Every day I am striving to be a better person, a better version of myself. I was thinking about how that might look from the outside and where I could find a little direction in how to accomplish that.
Well, who thinks I am the cat’s meow? A dog. Every time I bring up a memory of my dogs in my mind I just feel warm and cozy in my heart. So now I have some direction! I should feel good about the ways I act, think, and interact with others.
But I needed more perspective, so I listened to a podcast by Ed Mylett the other day, and, wow… he certainly inspires me to be a better version of myself! For some, he may not be their cup of tea, but I invite you to look at his message of being kind and having purpose and vision in your life, and disregarding anything that does not fit your mindset.
You can listen to the full podcast here, but let me share with you some things that I learned:
Be the person who is the most loving and kind. Make other people, even if that person is yourself, feel that they are valuable and worthwhile. Rewrite that negative self-talk. I make a flicking gesture to get rid of mine.
Make others feel like you see and hear them, that their feelings are important, and that you understand them by reflectively verbalizing them (or a version thereof) and then asking what you can do to support them.
Just keep going for one more day. I always remind myself to reset and start the day over if I get big feelings or triggers that make me feel overwhelmed or wound up inside my body. Moving my body helps me the most. I go for a walk, do some squats, or try yoga poses with some breathing.
These thoughts seem to apply to almost everything that is part of being the best version of yourself; being kind and loving, staying sober, having faith, doing your best at your job or finding one that suits you better, working out, remaining a patient parent, being strong, showing yourself love, limiting social media, believing things will get better and making a different choice this time. Let’s keep going because they are getting better and better!
Don’t miss an opportunity to be kind and loving to yourself and others even if you have trouble with big emotions in a conversation that may be difficult to have.
Realizing that someone else is acting a certain way when they are around you and empathizing with how you make them feel can be mind-boggling and difficult to manage. You can choose how you will respond. You can always choose to be loving, kind, and validating even if you feel like answering with anger or frustration.
Be authentic in your response to others. Say, “Ouch, that really hurt.” Then take some deep breaths to regulate your nervous system, then watch them get calmer and regulated too. I bet you didn’t know how pivotal you are to repairing an attachment in a relationship when things sometimes go sideways.
Dream during the day.
If you can see it in your mind, you can do it. It is a muscle to practice and will wither if not used.
You can miss so much looking in the rearview mirror and judging yourself and others. Dream of the future and operate in the present.
…..and, drum roll, please…
When you allow yourself to feel loved and valuable, you are no longer limited by your previous beliefs about yourself. Your thoughts can go from “I am not good enough” to “I can show up and try my best.” An emotional learning component in your brain changes the meaning of what is happening, and you get to rewrite your own story. Rewriting doesn’t mean forgetting who you are or where you’ve been in your life. It means looking back with compassion and respect at the parts of you that survived until now.
Rewriting your self-talk and beliefs may help you take a risk and say ‘thank you’ instead of deflecting a compliment. Tell someone you love them, even if they are being or doing something you don’t like. Be kind, say sorry, and tell them you see how hard they try.
I wonder if, when we stand in judgment of others, we are distracting ourselves from looking too closely at how we have contributed to the situation by:
Allowing ourselves to be treated poorly and accepting it without a gentle verbalization that may result in a course correction in the relationship.
Not letting something go that needs to be let go.
Blaming others for our actions and feelings inside. That’s our stuff, not theirs.
Ignoring our boundaries by participating in a conversation when we could have said we don’t want to talk about it now.
Perpetually trying to solve problems for others instead of being their cheerleader to figure it out for themselves.
Making excuses for our own or others’ bad behavior. If people are clogging up your life with negativity, how can you make room for the positive?
Tying it all together, I am leaving you with some food for thought about how to be the person your dog thinks you are. If you practice coming from, speaking from, and being loving and kind towards everyone, including yourself, you just may see something different happen around you.
Jennifer has been working with children, adolescents, and families in a variety of settings such as schools, private practice, and community agencies for over a decade. She is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC), a Registered Play Therapist (RPT), an Approved Clinical Supervisor (ACS), EMDR Certified and a Consultant in Training for EMDR.
She uses EMDR 1 & 2.0, Somatic Experiencing, Polyvagal Theory, the Safe & Sound Protocol, Flash Technique, Ego States, Play Therapy, Trauma-Informed Yoga, and other creative therapies in her mental health private practice.
She has taught both undergraduate and graduate classes at Monmouth University and NJCU, respectively. She writes a biweekly newsletter and would like to continue to provide training, support, and a sense of community for other therapists in the field so we can all grow towards providing inclusive ‘best practices’ for all communities.
She has served as a Board Member for: NJAPT (New Jersey Association of Play Therapy); Friends of MCCAC (Monmouth Child Advocacy Center); Play Therapy Consortium of New Jersey and served as President of NJACC 2022-2023.