Learning to love Dexter

Thanks for the emails and calls asking when The Dad Vibe would return, it’s nice to be missed (says my ego).  

With four energetic children, a cool, loving wife (married again in April), a busy, full-time entertainment business, and back in school full time for my master's in counselling psychology, 2016 has been incredibly busy.   

“We are all busy, jackass!” screams my dark passenger, Dexter, who I have named as the voice of my self-talk.   

He has a bit of an accent and is a total a-hole.

Heading into Christmas last year, I had such great momentum, writing for Today’s Parent and Huffington Post. 

But now, having been off writing since January, I (my ego) wanted to return with a killer article, one that would change lives, perspectives, and set the Internet on fire as a brilliant viral sensation.  

However, now, I just want to share something simple that is changing my life: self-love.

I am not talking about pleasuring myself, rather simply showing myself some compassion, understanding, and love. 

My master's has really been an examination of myself – in my relationships as a father, husband, son, and global citizen. I have opened up the Jeff schematics and cautiously taking a peek inside. 

I’m discovering things I like and things that need to change.

First, I beat myself up daily for things done and not done, said and not said. We all make decisions every day, some great, some terrible.  

Sometimes, I am a great dad, sometimes a great husband. But sometimes, I say and do dumb things, and treat myself harshly when I do. I need to be more gentle and kind with myself. 

In my research, I discovered the work of Kristin Neff, PhD (her TED Talk) and her brilliant work on self-compassion.   

From Kristin, I learned that we all need to include ourselves in the circle of compassion, giving ourselves the same kindness, care, and concern we’d give to a good friend.

If your buddy was going through a tough time, perhaps a bitter divorce or grieving the death of a loved one, and he wanted to come over and just vent, you would be there. 

You would listen, validate, acknowledge, and accept that there is suffering and pain. Your empathy and compassion would kick in. 

But what happens when you are suffering?

When I am beating myself up for everything I am not doing, I (Dexter) say things to myself that I would never say to a friend – “You are lazy, you will not make it, you are a loser … etc.”  

Self-judgment, self-doubt, and self-criticism are incredibly debilitating both physically and mentally. With self-criticism, we are both the attacker and the attacked.

Using Neff’s ideas around mindfulness, we need to validate, acknowledge, and accept that we are suffering, in order to give ourselves compassion.  

I am not letting myself off the hook, but rather acknowledging a tough time.  

We know how to be a good compassion friend, so be kind to yourself – you are the phone-a-friend friend that is always available.  


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About the Author

Jeff Hay is a Kelowna-based writer, motivational speaker, parenting coach, and father of four.

Along with writing for Castanet, Jeff also writes for the Huffington Post, the Good Men Project, and the National Fatherhood Initiative in the United States. 

When he is not playing his favourite role of 'DAD', Jeff speaks throughout Canada as a popular parenting educator, working on his website – www.thedadvibe.com, and writing his parenting book for dads, “Wait Till Your Father Gets Home!

Jeff dedicates his life to improving the well-being of children by increasing the proportion of children growing up with involved, responsible, and committed fathers.

E-mail Jeff your thoughts or questions anytime at [email protected]


The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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