tackle your own issues with the same type of fervor you go after those of your partner’s.
If there is no one in your current environment that inspires you, or who has qualities you would like to acquire, get out there and meet people. Know what qualities you’re looking for first – look for someone who practices self-care, who takes care of themselves, mentally, emotionally, physically, financially and spiritually. Someone who has and enforces boundaries, someone who knows how to communicate appropriately. Someone who is stable, reliable and dependable. Someone who is positive and has an optimistic outlook on life. Someone who has a unique perspective and who can be honest with you.
You can’t just walk up to someone and say, “Hey there Jack, I like the cut of your jib and I’m looking for a mentor. You fit the bill, how about it?” Chances are they will look at you like you have three heads. Instead take time and get to know them. Look for reasons and opportunities to spend time with them. Take your questions to them and develop a rapport. Don’t tell them you’re looking for a mentor, or even that they are your mentor.
I happened upon my mentor quite by accident. He’s an executive in the company I work for. Someone said to me, “It’s always green lights for that Robert (not his real name).” Meaning life is always so perfect for him that traffic lights actually turn green as he approaches. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity to get to know him. He is always looking for a reason to laugh. He eats well, exercises. His wife runs the big marathons in Boston and NYC. He has a big, beautiful home, a beautiful wife and fantastic children. His oldest is even in Medical school.
I recall pumping him full of questions and as we talked. More and more I became so impressed by the way he thought and reacted to the world. I realized there was a lot of substance to him and he was someone I would really like to know and spend time with. He’s been married for 26 years and still has date nights and weekend get-a-ways and makes comments like, “My wife actually is getting more beautiful as she ages.” And she is. He is quite the jokester and they will both tell you the key to their happy marriage is that they are always looking for the humor in everything.
He taught me the pass back technique as I struggled with difficult people. He would say things like, “Why do you care what they think? Don’t take what they say personally. They’re nuts.” He taught me to stop looking for a reason to be offended and to look for the humor instead. He showed me the value in your word and if someone asks you to do something, you want to be that person that is responsible and reliable and that your word means something.
He taught me that the best cooking oil to use was avocado oil, not olive and to use butter not margarine, cuz gosh, palm oil is just so bad. We talked about how he only eats one piece of pie and not the whole pie. We’ve talked about investments and opportunities to grow wealth. He teases me mercilessly and he has become one of my best friends.
Never once did I mention to him that he was my mentor I would never hear the end of it, but it’s a relationship that grew organically and I can’t tell you how fortunate I am to have someone like him in my life. He really raised the bar for me in terms of friends and the types of behaviors that are acceptable and those that are not. I know I can count on him for anything and that his advice will always be sound.
When you raise the quality of the people in your inner circle you can’t help but grow too. Having a mentor that is accessible and healthy allows you to see when your thoughts and behaviors might be off track and they can show you better ways to tackle problems and see the world. When you come from an environment where your thought processes and coping mechanisms are already faulty, having a mentor provides the opportunity to learn what you should have been taught as a youngster – healthy behaviors and ways to communicate and react. By watching how he behaved and related to people, how he took care of himself, how he responded to the world with humor, he taught me that so many of my preconceived notions and ways of coping were not healthy and he provided the model of what healthy looked like and all the rewards that go with that. When you spend time with people who are way up here (Imagine my hand over my head), spending time with broken downs not only would seem odd, it would feel so uncomfortable because I’ve moved so far past that mindset that I’m a very different person, with a very low tolerance for dysfunction. Having a mentor has sped up my healing process and made a huge difference in my life. Do yourself a favor and seek one out.
Subscribe to our mailing list and receive our weekly posts right to your inbox and Like and Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Do you need to talk? Click here to find out how you can Skype with Savannah.
Image courtesy of freedigitalphotos.net
Amazing, thank you!
