[As featured in Authority Magazine, an American publication that features leaders in the fields of self-improvement, film, business, technology, sport, etc.]
As a part of my series about “Learning To Finally Love Yourself” I had the pleasure to interview Dawud Gurevitch, Life Coach, Personal Trainer and practical psychology Author.
Thank you so much for joining us! I’d love to begin by asking you to give us the backstory as to what brought you to this specific career path.
You’re welcome, thank you very much!
After being a functional person in my personal and professional until age thirty, I ended up in the lowest place of my life to date; that is, my first marriage was on the rocks, I’d ended up becoming a busy fool in the wrong job, I was worrying about money, I became anxious, I started comfort eating, I became underweight despite comfort eating, I came to have low self-esteem and low self-confidence, I developed an obsessive-compulsive disorder, I became depressed, I contemplated suicide, and I generally felt crushed by life and yet experienced a chronic lack of motivation to do anything about it. In short, I’d stopping loving myself. And then everything changed; I read the first self-help book I ever read, Fiona Harrold’s first book as a Life and Business Coach, Mentor and Trainer, Be Your Own Life Coach: How to take control of your life and achieve your wildest dreams, which reminded me that I did indeed have the power to change my life for the better. Specifically, for example, I changed my job to one that fulfilled me more, I later changed my job again to one that tripled my take-home pay, I had some counselling, I took a course of an anti-depressant medicine that also works as an anti-anxiety medicine, I listened to a good friend’s advice about cutting out artificially sweet foods from my diet, I started eating more, I started cycling again, I joined a gym again, I put on three stones in healthy weight, I consciously banished from my head any suicidal thoughts, after a long process of consultation and marital mediation my wife at the time and I decided to separate and eventually got divorced, and, after several years of being celibate, I remarried.
In summary, I effectively healed myself and rediscovered a healthy sense of self-love by being my own life coach and now feel immeasurably healthier, wealthier and happier, and so I trained as a Life Coach to be able to support other people in loving themselves and being happier than they are right now in their lives whatever conditions they may be in mentally, emotionally, physically, financially, and so on, and so forth.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you hope that they might help people along their path to self-understanding or a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships?
Yes; I have just recently launched my website, www.dgmentoring.com, a one-stop access point for life coaching, personal training and practical psychology literature, including my new book, May the Source Be with You: A Filmic Guide to Change Your Life (available now on Amazon.co.uk as a paperback, eBook and soon-to-be audiobook), an entertaining, informative, and life-changing book that combines popular film analysis with practical psychology, hence my nickname, “The UK’s first Movie Mentor”, in some of the mainstream media outlets here.
My life coaching service, my personal training service and my book can all help people along their path to self-understanding, a better sense of wellbeing in their relationships, and also address whatever other areas of their lives in which they wish to feel happier; for example, one of the exercises I get my clients / readers to do early on through my life coaching / personal training / book is what I call a “mind body soul scan” in which you ask yourself questions such as the following:
Am I at ease at this moment?
What’s going on inside me at this moment here and now?
What kind of thoughts is my mind producing, including those that repeat over and over again?
How do I feel?
Where is there tension?
What is it that truly fulfils me at the deepest possible level in life? In other words, what’s my mission in life?
To what extent am I currently living my life in line with my mission?
Note: This is only one of fifty-one exercises I include in my book (and can use in my life coaching and personal training, too) but the effects of doing it honestly and frequently are life-changing; that is, when I personally started practicing mind body soul scans I was empowered to take what I experienced to be very negative situations (e.g. I share in my book about a time I visited my Hygienist, and another time when a Truck Driver harassed me) that caused me a lot of dis-ease and turn them into positive experiences by either focusing on the physical areas of tension (i.e. when my Hygienist was drilling inside my mouth) and then consciously choosing to relax each area one at a time, or by letting my feeling of anger and even rage flow (i.e. towards the Truck Driver’s ignorant actions) and then letting it go. Do this and you will free yourself from whatever negative, unhealthy state you may be in and you will again be able to be fully present to the wonderful people as well as beautiful sights, sounds, smells, and so on, and so forth that are always going around us. In short, we do sometimes need to change our external world (e.g. leaving a toxic relationship or a dead-end job); however, we need to be at least as interested in what is going on for us inside ourselves as what is going on outside, and when we do that we can work consciously on our innermost thoughts and feelings to the extent that they positively impact upon our relationships with ourselves, with other people, and with the world at large.
