April 22, 2020
You know what it is like to go through mental health and/or substance use issues. You have been there, done that. You also know what it is like to find healing in treatment. After treatment, you stepped back completely into your life and you can really see the difference. Now you are considering how you can help others who started out just like you. You can discover the power of mentoring.
The Power of Peers
As much as all of the adults in your life would like to believe that they are in charge, you have something that they don’t – you are a peer. For all of the well-meaning program directors, therapists, doctors, coaches, and other adults in your life, other adolescents are going to treat them like adults. Meanwhile, they look at you as an equal and are more likely to listen and value what you say because visually, they can relate to you better.
As a peer, you won’t need to work so hard to earn their trust. You have vocabulary and knowledge of the culture that they understand and can relate to. They will look up to you even if you are shorter than them, simply because you are one of them. Sorry, grown-ups. You lose on this one.
The great news, though, is that everyone wins when you, as a peer, are willing to step up, share your story, and share your experiences. You have so much power just from being in the middle of it. You are raw, you are real, and other people will change their lives because of your power.
The Power of Experience
In addition to being more relatable, you also have the power of experience. It is one thing to hear your coach tell stories of smoking weed while listening to CDs of music that none of you have ever heard of. It is another thing for you to step up and say that you have a mental health issue, and this is how you are living powerfully now. Or that you got hooked on meth a couple of years ago because of the pain of losing a friend in a school shooting, and how you were able to heal and move forward. You have experience, and it is experience that is now and real and relatable.
As you tell others about your experiences, they will be able to see their own future of healing in you. Having adults tell you about their experiences in different programs at different times in different world climates and general context is inspiring. But your story is now, here, today. You did this, you healed, and very recently. Your experiences have so much more power in today’s context.
Power in Healing
You experienced the power of healing in your life. Through your treatment, you were able to address the pain and possibly lifelong trauma that was impacting your life in every way. As you healed from your pain, you became empowered and you have benefitted from what you learned along the way. Now you have the chance to model that healing for other people, too.
Power in Sharing
The power in healing seems like it would involve you showing them by example. But one of the most amazing things about mentoring is sharing. And sharing is a two-way street. As you offer what you have learned and show someone else the path of healing, you might just be amazed and inspired by their life, their journey, and their healing.
Sharing in the treatment process allows for added growth as you relate to one another’s journeys and inspire one another with your successes, big and small. It is also like a refresher course for you to remember all of the things you learned in treatment. And who knows, you may even learn something new that you missed the first time around. True mentoring allows you to live by example, as well as having the humility to be taught by someone else, too.
Power in Living
You can have added power as a mentor by practicing what you preach. You are literally living on the path they are stepping onto, and living by example is one of the most powerful tools in recovering from mental health and/or substance use. Seeing is believing, so your life is like a lighthouse in their grey and stormy lives to show them the way home.
Giving Power to Others
You do not need to be a formal mentor to be able to share the power of your life with other people. You can look around and find others who are struggling. Maybe there is a mental health club at school, or perhaps you can start one. However you decide to mentor, and whomever you decide to mentor, just know that in giving, you may receive more in return than you could have ever dreamed.
Now that you have healed and you are living your best life, you can share your newly found superpowers of mental health with others around you. As a peer, you have powers and the ability to relate that no grownups have. You have power in that you are walking the path and showing the way. Not as a superior, but as a peer. Find your inner mentor today. The difference that you make in others’ lives can also help you.
Discover the power of mentoring others. What you do to help others may help you even more. Call Potomac Programs at 1-855-809-0409 for support.