Tag Archive 'Persona Interview'

Mar 17 2014

The Healing Power of Play – Issue #108

I’m excited to announce that I’m quoted in a new book by Dr. Kelly Turner! She traveled the world researching the common denominators in people who healed their cancer naturally and she reveals the top nine healing factors in her wonderful book, Radical Remission: Surviving Cancer Against All Odds. I’m especially excited that my quote is about one of my favorite things – loosening the grip of negative emotions through play!

One of the nine healing factors she writes about is the importance of having positive emotions like joy, love, and happiness, which turn on healing genes and enhance the immune system. But it’s a tall order to feel positive feelings when cancer (and death!) is rattling your cage. When I was diagnosed with cancer despite all my years of living a health-conscious life, I tried to be positive, but a biting bitterness was chomping at the bit, grousing, “Geesh, I ate salads and drank wheat grass juice every frickin’ day and still got cancer! And my 80-year-old neighbor is puffing on cigarettes and hacking away all day and she’s probably going to outlive me! I might as well eat junk food and take up smoking!”

So I named this cynical one Cynny and invited her to fully express herself. Here’s my quote from the Radical Remission book: Play is a powerful shift tool when I’m stuck in negative patterns. When I notice my cynical attitude is taking over, I play with it! I give it a name, Cynny, and I exaggerate her grousing. I let her rip! This brings her out of the shadows, into the light, into wholeness, and I expand into the playful, prayerful state of grace. Plus, it’s just plain fun!

It’s true. When I exaggerate and play with whichever one of the miffed me’s I’m stuck in, it helps release the stuckness. Whether it’s feeling cynical about cancer or feeling like ‘chopped liver’ in a relationship – playing with it helps it play through. When every one of our shadows (disowned parts) is welcomed, then there’s nothing lurking in the shadows, and the shadows become integrated – the result is wholeness (the words ‘whole’ and ‘heal’ share the same root).

Recently I felt hurt by something a friend did, and the hurt festered into resentment. I was so stuck in vitriolic victimhood that I was ashamed to tell my husband Tom about it. I could see it clearly and knew it was my stuff, but I was stuck and couldn’t release it. Fortunately my need for transparency won out and I told him and he offered to do a Persona Interview (created by Gay and Katie Hendricks who also introduced me to persona play.) The interviewer asks the persona these six questions: What’s the most important thing to you? What are you most proud of? When did you make your first appearance? Who did you learn your style from? What are you most afraid of? What do you most want?

What I discovered is that this resentful persona is a darker cousin of Cynny – I call this one the Creeping Crud of Resentment. It takes over when hurt feelings fester into resentment. In the persona interview I let myself BE the Creeping Crud of Resentment, full-blown, sneering, snarling, loud and unleashed, letting it all hang out. I had to laugh at her vehement victim vengeance – she’s so wicked! I understood her and liked her better when I learned that what she deeply wants is to know that people care about how she feels (and what she most fears is that they don’t care). When the persona interview was completed, I looked at Tom sheepishly and asked, “Do you still like me?” He smiled and said, “I like you even more.” (He loves when I get emotionally naked!)

Another key healing factor that Kelly Turner discovered among cancer thrivers was the value of clearing emotional blockages by releasing suppressed emotions. In other words, bringing our shadows into the light where they can be healed.  (It’s interesting that when cancer is seen on an x ray it’s seen as a shadow.) The Creeping Crud of Resentment is one of my most embarrassing shadows. You know it’s a shadow when it’s something you’re ashamed of and try to hide. The more I bring this shadow into light and befriend and play with it, the more it lightens up and heals (and I believe it continues to heal whatever cancer may still remain in my body).

It’s true — love, joy, and happiness can heal what ails us, and so can facing, revealing and releasing whatever dark feelings are repressing our aliveness (and our immune system). There are many ways to do that, but for me the most fun way is to play with it, welcome it, make it bigger and more outrageous! When you crack yourself up, you crack yourself open and are more available for deep learning and healing. And, if you can laugh at something, you can be free of it.

What shadows of yours are you most ashamed to reveal? Invite them to the party, give them a party hat, exaggerate them, let it rip, and celebrate the healing power of play!

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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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