Adaptive emotions and emotional reactions

Honouring our emotions the mindful way

Mindfulness allows us to increase awareness of whatever is occurring in the present moment without thoughts such as judgement, over analysis, or self-doubt. The practice is about watching or witnessing our inner processes with our awareness. So when it comes to learning how to honour our emotions using mindfulness practice, it is all about learning to witness the raw emotion as it arises in our body, as well as witnessing the thoughts and urges attaches to those emotions.

The nature of emotion

When we witness emotion, it is important to differentiate between feelings, thought and actions. Our emotions are the actual feelings that arise in our body. They are sadness, anger, guilt, fear and happiness. There are a multitude of other emotions, however these are the core five feelings that most other emotion stems from. Emotions are not thoughts about our emotions, nor are they our behavioural reactions. This is a very important distinction, as when we practice mindfulness of our emotion, we are simply practicing witnessing the emotion itself. Yes, re-activity involves thoughts, feelings and actions, but for the purpose of getting to know emotion, it can be a great practice to witness the emotion itself, stay present with it and simply identify it.

Only when we are clear in our process of witnessing the emotions within our body and identifying the emotion, can we begin to understand what they are about. We may experience an awakening out of confusion as we gain clarity about which emotions are arising in response to different events. For example, I feel scared when I do not know what is going to happen. I feel angry when someone steals my property. I feel guilty when I hurt someone. I feel sad when I lose something important to me. I feel happy when things in my life are generally in balance. So this is a good place to start.

Adaptive versus reactive emotion

As we begin to become acquainted with our emotional processes we may come to notice that some emotions make intuitive sense and are in proportion to the events occurring around us. These are adaptive emotions. They are primary reactions to situations that give us information about ourselves in the world. Remember, this is simply the arising of the emotion itself and not our actions or thoughts about the event. The emotions are as simple as a child’s emotional response to the world. These emotions have an innate wisdom of their own.

We may also develop the awareness that some emotions are disproportional to events around us, and they may repetitively arise under similar circumstances in ways that are individual to ourselves. These are far more complex than adaptive emotions. These emotions are often telling us more about a psychological pattern which we have learnt as a child or from a trauma or a highly distressing event. As children we are generally conditioned to distort our emotional responses. These emotions are either intensified or suppressed due to messages we receive from significant people in our lives. We learn to suppress anger, or feel guilt in situations that are not our fault, or develop anxiety when we do not know why we are scared. In mindfulness when we witness our emotional reactions which result from psychological patterns, we treat them in similar ways as with adaptive emotions. We simply bring our conscious awareness into the emotion and remain present with the sensations in our body. As we do this, we may also become aware of memories, images or senses that tell us where these emotional reactions are really from and what they are about. In this way we gain valuable insight about our emotional selves and sometimes about what aspects of ourselves require healing.

So on one hand, there are adaptive emotions which directly emerge from a situation and tell us about how the situation impacts on us. On the other hand, there are emotional reactions from psychological patterns which tell us about current life events as well as our past conditioning, trauma and psychological wounding. As we practice regular mindfulness, we generally increase insight into our patterns as well as our adaptive responses to situations in the world.

The key is awareness. Our patterns may need healing, however we can do this through seeing them clearly with mindfulness and learning how to refrain from spontaneously reacting from emotional triggers. The journey of mindfulness supports our self-understanding with compassion. This results in honouring our emotional selves, as well as increases clarity and peace of mind.


“Embrace What Is” is an on-going relaxed group that will support your mindfulness practice and help you to integrate this practice into your everyday life.

Click here to register on the Event Facebook Page

Join us on Friday afternoons at 1pm for an hour of mindfulness based training and psycho-therapeutic insights.

