A mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser. We usually think of mentors in a professional or academic context, such as a boss or a teacher. Yet, mentorship also exists on a personal level. Think of the people who’ve provided you with emotional support, vital life lessons, and guidance – these are also mentors. Sometimes your personal mentors are obvious, such as friends and family members, and other times they are less apparent such as neighbors, community members, and even children.
Mentors can have a strong positive impact on your emotional health in a variety of ways. It’s important to be aware of how your mentors impact you so that you’re able to maintain and strengthen these relationships.
“Do what I say and not what I do” is a phrase used by those who are not modeling what they wish to see in their mentees. You might be guilty of this at times. Yet, there are times when your mentors model behaviors in ways that positively impact your thoughts, emotions, and actions. It’s often difficult to see such an impact because it’s internally experienced and not always verbalized. For example, let’s say that one of your mentors is a friend who eats healthily. You would also like to eat healthily, and when you’re exposed to this friend you notice that you have more thoughts about developing healthier dietary habits, and perhaps at times this motivates you to make healthier choices when you eat. Yet, you’ve never spoken about your wish to improve your diet with your friend. This mentor is modeling a good habit that you wish to adopt, and in doing so they have impacted your own thoughts and behaviors.
Mentors have experience or access to information that you do not. When they share their knowledge, they provide you with education that you may not receive anywhere else. This could give you an advantage that might help you on a personal level. For example, let’s say that you experience muscle tension in your neck that causes headaches. Your neighbor has experienced this sort of muscle tension many times before, and they discuss with you methods that help ease and prevent it. Your neighbor, even if you don’t know them very well, is serving as a mentor. Their information and experience might significantly benefit you.
Mentors can provide you with a wealth of information about yourself. This feedback can take the form of an acknowledgement of your strengths. For example, a coworker can inform you that your resilient nature is an asset to the team and that they value your ability to remain calm and engaged during conflicts. This feedback can help you affirm and appreciate your own strengths and values. Mentors can also provide feedback about needed growth. For example, a child can inform you that you are “uptight” and that you need to spend more time relaxing and enjoying life. Such feedback can help you identify and rectify important personal flaws. To clarify, children can serve as mentors to adults, as children often have experiences and knowledge that adults do not.
Mentors often encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. It’s tempting to stay where you are, as you have established a safe and comfortable existence. Yet, growth often occurs when we are uncomfortable. Mentors can provide us with the push, support, and encouragement we need in order to exit our comfort zones. For example, a community member who recognizes your strengths may encourage you to participate in an interview promoting a charity organization of which you are a member. You’ve never been interviewed before so the idea of being interviewed causes you anxiety. Yet, your mentor may encourage you to face this discomfort in order to promote your personal growth
Do you know who your mentors are and how they impact you? Mentors are all around you. Take a moment to notice them and allow them to support you. Connect with Symmetry Counseling to learn more about our counseling services in Chicago.