Making an Impact in Mentoring Others
I always love to get requests from mentor volunteers to serve with MentorCONNECT.
They are filled with gratitude and want to give back.
Many have started projects of their own to share what they have learned about recovery, and these projects can include blogs, websites, books, ministries, non-profit organizations, and other activities designed to stay connected to the recovery community.
What some of them haven’t quite finished yet is their own recovery.
It is a fine line to walk across – figuring out when is the exact right moment to transition from being a mentee to being a mentor.
It is also not an exact science, and so sometimes a mentor will start a bit too early, or perhaps wait a bit too long, and in those qualitative judgments, relapses and other oopses can occur.
The truth is (or at least my personal truth, from my personal experience from what I have seen in my own life and in the lives of those who serve as mentors with MentorCONNECT) is that it is easier to start a blog, website, or organization, write a book, or speak publicly about your story than it is to serve as a recovering person’s mentor.
It is also much less triggering, less intimate, and in some sense less impactful in that way.
This is why I always share with nervous mentor-candidates (and nervous therapists who want their clients to match with a mentor for extra support) who are worried that relapse or a temporary oops might interfere with a mentor’s ability to mentor that perfection is not what a mentee is seeking.
Connection is what a mentee is seeking.
And honestly. And progress. And HOPE.
When a mentee sees a mentor stumble…and then GET BACK UP AGAIN….that provides tremendous hope.
It is like a battle cry towards courage and away from cowardice.
It proves that no one – and I mean NO ONE – recovers perfectly….and that no one – not even so-named “recovered people” – are immune from the possibility of future relapse.
On MentorCONNECT, we have a criteria that a mentor must be largely free from using eating disordered thoughts and behaviors to cope with life before they can serve. Interestingly, while there is no precise definition of “eating disorder recovery” in use today, many research studies also use the 12 month marker as a criteria that draws a line between “recovering” and “recovered”.
So what this means is that, if you have less than 12 months in strong and sustained recovery, it might be a bit too early to serve as a someone’s mentor. If you have more than 12 months in strong and sustained recovery, you might just be a month or a few overdue to find a way to stay connected through service.
Today’s Takeaway: Where are you in your own recovery process? Are you in the place where you still need more support from others than you feel you have to give to others? Are you in a place where you feel a bit frustrated because you are healthy enough not to need the continual connection to a recovery community but you still want to stay connected? Start seeking that line in the sand in your own life, and consider when might be the right moment to begin supporting others on their recovery journey.
Cutts, S. (2011). Making an Impact in Mentoring Others. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 25, 2016, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2011/09/making-an-impact-in-mentoring-others/