Call Vanessa on 0424 507 101 to book your place in this exciting and innovative group

Bookings are essential, as places are limited



The Difference between Crystal Bowls Meditation and Mindfulness Practice

Mindfulness mediation is quite different from meditations that aim to raise compassion. This does not mean that mindfulness is without compassion or kindness, on the contrary, mindfulness is at its best when it embraces compassion. By ‘compassion based meditations’ I am simply referring to meditations that help us to feel warm and fuzzy. They include guided visualisations, crystal bowl meditations, meditating to a flower or candle, sound meditation, or meditating to drums, didgeridoos or gentle uplifting music. All of these types of meditations are focused on experiences that are pleasant to our senses. They are heart opening meditations.

How Mindfulness Meditation is Different

While compassion based meditations aim to open our heart space, mindfulness practice aims to train our awareness to expand. Both types of mediation bring us into the present moment, however, mindfulness cultivates awareness to watch ‘what is’. It is irrelevant whether our experience is painful or pleasant, mindfulness is only about watching whatever is occurring with open curiosity and neutrality. Mindfulness aims to expand the mind, rather than open the heart. This is important, as mindfulness strengthens the practice of wisdom and discernment.

I have commonly witnessed people cultivate a beautiful open heart, when their lives or their psyche are not ready for it. This can intensify a “broken our heart”. Compassion is wonderful, however, any wise Buddhist will tell us that compassion is only helpful when we simultaneously develop discernment. Without cultivating the mind, blind compassion can get us into a myriad of problems. A healthy heart/head alignment requires both types of meditations, if we are to cultivate true balance in our lives.

Click Here for the Embrace “What Is Facebook Event Page

Join us on Friday afternoons at 3pm and Saturday mornings at 9am for an hour of mindfulness based training and psycho-therapeutic insights. “Embrace What Is” is an on-going relaxed group that will support your mindfulness practice and help you to integrate this practice into your everyday life.

Call Vanessa on 0424 507 101 to book your place in this exciting and innovative group

Bookings are essential, as places are limited


Honouring the Feminine and Masculine in Intimate Relationship

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?


I would greatly value anyone’s input who is familiar with David Deida work with sexual polarity…

Feminine Confidence in Business

Knowing how to work with our emotions as women is a powerful ingredient in our self-confidence in business. As women, most of us are primarily ‘feminine in our essence’ [concept by David Deida] and world orientation and therefore, are emotionally based creatures. We literally see the world through our emotions. We think in terms of emotional landscapes and we process topics in context of our interpersonal relationships.  This is quite different from those of us (male or female in physical gender) who are primarily masculine in their essence. The masculine is far more physical and mental, while the feminine is more emotional.

Feminine Wisdom in Business

It is unfortunate that feminine wisdom and emotion has been dismissed, trivialised and shamed for so long in our culture. The gifts that the feminine brings to business include awareness of interpersonal dynamics in the work place, increasing profitability through acknowledging personal value of staff and customers, and workplace co-operation. While the masculine is very good at directing the team towards specific goals and achieving a vision, the feminine is a complimentary force that considers the individual and team’s wellbeing, encourages dignity, respect and fair practice, and considers people’s feelings.

Empowering Ourselves through Honouring Emotion

The key to embracing the feminine in business is through honouring emotion. This honouring process includes:

  • Acknowledging feelings
  • Hearing the message within the emotion
  • Distinguishing between adaptive emotions and emotional memories
  • Safe emotional release and self-soothing
  • Responding rather than reacting from the emotion
  • As we learn how to apply these processes into our lives, we adopt a powerful ally … our emotional self! Listing and working with our emotion gives us an edge in the world of business as we are more connected with ourselves, more able to work with and help others, and more able to attract, encourage and receive in the business context. While the masculine is an awesome giving, directing and supportive energy, the feminine is a beautiful attractive energy. Over the next five blogs I will focus on each aspect of the feminine process in honouring emotions, listed above. Each of these aspects of the emotional process is vital for surfing the emotions rather than being dumped by them or supressing them. Working with emotions is the key to empowering the feminine in business.

    Have you been side swiped by your emotions which affected your business?


