Many HSPs I talk to have reached out for support at some point. Too often, the help they got just made them feel worse and completely misunderstood. Below are some of my own guidelines/ questions to ponder for getting good support. In this post, I refer to someone who can help you as a “mentor”. A mentor could be a counselor, therapist, bodyworker, nutritionist, acupuncturist, your family doctor etc etc. With any issue that doesn’t require immediate medical intervention, there are usually many different kinds of practitioners who might be able to help you. This also makes it overwhelming at times to figure out who to work with, especially concerning issues that are directly intertwined with being HSP.
Are they where you want to be? A good way to get a sense of where they are is to read some material about/from them but also to take in their picture, speak to them shortly, get a sense of who they are as a person.
Your potential mentor doesn’t need to be perfect. They don’t need to have all their ducks in a row, they just need to deeply understand what your next step is and how to take it. Sometimes, you will work with someone only once. Sometimes you will work with them for a year or longer. It really doesn’t matter. All that matters is what your one next step is and who can help you take it. Whether you want to work with your mentor live or work with a book /material they wrote is the same in this regard. Take some time to consider who is giving you advice and where they are coming from.
2. Are you willing to truly take your next step?
A mentor is intended specifically for those steps that you want to take but don’t know how or are afraid to on your own. If you already know what to do and are already doing it, then you probably don’t need a mentor. If you’re not willing to actually take your next step, then a mentor will be no help. It’s important to be honest about this. You may wish that you were further along, yet resist being further along too. Some mentors can help you with that resistance too, others can’t. It all depends on whether this is really what you want to work on right now.
3. Is your mentor HSP themselves?
Where do they stand on being HSP? How do they deal with being HSP themselves? If you need a car-mechanic, then it probably doesn’t matter whether they are HSP or not. If you need help with you then it probably does. Ask questions. Don’t assume that someone shares your views. You’d be surprised at what other people count as relevant problems and solutions. Someone who sees sensitivity as a disorder, or is only vaguely familiar with the term HSP… well, they’re probably better avoided.
4. When it comes to healers, therapists, counselors, coaches and holistic practitioners: has your potential mentor done their own inner work? Are they walking their talk?
Beware of people who are jumping at helping others before they have helped themselves. This is a common thing in the mentoring world. There is a myth out there that we “teach others what we need to learn”. Yet, nobody can teach others what they still need to learn themselves. You can teach others what you have had to learn. Often this means that there will be particular life themes a mentor struggles with. As they work through these isssues, they will learn things that they can then guide others on. Their own experiences are part of their teaching roadmap.
Every mentor will have things that they are still struggling with themselves and while they will be able to empathize with those issues in you, they won’t be able to guide you on them. Every mentor also has things that they have not and will not experience. Get clear on this, even if many mentors aren’t. Get clear on what your mentor can and cannot help you with. Having that clarity allows you to clearly filter advice from pretty much anyone and put it in the right perspective for you.
5. This is similar to the point above, but less personal: what is someone’s specialization? What issues can they solve, and how?
If someone claims to be able to help you with “everything” then they simply haven’t clearly identified what they actually do well yet. Even holistic practicioners tend to be specialists. Everyone takes a particular angle or approach. For example, some therapists will bring pretty much everything back to forgiveness, others will tend to stress the importance of nutrition no matter what problem you bring to them. Know that, the way that someone looks at the world and your problem, will determine the advice you’ll receive from them. A herbalist will give you herbs. A massage therapist will give you a massage.
This seems obvious, but it’s easy to forget that no matter how knowledgeable someone may be, they cannot possibly help you with everything in every possible way. Hence, it’s your job to get a sense of whether and how they can best be of service to you. This can mean trying things out. It can mean doing a little research beforehand. It can mean asking around. In all cases, it means taking responsibility for your own healing.
6. Are you ready to invest?
Mentoring of any kind takes work. If you need a mentor, be willing to invest somehow. Good mentoring takes energy and time. We all need to eat. If you want a mentor but are unwilling to invest in one, then ask yourself why. Perhaps you are dealing with a feeling that spiritual work should be for free. If so, ask yourself: Really? Should it? And how is something “just spiritual” if it affects your practical day-to-day well-being?
Maybe you feel that someone who can help others, should, even if they don’t get paid. Yet, is that the way we feel about other very essential service-providers out there like farmers, and the people who built your house? Surely, there are many people who help others in very essential ways whom you pay without ever asking why.
I’m addressing this issue specifically because it is brought up a lot in HSP groups: “yes, we’d love support but we think it’s wrong to pay for it”. If someone needs to work a corporate job and then in their free time offer spiritual or other support, then how on earth could a mentor like that be in a good position to truly support others? Yes, they might be able to help one or two people that way, but never many. If someone is good at mentoring, then let’s hope they make it into a full-time (or at least part-time) job, for which – of course – they need to be paid, and paid well.
