February 26, 2008

Do you feel pressured by your mentors?

So many professors have told me that they feel "overly mentored" by their chair or others in their department, in their quest for tenure. Even though the mentoring may be meant in a kindly, helpful way, it can result in the mentee feeling inadequate, bullied, or even paralyzed.

If you are in this situation, and giving direct feedback to the mentor is either not helping, or not advisable in your situation, then you need to work on your own point of view. You need to work on not giving too much power to the mentor, and feeling like you are the one in control; the one making decisions for yourself.

Here is a great 6 minute video by Byron Katie, illustrating a cognitive-behavioral technique for convincing yourself that you have choices, even if you are being pressured.

You can also see examples of the process she calls "The Work" which is a series of techniques for questioning your beliefs that keep you trapped.

I haven't read anywhere else about this problem of overeager mentors doing more harm than good in academia. If you have examples that you can share, please let me know, or comment here.

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