Cover Image: The Best of You

The Best of You

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Member Reviews

To sum it up in one sentence, this book is excellent.  Dr. Cook masterfully bridges psychotherapy and the Christian faith in a loving and accepting way backed by scriptural truths.  Each chapter is an invitation to go into hard places while also feeling kindly supported by the words on each page.  As a therapist, I appreciate the down to earth communication style and lack of psycho-babble which makes it an easy book to recommend to my Christian clients.  The only thing I would change in the book is the women specific language.  The author’s primary audience is women and its reflected in the book, but the content is so important for BOTH men and women.
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The Best of You is a fabulous book for anyone who wants the confidence needed to be the best they can be, learn to make lasting friendships, and help setting boundaries. I wish I had read this book years ago. I know I will be going back and rereading sections in years to come. Dr. Cook has  written a timeless book based on God's wisdom.
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This book is EXCELLENT.  

As a general Christian women's self-help book, "The Best of You" ticks all the boxes--warm, practical, encouraging, and deeply *helpful*.  Dr. Alison Cook draws both from both personal stories and years of experience as a trained therapist to cover many of the most common areas where women struggle.  At the heart of every conversation, Allison gently draws women back to a question many of us have never had the courage to ask: "What is it that *you* want?"

On the surface, that's a simple and obvious question--but it's one that many women (especially those within American Protestant/evangelical circles, I suspect) have difficulty answering.  In an attempt to "take up our cross," "turn the other cheek," and avoid selfishness/pride, Dr. Cook describes how many of us have mistaken "selflessness" for not having a self, altogether.  This particular misrepresentation of how Christ actually lived (and how the Bible teaches us to live) results in deeply unhealthy ways of relating to others--which in turn, often lead to anxiety, depression, and unhealthy coping mechanisms.  

While Dr. Cook does a great job identifying problems, her focus--and clearly, her passion--is on helping her readers find healing and growth.  She does not waste time over-analyzing or criticizing who is to blame when women internalize Christian messages in ways that lead to codependency, poor boundaries, spiritual bypassing and toxic positivity.  (In this age of divisiveness, she probably could have sold more books--and controversy--had she taken that route!)  Instead, Dr. Cook's clinical background gives her compelling stories from real-life women to share, and a talent for asking questions that cut straight to the heart of a matter.   In fact, I found that the reflection/application questions at the end of each chapter were especially strong compared to other books I've read.  (Having made their case in the bulk of a chapter, some authors will make the mistake of overwhelming a reader with too many questions to actually digest, or only offer low-quality, fluff questions that don't bring the material home.)  Dr. Cook's writing clearly benefits from years of time spent listening to actual clients, and learning how to ask effective questions that prompt meaningful change.  

Dr. Cook's advice is wise and familiarly grounded within the best practices of modern psychology, so there is probably nothing particularly ground-breaking about much of her content; and the book actually covers so many different relational situations, that I (personally) hit a point of emotional over-saturation around chapter 8.  That said--the content is all *really good,* and the *way* it is articulated is even better.  "The Best of You" feels like time spent sitting with the very best kind of therapist--someone who is wise, trustworthy, and deeply committed to helping you become the best version of yourself.

Thank you to the author and publisher for providing me with a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.   Dr. Cook--God bless you! and thank you so much for your work.
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From personal connections to work clients, I see women facing the challenges of the painful patterns Dr. Cook addresses in this book. It's so common, and yet there is so little support for breaking free from the things holding women back. Dr. Cook does that in this book, providing real-life examples that help you feel seen and understood, and then guiding you through a practice process to heal and uncover the best of yourself. I highly recommend this book to women who are ready to overcome what has been limiting them from the best of who God created them to be.
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In "The Best of You", Dr. Alison Cook discusses the patterns and traumas that prevent women from being true to themselves and fully living their lives as God intended. Throughout the book, she reminds us that in order to show up as our true selves, we have to face our wounds and address a number of behaviors that keep us stuck, ranging from people pleasing, to denial of our true emotions. With a warm and straightforward writing style, Dr. Cook provides clear strategies for addressing the obstacles that prevent us from moving forward, while sharing stories of her past struggles, as well as the healing journeys of other women.  The book is filled with practical advice on topics such as setting boundaries, creating authentic connections and more.  I highly recommend the book and plan to read it again.  Thank you, Dr. Cook!
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Amazing book from Dr. Alison Cook. A definite must-read if you are someone tired of feeling hollow inside, feeling like you're missing something, feeling defeated in your growth or life in general.