    Attachment versus Detachment in Intimate Relationship

    I have seen many people emotionally detach in relationships under the “disguise” of practicing non-attachment. However, there is a big difference between shutting down from another person and practicing non-attachment. Personally my life has been one of flipping between destructive co-dependent relationship and detachment. “Compassionate detachment” (or perhaps non-attachment) may have been a better road to tread. However, my awareness of what these types of connections are in practice has been an on-going experiential journey of progressive understanding.

    Detachment, Emotional Shut Down & Estrangement

    My life journey started with harsh lessons in emotional estrangement and detachment. Both my mother and father were seriously emotionally damaged however, as a child I did not know that! I was conditioned to believe that I was over-emotional because I emotionally reacted to my parent’s physical abuse and the absence of emotional connection with both me and each other. It seemed that the world was incredibly cold, harsh and merciless from a very early age. My father arrived home from the Vietnam War when I was 6 months old. That was the first time he met me. He did not admit to having post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) however, I now know that he did. A symptom of PTSD is “emotional estrangement”, which is the shutting down from loving or connecting emotions. All my memories of my father were of this incredibly shut down, depressed, negative, angry man.

    My mother on the other hand, made it clear that she had no desire to have children and seemed to take it out on me throughout my childhood. So detachment had to be cultivated in me to survive my childhood. I learnt to hide myself and to shut down my intense emotions because it only made things worse. In order to cope, I found my own way to shut down from the world around me!!!  I learnt the fine art of dissociation and daydreaming!

    I do not even think I was aware of shutting down emotionally as an adult in intimate relationship until relatively recently. I have been on the receiving end of punishing behaviour from men in relationships without knowing why. I now see they were reacting to their own perceptions and pain patterns that were triggered by my withdrawal. My shut down however, was an unconscious coping mechanism I learnt in my childhood to survive from my parent’s emotional disconnection. When these men either became volatile, destructive or abandoning, then my abandonment and fear patterns were re-ignited. I concluded that people simply hated me and were going to go out of their way to hurt me no matter what I did. I now see that they WERE reacting to something… my emotional detachment!!!

    Detachment & Healthy Attachment

    In psychology we have coined the term “healthy attachment bond” which means an early childhood relationship with significant others that consists of love, trust, supported autonomy, and stability. These are the building blocks of healthy intimate relationships later in life.  There are some schools of thought that suggest we can create an inner sense of love and security later in life even if we do not have these early relationships with our parents. Being of the camp of people that believes in the possibility of deep inner change and healing, I advocate that we can re-create a healthy attachment bond in adulthood. It needs to be in intimate relationship (outside of the early parent/child relationship) that these attachment bonds can be formed. A friendship can provide these to some degree, and friendships can be deep and enduring. However often they lack the everyday intimacy and affectionate connection that may be needed in developing a safe and secure attachment bond. An intimate relationship needs to be supportive, loving and stable to cultivate a sense of inner belonging and permanency within the couple relationship. Through this connection, each individual can cultivate a sense of stability and love within themselves individually.

    The biggest difference between developing inner safety and security as a young child in a healthy parental relationship and two people developing it in an adult intimate relationship, is that the adults require conscious awareness and good communication skills to be able to pull it off. As a child we are totally reliant on the healthiness of our parent. As an adult we need to constantly practice self-awareness of our already damaged emotional patterns and then communicate them with each other before a safe and secure attachment bond can form.

    The Practice of Non-Attachment in Intimate Relationship

    The practice of non-attachment in intimate relationship is yet another step forward beyond the safe and secure attachment bond. It is not possible to practice non-attachment until healthy attachments are formed, otherwise they are really only different manifestations of unhealthy detachment. The practice of non-attachment is being able to detach from our own and the people’s patterns while simultaneously being able to connect and love ourselves and others beyond the patterns.

    Non-attachment is non-reactive. It is being able to remain present and calm while allowing others to do what they do. Of course it does not mean stay around aggression or violence. Rather it is about “right action” that values self and other, without becoming caught in blame, criticism, reactivity, rescuer/victim patterns, detachment or enmeshment. Non-attachment is being able to remain in a space of compassion and respond to events rather than react. By default, this involves a sense of inner-security, self-love and stability to be able to remain emotionally centred and not become caught in the hurricane of interpersonal relationship dynamics and intrapersonal patterns.


