The Mentor State

MentorBrief description

The mentor state refers to when you are learning and growing, when you challenge yourself, and set new standards to live by. The mentor is the main driver of growth and learning. But it can also add pressure and stress which at worst can trigger us to feel more neurotic and unstable. The auxilary function, or the mentor state as we call it, is often described as the steering, if the dominant function is the motor.

Cognitive Function: The auxilary – second function
Age: Your own age Development: First function to be developed
Jungian term: The Good Parent
Oppositional function: The tertiary – third function
Positive role: Growth
Negative role: Pressure
Quote: “Don’t forget about the mission.”

Key traits of the mentor: Responsible, dutiful, your ideals and standards, what you strive for, the rules you live by, the lessons you have learnt, and will learn, your oughts & shoulds.

The four states

Each state is associated with one of the eight intelligences: for example the hero may be a philosopher, adetective, an artist or a performer.

The Hero The first function
The Mentor The second function
The Sidekick The third function
The Villain The fourth function

The goal of the mentor

The goal of the mentor is to provide us with knowledge to move forward on the hero’s journey. You need the mentor when you are starting a new project, moving to a new city, or adding some level of new challenge to your life. In a lot of ways, the mentor responds to your inner adult, its often manifested as the expectations and demands you set on yourself. What standards do you hold yourself to? And what do you wish to accomplish? What is it you desire to master? If you refuse to heed the advice of the mentor, you instead fall into the sidekick state, represented by being carefree, stubborn, or overly set in your ways.

The hero comes across a seasoned traveler of the worlds who gives him or her training, equipment, or advice that will help on the journey.  Or the hero reaches within to a source of courage and wisdom.”

From Joseph Campbell, the Hero’s Journey

Sometimes it’s described like a parent, and this is perhaps why this function appears to develop before even the dominant function. During our first years, we first become aware of our parents and our environments expectations on us, and only later, do we begin to develop our own identity outside of our parents expectations. Because of this, the second function is often perceived as slightly “older” than our first function. The mentor functions importance to us becomes somewhat weaker as we develop a stronger ego and become more assertive of our own needs, but always maintains this guiding role.

The second function in your mind is the primary driver of growth and learning in your life. It is a crucial aid when you are undertaking the hero’s journey. You need the mentor function to know what you expect from yourself and what you need to become happy and successful in your life. But what you need to watch out for is that you don’t put too much pressure on yourself or others too quickly – stress can easily become unhealthy if it becomes a long term part of your life. And the risk is that at times, the mentor can cause you to experience a loss of balance.

Growth often requires you to go into new situations in life, and to try new things. In this phase, you may experience a loss of control. You may feel that you have less power than you are used to and that you lack answers and need more understanding of the situation. But you’re in the process of learning. Use the second function to find the information you need but remember to try to seek and establish balance as you do.

When your mentor state is becoming too influential on your life, you may start to feel weak or incompetent or like a bad person. Set realistic goals in tune, work through your issues one at a time, and allow yourself time for rest as well. Everyone needs time, and so do you. Growing is not always an easy process and that is not the point. There is a huge joy and a sense of pride to gain if you can overcome issues and if you can learn to grow past problems.

Integrating the mentor

What path leads to growth, and how do we pass through it safely? How do we know we are on the right way? In the pursuit of growth, we need to integrate our views of parenting, our standards, and our beliefs on what is right and wrong with our unconscious other. We are constantly given information on this by interacting with our environment. When you talk to others, and you see their approval or disapproval, or when you work on something, and you see it improving or you see your efforts failing.

We are constantly looking for integration between our own perspectives on growth and others perspectives. In others, we are always in dialogue with the sixth function. Sometimes this dialogue can take the form of conflict. But the goal must always be to strike a balance between the two perspectives and to reach a full picture. When in pursuit of true growth, ask yourself this:

  • How am I teaching myself and is it working?
  • What am I doing to improve and am I being a good mentor to myself?
  • What does the world and the people around me tell me about my growth and improvement?

Grounding the mentor

The sidekick has a grounding influence on the mentor. The key goal of your inner sidekick is to ensure that your base needs are met. What do you want? The sidekick can perceive the mentor as a buzzkill, or as overly restricting and controlling. The mentor and the sidekick can easily fall into parent – child dynamics.

At best, these dynamics help us ground ourselves, balancing work and play. They are ensuring that we challenge ourselves without becoming too burdened or pressured. At worst, these dynamics can put the mentor at risk of becoming too tied down. Perhaps we are constantly thinking about what others need, and never about ourselves. If we do, we may be at risk of becoming overly burdened by the mentor.

Learn to consider your own needs and desires. While sometimes, it’s positive to help someone in need, you must find a way to be there for them without neglecting yourself, or you may find the situation becoming unstable on the longer term.

Mentor health

At your best, your mentor provides you with new insight and learning opportunities. You feel ready to face something new. You’re confidently pursuing a new decision. You have become your ideal and what you desire to be. You are able to help and be of service to others while simultaneously meeting your own needs and expectations.

It is natural to experience some doubt in the process of starting a new journey or learning something new. Can I do it? Will I be able to manage this new situation? What if I fail? Another risk is that you feel too burdened by responsibility. Perhaps you are spending too much energy trying to help others. Perhaps you’ve forgotten about your own needs in the process. If so, you need to start thinking of a way to find more balance.

Perhaps you are under too much pressure or the task you are trying to learn is feeling too difficult? Try finding ways to give yourself more time, or to divide the learning process into steps. You don’t have to do it all at once. When a task feels too big for your current abilities, it’s easy to steer clear of it, or to tell yourself you don’t want to do it.