Steps to becoming more of who you are meant to be are included in this book. It's written in such a way that you can work through it alone, but it would be so much more beneficial to work through with a small group of women who will come alongside each other with the goal of reaching the best that God has for each of you.

So many excellent quotes; I'll include just a few.

"If you are never taught how to develop— and trust —your own sense of self, you have no choice but to blindly trust other people. How can you possibly forge healthy relationships with others— if you don’t first understand how to show up as the person God made you to be?"

"The problem is that healing— whether it’s current heartaches or past wounds— is rarely a one-time event. Healing is a process, a practice, a way of becoming more of who you really are . It’s the work every single one of us has been given to do. It’s the work that I believe is at the center of God’s heart. Healing starts within us and flows out to our loved ones, our neighbors, and our world."

"I didn’t know I could develop what psychologists call agency— that I could heal, grow in assertiveness, and develop a strong sense of self. Instead, I second-guessed every thought, feeling, or longing inside of me. It felt wrong to listen to, let alone trust, my own instincts."

"For centuries, most women have been taught to accept a silent message. This message tells us, Disregard yourself for the sake of others."

"You discount every single thing your mind, your heart, and your body are telling you, because, after all, you were never taught to consider that you might hold the key to what’s missing."

"It’s hard to forge healthy relationships with others if you haven’t been taught that what you want and need matters."

"Sacrificing for others does not mean betraying yourself."

"You can’t heal what you don’t acknowledge. You can’t transform what you’ve pretended doesn’t exist. You don’t heal in the context of shame, criticism , or spiritual bypassing. You heal— and become your true self in God— in the context of safety, honesty, love, and compassion."

"...the voice of shame doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done something wrong. The voice of shame might mean you’re doing something vulnerable, valuable, and brave."

"The truth is, it can seem easier to feel shame than grieve the reality of the support you needed but didn’t get."

There's so much more - I wish I had enough money to buy a copy for all my friends. It's that good.