    What does attachment mean to you in you relationship?


    Haunted by Emotional Memories?

    Emotional memories of the past can haunt our unconscious and sometimes conscious mind for a life time, if we do not heal our relationship with those memories. If the memories are traumatic such as child abuse, the loss of a parent, or a traumatic event, then the energy attached to these memories can be debilitating. How we work with the emotions that are attached to those memories is vital to overcoming the pain. The experience of distress, overwhelm and loss is captured in Julie’s story, as is her journey towards healing the emotional wound.

    Julie’s Story

    Julie accessed counselling because her relationship with her teenage daughter was rapidly deteriorating. She was concerned for her daughter Sarah, but felt she could not even talk to her, no matter about help her from her self-destructive behaviour. Sarah was 14 years old and had adopted a new group of friends who were drinking alcohol and partying. Julie was beside herself. Her anxiety, frustration, hurt and anger were consuming her throughout the day and night. She could not focus at work and her memory was failing her. She would walk into rooms and completely forget what she had intended to do.As we explored Julie’s situation further it became apparent that while Sarah was causing some real concern, Julie’s reaction was more intense than it needed to be. Her anxiety was severe and was stopping her from thinking straight or appropriately responding to the current situation with Sarah. So we looked a little deeper.

    The distress that Julie was trying to cope with was familiar to her. I asked her to feel into her emotional distress and remember the earliest time she could remember feeling that way. She soon found a time when she was 14 years old herself, where her grandmother died. She remembered her Grandma, but she was not particularly close to her. Her mum, on the other hand was incredibly close to her own mum. Julie remembered becoming very nervous and frustrated around that time. She remembers that her thoughts and dreams became very dark and she withdrew from friends and social activities. Julie did not remember too much more about that time, but she decided she would talk to her own mum about what happened back then.

    The Truth Revealed

    The next session, Julie emerged appearing sombre and quiet. After a short while she began to talk. She talked about her discussion with her mother. Her mum had spoken to her for the first time about becoming deeply depressed at that time, and while her mum and dad had hidden it from her conscious mind, Julie unconsciously had picked up something was happening that was very distressing. For a period of time, her mum had suicidal thoughts and had attempted suicide several times. Because Julie did not consciously know what was happening, but she could pick it up unconsciously, she had never processed it or made sense of it. So the emotional memory simply lay hidden until her own daughter hit that age, unconsciously perpetuating a new dynamic between her and her daughter based on anxiety of self destructive behaviour.

    Julie’s Healing

    As Julie discovered more about that time and what she was feeling, she realised that her emotional reactions were more proportional to the time when she was 14 years old herself. No longer did she feel like she was going mad! Her inner-emotional landscape had a reality that made sense of her emotional reactions. Julie began to become more conscious of what was then and what is now. She learnt how to step back from her projections onto her daughter and respond to the current situation with appropriate healthy boundaries rather than distress, angry outbursts and anxiety. Over time she felt more calm and in control over her life. Her emotions made more sense to her which eventually gave her sense of mastering her reactions to situations with her daughter.

    Mastering Our EmotionsLearning to understand our emotional reactions rather than remain controlled by them opens the door to taking our power back from the emotional intensity, and make effective decisions in our life. Without seeing where her emotions really stemmed from, Julie would not have been able to respond to Sarah’s needs as well as she did. Processing the emotions rather than suppressing or avoiding them is essential to learning to work with them. This takes adopting some new practices such as mindfulness and self-awareness, however the results are definitely worth it.

    “Surfing the Waves of Emotion” workshop will be held on the 7th July 2012 in Coolum Beach. Don’t miss out on learning how to distinguish between adaptive emotions and emotional memories, work with your emotions, and a whole lot more!!!

    Have you ever experienced emotions that were disproportional to a current event only to discover the emotional reaction was really from your past?


