How Mentorship Has Taught Me About The Importance of Building Inner Strength To Match Outer Strength
By Theo Sardar, Personal Trainer, Coach & Mentee of Olivia Humphries and Warren Vaughan of Lighthouse International Group.
In this article I'd like to share my own experience of overcoming confrontation. This article is for those, like myself, who want to find their inner voice and inner strength to handle life's choices and challenges, because true strength doesn't start on the outside, it always begins on the inside.
“It is not selfish to refill your own cup so that you can pour into others. It’s not just a luxury. It is essential.”
As a personal trainer I realise that just being strong and lifting weights in the gym, does not make up for a lack of foundation on the inside. I want to share my experiences of being mentored and learning how to handle real life challenges which can’t be learnt by solely going to the gym.
When you think about having a mentor, what is it that you think about? Is their role to teach you how to deal with your emotions? To hold you accountable when you are not following through in line with your goals? To help guide and teach you about how to handle situations in a principle-centred way and be value-driven? How to build your character so you are intrinsically aware and not held hostage emotionally by external stimulus and by what others think and say, and how they act towards you? In my experience mentorship is all of the above and much more!
My experience of being mentored...
Since the beginning of my mentorship, I have found it invaluable. There have been countless occasions where I have had very challenging situations with work, family, friends and relationships. The guidance from my mentors throughout has been fundamental to my own personal growth and healing. Learning how to navigate conversations and situations in a principle-centred way by being curious, and building awareness of when I’m reactive, means I can learn about myself and why I behave the way I do. This is crucial because when I can understand and empathise with myself, I'm able to build relationships through understanding where others are too. I am going to go on to share an example and how through seeking where I am responsible for myself how that empowered me to have the courage to have crucial yet tough conversations.
Some of the most challenging and emotionally hard conversations I’ve ever had were with my mother when we had both agreed we wanted to build a better relationship and to build mutual respect with one another. Most people will know that breaking out of childish bonds with any family member or parent is particularly hard because egoically they want to keep you as a little child to suit their egoic agenda. I know without any shadow of a doubt, that this wouldn't have been something I would have done without the support and guidance from Olivia and Warren who helped me build the inner security and strength in order to find the courage to do so. Most people live with a superficial understanding of relationships and I've learnt that true relationships are not built through just the “good times'' but by how you build through the hard times. Most people avoid hard conversations and confrontation, but I know now that it is through the challenging times, that's where you build trust and earn your relationship with one another. Learning this has helped me break through as I now know how important healthy confrontations are.
It took weeks of preparation and also time and effort but my mentors spent the time and care to speak outside the sessions with me, to plan before each time I met my mum. This is an area of my life that has been holding me back, clouding my choices and actions for most of my childhood and adult life, because without working through, or at least confronting my mum with the challenges during my childhood I didn’t have the courage to stand up for myself in any of my adult relationships… everyone knows we carry the wounds of our past with us if we don’t address them. My relationship with my mentors has only become stronger because they were willing to support me and most importantly hold me accountable when I needed it, because it was hard and emotionally painful. Like any personal trainer will know, accountability is key for us to become the best versions of ourselves.
Why is building your security so important and why do we struggle?
I saw how I hadn't been parented well and how this has affected me, my relationships, my willingness to confront problems, how I’d not delay gratification and because of the lack of genuine love, and the knock-on effect this had to my self-confidence and value, my self-belief and self-image that I had formed due to not truly knowing what genuine love and security is in the world. This gave me a warped understanding of life, love and what was ultimately important to me. Warren and Olivia explained to me how I would often come from a place of learned helplessness and self-pity. I learned that it’s my responsibility to make the changes, seek challenges and the pain inherent in them in order to grow into a whole and healthy human being.
One key principle I have learnt through my mentorship is how vitally important it is to spend time learning about myself. Being able to sit with my own emotional discomfort, to be willing to legitimately suffer and to learn through the pain and to work on self-awareness and the ability to notice when I am reactive. My mentors have taught me how important it is to understand why we are triggered and where this comes from in our upbringing or lack of upbringing more accurately. How the more aware and conscious we are the more responsibility we have, also when we extend ourselves and are willing to suffer it requires courage and genuine love for oneself. We can only help others to the degree we help ourselves.