Do you have a personal story that you can share with our readers about your struggles or successes along your journey of self-understanding and self-love? Was there ever a tipping point that triggered a change regarding your feelings of self-acceptance?
I have referred to a lot of my personal struggles and successes in answer to the first question above; however, I will now share with you one of my greatest success stories. That is, many years ago I felt the need to leave the nest, spread my wings, and travel halfway around the world from Britain to Australia. Originally I was meant to go on this three-month journey with a good friend, but he lacked the self-discipline to save up the necessary money and so he bailed on me. My eldest sister then volunteered to take my his place, which I was delighted about, especially as she was the one that turned my focus from Europe to Australia instead, but then she fell pregnant with my eldest niece and so I totally understood when she decided to save the money she would have spent on accompanying me Down Under; however, I understood that it was now or never and so I set off not just on the physical journey, but also a profound mental and spiritual journey, too. That is, it was whilst there that I journeyed with people from all over the world, that my mind and heart were fully open to the perspectives of these people from all walks of life as well as to the expansive universe, that I started to believe in God, and that I strengthened personal qualities within me such as courage, resilience, resourcefulness, and indeed self-understanding, self-love and self-acceptance. This is why I later included a chapter in my book entitled “In the Wild: We were born to be wild”; that is, I encourage everyone who is truly ready, willing and able to work to be a better version of themselves to include the practice of going into the wild come rain or shine, to learn about the great outdoors as well as the greatness within your soul, and to generally mingle with the universe so that you may love not man the less, but so that you may love nature more.
According to a recent study cited in Cosmopolitan, in the US, only about 28 percent of men and 26 percent of women are “very satisfied with their appearance.” Could you talk about what some of the causes might be, as well as the consequences?
I, for one, am very satisfied with my appearance; however, am I saying that because I am tall, dark and handsome, for example? No. As it happens, I’m short, fair and handsome. No, I’m saying this because, and this the point, I am grateful for my appearance, warts and all, I consciously try never to compare myself to anyone other than myself, and I make an effort to take care of myself on the outside (e.g. going to the gym regularly), yes, but moreover on the inside (e.g. practicing mind body soul scans and then adjusting my behavior accordingly). Why? Because, firstly, when you become grateful for all that you do have, not just once but as a daily practice, you will find that your efforts are rewarded multiple times over, secondly, by comparing yourself to yourself you keep your senses of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-love much higher than if you compare yourself to those that are ‘better’ than you aesthetically (or in terms of having greater material wealth, status or whatever it is), and thirdly, as you become a better and better version of yourself you will find that you also become more and more grateful, including having stronger and stronger senses of self-esteem, self-confidence and self-love, which in turn makes you even more grateful and receive even more to be grateful for, and so this positive loop continues ad infinitum.
Other simple steps that I encourage my clients and readers to practice in order to be very satisfied with their life as a whole, including regarding their appearance, include: having a diet that consists of moderation, variation and nutrient density; exercising regularly (e.g. walking outside in nature at a moderate pace, perhaps straight after eating a moderate, varied and nutrient-dense meal); looking at yourself in the mirror and recognising your external beauty; reflecting on the beauty that emanates from within you; telling your loved ones regularly that you love and appreciate them; following very few people, if any, on social media; deleting all the social media apps that you don’t use, that you don’t need and that cause you more harm than good; turning off all social media notifications; nurturing deeper, more authentic relationships with family and friends in real life as much as reasonably possible; pursuing work that fulfils you, if applicable; pursuing that which deeply fulfils you in your personal life; and, being present to it all in every moment here and now.
As cheesy as it might sound to truly understand and “love yourself,” can you share with our readers a few reasons why it’s so important?
If you truly understand and love yourself, then you will have a successful life, God-willing. Specifically, for example, you should find that: you experience a much greater level of inner peace; you become more emotionally intelligent; you become clearer in communicating your intentions, needs, desires, and preferences to others; your relationships with everyone in your professional and/or personal life improve; your mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual states improve; you feel immeasurably happier; and, you are in a better place to support others in better understanding and loving themselves, also.
A very practical example of someone who successfully integrated his mind, body, and soul, thereby truly understanding and loving himself, is Dan Millman, the ex-Olympic champion Gymnast turned Author and Motivational Speaker. Dan’s first book, a semi-autobiographical novel entitled Way of the Peaceful Warrior, was later turned into the film Peaceful Warrior, which is the subject of Chapter One in my book. The following are just some of the practical ways that Dan works on himself:
Mind: reading (Anguttara Nikaya, that is, Teachings of the Buddha); studying (Buddhism plus whatever he’s studying at university); practicing sitting meditation (mindfulness – clearing his mind completely); and, self-learning – literally learning about himself.