    [Note. All stories used in this blog are fictional characters based on the wisdom I gain from working with clients. No character in this blog is an actual person or a client]

    Reflections on Conscious Relationship – One

    Conscious relationship is one of my passions because I love and honour love itself. While intimate relationship is only one type of relationship where love can be cultivated, it fascinates me because I believe there is so much potential in our intimate relationships, rather than misunderstanding, separation and heartbreak. My hope is that increased awareness of gender and relationship will lead to us healing ourselves and our hearts.

    Learnings from my Personal Story

    From a very early age I had a deep longing for love. My dad was a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and my mum was psychologically and emotionally shut down. So neither one of them were connected to love within themselves, their relationship or with their children. The only time the word love was even used in their household was when we were getting the strap … “I’m doing this because I love you!” So needless to say, my first introduction to so called love was abuse. There was a deep sense of “wrongness” for me as a child. I knew this was not love! And yet there was no affection, encouragement or half way positive messages about who I was or who I might become.

    Perhaps what gave me the deepest sadness in my family of origin was that they were so emotionally shut down. Like androids, these people were not connected to themselves or each other. The aimless, depressed negativity drove me crazy! Later I was to know this as unconsciousness… deeply shutdown patterns that blocked them from the life force… blocked them from love! So my earliest desires to wake up, become conscious and embrace love originated from early childhood experiences.

    Over the decades as an adult, I have accessed counselling, spiritual healing, kinesiology, body talk, holographic kinetics, and anything else I could get my hands on! Today I wake up feeling happy! There are times when challenging things happen in life, but my perceptions and beliefs are largely positive. Sometimes I witness my thoughts and their attached emotions, spiral into the old family patterns, but I see them for what they are… simply unconscious patterns that detract me from loving life.

    So what does all this have to do with Conscious Relationship?

    I learnt in a very real way the importance of healing myself before I can create a conscious, healing and loving intimate relationship. I cannot say I am fully healed… I know that is not true! But I am on my way!!! Becoming more aware of my unconscious patterns that are triggered in intimate relationship, I can take responsibility for my 50% of a relationship and learn from it. My dream for intimate relationships is where both people become consciously aware of their own psychological patterns and learn to create love rather than pain.

    This involves understanding the differences between genders and honouring those differences. If women are generally emotionally based creatures while men are often physically based, then what can we learn from each other in regards to respecting each other? It is not so much about becoming like the other, but rather to understand what the other is about in how they approach life. The idea of opening to happiness through connection, honouring differences and complementing our partners in intimate relationships, is the cornerstone of conscious relationship. By observing and learning from our own reactions, we can learn to give better to our relationships. By learning how to communicate even when we speak different languages, we can create shared meaning and purpose in our relationships. By understanding and appreciating what the feminine and masculine give and HOW they give, we can increase gratitude and reduce resentment. This is essential if we are going to shift our intimate relationships from the average, shut down relationships that exist in the sludge of life.

    How we connect to our intimate partner is a choice! If we struggle with resentment, criticism, guilt or condemnation towards our partner, then perhaps it is time to heal. First this process is in each individual self. Secondly, the relationship itself may need healing. Becoming conscious simply opens the door to healing and finding happiness in relationship. Conscious awareness is an on-going process that sometimes requires guidance through therapy, self-help avenues and other healing modalities. But it is worth it!!! For it is the difference between mastering ourselves and our relationships, and perpetuating the living hell of the unconscious relationships of the past. Without compassionate awareness towards ourselves, there cannot be love for another.


    What are the important ingredients of Conscious Relationships in your experience?


    Commitment In The Now

    When we think about commitment and being in the moment, we often think they are two mutually exclusive concepts and practices. Commitment is often seen as an obligation we make to someone or something else. When we make a commitment we are saying that we will stay together in a marriage relationship or that we will commit to making a business or project work. Being in the moment, on the other hand often means coming out of belief, social constructs and interpersonal roles. “Now experiences” are about a state of being within, rather than mental or social constructs. So how could these two concepts support each other and come together to create a new sense of togetherness in conscious relationship, or success in business, or enhance ourselves?

