I do not watch the Dr. Phil Show very often, in fact I may see two episodes in three months if that often. On top of that, I have never been a major fan of books in the self-help departments, for many reasons: one is that the people that write these books assume all things are equal and anyone has the same resources to everything in the world, second, the authors (most of the time) make readers feel so guilty about your current life that they feel worse after reading them, and finally, a lot of the books are just to promote the writer’s facilities that they work at, so they don’t reveal all the things in their books, so that the reader has to go out and either buy more of their books, or have to pay to go to their facilities.
With these points out of the way, one day I was actually watching the Dr. Phil Show at my parent’s house when I became intrigued by a person who was on his team of associates plugging his new book. For some reason, the book resonated with me, where I had to seek out a copy to check out. Best Self : Be You Only Better by Life Coach Mike Bayer (Dey Street Books, 2019) changed my opinion about these types of books.
Bayer’s book deals with having a better outlook in every aspect of life, from the workplace, relationships, and hobbies, in order to be your “Best Self” (which is not only the title of the book, but a description of the ideal character the person intends to be).
If you are a follower of Bayer, or Dr. Phil, you may have seen him on this show using some of these techniques that he uses in the book. The early part of the book shows a technique where the reader creates a character, which is the ideal “Best Self;” the person he or she wants to become. The second is the “Anti-Self,” the person who is the opposite of that person, almost like the villain , and the person that the reader does not want to get out and take over their lives. Being a fan of role playing games growing up, I thought this was an interesting, and original idea to incorporate, especially where the person is encouraged to be as detailed as possible (regardless of their art skills), describing the Best and Anti-Self ‘s characteristics and goals, weaknesses etc, just like creating a game character.
From there, Bayer walks through little tips that the person can use to encourage more of the Best Self, and less of the Anti-Self characters, using everyday situations, (along with some of the stories from previous clients) from work situations to dealing with things like road rage, and not having fun in the workplace. Throughout most of the chapters there are exercises that stretches the thinking, as well as getting the reader more acquainted with who they are in their lives, and where they want to be heading. This book is not to be read straight through like a normal novel, but is more effective having a notebook beside you, and experiencing these exercises and quizzes during the chapters (especially if you are like me, who does not like writings in my books, and as the author states, the goals will change throughout the months as you head towards being the Best Self). The exercises enhance the 7 SPHERES where the person’s best self needs to be looked at, and how they are part of the overall goal. The SPHERES are an acronym for the different areas in life, such as the workplace, health of the person, and education among other things.
The only problems I had with the book was during the Education chapter of the SPHEREs, where the writer assumes all things are equal. For example, Bayer encourages that the Best Self should want to be educated in something, always wanting to learn something. Although I agree with this statement, the writer states that if the Best Self wants to learn a new trade, or is being passed over at work due to lack of technology, he states that the person go out and find the tools to improve that. All things are not equal here, because some of the things cost money, and if the Best Self is living in a situation where funds are not available, or the techniques are not offered, it may make the reader feel a little down. For instance, not everyone lives in New York, where many libraries may offer many computer classes (some smaller towns only offer “How To Use The Internet” as a course), or due to license fees, they are not offered. Or if saving money to get out of debt is part of the person’s Best Self goal, how are they going to afford to be able to pay for the computer program to help them move on? Granted , heading towards your Best Self is not going to be easy, but I thought these points were missing in his writing, which also goes into the workplace section, where he encourages people to incorporate an enjoying atmosphere in the workplace, as opposed to just punching in and getting a paycheck.
I love this concept of the workplace, but once again, not all things are equal. Bayer gives a quiz where the person decides if the problems at the workplace is you or the other people around you, along with sometimes having to decide to leave that job for something else. He does encourage the person to look at their finances before just walking out of a job, but sometimes (from my own experience) the problem can be the co-workers, and yet the HR people don’t care at all. There (in my opinion) is a myth in the writing that the HR people at businesses are all out to help each other create the best possible outcome for the business. There are many HR people who are unqualified and could care less about what goes on in their workplace, and are not always there to help out. Also, if my Best Self wants to get paid for his writing in the future, but can’t find that avenue (especially where all the local papers are owned by one company and have the same staff for years that don’t accept freelancing), it’s not as easy as the writer makes out to just go out and find the other avenue and freelance, where most of the online freelance sites are scams. And if everyone who wanted to be their own boss could do it, there would be no employees, and only bosses, which is not realistic either. Keep in mind that I have just started this journey of the book’s suggestions, and maybe he sees something down the road that I am not seeing yet, as opposed to a new person just discovering the ideas (I am not knocking Bayer or his achievements).
Another great aspect of the book is that Bayer uses his own life story as illustrations, from his past with addictions, to the fact that he does not have 15 Master Degrees and is a higher up in academia. His down-to-earth approach, along with his easy to read writing comes off as non-judgmental which is a relief, as opposed to other books in the genre that I have read. Finally the fact that he encourages the importance of spirituality and religion in a person’s life is a breath of fresh air, where many of these books refuse to allow people of faith to use the skills along with their values of a higher being. Christian readers do not have to fear that the book is filled with New Age theology, or vice versa.
I enjoyed this book, especially doing the quizzes and exercises throughout the chapters. I encourage those that want to read this book to have a journal or a notebook beside them and actually participate in the book, as opposed to just reading it (stop by a local dollar store and buy a small notebook on the way home- it doesn’t have to be anything fancy). Even if you are not a Dr. Phil watcher, this book can help those looking to change certain aspects in their lives by using an unique and creative way. The writing is not judgmental nor stereotypical in the genre; I am reminded of the joke I heard one time that says “I just bought some self-help cassettes. After listening to them I felt inadequate because I didn’t have the CDs.” Anyone can take something away from this book without fears of not measuring up.
Best Self : Be You, Only Better by Life Coach Mike Bayer (Dey Street Books, 2019) ISBN : 978-0-06291173-5 can be found at bookstores and online at Amazon.com or at : deystreet.harpercollins.com
Geared For: 16 and Up
For Fans of: Self Help, Dr. Phil, Life Coach