Part 3: The Rigidified Inner Feminine
This is a four-part series on the shadow masculine and feminine. Start with Part One.
Y our inner feminine is like a blossom that opens to receive the rays of the sun. Her natural state always remains intact at the core of your being, and you can awaken her through love, just like the prince does for Sleeping Beauty—except that this prince is your own inner masculine who lives within you. The inner masculine and inner feminine are the two fundamental and complementary aspects of your nature. As with your in-breath and out-breath, the primary function of your inner feminine is to receive and the primary function of your inner masculine is to give. If these two are in harmony and collaborate with each other, your life becomes fulfilling, creative, empowered, and loving. You experience a flow between receiving and giving, rest and productivity, self-care and service to others, structure and fluidity. And, most importantly, you are able to receive love and give love. Feeling loved from within, you are naturally loving in return. The path of the Sacred Lovers Within is a state of balance that we all aspire to. But in our imperfect world many of us have been traumatized, which has caused our inner masculine and feminine to become fragmented, stuck in a state of arrested development. When triggered, they cause us to act out in a way that is painful, frustrating, even destructive. These are the shadow aspects of our inner masculine and our inner feminine. In my previous articles the two primary kinds of shadow aspects of the inner masculine, the Collapsed Inner Masculine and the Draconian Inner Masculine , have been addressed. In this current two-part series I will delve into the two kinds of shadow inner feminine, the Rigidified Inner Feminine and the All–devouring Inner Feminine . It is essential to remember that your inner masculine and inner feminine are independent of your gender and gender identification. And because these shadow aspects are only fragments of the totality of your inner masculine and inner feminine, they might act out only in certain areas of your life and not in others.
The Rigidified Shadow Inner Feminine
If trauma, neglect, or abuse have impaired your inner masculine’s ability to defend you by going to bat for you, tracing boundaries, and fighting off dangers coming at you from the outside, your inner feminine will feel unprotected. She will have to take over the task of protecting herself. In other words, she will try to take on the function of your inner masculine. Since your inner feminine is the receptive part of your nature, responsible for your ability to open up and receive, the only way she can protect herself is by closing off and rigidifying—but at this point her fluidity and receptivity will be lost, and she will become destructive.
The Rigidified Inner Feminine Feels Endangered
If you have a fragment of the rigidified inner feminine acting out in your life, you might experience being much more comfortable in giving, taking care of, and serving others, than you do in receiving support, being helped, or taking in compliments or gifts. Receiving feels dangerous, and somewhat humiliating, because you misinterpret being receptive as feeling inferior to the person giving to you. When you give, you are in charge. You can choose to stop giving, or to continue to give. But when you receive, you are dependent on the other person to continue to give, or not. With the shadow inner feminine in self-protective mode, when offered something your perception will be that you have been placed in a vulnerable position, unable to control the interaction the way you do when you give to others. When someone gives to you, your rigidified inner feminine gives you the compulsion to immediately reciprocate and even the score. You might be convinced that strings are attached to any gifts or help that others offer you, and deflect compliments by complimenting back immediately, or even worse, by pointing out your faults. You reject gifts by disregarding them, diminishing them, or by reciprocating with bigger, better gifts. A rigidified inner feminine makes you feel that the safest path is one of extreme independence. Consequently, you have a hard time delegating. You want to do it all on your own because you don’t trust anybody to do it as well as you do. In other words, you want it done, whatever it is, not just according to high standards, but exactly the way you would do it. Unfortunately, this headstrong position can leave you feeling drained, exhausted, and alone.
The Rigidified Inner Feminine Rejects Abundance
Many times, I have had clients come to me frustrated and discouraged because they felt that they were working hard, trying all possible angles, getting involved in projects that were promising, doing everything right, and then, despite everything, still failing to harvest the results. Success eluded them, and the fruit of their work was poor. Why? What could they do better than what they were doing? What I usually recommend is to work less hard, to open up, and to heal their shadow inner feminine so as to develop a healthy inner feminine who is able to receive. Remember that your inner feminine must be healthy in order to gather the fruits of your work. Nothing can come to you if your inner feminine is closed off and rigidified. Rewards will bounce off of you because there is no entrance open for you to receive awards or abundance (financial and otherwise), acknowledgment, and even love. The old saying “give and ye shall receive” is true, but equally true is “receive and ye shall give.” You cannot give from a space of poverty and rigidity.