Body: riding his Triumph motorcycle; sitting meditation; stretching; training (gymnastics); exercising (swimming and jogging); eating only fresh, unrefined, and unprocessed food; eating more slowly, breathing deeply between each morsel of food; eating less food; going on a detoxifying fast; leaving the TV off during his purifying fast; reducing his alcohol consumption; and, choosing celibacy over pre-marital sex.
Soul: sitting meditation; practicing service to others (volunteering to work night shifts at a petrol garage); and, falling in love with Joy, the woman I know from having read the book that the film is based on he goes on to marry and have a family with.
Why do you think people stay in mediocre relationships? What advice would you give to our readers regarding this?
You get what you tolerate; for example, it was reading – and acting on – a self-help book that inspired and empowered me to separate from my now ex-wife, an act that instantly made me feel liberated, and one that told me that I was in the wrong marriage. Four years of separation, three further years of celibacy and now two and a half years of being remarried later, I can honestly say that I am in a much better relationship now. Back when my ex-wife and I were trying to make things work, we could have decided to remain together in the hope that things would get better (despite things having got worse year after year), for the sake of our infant daughter at the time, for fear of familial and even societal judgement, for fear of being alone, for fear of being lonely, for fear of losing all that was good between us, and/or one or more other well-intentioned reasons; however, as one of the taglines for the film The Shawshank Redemption says, “Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free.” Therefore I, for one, chose hope, courage, strength, and freedom over fear, cowardice, weakness, and ‘imprisonment’, and I, for one, feel immeasurably healthier, ‘wealthier’ and happier as a result of my conscious decisions and therefore I have no regrets regarding all of that.
My practical advice for anyone in a mediocre relationship is simple: accept it, change it, or leave it. If you choose to accept it, I think only time will tell whether that decision was wise or not. If you choose to change it, the form of that change may simply involve you communicating your discontent with your relationship with your significant other even if it’s difficult, even if it’s painful, even if it’s not sweet. If you’re not sure what to say, one exercise I recommend regardless is where you and your significant other each create a “Ten-year Relationship Plan” in which you write down and maybe draw your vision for your relationship over the next ten years and then you can compare plans and reflect on how you’re both living out your relationship in line with your respective visions – your respective goals, dreams, hopes, aspirations, and so on, and so forth. Physically creating your relationship plans will make your visions for your relationship more real, more clear to both of you and statistically you will both be more likely to realise them. Other examples of steps you can take to help change your relationship for the better include: working on yourself and your life holistically and encouraging your significant other to do the same; doing as many activities together as reasonably possible, and I’m not just talking here about the house chores, whilst still having your own hobbies and interests; and, working with a Relationship Counsellor / Therapist or your local religious leader, if applicable. Lastly, if you won’t create a relationship plan because you know in your heart of hearts that this person isn’t right for you, then you may consciously decide to leave the relationship from your side. Now, I would suggest that you first try one or more of the potential remedies outlined above before going this far; however, sometimes leaving the relationship is the healthiest option for you, especially if your significant other is abusive and especially if you have consciously tried to change the relationship but it either hasn’t changed or it has but not enough for you to stay in it and accept it. Finally, for those who believe in God, I would encourage you to pray to Him to guide you in making your decision, in supporting you through whichever option(s) you choose, and to still your heart once you’ve chosen. Amen.
So many don’t really know how to be alone or are afraid of it. How important is it for us to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone (literally or metaphorically)?
Thankfully I, for one, learnt during the seven years from first separating from my ex-wife to marrying my wife now that it is fully possible to be alone and be okay with that. I say okay because there were times that I felt lonely or sexually frustrated; however, I’m glad that I gave myself that time to properly process matters regarding my separation, my eventual divorces (civil and religious), my life as a single man, and then my life as a man intending and actively trying to move on with someone else. Fast-forward to today, then, and I can clearly see some of the ways that my long periods of separation and celibacy have positively impacted upon my relationship now; for example, my wife, who had never been married before marrying me, understands that I am now much more comfortable in my own skin and in my own company, which is one reason why we can sometimes go several hours on the phone together in silence when I’m working away. During such times, one or both of us will speak when necessary or if we’re so inspired, but we both made a conscious choice to avoid talking for the sake of it. Incidentally, for most of our marriage to date we have lived in separate countries due to my work and where she is from and yet we have remained simultaneously connected and separate by doing things like being on WhatsApp throughout the night most nights even if I can only hear her breathing or she can only hear my “snoring symphony” as she affectionately calls it.