    Commitment in the moment is about putting in our 100% in the here and now into our businesses, work, relationships, parenting etc. It is like saying, “right now I will do the very best in being present, aware and focussed on this project or relationship”. The truth is that we cannot know what we will be thinking, feeling or doing in five or twenty years’ time. We can ONLY create in the present moment! However if we cultivate the right beliefs, environment, attitudes and their associated feeling space of what we want to create, then we are giving our desires the best chance of growing. To force something to be or become simply does not work.

    Commitment in Intimate Relationship

    This is why intimate relationships can be such a deep source of disappointment. If we believe that the relationship is long lasting then it is more likely that it will be long lasting. Our belief has a real role to play in commitment. Our attitudes, communication practices and exploration of real genuine intimacy are also important aspects of creating long lasting commitment in intimate relationship. However, we ARE cultivating this in every moment. If, for example, we say we will commit to a relationship or a marriage and then we neglect our responsibility to see from eyes of love rather than resentment, or to react out of unconscious patterns towards our partner, then it is little wonder that commitment wanes and the relationship eventually breaks down. We may agree to enter a sexually exclusive relationship however, it is how consciously aware of ourselves in that relationship and in every moment, that makes or breaks commitment. So under this definition, commitment is a process rather than a static concept or doctrine to live up to.

    Commitment in Business & Work Life

    Likewise, in business or even in employed positions, what we create in our work life and the commitment we bring to it shines through or disintegrates it. Currently, business and the economic market are tough. However, I am continuously seeing people in business focussing on the stress and negative (or their fear based reality) rather than bringing in some optimism and realistic steps forward to strengthen their business. They often say they are committed, however their actions tell another story. They are closed for longer, they cease to top up stock and they order less. All that happens is that people do not buy there as much. Eventually the business will fold.

    In paid employment, it is amazing how many people do not want to be at work. They often do not realise it, but this attitude and the attached feeling space, creates a general depressing lack of commitment and lost opportunities to give. Susan Jeffers talks about giving our 100% to each aspect of our lives with commitment and generosity to overcome depression and anxiety. She is right! Commitment at work in our attitude, perception and actions is vital for a fulfilling life.

    Commitment to Ourselves

    Commitment to ourselves is the third area I will explore today. Perhaps this is the best place to start to cultivate commitment in any area of our lives, as commitment is a process that emanates from our beliefs, feeling space and actions when we embrace it. Commitment to ourselves is about valuing and honouring ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally in every moment. Ultimately, this is a practice like mindfulness that builds awareness in the here and now. As we learn more about ourselves and increase our conscious awareness of our psycho-spiritual patterns, we are by default learning how to commit to ourselves. It is like, the more that we consciously know at a gut level, the more we can only practice that which is for our own and others greater good. As we become more kind to ourselves, we become more kind to others. The more overflowing in joy, the more we love to give without expectation. Commitment to ourselves is like embracing commitment to life, we allow in what we thrive on and say “no” to what corrodes or destroys us.

    Commitment in the now is fundamental to success and fulfilment in life. It does not guarantee anything. It does not mean things we want will necessarily work out for us. But it does mean that we are giving what we want in life our best shot and opening to success. Commitment is giving our best. If commitment is fuelled with conscious awareness and self-value, then the chances of permanent healthy relationships, meaningful work and a happy, healthy self are maximized.

    How do you cultivate commitment in your life?

    In what areas of your life would you like to cultivate more commitment?




    Women’s More Embarrassing Moments

    I remember as a little girl, cringing when my mother overtly put my dad down in public. In front of friends, she would say all the things that he had done wrong in her eyes. Then she would go on to say that she was so attractive while trying to flirt with some other man. And this was in front of him! OK, he had his issues, but then again so did she! So my education had begun in the battle between the sexes.  This battle continues as stories shared in women’s conversations and popular women’s media still degrade the masculine. There are masculine cultures and media that degrade the feminine as well. However this blog focuses on the feminine degrading the masculine.

