There are many aspects of our being, and each of those aspects requires attention and care. If we do not tend to all aspects of ourselves, we cannot experience inner balance, and therefore cannot be in integrity with our true self.
How can we be whole if certain parts of ourselves are neglected, missing or overpowering?
The coaching experience is largely about noticing our being, and transforming it to generate more balance, harmony and peace. I want to take a look at one of the most critical aspects of inner balance that we can consider in our lives, that of balancing the feminine and the masculine within us, or what the eastern traditions speak of as the yin and the yang aspects of our being.
We all have the masculine and feminine principles living within us, regardless of our gender. All of life in its wholeness and completeness has masculine and feminine principles. But what are these principles?
I invite you to think in pictures as you read this article, rather than looking for lists, forms or structures that will explain specific elements of masculine and feminine principles.
Why is thinking in pictures important? First, it engages imagination and creativity. It also allows something to come alive within you, from your own perspective, rather than simply being concepts listed on paper.
Consider the hunter in early human life. He is strong, warrior-like, and very focused. He can persevere. He has the willingness to take action and make things happen to protect and provide for his family. He can produce the necessary tools to achieve his goals, and maintain strong protective boundaries. His focused attention and intention keep him going until his task is achieved. What else do you see when you picture the hunter?
Consider the gatherer in early human existence. She is an excellent observer. She knows what is needed in any moment, having a diffuse awareness of the situation. She is tuned in to the needs of those around her, the environment she exists in, and her strong intuition. She recognizes what is beneficial, and what is detrimental to her family and community. She is a nurturer, able to nurture her family by knowing where the medicines, foods and materials are that are required to survive. She is strong, able to endure long preparations for the sake of caring for those she loves. What other qualities do you see in the gatherer?
The archetypes of hunter and gatherer are one way of imagining the masculine and feminine principles. We can also look at the archetypes of the healthy Father and Mother.
The Father is loyal, constantly there for his family, strong with intention, and willing to provide and protect as best he can. He takes action to support his family, and do what is required to make adjustments as needed. He can be assertive, set clear boundaries, and offer a clear vision. How else do you see the Father?
The Mother is nurturing, supportive and receptive. She takes in the Father’s vision, receiving it and manifesting it with her creative capacity to birth. She sees all of her children, honoring their needs, unique gifts and perspectives. She notices what is needed for the whole, and brings harmony and beauty to life. She is able to reside in the unknown, trusting that she will discover what is needed in the right timing. She can navigate the chaos and turmoil of life’s transitions and changes, while maintaining compassion for all involved. What other characteristics can you see in the Mother?
When these elements of hunter/Father, gatherer/Mother are in an unhealthy state, we see the strength of the hunter/Father become competitive, war-like, self-aggrandizing, self-centered, lacking wisdom, and controlling, while the nurturing of the gatherer/Mother becomes passive, lacking in the feeling of worthiness, self-depleting, nit-picky and excessively worried.
It is easy to see in today’s culture that there is a lack of health in both the masculine and the feminine roles. Both have gone to their extremes, and both feed each other’s unhealthy sides.
I hear many people speak in blame about how this came to be. Honestly, I don’t think it really matters how it came to be.
If we long to create a more balanced future, we can begin by looking at what exists in this moment, considering what is out of balance, and moving toward generating balance without swinging to an opposite extreme.
Given that we all have both the feminine and the masculine aspects of being within us, and we are all striving for a greater sense of balance and harmony, I invite you to ask yourself the following questions about each of these aspects of your being. Consider them in connection with various domains of your life, such as relationships, parenting, self expression, etc.
- Where in your life do you find yourself being overly competitive, feeling threatened or being too aggressive?
- In what situations are you not setting boundaries for yourself, or perhaps setting too many?
- Do you find yourself frequently wanting to control things, struggling to let go or be in the flow of life?
- Are you able to focus on your goals and persevere to achieve them?
- Are there times when you act too quickly, without taking a larger perspective into account?
- Are you giving so much of yourself to others that you’ve lost sight of what you need or want for yourself, or find yourself depleted and drained?
- Are you able to ask for support and receive it?
- When in your life do you feel like a victim?
- How does collaboration happen in your life?
- Do you remain open to many perspectives and possibilities, able to accept the unknown and trust life’s unfolding?
- How often do you find yourself overly worried, or critical of things when they are not as you would like them?
There is no question as to the largely masculine nature of our culture today. We do need to bring more feminine qualities to the fore. At the same time, we must know how the masculine qualities are beneficial and needed in their healthy forms so that we do not find ourselves in yet another state of imbalance and disharmony. These questions are but a few that can be asked to consider your own state of balance. As you learn to see more of what the qualities of the feminine and masculine are, and how they can support one another, you will be able to go deeper, and come closer to realizing a Divine union of the masculine and feminine within you, supporting you to become your best Self.
When we have a strong sense of Self, we don’t feel the need to go to the extremes of our masculine/feminine balance.
So much of being in the extremes has to do with the need to prove our worth, feel valuable, feel in control, or other fears that stem from not having a clear sense of who we are. Be gentle with yourself in asking these questions. Allow them to be a noticing exercise, rather than an exercise in judgment or irritation. Don’t try to fix anything for now. Just notice. In noticing, we become more conscious, and thus step on a path of making wiser choices in our life. The “fixing” often comes naturally out of the noticing. Consider that you are simply assessing where you are, and bringing to the surface the consciousness to allow for greater harmony in your life. Allow this noticing to spill over to noticing how the qualities of the feminine and masculine show up in nature and the cycle of life, letting that inform you to go deeper within.
What did you notice in this exercise for yourself? Please share with me what comes up as you consider the masculine/yin and feminine/yang qualities in your being.
May you enjoy the beauty and harmony of inner balance.