Fifteen years ago, clinical psychologist Dr. Kelly Flanagan tried an experiment. Out of concern that his depression and resentment were damaging his marriage and wounding his two sons, he resolved to read no more self-help books for an entire year. Instead, he would only engage in self-reflection—he would go on an inward journey of meditation, contemplation, and prayer in the hopes of salvaging his outer world.
Six months into that experiment, during an apocalyptic morning at a U.S. Marine base, he discovered he was not who he thought he was. For the first time, he stepped out of the false self he’d been crafting since he was a boy. And seeing his false self for the first time, he had the experience of inhabiting his true self—the part of him doing the seeing.
For Kelly, this initiated a deep dive into the nature of the false self (a term first coined by Catholic monk Thomas Merton), later called the ego by Father Richard Rohr, and something Kelly now calls “the crafted self.” In this book, Kelly shares everything he has learned in the last fifteen years about the anatomy of the human soul and psyche, including the three protective personas in everyone’s false self, the reason we form a false self in the first place, and the nature of our true self—or as Kelly now calls it, the “original self.”
The opposite of a textbook, here Kelly leaves his role as a clinical psychologist behind, eschewing client stories entirely, as he takes us on a journey into his own awakening, through his false self, and into the heart of what it means to be human. As such, this book becomes a roadmap for each of us, a guided encounter with our own humanity—an encounter that will leave you feeling whole, and wholly equipped for the rest of the journey ahead.
“Part self-help, part spiritual formation, part memoir, part imaginative fiction, Kelly Flanagan’s newest offering is above all practical. His conversations with his own false self, wounded self, and true self brought me heightened awareness of, increased compassion for, and more courage to be vulnerable about my own inner gathering. I’ve never felt more at peace with my own humanity.” —O
Dr. Kelly Flanagan is an author, speaker, personal growth and relationship coach, and a licensed clinical psychologist. His writing has been featured in Reader's Digest, Huffington Post, and The 5 Love Languages, and he has appeared on the TODAY Show with his daughter. He is the author of two non-fiction books, Loveable and True Companions, both of which debuted as a #1 New Release in Interpersonal Relations on Amazon. His first novel, The Unhiding of Elijah Campbell, was released in October 2022 and made the ECPA Bestseller List. His second novel, The Keeper of Crimes, is slated for a 2024 release. In the meantime, he’s turning the publishing process upside down by writing his next non-fiction book on Substack, with the editorial feedback of his faithful readers. Kelly is married to another clinical psychologist named Kelly, and they have three children who are nineteen, fifteen, and thirteen years old. They live in a small town outside of Chicago where, on any snowy morning before dawn, the street light across the road is reminiscent of the lamp post in Narnia where Lucy met Tumnus.
I am interested to see how - what I’m assuming will be - a personal awareness of IFS, clarifies the intentions and protections of the human heart. When I went to school to become a therapist, I thought I would learn how to help people. I never imagined the depth of character work and soul-searching that would be required to live authentically. Thank you for openly processing your own internal work. I’m looking forward to seeing how your personal application and introspection impacts my own journey, and also helps me love others well, empowering them in the present moment. I appreciate your transparency.
Wow. This is SO familiar to me! I've worked through a lot in my life, and at 74 I hope I still have lots to do. But I might not. I look forward to this journey. THANK YOU KELLY.