Dealing with the N, whilst inexpressibly painful, is illuminating. The “Oh yes” bulb pings, the need to understand is overwhelming. There’s pressing urgency (fervour) to deal with the fallout, rush to websites for support and ideas. Immediate action is absolutely necessary.
That’s doubly true of the vital next stage, sorting yourself out. However, “going after your own issues” seems darker and more puzzling. It takes more time and can be equally painful as well as much more personal and individual. Maybe that’s why people seem quieter about it.
In my healing I’ve questioned a lot about my childhood. My three siblings and I have all lived unconventional lives including difficulty in forming healthy relationships.
I get that a mentor should exhibit behaviour one aspires to but how far is the ability to behave that way connected to their personality? Should they also model the life you want to live? I can’t think that aspiring to a long, successful marriage is the way forward for me.
As a young woman, I had no romantic dream of marriage or motherhood. My grandmother had been pressured into that and my mother, married in the 1950s, later felt she had been torn between it and a promising career. There was no pressure on me to be anything other than independent. Confusion, because I didn’t conform to that stereotype, seems to have got in there all the same.
A boss once said, “You should try to be more like X.” X was lovely. She had a personality and life more like the one you describe in your mentor. I said, “But God created me to be like me.” I don’t know how far I can change the essential me.
My friends and I had demons. One of them felt major guilt that, with a loving husband, she still had mental health issues. I don’t see us as being “broken downs” more as survivors. At 40, I met my depressive longer term partner followed by the awful N.
Post N I have renewed commitment to exercise, walking in nature, theatre, travel and trying to be mindful. I support my hobby group and last year achieved a big goal to do with that. It’s taken a lot of learning, it’s expensive and well out of my comfort zone. The hobby also produced both my failed relationships.
I live on my own, the differences being that my parents are dead, I have retired and I have the hobby. I’ve picked up with the most valued old friends, all in better health but at a distance. I see other people when I’m doing my activities and I hope some of them will become friends too.
I probably feel happier than I ever have in my life but I still don’t know whether regaining this old “equilibrium” is what I want or whether merely a defensive withdrawal. Either way, my goal now now must be to make my retirement, very likely as a single person, as happy and fulfilling as it can possibly be. So perhaps my mentor should be a happy and fulfilled single pensioner.
Another great subject Savannah! I do need to find a mentor, though I too feel I have one in you. Your blog has helped me immensely to realize what I didn’t want to see for so long, and to start believing in me. I still have lots more work to do in that department, but I am getting there. There’s a song by the Black Crowes called “Seeing Things for the First Time” and thats exactly what I’m doing now. Thanks!
I accidentally acquired a mentor four years ago when I took a job working for an elected prosecutor. It was a job I didn’t really want and almost didn’t apply for but am so glad I did. She is savvy, balanced, good at life and compassionate. I realized about two years ago that she WAS my mentor although I didn’t call it that. But she had a happy healthy childhood and I thought, “I need to be able to speak up like her, be loud and proud like her.” She is seeping into me. I’ve gotten rid of low-self-esteem lovers and moved into a more expanded self-image. Such a great article. Thank you. You are my mentor, too.
Savannah happy new year. YOU’re my mentor.
your words and your suggestion are all I need to be on truck. When I slip in to the old codependency behavior I turn into reading your posts. And if I need I skype with you.
All my best
You are always spot on. It seems like you know what I need to hear and it always comes at the right moment. Thank you for being you.
Interesting read. But after several difficult years for a variety of reasons, I think I will follow your recommendation. And when a specific person immediately comes to mind, I know who to contact.
Thanks for the nudge.
I have been following you for over a year now. Although under a different nickname which I forgot, now. Anyway, I am divorced now and 6 months no contact. I am re-establishing my life and yes, occasionally, I would even say, quite frequently, I slip into the old and familiar co-dependent way of thinking or acting. I am still reading, sometimes re-reading the same books again to keep me in line. I own you big Savannah for your weekly blogs. YOu are still one of my favorite reads. Thank you, thank you, thank you.