Tag Archive 'Incredible Sulk'

Aug 27 2009

My Ego, My Funny Amigo – Issue #25

In the past I have been appalled by the embarrassing antics of my ego. I’ve felt like a mortified mother in a supermarket with a little monster who was acting out. To that little monster, the mortified mother was “the Momster”, trying to control and subdue it with criticism and shaming. I used to wonder, “How is anyone ever going to love me when I have all THAT going on inside me?” I tried to hide and get rid of these parts of myself, but that was futile – it was like pushing down a Jack-in-the-box; when tension built, POP goes the weasel, and all hell would break lose, again! I wondered what to do about this motley, menacing menagerie within me.

Fortunately, along the way, I discovered the miracle of mindfulness. In 1990 I participated in a two-year Hakomi training where we were taught to develop a compassionate witness – an inner Jane Goodall who sits in the expansive field of awareness, observing the monkeys in our mind, and all their shenanigans, with non-judgmental curiosity.  Through the magic of mindfulness these manic monkeys calm down. Instead of seeing them as malevolent beasts, I learned to see them with compassion, to befriend them, and understand that they came into being to help us cope, be safe and survive in this jungle called life.

Several years later I discovered Gay and Katie Hendricks’ Conscious Loving Foundation workshop. There we were encouraged to not only befriend our ego defenses and life strategies (Personas), but to play with them and give them names. I met my husband Tom in an advanced Hendricks training. We danced together during the breaks, playfully moving like wild chimps, making monkey faces and noises at each other. We were having fun letting the other see our most contorted, ugly faces. Instead of being uninvited guests, we welcomed our defenses to the party. When defenses aren’t invited to the party, they crash it.  So we might as well welcome them, play with them, and put the fun into fundamentally flawed!

Gay and Katie created an ingenious tool for getting to know these parts of ourselves, called the Persona Interview.  You tell an interviewer the name of the persona you want interviewed. (Some of Tom’s persona names are Professor Reason A Bull, Mona Lott, and Mr. Oh Oh – some of mine are Goody Two Shoes, Chopped Liver, and The Incredible Sulk). The interviewer invites you to get into the posture and character of that persona, and then ask the persona the following questions: (I’ll use The Incredible Sulk as an example):

(Picture my Incredible Sulk persona standing with arms folded, head down, lower lip protruding).

 

Welcome, Incredible Sulk. What’s the most important thing to you?

I want people to pay attention to me.

 

Incredible Sulk, what are you most proud of?

I Do get peoples attention.

 

Incredible Sulk, when did you make your first appearance?

When I was a little girl, maybe 3 or 4.

 

Incredible Sulk, who did you learn your style from?

My mother.

 

Incredible Sulk, what are you most afraid of?

I’m afraid that no one cares about me and how I feel.

 

Incredible Sulk, what do you most want?

I want to matter and be important to someone.


Thank you, Incredible Sulk.


This is a great way to gain insight into our personas, to feel compassion and understanding for them and discover the essence qualities at the heart of them. 

After the workshop Tom and I spent the week together, mostly at my house on the Santa Barbara Riviera. During that week, every day, all day, there was a slow, steady, metronomic sound in the distance, a pound, pound, pounding of pilings being installed for the foundation of a new building downtown. That was the perfect background sound for the beginning of our relationship – we were building a strong foundation by being fully present and authentic with each other, revealing all our personas, defenses and life strategies, creating a space of acceptance, a vast playground where everything could show up. I would ask myself, “Can I reveal THAT to him?” Yes, I could. I’ve always felt a deep desire to be All of myself, to be real, to take the girdle off and let it all hang out. I longed to find someone who would hang out with me in that space of ungirded openness, curiosity and exploration.

Ten years later Tom and I still live and play on that playground. We are allies in mindfully witnessing and sharing our ego defenses, revealing our inner tribe of chimps. From the perspective of the big open field of awareness, our egos are very funny – our egos are our funny amigos. Tom and I are partners in wholeness, welcoming and learning from all of our ego amigos. We are actually much more than partners…we are wholeners…becoming whole together by loving and accepting the whole menagerie of inner selves! One day I asked Tom, “Do you love all of me’s?” He smiled and said, “One of me’s does.”

Do you love all of you’s? Or are there some who mortify you and make you cringe? Invite them to the party and give them a party hat! When we welcome all parts of us, the party transforms into a wholely experience.

