Beyond the Good Girl Jail: When You Dare to Live from Your True Self

Beyond the Good Girl Jail: When You Dare to Live from Your True Self

by Sandra Felt
Beyond the Good Girl Jail: When You Dare to Live from Your True Self

Beyond the Good Girl Jail: When You Dare to Live from Your True Self

by Sandra Felt


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Contrary to common theories, it is not only good to focus internally, but it's actually healthy to the point of being crucial to developing a loving, spiritual self. Here, Felt uniquely describes the process of that growth and how each step feels in vivid detail, utilizing right-brain language and poetry that emphasizes experiential maturation in addition to left-brain comprehension.

Beyond the Good-Girl Jail is unique in that it is written from a neutral, encouraging, developmental point of view, rather than a mental health point of view, which is sometimes interpreted as judgmental and shaming. It is theoretical in the basics, yet practical. It is psychological, yet not steeped in pathological jargon. Part of the appeal of Felt's approach is her use of case examples and illustrations of the "Self Principles" in various common situations. When you listen from a deeper place, you hear a deeper truth.

This stick-to-the-ribs book will have readers thinking long after reading it. They will not only remember the words and stories, but they will experience a shift in their language and a surprising growth in their choices.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780757318450
Publisher: Health Communications, Incorporated
Publication date: 02/02/2016
Pages: 312
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Sandra Felt, LCSW, is a Board-Certified Diplomate in Clinical Social Work with more than 30 years' experience in private practice treating survivors of extreme childhood trauma. She speaks at national conferences and conducts training workshops related to healing from trauma and strengthening the true self.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

The Many Names of Self

What Do I Know about My Self?

'And what have you been doing lately, Sandy?

There it is—that question. It sounds so simple, but it doesn't feel simple at all. It strikes some kind of raw, electrified nerve I don't even know I have. I drop my jaw. Nothing comes out. How am I to know that such a ridiculously simple question will change my life? The past few years begin to flash through me. When my husband Tom returned safely from an endless year of military deployment, I felt relieved and most grateful. While quite naturally a stay-at-home mom, I had chosen to teach child development at my alma mater while he was gone, hoping to keep myself busy enough to preserve my sanity during a most confusing time. Leaving our one-year-old Eric every morning, though, was simply not my idea of being a good mom. I cried all the way to work on more than a few mornings, my heart aching for easier times.

I believed my life purpose had been renewed when I was once again able to stay home with our now two children, ages one and four. Decorating our home, taking the kids to the park, keeping up with the laundry, having dinner ready when Tom came home, and being ready to go camping on the weekends seemed to easily fulfill my naive but deep need to be a good wife and mother. Wasn't that what life was all about? That's why I'm not prepared for my friend Susan's confronting question.

As the typical Colorado afternoon thunderstorm passes, we finish eating burgers on the patio with our friends and tuck the kids in for the night. We wives migrate indoors to clean up after dinner and chat among ourselves. 'Did I tell you what happened yesterday when my son locked himself in the bathroom?' 'How is your baby doing with her new formula?' 'Brandi's walking already?' And so forth.

As we finish talking through everything about our children, our husbands, our new purchases, and the weather, Susan turns to me to ask that simple-yet-profound, welcomed-yet-hated, innocent-yet-life-changing magical question: 'And what have you been doing lately, Sandy?' How could she have found those amazingly perfect words?

In spite of the warm summer breeze, I freeze inside. I can't move. I can't change the subject. I can't even speak. In spite of the previous free-flowing casual conversation, I have no answer for that question, nothing at all to say. In spite of our seemingly solid friendship, I can't share my truth. Heck, I don't even know my truth! There is simply nothing to draw on to answer that question. I am numb—and suddenly trembling.

What do I do? Nothing important . . . just take care of the kids, I tell myself, but something won't stop gnawing at me. She had definitely said, 'you . . . Sandy,' with an emphasis on you. Who is you? Is there a me? Is there supposed to be a me?? What is that, anyway?

With that one innocent question, Susan touches something I don't yet know. With that one innocent question, I realize my whole life is about being a good girl, a good wife, a good mother. Isn't caring for others the only thing that matters? Isn't that my job? That is what I have been taught. That is what I have learned. While it is important to me to care for my family, I begin to grasp that it is also all that I know. Simply stated, there is NO ME LEFT inside to be doing things. There is no me to have my own interests and no me to have my own opinions and needs. No room exists for me to have any personal life at all. I don't even dare! That isn't even allowed, is it?

I have always said that if there are only three pieces of cake left for the four of us in our little family, I would be the one who didn't take any. Others always come first. In some very significant way, I understand that I don't really count. I am supposed to be behind the scenes, invisible, and supportive of the more important others. I am the secretary, never the president. I am the stage hand, never the director.

My world starts to close in on me. I feel the lid closing tightly on the too-small box I find myself in. I'm forgotten in the back of some dark closet with the door shut. Or is it a jail? Yes, it feels like jail. I suddenly hear the metal door clanging shut, locking me in.

The sudden chill I feel in this moment hardens my flesh into a metallic shell, hiding the giant, dark, and silent hollow I now notice within. Clearly, there is nobody home in Sandyville.