    In my blog “The Effects of Masculine Culture on Men” I focused on masculine culture and how the norms and attitudes did not help men to connect with their emotional selves. Today I want to look at how aspects of feminine culture do not help women to understand or embrace their emotions in a healthy and responsible manner. Due to unhealthy attitudes, women can remain emotionally hurt, bitter and shut down from listening to and understanding men’s experience.

    The Princess Myth

    Something I see and hear over and over again is an idea that women are better than men in an incredibly condescending way. It is subtly and sometimes even overtly portrayed in advertising, media and in conversation where the gist is that women should self-righteously accept “the best” from him because she “deserves” that. Some women argue that because women have been so oppressed for thousands of years, this is women’s way of re-building their sense of self. The feminine has experienced millenniums of oppression and abuse from patriarchal society, but then again so have many groups of men. I am not down grading the feminine wounds (both conscious and unconscious) as she does need healing and honouring. What I am saying however, is that this healing is mutually exclusive with downgrading the masculine.

    Attitudes that degrade the masculine, such as “we don’t need him”, “all men are bastards” or as in one recent women’s magazine article “Five reason why boyfriends are bad for your health”, are generally really unhelpful and do not help the feminine heal. The attitude that “women are queens and should be treated like royalty” is not how the feminine needs to be honoured by the masculine. The masculine energy may be about giving and the feminine energy may be about receiving however, between a man and a woman this dance is one of real intimate connection and not conceit. These unattainable expectations of women caught in the princess mindset leave a lot of good men feeling helpless and disheartened when their intention is to make their female partner happy. And yes there are a lot of good men out there who genuinely try to make women happy.

    Princess beliefs and expectations seep into girls minds from a young age. They are heavily socialised. If a girl is not confident in her attractiveness then she often has very low self-esteem. Messages in fairy-tales, media and through family conditioning about women being lovable and having feminine purpose are often tied up with body image and physical attractiveness. Without being perceived and treated as if they are attractive, girls will often not develop a confidence in their attractiveness. This can be disastrous in intimate relationships as these women are more likely to find themselves in abusive relationships or with unavailable men. However the flip side to this low self-worth is a grandiose self-worth based of self-perceived attractiveness that degrades others. Underneath is of course insecurity. However the princess pattern can underlie manipulation, false concepts of love and unleash the Goddess “Kali” when she is not treated according to her expectation.

    Beyond the Princess Myth

    There is something in the middle between the grandiose self-image and low self-image, and that is a realistic self-image with the ability to participate in real interpersonal connection with both men and women. In this space, the feminine may understand and know the pull towards false self-image (in both extremes), however she is able to re-connect with herself in a way that opens her heart and mind to listen to other people’s perspectives, and especially men’s perspectives.

    In this space, the feminine is also aware of her emotional self and that she thinks differently from the masculine in some fundamental ways. She may be still healing wounds of being trivialised or abused just because she is an emotionally-based thinker. She may still be learning how to acknowledge and honour her own emotional wisdom. However, she would have no need to compare herself with others, nor would she feel the need to put men down or immaculate men. Rather she aims to develop a strong inner core and deep intuitive knowing of herself. She would know she is all about love and does not need to manipulate to get it.

    The feminine, like the masculine, is potentially amazing! She is all about emotional understanding, interpersonal relating and love. However, the feminine potential is not possible without the masculine (and visa versa). The healing shift for women is to recognise the role of the feminine and masculine in our lives and support both energies to live in synchronicity. We are in essence about love, not resentment and hostility. So embracing men in our lives in a realistic way is a loving act and is based on feminine wisdom and connection.

    Questions to Women….

    Have you ever noticed the princess myth within yourself?

    How were you able to overcome the pull of socialization?


    Women’s Confusion with Emotion

    If a woman is more feminine than masculine in her essence, then she is likely to be “emotionally based” in her self and world perspective. Being “emotionally based” means that the origin of her thought stems from emotional wisdom rather than rational or logical thought. Her understanding of the world is relationship orientated rather than physically orientated. Her understanding is first felt with the emotion held within her body, rather than the thought in her head.