I received an ARC; this is my honest review.
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"Envisioning the best of you is the starting point for becoming the woman God made you to become."
Dr. Alison Cook is a Christian psychologist who has quickly become a well-respected expert on the integration of faith and psychology. Her work focuses on emotional and spiritual health, drawing from experts like shame researcher Brene Brown, Internal Family Systems creator Richard Schwartz, and trauma therapist Aundi Kolber. Dr. Cook is gifted at translating complex psychological theories and concepts into easily understandable tips and steps for those beginning their journeys toward emotional health.
In her newest book, The Best of You, Dr. Cook aims to "teach you how to do the hard, beautiful work of becoming--and trusting--your truest, deepest self, in partnership with the God who made you." 
The book is divided into four parts. Part 1: Uncover the Hidden You describes concepts like codependency and painful patterns. Part 2: Discover the Best of You includes finding your voice, setting boundaries, and trusting yourself. Part 3: Express the Best of You provides strategies on healing childhood wounds, finding authentic friendships, and healing your relationship with God. Part 4: Live the Best of You commissions readers into a vision of living out these new revelations in their relationships and identity.
This book is very clearly meant for Christian women. Dr. Cook specializes in the integration of psychology and Christianity. As someone who is both a Christian and a psychologist myself, I know how challenging it can be to write and share your ideas with an audience—on one side, you’re too “religious” and on the other side, you’re too “woke”, “liberal”, or “secular.” As I read, I could imagine readers on one side might be uncomfortable with Cook’s emphasis on agency, selfhood, and “becoming your best self”. Readers on the other side may be uncomfortable with the frequent references to God and Scripture. Yet readers who find themselves both open to the wisdom of psychology and grounded in Scripture and faith in God will find a perfect match in The Best of You. 
Dr. Cook is most successful when she is deconstructing Christian platitudes with both reverence and deft. I cheered when Dr. Cook debunked Biblical phrases such as “turn the other cheek”, “honor your parents”, and “the heart is wicked and deceitful” in a way that both challenges traditional interpretations of those verses and honors their true intent. I gained the most from the sections on spiritual abuse and spiritual bypassing—a term I learned for the first time from Dr. Cook on social media.
I found myself nodding along and highlighting various sentences to share with my therapy clients (in fact, I have already recommended the book to a few of my clients). The Best of You is probably best for those with a beginner level of knowledge of psychology or those just starting their journey toward emotional health and boundaries. But for those who have spent some time in therapy and are further along in their healing, there may not be much new ground to cover. Dr. Cook offers a good introduction to concepts such as boundaries and codependency as well as some reflection questions to go deeper. The practical action steps and concrete guidance she provides will help readers put abstract psychological concepts into practice.
In Dr. Cook, we find a wise and safe guide who both validates the impact of confusing church messages and spiritual abuse while pointing us toward the One who can provide ultimate healing.
I received a free ARC through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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“The Best of You” by Dr. Alison Cook - As a follower of the teachings of Dr. Alison Cook, this book makes pure, magical, and instantly usable sense to me. When I applied the seemingly obvious “be good/kind/loving to myself from my God spirit-led self” it virtually takes no time to stop betraying myself or bypassing my pain. Instead, I bear spiritual fruit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, self-control, gentleness, and faithfulness — toward other people and toward myself. I no longer need to give in to painful emotions, nor do I deny them. I no longer bend myself into contortions to appear as if I have it all together. I now pause before I people-please, produce, perform, perfect, or peace-keep. I ask myself to check inside and pray before I commit or communicate. I can also apologize, and course correct when I make mistakes. The best part is I now trusts that I can navigate life’s challenges. This book describes in detail with examples how to have a meaningful life with friendships/relationships in a way that guides you with skills and integrity to change your life so that you become the BEST YOU. I’m on a journey and discovering that I am stepping out of my conditioning— out from under my invisibility cloak into the beautiful person God intended, the same way Jesus has shown up for you— with honesty, and love. To many of us grow up with codependent tendencies because of childhood wounds, confusing church messages, and cultural conditioning.  Life is all too often busted wide open. It’s messy. And yet, our ability to heal, by design, is beautiful. Superb book, I’d recommend it to everyone.
Bless you Alison, your courage, your journey, and most of all for sharing. I look forward to reading your future books.
With deep love and appreciation,
Annie Harmon
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This book shares Alison’s heart for supporting and loving others who are on a journey to discover their best self. As a Christian therapist, she delivers her content in a kind and compassionate tone with continual reminders that we are not to feel shame for the “self” that exists due to negative beliefs and past trauma or wounding. She shows us how connecting with ourselves by naming and processing our feelings and becoming more self aware of our negative beliefs and patterns will support us in our growth toward our best self. She also shares the importance of our relationships to our growth and healing work.

Her message is extremely hopeful for her readers as she unveils truths from scripture as well as best practices from the mental health field that will guide the reader on their path to healing and wholeness.  She does a fantastic job of sharing how our past wounds and trauma have impacted us and the negative patterns that we may have developed as a way of coping with our experiences as children. I especially love the steps she shares for healing these wounds and transforming these negative patterns, as well as the inclusion of clearly defining what is healthy and what is unhealthy for ourselves or what we may be experiencing with others. 

What I especially appreciated about the book was the way Alison shares not only scripture but also ways that Jesus modeled the traits and behaviors that we need to be the best versions of ourselves that God created us to be. As a woman of faith, I appreciated that lens of truth. 

Alison tackles many of the topics that are areas of difficulty for women as a gender, who have cultural expectations placed on them that negatively influence their beliefs about their identity. Alison gives us a glimpse of what our true self is and how it compares to our false self. She also gives suggestions for how we can connect more to ourselves to uncover our true self that may be in hiding, as we move toward becoming our best self. Women tend to struggle with boundaries, people pleasing, perfectionism, seeking approval, etc. and Alison gives us permission to break these patterns and shows us the freedom for our souls that will be the benefit. I found her included tools, reflections, scripts, and personal and client examples that Alison to be valuable and insightful. 

I highly recommend the book to anyone who is seeking hope and healing and wants to become their best self!
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The Best of You challenges me to ask, “What do I want” as I move through each day giving me a new sense of freedom and respect of self!  The whole book feels like a gentle guide allowing me to explore who I am and how to choose life-giving paths that honor my core and my Maker.  The Best of You is a keeper that I will turn to often as I grow and change with the seasons of life.
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This was the best book I have read in a long time. I think I may have highlighted half of it.  I will definitely have to go back and read it again there was so many nuggets of wisdom that you just need to sit with and let the goodness sink in. A must read for any woman going through a divorce!!
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