The Rigidified Inner Feminine in Relationships
In relationships, if your inner masculine is not activated and your inner feminine is rigidified and lacking fluidity and suppleness, any vulnerability becomes extremely uncomfortable and scary. This type of psychological combination is challenging in close relationships because it is very difficult to create true intimacy if you are not willing to receive; if you are unwilling to be vulnerable and open. The most painful pattern created by the rigidified inner feminine is the unwillingness to receive love. If you have this pattern, you feel unloved even if you have people who truly love you because deflecting love when it is given to you interrupts the natural flow of loving feelings that would spontaneously seek a response. One of the greatest gifts that a person can give to another is the gift of being received. Indeed, receiving love, gifts, and help with gratitude will ignite even more love. Rejecting that which is sincerely given is hurtful to the giver, and eventually dampens love’s flame. If you have this pattern that rejects love, you are probably avoiding or undermining relationships with people who truly care for you, and instead pursue those who are not able to love deeply. Paradoxically, you feel more comfortable with such people because their incapacity to love does not challenge your fear of receiving love. They do not ask you to open up, to receive more than you are comfortable with, because they do not give you much. Under these circumstances you are fulfilling your own prophecy, making your worst fears come true. You get rejected, proving to yourself over and over that you are not loved—thus it is imperative to heal the rigidified shadow inner feminine that creates such disruption in your relationships.
What to do about it: Tools for Transformation
- Practice the art of receiving gracefully. The next time that you receive anything, whether a compliment, a gift, an expression of appreciation, or an act of love, simply say “thank you.” That’s it. Do not immediately criticize yourself or put yourself down. Do not deflect by immediately complimenting the other person. Do not return the favor by giving back an equal or even bigger version of whatever you just received. On the other hand, do not minimize, ignore, criticize, or in any way reject what has been given to you. Receive it with appreciation and gratitude, allowing the abundance of goodness to nurture your heart. If fear comes up, just feel it, embrace it, and know that it will dissipate if you do not act on it.
- Be aware of fulfilling the prophecy that nobody loves you. Observe who you like to hang around with, being absolutely honest with yourself. In friendships or romantic relationships, are you trying to conquer the love of somebody who is indifferent, unattainable, rejecting, or even mean? Are you feeling bored, annoyed, or critical of people who express kindness, care, and interest toward you? If so, know that this is a strategy of your rigidified inner feminine which is afraid to receive love. Make a decision to act against your pattern. Consciously avoid people who might seem fascinating to you, but are actually dismissive, or even unkind to you. Instead, be open to people who are giving and caring. Do this gradually because your new way of being will be scary, and the fear will likely be masked by thoughts of criticism or annoyance toward the other person. If you don’t buy into the criticism and annoyance, but instead go deeper, you will recognize the fear. As always, just feel it without acting on it, and send compassion into the fear. This is the first step toward a deeper healing and transformation.
- Activate and strengthen your protective inner masculine. As I explained above, the inner feminine becomes rigidified when she feels unprotected by the inner masculine, so it is very important that you activate the protective aspect of your inner masculine. Imagine a strong and healthy inner masculine inside of you, speaking and acting through you. This strong masculine presence stands by your side and does not allow anybody to hurt you because:
- He champions you and speaks out what you want to communicate.
- He traces clear boundaries that he does not allow others to transgress.
- When you feel endangered, he takes you by the hand and guides you away from unsafe situations and dangerous people.
- He can say no clearly. And when he says it, he means it.
If you do this practice enough, your inner masculine will become activated within you, and these new behaviors will become second nature to you. You will feel safer, and your inner feminine will open like that metaphorical blossom, allowing you to receive the love that you deserve.
This article is Part 3 in a 4-part series on the shadow. Start the whole series here.
Image credit: Jonny Lindner