Feminine & Masculine Wisdom
The secret battle women have with emotions
This week I spoke to women about attending a workshop on emotions and the loudest message was that they did not feel safe to work through their emotions in a group. The lack of trust towards other women when it comes to us expressing emotions was undeniable. These women were strong. They ran businesses, managed families and some even had public profiles. They held it all together for other people in lots of different contexts, and saw themselves as in control of their lives, or at least on the surface. Yet the thought of revealing how they really felt with other women in a workshop was unpalatable. They stated they were more comfortable in psychotherapy on a one on one basis. Moreover, it was not just themselves they were talking for. They spoke about how this would be quiet normal for most women who moved in their circles.
The importance of emotional well-being
What really stood out for me from these conversations was just how ill-at-ease we are with our emotional selves and how deeply we fear sharing how we feel. Yet our emotional well-being underlies so much in our lives. Our relationship with our emotions forms the foundation of our relationships with our partners, children and friends. It forms the basis of our eating patterns and addictions. It underlies physical health problems and our ability to experience joy. Additionally, it is fundamental to femininity and our emotional wisdom.
This made me wonder… as women, how healthy are we? There is so much emphasis on physical appearance and sex and yet half the country is suffering from depression and anxiety. This says something!!! It says we do not understand or accept ourselves as emotional beings.
By being ‘emotionally sick’ what we are really talking about is being disconnected from our adaptive emotions and being stuck in painful conditioned patterns from our past. Metal illness may be a huge industry in the Western world, but really the truth is that we are caught in the grip of powerful emotional patterns without the tools, wisdom or knowledge to find our way out.
The first step to discovering freedom from emotional overwhelm is to acknowledge our authentic feelings in a safe environment and work through our patterns. It is about knowing we are perfectly acceptable for having the full spectrum of emotional states, and that owning them and safely expressing them is healthy to our body, mind and soul. It is sad that we believe there is something wrong with us when we experience intense emotions. The truth is that this is inevitable at some point in our lives. What is more, we can learn to be at ease with who we really are only if we allow ourselves to feel without being ashamed of our emotions. This needs to be done both in individual therapy as well as in safe psychotherapeutic groups for us to experience being accepted by ourselves and others.
Cultivating Emotional Wisdom
Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them, in my new book.
Empowering ourselves through embracing and honouring emotion
There have been so many important issues celebrated and raised at International Women’s Day over the decades, including women’s rights, abuse towards women, and women and war. All of these topics remain relevant to this day and still need to be acknowledged. Yet, as we mature in our self-awareness as women we can also turn our focus towards ourselves and our inner growth, as much as we focus on atrocities happening to us around the world. A central aspect to empowering ourselves as women is to learn how to master our emotions and embrace our feminine essence.
What does it mean to have a feminine essence and what does this have to do with emotion?
As women with a feminine essence, we are emotionally-based. This means that we see the world through the lens of our emotions. We think about the world in response to how we feel about it. We communicate about the world in language that expresses how we feel about it. In a nut shell, we are connected to the emotional landscape of what is happening around us, rather than having a fundamentally physical and mental orientation. This does not mean we do not think or that we are not physical beings, it simply means that the mental and physical are secondary to the emotional.
The masculine essence is the other way around. He is predominantly mental and physical. Men in their masculine essence still feels emotions; however, emotions are generally are secondary. Even when men are in alignment between their head and heart, they can be heart-based, however their emotions are still seen as ancillary.
So the feminine is all about embracing our emotional selves and embodying the constant flux and flow of seeing the world through the eyes of emotion.
How does this translate in women empowering ourselves?
What this means is that as women we need to embrace how to understand and work with our emotional selves to master our inner world and our subsequent actions and reactions. Our journey of empowerment is one of learning how to read our own emotional wisdom and value ourselves by standing in our truth. It is about stepping out of the portrayal as a victim of oppression (even when oppression is still happening) and fully embracing the powerful feminine who knows how to listen to, acknowledge and validate how she feels before discerning how she acts.
The problem is that throughout history emotions have been misunderstood, feared, diminished and ridiculed. Consequentially, the feminine essence has also been diminished. This has left women confused, feeling lesser than, and unsupported in understanding and embracing our emotionally–based nature. The key is to recognise this general social misunderstanding about emotions and learn how to have a new relationship with our emotional selves based on self-respect, self-value and inner confidence as a woman.
It is important to celebrate ourselves as women. However, perhaps it is even more important to work through our unconscious wounds and discover how to access our emotional wisdom and self-value that defines our feminine essence.
Embracing our Inner-Woman
Learn more about how to work with your emotions rather than be overwhelmed them in my new book.
Boundary Confusion in Relationship Work
Inspired by my experiences at Cynthia Connop and Ernst Dams’ Living Love Workshop at the Joining Gathering 2012
My partner Paul and I attended a retreat called The Joining where we spent a beautiful couple of days learning about, celebrating and rejoicing the dance between the feminine and masculine energies. We shared special experiences of opening further into our gender potentials with another 100 amazing men and women with the same passion for connection, community and conscious cultivation of the masculine and feminine. It was here that Paul and I met Cynthia and Ernest who facilitated a couple of workshops that focused on David Deida’s work that embraces raising the masculine and feminine sexual essences.
The Basis of the David Deida Work
The whole aim of this work is to cultivate the masculine and feminine sexual essence that can become lost in our contemporary couple relationships. Deida points out in his work that there are three stages of evolution for the masculine and feminine. In the first stage, the masculine and feminine are sexually polarised but they are embroiled in control and power issues. The second stage evolves from the power struggles but unfortunately can all too easily become sexually unpolarised. Our relationships then become more like good friends than intimate lovers. In the third stage of David Deida’s work is where we aim to re-polarise our sexual essence in respectful, safe intimate relationships.
The aspirations of this work are profound! In a time of significant changes in couple relationships over the last few generations and when there are very high rates of relationship separation, this kind of work is greatly needed. Our intimate relationship could provide the glue for meaningful connection and increase resilience in a stressful, disconnected world.
My Group Experience & My Confusion
In the group, it was wonderful to have the time, focus and support of other beautiful women to re-embrace my feminine essence through dance, body movement, expression of feelings, and supporting other women into their feminine essence. However, my confusion arose when I discovered that I was not cultivating my feminine essence for my partner and he was not cultivating his masculine essence for me, but rather we were to freely give our sexual essence to any man or woman in the group.
After a challenging group experience, emotional discussions with Paul and then further discussions between Paul, Cynthia, Ernst and myself, I still swing between two camps of thought and feelings on the issue. Does it honour our relationship to do this work largely exclusively with my partner or is it acceptable to do this work with any man (for me) or woman (for my partner). While I can see the enormous value of learning how to cultivate our sexual essence in our intimate relationship, I question how we can honour the sacredness, specialness and boundaries of the relationships while we do this work.
On one hand, I can see how the exercises with other people were triggering past betrayals from past relationships that still need healing. Yet on the other hand, I question how much of what I was feeling was a normal adaptive emotional response to the actual experiences in the group that required me to hear them and act on them. I question, what is right for Paul and I in our own unique relationship and more generally, how are we to really honour our intimate relationships and cultivate them while learning the David Deida work?