The Lost Art of Learning from a Mentor

Written by Miri Korbman

In an age where YouTube tutorials can turn “Average Joes” into experts overnight, learning is quickly becoming a lost art. Terms like “teacher” and “student” are being rendered superfluous to the culture of “self-made”, “self-taught”, and “do-it-yourself”. Lifelong learners, however, make sure to have mentors that can provide continued guidance, and are always open to learning new things, even about themselves. The attitudes and practices of these individuals have many potential benefits for emotional and psychological well-being. Though school is still out for the summer, let’s explore two positive influences that continued learning could have on our lives:

  1. Connecting with Others

One of the primary sources of interpersonal strife is the sense that “I am right”. When we believe that we have learned all there is to know about a topic, or worse – all there is to know about ourselves – we become arrogant, wary of other peoples’ advice, and altogether less accepting of others. This leads us to disconnect from our loved ones, our friends, or our coworkers, and can add untold stress and negativity to our daily lives. Lifelong learners, however, are always receiving guidance, long after graduation from formal education. This invaluable mentorship enables us to interact in a more positive way with others.  Learning from a mentor can therefore save us much interpersonal struggle. However, this requires being open to constructive criticism – learning to accept criticism from our mentors, coworkers, or even friends is a foundation of what it means to be a perpetual learner, and is an integral part of working well with and for others. Thus, instead of being wholly convinced that we are always right in our opinions, beliefs, or methodologies, having a mentor teaches us the most important lesson of all: the humility to recognize that others may be right even if we think we know better. Though it is of course important, even imperative, to have certain values and standards that remain firm and consistent, rigidity and a lack of openness to accepting guidance are counterproductive. As Winston Churchill once said, “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It serves the same function as pain in the human body; it calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” Learning to accept criticism is pivotal to interpersonal relationships.

  1. Self-Growth

Another problem with feeling that “I am right” is that we are not, in fact, always right. This is particularly problematic when it comes to our own self-awareness. When we think we know everything there is to know about ourselves, the way we operate, or our limitations, we become unwilling to try new things, even if they will benefit us. If we are convinced that we alone really know what to do for ourselves, we will be very hesitant to comply with even the best well-meaning advice, and miss out on many opportunities. Imagine a young entrepreneur named Bob has just been offered a prestigious position at a Fortune 500 company. The only problem with this dream job is that Bob has a fierce phobia of heights – and his office is on the 59th floor. He approaches his therapist (a modern form of mentor) for help.

Bob: Doc, you gotta help me get over this fear of heights- it’s going to ruin my career!

Doc: Ok, Bob, I think we can help you get through this. Let’s start by having you go up to the 10th floor.

Bob: NO WAY! Are you crazy!? I know myself- I could NEVER do that! I’ll die!

And so Bob leaves his therapist’s office, continues to be afraid of heights, and never does accept his would-be-dream-job, turning down the opportunity to learn from a real live human being (i.e., a mentor), because of the conviction that he was right. Being willing and able to accept guidance from a mentor is integral to personal and psychological growth. It is often scary to push ourselves through new experiences, even when it is those very experiences that we need to grow. If we are looking to be perpetual learners and are open to the advice and even criticism of others, finding a mentor (or therapist) from whom we can receive this guidance can help us to set ourselves up for success in our emotional and psychological lives, as well.

In sum, being a perpetual student means remaining open to new experiences, new ideas, and new ways to learn, but it also means being able to learn from a mentor! Cultivating the ability to receive from others, be it knowledge or critique, can help us to develop emotionally and intellectually, and shape us into more patient, receptive, knowledgeable, and personable people. Perhaps this summer – before the school year starts again – we can rethink what it means to be a lifelong learner, no matter the season, and identify mentors that we can turn to for advice.

Inspirational Message

The Way of Mastery is to break all the rules—but you have to know them perfectly before you can do this; otherwise you are not in a position to transcend them.