 In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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Jun 24 2009

Mirror-cle at the Grand Canyon – Issue #17

Tom and I spent last weekend at a family reunion with my mother’s side of the family at the Grand Canyon. There were 31 of us, many I had never met before, converging from all parts of the world. We traveled together in our own private rail car on a 2-hour train ride from Williams, Arizona to the Grand Canyon. At first I felt nervous and shy and apart from everyone. Eventually as I looked at them and saw familiar features, the same mouths, similar eyes looking back at me, I remembered that we are all a part of each other, and I began to relax and enjoy the journey.

My mother died 3 years ago but I could imagine her traveling with us, reveling in this family gathering. I was also aware of her within me when a singing cowboy moseyed onto our train car, and I began to sing along with him. When I was a child, my mother would do something like that, and I’d be so embarrassed. I also experienced my mother in me when some personas that we had in common, Miss Bossy Pants and Nervous Nell, showed up the day before on the 9-hour car drive with Tom to Arizona – and The Incredible Sulk was about to make an appearance later in the day. On my refrigerator I have a magnet with a picture of a woman from the 1950’s and she’s wearing a little kerchief, a pretty pink sweater, and red lipstick and the caption reads, “Despite years of personal development, she still turned into her mother.”

Yup, it’s true. What I’ve discovered is that everything I ever judged about my mother and everyone else in my family (and in my life) is in me. That’s the interesting thing about self-awareness; it’s like turning on a light in the attic and seeing all the cobwebs and creepy crawlies very clearly and seeing that they are mine. Everything I’ve been judging and projecting onto others is in me. Life is a mirror -  becoming aware of that is what I call a mirror-cle.

Despite my many years of personal growth, I still get stuck – I get carried away on a run-away train of thought, hijacked by my defensive reactions. The big difference now is that mindfulness, my compassionate witness, observes it all and sees how my stuckness originates within me. Standing above the Grand Canyon and observing the twists and turns below, is similar to mindfulness, observing the twists and turns of thoughts and feelings within. It’s pretty much a given that defenses will be activated occasionally, especially in times of stress.

When we arrived at the Grand Canyon I asked Tom to hold my purse, with my jacket draped over it, while I was getting my picture taken with my cousins. My sister Carol saw this and thought, “Isn’t that nice. He’s holding her purse and jacket for her.” Tom has what he calls a Mr. Wonderful persona. When I went to get my purse back from him, my jacket was gone. “Where’s my jacket?” I asked him. “What jacket?” he asked, oblivious to it’s having been draped over the purse. He had lost my jacket! Tom also has a self-acknowledged Mr. Blunderful persona, who, to his dismay, often follows close on the heels of Mr. Wonderful.

I could feel my adrenaline hornets start to swarm as I descended into an emotional ravine, and began turning into the Incredible Sulk. “He lost my favorite jacket!” As I stood at the edge of the Grand Canyon, looking out over the panoramic view, I could clearly see the overview of my inner descent. My internal witness took it all in – the buzzing adrenaline hornets, the huffy wet hen thoughts, the Incredible Sulk, the powerful pull of this physical/emotional hijacking; and in that moment I felt compassion and understanding for myself, for my mother, for all of us who get stuck in our defensive reactions. Like gravity, they are an extremely compelling force. From atop the Grand Canyon I viewed this all unfolding within me…then I took a deep breath, smiled, and took Tom’s hand as we walked along the edge of this vast overview, consciously making the choice to shift from my snitness to my witness. Now that’s a miracle! (p.s. The jacket eventually was found!)

When I feel apart from others, I am learning to remember that I am a part of them and they are a part of me – we are all connected, we are all on a journey together, at a family re-union, here to witness the grand overview, seeing how it all fits together, seeing how we all fit together, and discovering that life is one big mirror-cle.

I’ve written a poem about this:

REFLECTIONS OF ONE

What I think are enemies

are really just the many me’s

projected out identities

for me to see and love.

Some will shout obscenities,

some without amenities,

all seem to be them, not me,

yet all are mine to love.

Mirrors, mirrors all around, 

reflections of myself abound.

What most wants to be loved is found

in what I judge in you.

Loving is the alchemy

that transforms you and me to we,

the mirror-cle that helps me see,

that we are really One.


What is your life reflecting back to you? What is showing up to be faced and embraced? Are you ready for a mirror-cle? 

 In Love,

Jan Jacobsen

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