The car payment is overdue.
Rent is about the same.
He goes drinking with friends, doesn’t go to work and says he wants to be successful.
Then Jason VanRuler actually looked in the mirror.
“I don’t like that guy at all,” he recalls thinking. “It just hit me. What you are saying and what you are doing are different.”
It wasn’t an overnight transformation, but the commitment reflected in him had begun to take root. It brought the Minneapolis-based recruiter to Sioux Falls, where he eventually became a therapist helping the very people he once saw looking back at him in that mirror.
From his Sioux Falls office, he sees clients struggling with relationships, addiction and other traumas. When traveling around the country or logging in from home, he delivers the same therapy and coaching to famous athletes and other high-profile clients – “people who are truly invested in developing and change,” he said.
From his Instagram account, he racked up 138,000 followers with quick snippets of relationship-oriented content like this:
“Everything is relational, but for me, coming from a business background and really interested in business, I found myself doing a lot of work with people who were founders, CEOs executive or leadership,” he said. “That’s something I’m very clear about because I understand some of their unique challenges.”
VanRuler’s own story begins with a childhood that saw his parents divorce when he was just eight years old.
“I went from being very stable to being very unstable, and it was really difficult for me,” he said. “I never really dealt with it and it really affected me.”
He tried to do the opposite of what he felt he had been modeled on, “and that didn’t work very well,” he said. “I’m not a good partner. I didn’t know what I was doing and I wasn’t doing it right. Did not take responsibility. Not yet an adult I ran away from this.”
When he met his future wife, suddenly “there was actually a good reason to do some things because she was a super strong and stable person in my life,” he said.
That, he says, led him to invest in his studies and eventually take on a therapy role. He has worked with people just released from prison to “people who have everything.” “We are all very similar.”
He often asks clients, “What is it about your past that keeps popping up and holding you back?” he say. “And we all have one. When we make peace with it… it really opens doors that were previously closed.”
This philosophy is at the heart of the book VanRuler released this month. “Get Over Your Past,” he says, is motivated by his experience helping people make peace with whatever is holding them back, “using it as a springboard to achieve something better.”
“It’s the book I wish I’d had when I really needed it, but also a practical guide because in the therapy world we say things like, ‘Let’s do the work’ or ‘Let’s do the work’. Lean on it’, and I’m almost literal. and always think, what does that mean? What job are you doing? So I wanted to write a book to explain what that looks like.”
He said that in his daily work, he hears a lot about communication.
“How do we handle vulnerability well? How can we empathize well and be a good listener? I think those are the things people are struggling with,” he said. “Vulnerability is really a buzzword but no one explains the nuances. Being vulnerable isn’t just about sharing every thought or feeling. And some people come to me wanting to learn how to do it better.”
Post-pandemic, he added, the relationship landscape has changed for many people.
“A lot of people are struggling, what do I really want? What is my purpose and where do I find joy?” he say. “I see a lot of couples saying, ‘Just going through COVID has really exacerbated some of the issues we’ve had for a long time, and now we’re in a place where we should have been. haven’t been able to solve them for a while, but we really need to solve them.”
Dating, he said, is a completely different matter.
“It’s great for me to see the younger generation — they want to do well — but it also disadvantages them because they don’t know how to do it,” VanRuler said. “I talk to a lot of people about how to show up for a healthy relationship, what does dating look like when I use apps to make connections? And it’s really difficult.”
When not writing, creating content, or meeting with clients, VanRuler speaks nationally and has delivered several retreats, corporate seminars, and keynote speeches.
“It’s becoming increasingly important to me to grow more of the communities here,” he said of Sioux Falls. “That’s what I would teach people to do. We are at our best when we have community, but Sioux Falls is also a real competitor to a lot of cities. It may not always be the case, but we have some great things going on.”
To learn more about VanRuler’s new book, click here.
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