What Clients Say

In a recent survey of our patients, 94% would recommend our practice to a friend.
Calmer in the Face of Hardship
I came to the Center for Anxiety for help in dealing with a family member who suffered from extreme anxiety. But I ended up getting a serious illness two months later and started having my own sessions. With the help of my therapist I got through my illness, learned to understand my habits that were making my major life stresses worse, learned to communicate better, taper my anger, and surprisingly I became more calmer even though my hardships in life worsened. Therapy is a lot of work and not easy, but nothing in life comes easy! I became a better and softer mom and (when I practice what I learned) and my kids and home are calmer and happier. I am still a work in progress and have more to work on, but I know I am on the right path. I wish I knew before how my communication style and anger were really impacting my life, how being softer you can accomplish way more then being harsh. I have been to other therapists in the past and I can hands down say that the Center for Anxiety’s approach is really effective. I have even referred a bunch of people to the Center and they have been really happy with the therapists and how much they really care for their patients.
I Tackled a Long List of Fears
When I first came to the Center for Anxiety, my list of anxieties/fears was long! I was scared of getting sick, getting stranded, driving, flying and more. With the help of my therapist, I immediately got to work and tackled every one of my fears. Now the world is open to me and I feel free! I can dream big and accomplish whatever I set my mind to! I am especially grateful that I was able to do all this without having to rely on medication. It was hard work – grueling at times! – but now I have the coping tools within me for life. In fact a family member recently said to me “You are awesome. You can accomplish anything you set your mind to because you don’t let fear stop you! ” Thank you Dr. Rosmarin and the Center for Anxiety staff for helping me get here. My fears no longer limit me and I love my life. Try it, it might turn your life around too!
Highly Skilled and Professional Treatment
When I sought treatment at the Center for Anxiety, the clinic was is in its incipient stages. However, by the time I successfully finished treatment, the Center for Anxiety grew and flourished into a world-class treatment center, offering cutting-edge, evidence-based treatment to countless individuals. The continued success of the Center for Anxiety comes as no surprise to me, with a team that contains such highly skilled professionals who display clinical acumen, empathy, and compassion. When I first entered treatment I was concerned that therapy would be similar to the experiences with past psychologists: a seemingly bottomless pit with no reductions in my anxiety symptoms, but was so relieved when I started to feel less anxious after only a handful of sessions. My therapist created a treatment plan that was tailored exactly to my needs and taught me practical skills to help me work through my anxiety that I still use and practice to this very day.
No More Panic
When I first came in, I was struggling with panic disorder and didn’t even know it, which only made dealing with it that much more difficult. After my first time sitting down with my therapist, however, I instantly started to gain perspective and look at the difficult situation in a different light. Our meetings helped me conquer the issue step by step and get my life back on track. I’d strongly recommend that anyone dealing with anxiety in a way that impacts their day to day life should visit the Center for Anxiety! I know it helped me tremendously.
Free of Obsessions
When I woke up one morning last June and didn’t want to get out of bed, I knew I needed help. The thought of getting through another day with all my anxieties, obsessions and rituals was just too overwhelming. After feeling stuck for years, I just couldn’t anymore. Thankfully, that’s when I found the Center for Anxiety. Dr. Rosmarin and his staff are experts at what they do, kind and professional. After just several weeks I accomplished my initial targets. The change I experienced in such a short amount of time was astounding that I stayed on for a while longer to work on more complex goals. I soon achieved those too. Now, I am free of my obsessions, know how to manage my anxiety, and love my life. My only regret: not having done this sooner. I wish I had known that you don’t have to wait to hit rock bottom to get help.
Depression Lifted
I’m 26 years old and I’ve been suffering from terrible depression for 7 years. In the throws of my sadness I literally wanted to die. Soon after starting therapy at the Center for Anxiety, my depression lifted. My suicidal thoughts began to dissipate. I remember the feeling that came over me as soon as the dark cloud above me left. It was the most liberating feeling I have ever experienced. I actually shouted to my friends, family and anyone nearby me “I’m Happy! I am Happy!” I felt free.
Over the course of four years I developed anxiety-like symptoms (tightness in chest, gut, back) that slowly but surely increased in duration and severity. The EXTREMELY uncomfortable nature of the symptoms notwithstanding, I still continued and managed to function. The effort required to do so, however, left me utterly drained. Having always been a very spiritual person I strongly felt that a course of therapy incorporating a spiritual component could potentially work well for me and decided to give the Center for Anxiety a try. Happily, I have achieved significant symptom reduction, tremendously improved emotional/mental health, and above all, Connection. Medication free. I’m no longer just existing, I’m LIVING. I’ve been given a second chance to become the unique human being that I was meant to be.
No More worries
I have wormed in healthcare for 36 years in many different settings, and I have been overwhelmingly satisfied with the Center for Anxiety. When staff says they are going to call, I get a call. From the first contact, I have been very impressed with the professionalism and efficiency. I had a situation and needed to have sessions more than once per week, and my clinicians worked out a schedule to accommodate my needs. I was astounded that they attended to me so quickly and effectively - they made my priority their priority. My clinicians were also excellent at what they do - they have a plan for me each session, and it's clear that they have thought in advance about each session, and that they are listening to what I say and observing what I do, even though our sessions have been conducted via Telehealth. Compassion is a quality that I have all too often found to be lacking in my experiences as a healthcare professional and patient, and this is not the case with the Center for Anxiety. Of all the websites I found on Google, I am so thankful that God guided my hand to yours.

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