Within the first paragraph of the introduction to Beyond the Good-Girl Jail: When You Dare to Live from Your True Self by Sandra Felt, the author describes the meaning of the book’s title. A “good-girl jail” is the state of mind in which one locks herself, by trying always to be “good,” instead of just being the genuine human being she was born. Felt states that while in the process of attempting to live life the “right” way, she completely lost who she was as a person. So, just in the very first few pages of this novel, the main theme is illustrated–a theme which is not only relatable to almost everyone (dare I say), but also one that is deeply personal to me. I was hooked right away.
Felt goes on to say that there is no one “correct” way to live, and it took her years to realize this. What may be the good life to one, may not be to another. She proceeds to address the readers and asks us to accompany her on the journey to find our inner personas, so we, too, can be freed from any mental barriers we’ve placed on ourselves.
Part One: Recognizing Our True Self
Sandra Felt first comes face-to-face with the disconcerting and confusing question of who she is when one of her friends asks her an ostensibly very simple question: “what have you been doing lately?” All that can come to Felt’s mind is how she has been taking care of her husband and children. She is stunned to realize she cannot think of one thing that she has been doing for herself, subsequently opening her eyes to the even more frightening realization that she doesn’t even know who “herself” is. Or, even worse, she has lost her true self, leaving her only with the thoughts and feelings for everyone else around her.
If anyone else has been through this, the next question is how do we find ourselves again? How do we release ourselves from these jails in which we are psychologically imprisoned? Felt takes the next few chapters to explain the first steps to regaining one’s sense of self, including separating self from ego, overcoming all of the surrounding fear, and how to recognize, trust, and actually listen to our own thoughts.
Part Two: Reconnecting With Our True Self
In this section, Felt details how to feel safe with our inner selves. Some of us, like the author herself, have gone so long not even recognizing our real selves, that it may seem overwhelming and dangerous to follow this new thought pattern–and even more so to act on it. She acknowledges this legitimate fear and even includes some beautiful poetry illustrating it.
I loved the way the author seems to reach out and take the readers’ hands, allowing us to walk alongside her on this journey to inner discovery. The topic matter, when deeply assessed, is somewhat terrifying, even anxiety-inducing. Despite this, Felt alleviates the fear and panic with her words of understanding and empathy.
Part Three: Rebuilding Our True Self / Part Four: Returning Home To Our True Self / Part Five: Living From Our True Self
One of the best aspects of this book is that Felt doesn’t just explain what’s wrong, why you need to fix it, and the steps you need to take in order to fix it. She goes even further with the last three parts of the book by elaborating on how to “re-start” our lives once we have accepted the people we truly are. These were the best and most fulfilling sections of the book for me, as they provided answers to the question I had been thinking: once I get in touch with who I really am, what do I do next?
Sandra Felt addresses a very unsettling, yet very real issue in Beyond the Good-Girl Jail. So many of us are going through life doing things we think that everyone else wants us to do. We usually don’t even realize that we are not living for ourselves; that we aren’t dedicating our existence to our own desires, passions, and needs. Understanding the need for a change is the first rung on the ladder of self-discovery. From there, it’s a journey– a long, challenging, confusing journey. Felt eloquently, sympathetically, and intelligently illustrates the process of this journey. And she is with you every step of the way.
Twisted Talk: Have you read any self help books before? Do you find them useful? Discuss below!