The real way to find balance...
This is a subject that I have wanted to talk about for a while, yet for some reason I have felt nervous of it. For fear of 'getting it wrong' or people not understanding.
However, after watching the amazing We Are Man Enough videos recently and being reminded of the incredible work that many men and women out there are now stepping up to, I can't help but add my thoughts in to the mix.
Please note, this blog is about my thoughts, which I hope will inspire you to contemplate your own beliefs and your own thoughts. I am not saying any of my opinions are 'right' or 'wrong', this is simply what I have learned so far and I hope it opens up many interesting conversations!
Right now there has been a lot of talk about the rise of the feminine. About how women are fed up of patriarchal restraints and how things have to shift and change.
I agree with this. I deeply agree that women are rising, that we are reclaiming our natural cyclical powers and that it is so important that the decades of suppression needs to be shifted. There is still a lot of inequality in the world, and I can't pretend to truly understand the full extent of this as I am a white woman living a very privileged lifestyle.
BUT... I feel that some things are being misinterpreted, misunderstood and misused when it comes to the words masculine and feminine.
When I talk about masculine and feminine, I am not simply saying man and woman, or male and female. This is about the energy that makes every single one of us up and actually, when balanced, leads to our wholeness.
If the terms masculine and feminine don't resonate with you then consider the yin and the yang energy, or in even simpler terms the moon and the sun. We need both and when one is out of balance with the other we won't thrive.
When I had a conversation with my husband not that long ago about what he thought I meant when I talked about the imbalance that I was feeling in both myself and also in the world as a whole, he instantly became a little defensive because he felt that I was effectively saying that masculine is bad, and feminine is good.
He thought I was man bashing!
That is not what I meant at all, but it has taken me some time to truly understand this balance and how the two dance beautifully together when both are treated respectfully.
Let's start with some very simple explanations from my own personal viewpoint...
Masculine energy represents action, support and grounded strength, it is assertive, inspired and motivated. It is structured in a flexible, but practical, peaceful and empowering way. When it is out of balance, i.e. too much of it, it can be pushy and aggressive, defensive and insensitive, blind sighted to the sometimes destructive patterns it is causing. There is often resistance to being supported or asking for help, with a perceived outer shell that needs to be maintained in order to not seem weak.
Feminine energy is intuitive, soft, nurturing and empowering, it is emotional, free flowing, trusting and fluid, but in an authentic and connected way. It is creative and full of ease and grace, it is a little wild and messy which can often look chaotic. It is ever evolving and cyclical and has a beautiful vulnerability about it. When it is out of balance it can be irrationally emotional, people pleasing, easy to fall into victim mentality, lacking in boundaries, scattered, without purpose, depleting, draining, uninspired and stagnant without the drive to move forwards.
If you are 'too much' in one energy and lacking in another - the result is an imbalance, which shows up in our life in many unhealthy ways.
Let me put this in to a little context. When I was running my PR & Marketing business I was in a complete state of 'get sh*t done'... all the time. That meant regardless of how exhausted I was, regardless of where my creativity was at, regardless of what my body was telling me - I switched off all natural messaging in my body and went in to 'production mode'. I was on autopilot and if I didn't feel 'on my game' every single day, then I deemed myself to be a failure.
I was dominant, controlling and obsessive about the way I portrayed myself in my business life and personal life. I did not show any vulnerability, any emotion, any sign of 'weakness'... I ploughed on like a bulldozer. I felt comparison, I felt envy, I felt competitive and if I am honest, I liked how much I could get done and achieve - but I didn't really like the person I had become. While I expressed all of this on the outside - inside I was battling with daily anxiety and an overly unpleasant inner critic.
I thought this was how I had to be in order to be successful.
There was very little personal creativity, I hadn't cried in years and actually self named myself the 'ice queen' as a badge of pride about this, I felt very little compassion towards myself or others, I was numb, lacking in emotion, stuck in unhealthy patterns, restrictive, resistant, my body was tight and there was no fluidity or softness to me.
I was effectively on fire (and not in a good way)... I was in my masculine/sun/action/doing energy all the time and unsurprisingly that was not something I could sustain.
As I said earlier. We need both, and I was starving my feminine side.
Finding the centre...
When I first started to learn about the difference between masculine and feminine energy, I spent some time feeling really resentful of my over expressed masculine side, I felt like it had caused me great harm and I tried to totally let it go because I felt that I needed to do that in order to heal my mind and body. I thought I needed to only focus on the more feminine parts of me in order to survive. I was scared of falling back into the burnout, depleted state.
I will admit, at times, I saw the masculine energy as a negative, which now I realise wasn't a fair assessment.
As I stepped more in to my feminine/watery/fluid energy I found myself falling into the opposite extreme and ending up spending days at a time wondering aimlessly and trying to ignore my desire to make a to do list or 'do' something productive. I felt wishy washy, unclear, had no sense of purpose and totally unbalanced in this space as well.
Coming back 'home' to myself
Whether we identify as a man or a woman I believe we need to come back to this harmonious balance of the two in order to feel whole, and we also need to understand that we are ever evolving beings - humans - who actually shift and change naturally.
We all have a cycle and a natural rhythm to our body. And everyone's centre point will look different.
For me, being in a healthy masculine and feminine energy balance means connecting to the natural cycle of my body and listening to my own inner rhythm. That means knowing when I need to rest and nurture myself, and knowing when my energy is at it's peak. It means being able to take intuitive action in my life - with a deep sense of trust that all will unfold as it is supposed to. It is letting my emotions be expressed - but not letting them take over and run the show.
I know that my default habitual setting is to drop back into a masculine way of doing things - it was the way I worked for over a decade so understandably it will take some practice to shift. This means I have to be hyper aware of my thoughts and my actions and know whether they are coming from bull dozing Lauren, or nurturing Lauren.
Where do you think you sit on the masculine and feminine energy scale?
I really want to highlight here that this is not about saying whether one is better than the other. It is the ultimate duality. It is the ultimate partnership. And only you will know where the balance might be being tipped at the moment.
Times are changing
The masculine energy has dominated for a long time - and I don't mean just men. Women have felt that they need to become more masculine in order to survive and be taken seriously in career and business. Men have also felt they cannot show or express emotions and have become robotic and fearful of communicating honestly. The result is a society with under expressed feminine energy, I think (certainly in the Western world anyway). You only have to look at some of our political leaders to see the lack of human compassion, nurture and intuition-lead decision making.
I am however, excited to see many men and women stepping up to learn more about themselves in a bid to regain this balance. The work of Justin Baldoni, Stef Sifandos and many others, who are supporting the rise of the healthy masculine is so crucial, as is the work that is also being done to support the feminine rise.
When it is stripped back to it's very core, this is about being authentically true to ourselves - unravelling from the beliefs and patterns that we have inherited and adopted.
It is about wholeness, rawness, vulnerability and kindness - first to ourselves and then to others.
It is about all humans being able to cry and love and be open without shame or fear.