7. When you have someone in mind, could you realistically imagine this person being your mentor?
Everyone has a particular style and method for receiving and sharing things. You want to make sure that another’s approach is a match for you. Feel free to ask about this upfront. If you know you need daily encouragement, then will you get that? If you learn better in a group – then is there a group? If you hate being cut off due to time, then is your mentor sensitive to that, or will they just work you out the door when time’s up? If there are physical treatments, then are they the kind you feel comfortable with? Is your mentor someone you feel comfortable being vulnerable with? There is no big right or wrong here. E.g. if you like being able to plan your appointments down to the minute, then you’ll want to work with someone who is strict on how long a session will take. It’s all about knowing what does and doesn’t work for you.
8. If you want a mentor who can teach you skills, then consider whether someone can truly teach you what they know.
Having worked as a teacher at a university, I’ve seen some really smart people who are awful at teaching others what they know. Teaching really is a job in and of itself. It’s not about “telling someone what they need to know”. We people are not built like that. We need to slowly uncover things in a fruitful pace and supported way.
If you just need to have the relevant info only, then get the book. Loads of people have written loads of books on all kinds of topics. Spend some time on a google/amazon search and you’ll likely find what you need. If you want precisely tailored and focused support for you though then be ready to invest in someone who can really teach you what you need to learn/understand/know at this point. Developing a way to teach others what one knows takes time and effort. It’s a job. Honour that. Honour this in yourself too. Consider, do you need a personal teacher, or do you just need the relevant info at this point?
9. Look at your sense of deserving support.
If you always feel that you should be able to do things on your own, then you probably have a self-sabotage pattern going on. If you want to get help but feel bad about investing in yourself then take a long and honest look at the things you do invest in. Does it make sense? Are you spending your resources on pretty much everything except personal support?
Life skills are a real and tangible asset, they’re worth investing in. Physical health is crucial to your happiness and success, and worth investing in. Ditto for mental health and emotional well-being. That said, don’t let anyone talk you into getting help that you know you don’t need. Also don’t let your inner sense of (lack of) worth talk you out of something that you know you do need.
Lastly, if you find it incredibly hard to decide upon what you do or don’t need, because you don’t feel like you deserve anything, then get help with that first. Make self-worth and deservability the topic of a mentorship. All else follows.
10. Once you know what you’re looking for, give yourself some time to find someone/ something.
Don’t give up and don’t give in. Keep at it until you’ve found who/what you need. Trust that your most important mentor is always an inner sense of guidance telling you what and who you do and don’t need right now. It all starts and ends there. Trust that.
If your inner guidance is all tangled up, then getting help with that is a great place to start. Knowing how to set your inner compass will help you with everything else.
11. No matter what you are dealing with, choose a methodology and practitioner that don’t leave out your emotions.
Your emotions play a huge role in your health and well-being. Most of us have emotional baggage that eventually gets in our way in more ways than one (including physically). It seems easier to try and dodge our emotions, but whatever you are going through, your emotions will be a (big) part of it, and they need to be acknowledged fully.
12. If you truly need it, then there will be a way to afford it.
This is not a guarantee that you can make claims on. It is however a good inner rule of thumb. When you know you need something, assume that you can find a way to make it work. Then be open to finding that way (it might show up in a different shape or form than expected).
13. Once you have clearly identified what you need and are willing to receive it, then be open to following intuitive nudges.
Don’t expect these inner nudges to make complete sense or come with a “you need to listen to this inner nudge because…” explanation. You will be nudged and when you explore those nudges, you will get further nudges. Somewhere along the way, the why and what will start to make sense.
Remember that inner nudges worth following always come from a sense of peace and feeling good. Inner nudges do not scream at you, threaten you or make you do anything. Intuition is your gentle inner GPS speaking. The ‘voice’ is pleasant and will keep repeating the suggestions until you follow up. If you forget to turn right at the roundabout, then your inner GPS will calculate an alternative route to get you to where you need to go.
14. Remember that you are your biggest investment, always.
YOU are the one thing that stays with you, always. Your perspective, your skills, your awareness, they define you. They shape you and they shape the possibilities you are able to create for yourself, and for others.
With all the pressure to buy material things and pay for our daily living expenses, this is worth remembering.
15. Don’t overanalyze
To get good help, you’ll need to try things. Also, don’t feel like you need to stick with something just because you said yes to it at the beginning. Your sense of whether something is right for you is allowed to change. Give yourself permission to “make mistakes” in getting the right help for you.
Surrounding yourself with a good support team usually takes some time. Yet, building that team is very worth it. It makes a world of difference to know that you’ve got a list of people to fall back on for various problems in your life that you may need help with. If you have resisted seeking help due to a sense of doom and gloom about being able to find anyone at all, then make finding the right support crew an even bigger priority.
Ask around. Start by deciding that you will find someone. That’s what it all starts with.