    Women and Emotion

    David Deida described the process of emotionally based wisdom in his book “The Way of the Superior Man”. He discussed an analogy where a man asked another man to a movie and the other man responded, “It depends on the movie”! If he liked the move then he would say “yes”, if he did not like the movie then he would say “no”. Nice and simple! Now if a man asked a woman to a movie she would “yes” or “no” depending on how she felt about the connection between them. If she felt loving and close then she would say “yes”, but if she felt annoyed or distant then she would say “no”. So her decision would be based on the landscape of the emotional connection that she felt with the man. The movie itself is largely irrelevant! In counselling when I have described this process behind masculine and feminine decision making, women often laugh (a little embarrassed to have their operating system described out loud) and the men look at me like I have just turned green! “You’re joking”! They have exclaimed, probably trying to figure out how they can work out anything is her alien mind!

    The truth is that feminine based thinking is quite different from masculine based thinking. Also, In our Western world emotionally based wisdom is often not understood, no matter about honoured or respected. I believe the feminine harbours a deep wound about the lack of understanding and honouring of emotional based thinking, which then becomes projected at the masculine. While men have been targeted for their lack of understanding of emotional based thinking, in my experience it is women who do not understand themselves that creates the initial problem. Women are often in the dark about her own emotions which leads to us mis-understanding herself. Much of her anger at men may be mis-placed, especially if the man wants to be respectful of the woman and genuinely does not understand her.

    Women Understanding Emotion

    In my work as both a woman and a psychologist, I have witnessed and related to women’s struggle with their own emotions. Women are often confused, in a great deal of emotional distress and unable to understand or express themselves. The more no-one can understand her emotional landscape, the more she becomes “Kali, the destroyer”. Without validating the emotion and understanding the real wisdom behind her feeling-space, asking her to “self-sooth” her own emotion often lands like a lead balloon. Rational explanation or logic simply do not and will never suffice to temper her emotional distress or anger.

    This is why women often seek emotional comfort from other women. If you watch two women having coffee, one will talk about how they feel about a whole lot of experiences and the other will listen and validate. When she is finished (if the relationship is balanced) the other one will express how they feel about their experiences and the first one will validate her emotions. Without this process being conscious, they are giving and receiving emotional validation through direct verbal communication. If you watch two men (with a masculine essence), if they are talking they are likely to be talking on a rational basis, or not talking at all.

    Even though women are thinking and communicating on an emotional basis much of the time, they often cannot express what they are doing, and are at a loss to describe it to men (or other women with a masculine essence). I hear some men say “women just like to talk… about nothing”, however women actually are talking about something! They are often talking about the ever changing emotional landscape within themselves, relationship and the world! This is the other problem that women’s rational thinking created in their minds is often in contrast to emotional wisdom. So within women, there is often a battle between rational (socially defined) thinking and emotional body-felt wisdom. It is not that emotions are less confusing to men, it is just that women’s connection with emotion is very strong and they can find it very difficult if not impossible to compartmentalise it.

    It is up to Women to understand themselves and respectfully communicate the process feeling-orientated-thinking to men. It will only be through women’s self-understanding and respectful description of emotional processes that will lead to men taking respectful notice of women’s perspectives. Emotional outbursts, cold shoulders, criticism and anger generally do nothing to women’s cause of being understood by the masculine. Women need to learn to surf the emotion, as compartmentalizing it does not seem to work for the feminine. Women cannot turn their backs on feminine wisdom, rather they need to learn from her, by learning how to work with emotion rather than dump it on others (or themselves, which only leads to excessive guilt).

    So as women we need to understand ourselves and realise that men (when in their masculine) are doing something that is very different, although equally valid. Working with women to help them understand and work with their emotions is the corner stone to helping both men and women honour the emotional perspective and feminine wisdom.

    Questions for Women ….

    As a woman how well do you know your emotional self?

    Interested in learning how to work with your emotions and honour the feminine?

    “Surfing the Waves of Emotion” for Women is being held on the 7th July 2012, bookings are essential!