D eep within yourself are two powerful allies. They are your inner masculine and inner feminine. They are two aspects of your essential nature and are a potent source of love, healing and success in the world. Each one plays a crucial role in your overall well-being, so it is important to understand and nurture their unique and complementary natures in order for them to work in harmony with each other. By becoming aware of and harmonizing your inner masculine and inner feminine, which are entirely different from your gender identity, you can overcome recurring or painful challenges and create a more fulfilling empowered, and profoundly peaceful life.
The Difference between Gender and Your Inner Masculine and Feminine
Your inner masculine and inner feminine are alive within you and influence the course of your life, regardless of your gender identification, your biological sex, or your sexual orientation. Regardless of whether you identify yourself as a man, a woman, gender fluid, non-binary, transgender or any variation on the continuum, and regardless of whether you’re straight or LGBTQ, you still have both an inner masculine and inner feminine as the two fundamental parts of your nature, just like you have two hemispheres of the brain and a right hand and a left hand. They are part of the balance that exists in all natural things. In fact, the journey of recognizing and harmonizing your inner masculine and feminine is entirely separate from how you express your gender in society.
A quick note about gender roles before we go any further: Societally constructed gender roles often do not align with people’s natural gifts and life path. These gender roles are not what I’m referring to when I talk about the inner masculine and inner feminine. Over the course of 40 years of teaching this material, I’ve found that when I introduce the inner masculine and feminine, people expect them to be outdated, restrictive descriptions of men and women when in fact they are vital and powerful functions of ourselves that we use in our daily lives. For example, we’ve been socialized to think of the feminine as loving and the masculine as strong. But the truth is that the feminine and masculine are both loving and strong; they just express their love and strength in different ways. In this case, the masculine might express loving strength by creating structure and healthy boundaries, while the feminine might express loving strength by staying present in the moment and maintaining solidity and a connection with the depths of your true feelings and inner guidance, even when it’s difficult to do so.
One of the many positive outcomes of healing your inner masculine and feminine is that you become inner-directed and free, instead of dependent on other people’s approval of your gender identity, and your life becomes productive, meaningful, and abundant with love.
Characteristics of the Healthy Inner Masculine
Your inner masculine gives you structure, discipline, protection, and boundaries, as well as the ability to follow through with action. You engage your inner masculine every time you are involved in external activities and pursue your desires and inspirations in the outer world through well-targeted, focused, sequential actions. Through the lens of your inner masculine, you analyze problems and acquire knowledge by applying logic and linear thoughts. Your inner masculine is a force of productivity and generous giving to others and to the world.
The Weak Inner Masculine
But what happens if your inner masculine is weak? Your inner masculine can become ineffective when its development has been stunted by experiences of trauma or abuse. Then, your inner masculine disconnects from the life-giving force of the feminine and loses potency. An ineffective inner masculine makes it difficult for you to set boundaries, protect yourself (particularly in intimate circumstances), speak out and voice your opinion, and stay on task. So even though you may have many ideas and ambitions, it becomes challenging for you to find the discipline and focus to reach your goals or to complete the projects you start.
The Overpowering and Controlling Inner Masculine
An alternate consequence of being abused early in life is that instead of your inner masculine becoming weak and ineffective, your inner masculine instead becomes modeled on your abuser. Then, your inner masculine closes off to the fluidity and connectedness of the feminine and perpetuates the pattern of being overpowering and controlling. As a result, you end up feeling driven, exhausted and propelled from the inside-out to work and be active all the time. When you rest, you might feel anxious and agitated because deep down, a part of you feels you are wasting your time. Maybe you experience loneliness and want more intimacy and fulfillment in your relationships but, if you are honest with yourself, you know that you don’t have space or time in your life to nurture a relationship. An overpowering inner masculine leaves you feeling empty, drained and alone—even if you are successful in reaching your professional goals—because you have neglected the needs of your soul and your emotional fulfillment. These are only a few examples of how the toxic shadow aspect of your inner masculine can interfere with your life.
Characteristics of the Healthy Inner Feminine
Your inner feminine brings fluidity, expansion, creative inspiration, interconnectedness, sensuality and awareness of your feelings and emotions. You engage your inner feminine every time you are still and go inward into the perception of your inner knowing, which gives you direction and clarity and the ability to rest and restore yourself. Through the lens of your inner feminine, you know intuitively the truth of any situation because you perceive reality from a wise, all-inclusive 360-degree perspective. Because of this ability to know beyond logic, (sometimes referred to as a “gut feeling”) your inner feminine can navigate comfortably in the realm of the unknown, in times of life transitions when you have to surrender to not knowing what comes next. Your inner feminine is a force of regeneration, openness and receptivity to others and to the abundance that the world offers you.
The Weak Inner Feminine
But what happens if your inner feminine is weak? Your inner feminine can become stunted when it’s disconnected from the protective aspect of the inner masculine, and, lacking the protection of the masculine, tries to protect you by shutting down and rigidifying. Then, you lose the ability to be open, fluid, and receptive. If you have been violated and have reacted by closing off your inner feminine, you might find it difficult to trust what is offered to you even if it is good and loving, so you become hypervigilant and uptight. Consequently, even though you desire to receive good things in your life, you might be uncomfortable receiving compliments, gifts and, most importantly, expressions of love. With a contracted inner feminine, you might work extra hard and do all the right things, but then the rewards elude you, and you wonder why all that work did not bear the fruit you had hoped for. The reason for this is because the feminine part of you is not open to receive. An additional consequence of a wounded, weak inner feminine is that you might experience difficulty connecting with your feelings and emotions, and you become overly mental and disconnected from your inner guidance.
The Overwhelming and Undermining Inner Feminine
Just like the inner masculine can become overpowering and controlling, the inner feminine can become overwhelming and undermining. This happens when your inner feminine undermines the structure and discipline of the inner masculine because she feels controlled and disregarded. This type of toxic inner feminine can ensnare you with an overpowering amount of emotions that do not come to a resolution but instead suck you down into a never ending black hole, and you might end up feeling depressed and out of control. Because this kind of shadow inner feminine creates chaos, you may feel that your life is undermined by continuous drama that depletes you of life-force and vitality. In addition, this extreme inner feminine often enmeshes with others. When this happens, you might find yourself over-identifying with other people’s emotions and circumstances to the point that you begin to lose your sense of self and you can no longer distinguish your own thoughts and emotions from the thoughts and emotions of others.
The Next Step…
These are just some of the ways in which your inner masculine and inner feminine operate. Everyone has, in some form, a degree of these shadow aspects of the inner masculine and inner feminine, and I will be discussing how to harmonize and heal them, as well as how this relates to the current state of the world, in upcoming posts. The good news is, understanding these deep aspects of our own human nature is the first step to transforming their destructive impulses into their original, life-affirming, inspirational, powerful and loving natures.
Cover image: Detail from “The Alchemy of Love” by Tiziana DellaRovere