With that one question in that one awakening moment on that one warm summer evening, I discover utter emptiness inside and ask myself, 'Is this all there is?' For the first time, I begin to comprehend that there might be . . . there must be something more to life. My heart aches. I can barely breathe. I want to cry. Something is missing and I don't even know what it is, and I can't stop thinking about that jail door slamming shut!

Reigniting Our True Self

Somewhere deep within each and every one of us lies a fiery ball of energy. It may feel as big as the sun that lights our entire universe or as tiny as a glowing ember barely surviving and hiding, but it is there. It may be damaged by years of horrendous experiences, criticism, judgments, neglect, and the possible misuse of life's apparent pleasures, but it is there. It may never have had a genuine opportunity to grow forth and fully blossom but nothing has ever been able to completely destroy it either.

That fiery ball of energy is our true self. It is universal in each and every one of us and in every culture. It is completely normal, natural, human, and organic to our nature. Experiencing our sense of self is how we know for certain that we are alive, both as unique individuals belonging in this universe and also as one connecting with all others.

Our true self, our precious me, is that authentic little voice deep within that naturally drives us to keep growing ever deeper and more real, experiencing every moment of our life as we flow onward toward coming fully alive.

Our true self is our light that shines, radiating aliveness in all directions. It is the source of all creative expression. It is the solid mass that fills that hungry, hollow emptiness I first acknowledged when Susan asked me that magical question. It is everything authentic about us.

Our true self can feel safe living in an unsafe world. It is the rock that holds us steady when the hurricanes come and the sunshine that feels warm and clear after the depths of depression and confusion have passed. Our true self is home. It knows our purpose. It knows what's what. It cares and knows what is important. It is our reason to get out of bed in the morning and our reason to rear our children lovingly.

Unfortunately, many of us don't know our precious true self very well. If we haven't listened to it for years, it tends to be elusive and underdeveloped. It may even feel like a stranger.

This first chapter reintroduces us to our true self and helps us to recognize the common characteristics of an underdeveloped sense of self. It dispels the common beliefs that have led us to mistakenly see the self as some kind of negative quality that must be avoided and kept under control.

Beyond the Good-Girl Jail: When You Dare to Live from Your True Self is an invitation to come to know and claim this true sense of self that is deep within each and every one of us—the me that fills the aching emptiness I discovered that day with my friend Susan.

Do you feel that same aching emptiness inside that I did? Do you wonder if there could be more to your life? Are you ready to thoroughly enjoy being the precious one you genuinely are? Most of all, do you want to know your truth—no matter what it is?

A Center with Many Names

The sense of self is an internal energy with numerous names. Many other authors have named and described it from their own point of view.

Sue Monk Kidd, describing her own journey, writes about our Deepest Self and 'the voice of soul in the solar plexus that spins the thread of our own truth.'1
Thomas Moore, a former Catholic monk and professor of religion and psychology, refers to the original self as the 'one who lives from the burning core of our heart.'2
Gerald G. May, MD, author of The Dark Night of the Soul, describes an inner wilderness he calls 'the untamed truth of who you really are.'3
Gail Larsen speaks lovingly about activating 'your inner Holy Fool.'4
James F. Masterson, MD, distinguishes the real self from the false self and suggests that 'no matter how much we change, something basic in us holds its own.'?5

1 Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter: A Woman's Journey from Christian Tradition to the Sacred Feminine (New York: HarperOne, 1996), 191, 224.
2 Thomas Moore, Original Self: Living with Paradox and Originality (New York: HarperCollins, 2000), v–vi.
3 Gerald G. May, The Wisdom of Wilderness: Experiencing the Healing Power of Nature (New York: HarperOne, 2006), 18.
4, accessed November 9, 2015.
5 James F. Masterson, The Search for the Real Self: Unmasking the Personality Disorders of Our Age (New York: The Free Press, 1988), 25.

©2015 Sandra Felt. All rights reserved. Reprinted from Beyond the Good Girl Jail: When You Dare to Live from Your True Self. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, without the written permission of the publisher. Publisher: Health Communications, Inc., 3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442.

Table of Contents

Foreword xi

Acknowledgments xiii

Introduction 1

Part I Recognizing Our True Self 7

Chapter 1 The Many Names of Self 9

Chapter 2 Daring TO Listen TO Our Self 27

Chapter 3 Listening Through the Fog of Fear 45

Part II Reconnecting with Our True Self 65

Chapter 4 Creating Our Own Safety 67

Chapter 5 Hearing Our Physical Body 85

Chapter 6 Engaging Our Feelings 103

Part III Rebuilding Our True Self 123

Chapter 7 Emphasizing Choices 125

Chapter 8 Cherishing Time Alone 143

Chapter 9 Updating Core Beliefs 157

Part IV Returning Home to Our True Self 177

Chapter 10 Claiming What Fits Me 179

Chapter 11 Letting Go of What is Not Me 197

Chapter 12 Honoring Our Own Boundaries 217

Part V Living from Our true Self 235

Chapter 13 Standing in OUR Truth 237

Chapter 14 Uncorking Our Voice 257

Chapter 15 Dancing in Daffodils 279

Related Reading 295

Endnotes 297

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