In short, I think it is very important to have, and practice, that capacity to truly be with ourselves and be alone, whether literally or metaphorically, and I’ll summarise why; that is, if you do this, you should find that you learn more about yourself, you learn more about others as you generalise from your nature to those of others, you see problems in your life more clearly than when you’re too close to them, the solutions to your problems may also be clearer as you reflect upon things in a cool, calm and collected way, and you may find yourself being struck with life-changing insights and inspiration, too.
When I talk about self-love and understanding I don’t necessarily mean blindly loving and accepting ourselves the way we are. Many times self-understanding requires us to reflect and ask ourselves the tough questions, to realize perhaps where we need to make changes in ourselves to be better not only for ourselves but our relationships. What are some of those tough questions that will cut through the safe space of comfort we like to maintain, that our readers might want to ask themselves? Can you share an example of a time that you had to reflect and realize how you needed to make changes?
Is there time in my life to invest in my own development?
Does a gap exist between where I am right now and where I want to be?
Can I work on tasks that will assist me to develop and grow?
Am I willing to do whatever is necessary to reach my goals and aims?
Am I willing to change any limiting beliefs and behaviors?
Am I willing to attempt new ways of achieving my goals?
Have I got the commitment I need to succeed?
Have I got the support I need to make significant changes to my life?
Am I mentally ready for a different approach to my life?
Am I physically prepared for encounters that I may not have experienced before?
Note: If you answered “Yes” to seven or more of the above questions, you are ready, willing and able to commence with the process of life-changing or even simply being your own life coach through reading and acting on a book such as my own.
The best personal example that I can give is the one I referred to earlier in answer to the first question about what brought me to this specific career path. Specifically, it was sitting down and reflecting on my life, including my personal life and my professional life, that I realised how deeply unhappy I was in both of them and I knew that I had to change or else I would continue to be miserable and my mental and physical health would continue to deteriorate. Therefore, by making the series of real, positive and lasting changes that I also referred to earlier (namely starting to exercise again, separating from my now ex-wife and changing jobs), not only did I feel immeasurably healthier and happier but I also became much more empathic towards other people as I realised more than ever before that appearances can be deceptive and that you really never know what’s going on with other people unless you ask them from a place of genuine love and care.
How does achieving a certain level of self-understanding and self-love then affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others?
Further to my previous answer, achieving greater self-understanding and self-love can affect your ability to connect with and deepen your relationships with others in profound ways, whether that be your nearest and dearest or whether that be complete strangers; for example, you may well find, as I did, that your interactions with others shift from surface-level meaning to deep-level meaning. A good and simple example of this is my changing experience of doing my weekly food shop at the supermarket; that is, I changed from greeting each Sales Assistant with, “Hey. How are you?”, but not really meaning what I said, to, “Hey”, making eye contact, smiling sincerely and then asking them, “How are you?”, out of genuine love and care for this other person in front of me who is equal to me and who is serving me in an important way. When I started interacting with each Sales Assistant in this way, a few of them would respond in the usual surface-level way (e.g. “I’m fine, thank you”); however, more often than not, the Sales Assistant would look at me, judge whether I’m being sincere or not and, when they realised that I genuinely cared for their answer, would often amaze me with how much they would share about how their day was really going or what their problems are or whatever the case may be. Now, with family and friends, my responses may be different towards them compared with these Sales Assistants because, for one thing, after I’ve listened to some of the latter tell me what’s truly going on for them, I usually only have enough time to say something like, “Bless you for sharing that with me. I do hope everything works out for you. Take good care of yourself. Bye for now”; however, whether it’s as I’m walking away from these people to my car or whether it’s when I’m alone at home or wherever, I will take the time to remember them (and all people) in my prayers as that is the very least that I can do for them as their brother in humanity.
In your experience, what should a) individuals and b) society, do to help people better understand themselves and accept themselves?
