Today’s interview is with Jane Wyker, author of Soul Selfish: The Awakening of a “Good Girl”, a memoir which shares the vast experience of Jane’s 46-year inner journey. Jane is, in a word, AMAZING. Her book rocked my world and corresponding with her lit a fire under me.
Working in over a dozen different psychological, mind-body and spiritual disciplines, Jane had the courage and faith to follow the guidance of many teachers and, ultimately, her own soul. Now 80 years old, she models a life that is created from within, demonstrating that sustained happiness rests upon soul connection.
Lauren: Something that resonated so strongly for me from Soul Selfish was the idea of the “awakening of a good girl.” For all of my life I’ve struggled with people-pleasing and toxic relationships. What can a person do to break out of this cycle? How will they know when they’ve broken out of it for good?
Jane: People-pleasing is an outer directed focus, unconsciously looking for love from others. Children are dependent. Their very survival depends upon their parents and they see their parents as the source of their love. If they obey them and are ‘good’ they will receive love. If they are disobedient, they may be punished, which certainly doesn’t feel like they are loved.
As we grow towards our independence we may learn that love is a spiritual energy that is available to us all. As we begin to direct our love towards ourselves, our relationships change dramatically. Rather than people-pleasing to earn love, we give love to ourselves by listening to our desires, our feelings, our needs, our tastes and our talents, to make ourselves happy. Then, our self-love can fill us and overflow to others. Coming to our relationships from fullness breaks dependency and people-pleasing that is imprisoning.
Vestiges of “good girl” might show up from time to time, but as you work on focusing primarily on your truth and well-being, those incidents will continue to diminish. Self-love is the powerful antidote to ‘good girl.’
Lauren: One of the things I so admired about your book was how authentic and real it was. You were so emotionally vulnerable, but also came across as incredibly strong and inspirational. Was it hard to be that vulnerable while you were in the process of writing? What advice do you have for memoir writers who are struggling with the vulnerability piece of the process?
Jane: I didn’t find it difficult to be vulnerable in my writing because my purpose was to share the value of the inner process. Every human being has pain, fear, anger and insecurity. It is only through expressing it and letting it go that we open the internal space to grow.
We cannot be more vulnerable in our writing than we are in ourselves. Writers have the opportunity to open possibilities for others to explore their vulnerability through the characters in their stories and in memoirs. No, it wasn’t difficult for me since I was simply fulfilling my purpose of sharing the freedom, growth and happiness that is possible by letting go of inner discord to open space for potential happiness.
What I did find more difficult was exposing the vulnerability of others. I was concerned about how I was portraying them. Was I revealing too much? Was I being fair? Perhaps the ‘good girl’ was operating, more concerned about others than I was about my message. In any case, I wrote only as much as I thought was necessary to get my points across with the power they deserved.
There is a famous saying that I strive to live by: “What others think of me is none of my business.” Deepak Chopra agrees, and adds: “If I make it my business, I will spend the rest of my life being offended!”
Lauren: I adore the way you approach the issue of aging in Soul Selfish. So often I see people who are terrified of growing older and transitioning between different stages of life. What are your thoughts on attitudes about aging in our culture? How can we empower ourselves to feel good about whatever age we are?
Jane: First and foremost, the only time we have is NOW! No matter what age, this is the moment of decision. This is the moment of opportunity!
We live in a youth-based culture where youth is adored and age is abhorred. Again, where is my focus — inner or outer? Where do I place the power? When it is inside, it is easy and comfortable to simply be myself, follow my own ideas, style, interests, and participate in my relationships.
When I am outer-directed, I am concerned about what others might think or feel about me — sometimes pleased, other times, not. The only way to empower ourselves at any age is to be authentic to our inner selves.
Lauren: In your book you talked about how the practice of journaling was part of your awakening process. Do you still journal regularly? Would you recommend that everyone keep a journal, or just writers?
Jane: Journaling is a very effective practice of staying in touch with your inner self; your thoughts, feelings, desires and needs. When I journal, I can feel myself spiraling inward, often starting off with the events of my days, followed by thoughts, feelings and impressions that I didn’t realize I had at the time. I think journaling is an effective tool for anyone interested in staying internally connected.
My first journaling experiences started many years ago after reading Julia Cameron’s book, “The Artist’s Way.” She suggested doing “Morning Pages,” just two pages of whatever thoughts surface. This led me to see and hear myself more deeply, and eventually led me to connect with my spiritual guidance through other forms of meditation.
Lauren: I really loved how frank and candid you were about women’s sexuality in Soul Selfish. I’ve often thought that sex might be the most-talked-about-but-not-really-talked-about topic in our society. What advice do you have for writers who want to broach this sensitive subject in their writing?
Jane: I have the same advice for writers as I do for all people — to think of sexuality as divine expression. We are born with beautiful bodies to be honored, taken care of and enjoyed.
There is much misconception and ignorance about sexuality, also much degradation. Through their stories, writers have a great opportunity to express the beauty and sacredness of sexuality, its power, playfulness and pleasure. Sexual energy feeds our life force, passion and creativity, and when combined with love, there is magic.
Lauren: Your book focuses on your journey as a woman through life and how you learned to step fully into your own power. Do you think your book could also be of benefit to men?
Jane: One of the lovely surprises I have received from publishing Soul Selfish has been the frequent and positive response I have received from men. I have heard from many who now see themselves as ‘good boys,’ just as they did as children, unconsciously continuing to look for their value and worth outside of themselves through the approval of others. Approval is not love. While our society treats men and women differently in terms of roles and opportunities, the inner life works the same in both sexes. Our beliefs create our feelings, which create our choices and actions.
Happily, I have also heard that through reading Soul Selfish, men are more able to understand and empathize with their women’s feelings and challenges. It is my joy to support deeper connection.
Lauren: If readers want to learn more about becoming “Soul Selfish” where should they start?
Lauren: Do you have plans to write another book? Can you share any details with us?
Jane: At this time I am enjoying the experience of writing and speaking for Soul Selfish. It is my priority to bring this message into the world as widely as possible.
I may think about another book in the future when the roots of Soul Selfish are firmly planted.