“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.” Viktor Frankl
This has been absolutely vital through my role as a Personal Trainer. I have learnt that when I’m willing to sit with my own emotional pain, I'm better equipped to genuinely empathise and sit with others through their own struggles (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual). When I do this, the more aware and conscious I can be and then I am more able to respond. This enables me to help serve and help clients through their pain and barriers that have prevented them from growing into a whole, healthy human being. With this empathy, I’m willing to hold clients more accountable through their coaching and not trying to minimise the suffering where they need to be held accountable. This could be with their nutrition, training, lifestyle or emotional barriers they have that are holding them back from reaching their goals. If I was to sympathise and allow them to justify the excuses for where they currently are this would not only foster dependence but would impede their own growth. The reason I can help those I am working with in these areas is because I know the importance of integrity and being held accountable myself in these areas.
What have I experienced from the online trolls of Lighthouse first hand?
“If it’s not right, don’t do it. If it’s not true, don’t say it.” Marcus Aurelius
I had recently been contacted by one of the trolls who had been behind fueling the poorly written smear campaign article for the Daily Mail that was written to attempt to discredit and destroy the reputation of Lighthouse international Group (LIG). These particular trolls harassed me by sending this to my personal number (which one of them had retrieved from being on a previous forum together). I wasn't initially sure what to really think about this as everything they had mentioned in their message wasn’t the experience I had. After I had read the Daily Mail article I grew very indignant towards the trolls, as they were clearly spreading rumours and lies about Olivia and claiming she was trying to dupe me. I have known her well before she was my mentor or became part of Lighthouse International Group and it was clear to me the trolls were attempting to plant a seed of doubt about the efficacy of LIG in being mentored with anyone who is part of LIG. I felt it was a personal attack. How dare they have the audacity to try to character assassinate her or tell me that the Olivia I know who has only been there to help and support me is actually just doing it for financial gain! You’ve got to question why individuals would want to do this…
I saw that these trolls were showing no level of responsibility for their own choices and lack of follow through. I liken this to my role as a PT (Personal Trainer). Say a client comes and trains with me for a year, they come to the sessions and are there (physically at least) saying they want to improve at the time, but outside the session they aren’t doing the programme I've given them. They haven't been following the nutritional guidelines and are overeating or not getting the sleep and recovery they need. After the year they haven’t lost any weight, developed the habits or knowledge they need to be able to continue the training with or without my guidance, but then have the cheek to ask for a refund because they haven’t seen the results they wanted for the work THEY didn’t do?! It is absurd and madness. Yet this is exactly what the trolls had done in a similar vein.
“Whenever you are about to find fault with someone, ask yourself the following question: What fault of mine most nearly resembles the one I am about to criticise?” Marcus Aurelius
In summary from all that I have learnt from my mentoring is that it is without a doubt absolutely crucial to become a healthy human being. How being dedicated to seeking the absolute truth, not just our truth, but 'The Absolute Truth'. Being willing to question my own truth in the world, no matter how painful it might be to accept. We must take responsibility for our success, as no one can do the work for us, we are the captain of our destiny.
What I have learnt through my experience of being mentored is not only the importance of having a healthy attitude to confrontation, but to truly build my whole self, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually means I must be dedicated to absolute truth to confront the challenges within me first that come from the wounds of my past. I now know that in order to be successful it starts with a healthy attitude to be strong on the inside. That’s where it truly begins! Not just building strength on the outside! This is the same with those truly dedicated to their personal training. The most important thing is having a healthy attitude towards building your strength to follow through! After all, in order to handle life's challenges, physicality is just one element! In order to truly thrive in personal training, the parallels to life are the same! The willingness to suffer legitimately and to seek the right guidance you need in order to follow through and build the life you want!