At the individual level, I suggest you establish and then maintain the practice of being at least as interested in the holistic wellbeing of others, including better understanding and accepting themselves, as you are in that of yourself. In other words, be curious about others as well as about yourself, which doesn’t mean probing into other people’s matters that don’t concern you, but simply loving and caring for people in open, honest and appropriate ways (e.g. the Sales Assistants in my personal anecdote above). Now, the forms that this love and care for others can take are numerous, maybe countless, and it’s up to each individual to decide in what way(s) and to what extent they are ready, willing and able to support other people. Having said that, apart from possibly including them in your thoughts and maybe even in your prayers, you may make a difference or at least plant the seed that grows to make a difference by:
trying to love both yourself and other people unconditionally;
encouraging others to try to love themselves and other people unconditionally;
buying them a relevant book (e.g. mine or see third to last question and answer below);
sharing a link to a Counsellor or Life Coach;
sharing a link to a relevant seminar (e.g. Tony Robbins’ “Date with Destiny”);
sharing a link to a relevant retreat (e.g. Tony’s “Life and Wealth Mastery”); and/or,
share links to informative, inspiring, motivating, and empowering true-life stories.
At the societal level, things will improve the more the individuals that make up that society improve themselves; that is, if all of us try even a tiny bit each day to be more conscientious than we were the day before, then we will see a real and positive change over time. Specifically, just some of the practical changes that we can make include the following:
inject more differentiation into education, especially regarding subject options, learning styles, and length of study before graduating and moving on – it promotes individual and collective creativity, student engagement, personal qualities, life and study skills, good behaviour, overall wellbeing, academic success, professional success, etc, etc;
give employees more freedom and flexibility, especially regarding how to work, where to work, and how long to work for – likewise, it promotes individual and collective creativity, employee engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, overall wellbeing, staff retention, attracting the best talent, reduced losses, increased gains, etc, etc;
choose whole-staff training that is character-building, not just team-building, for example a yearly weekend retreat where the Trainers strike a balance between promoting the individual’s senses of self-understanding and self-acceptance etc, and doing this as it relates to everyone as a group of interconnected, interdependent people – it encourages individuals to air and to work through past and present grievances with each other as well as lifts the overall team’s mood and motivation, something which in turn promotes employee engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, etc, etc; and,
redress the gross positive / negative news imbalance because, contrary to many, maybe most Editors and Journalists’ belief, positive news can not only be as interesting as negative news, I would argue that is actually more interesting as well as more important if we are serious about curing the so-called diseases and deaths of despair such as alcohol abuse, drug abuse, and suicide – imagine the positive impact of having many more real-life stories in our national, regional and local media of people overcoming these social plagues will have in addition to all of the other efforts that are already being made towards our collective good.
What are 5 strategies that you implement to maintain your connection with and love for yourself that our readers might learn from? Could you please give a story or example for each?
What are your favourite books, podcasts, or resources for self-psychology, intimacy, or relationships? What do you love about each one and how does it resonate with you?
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? Maybe we’ll inspire our readers to start it…
I just made up a potential movement in my head called Book to Basics, which is a decentralised social and spiritual movement advocating for people to return to reading non-fiction books, especially philosophical and theological books and scriptures. My rationale is that I think most people identify themselves as belonging to one religious / spiritual way of life or another, but that even those that don’t can learn a lot about matters such as the nature of man (sic), including his innate personal qualities and character flaws, what constitutes doing good and bad for yourself as well as for others and the world around us, and a plethora of other life topics. Likewise, we can learn important lessons from books on the study and interpretation of subjects such as language (classical as well as modern), literature, linguistics, logic, history, comparative religion, philosophy, ethics, and law. So, Book to Basics because we seem generally to have forgotten basic truths such as that we are all equal as brothers and sisters in humanity, that darkness breeds darkness but thankfully light breeds light, that we are all here on this beautiful planet where it truly is a wonderful life, that we have the power to make Earth a living heaven or a living hell, and that we are energy and, as energy doesn’t die, we would do well to ask ourselves the three following questions and then adapt our behaviour according to our answers:
Where did I come from?
What are my purposes here?
Where will I be going?
Can you please give us your favourite “Life Lesson Quote” that you use to guide yourself by? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life and how our readers might learn to live by it in theirs?
“Character is destiny.”
The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus, Turkey, famously uttered this short but profoundly wise saying around two and a half thousand years ago. Now, disputes about his exact meaning aside, I love this life lesson quote and really try to live by it because I believe in it; that is, I believe that if you are courageous and committed to working hard for change, to being the best that you can be and to living the remainder of your life to its fullest possible potential, then you will live a good life, and our lives will be as streams flowing into the same river that flows towards whatever Heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls, God-willing.
So, my dear readers, may the Source be with you, and may you live long and prosper. Amen.
Thank you so much for your time and for your inspiring insights!
You’re welcome, thank you!<< Back