Part One: The Collapsed Inner Male
T he Sacred Lovers Within blog is dedicated to giving you the tools necessary to become aware of and transform the parts of yourself that have been traumatized and conditioned by patriarchy. You may be aware of these aspects of yourself or you may not because they lay hidden in the depths of your psyche, but you are surely aware of the turmoil caused by their acting out. In fact, these hidden aspects of yourself are the reason why certain areas of your life might not work as well as you wish. They might cause you to have repeated feelings and emotions that are discomforting, or even agonizing to you. We call these repressed parts of yourself the shadow fragments of your inner male or your inner female.
About this four-part series on the shadow male and shadow female
This is the first article of a four-part series on the shadow inner male and inner female. Each blog post will begin by describing the characteristics of the particular shadow aspect I am addressing, and will end with practices to start you on the process of transformation.
If you recognize an aspect of the shadow inside of you, take heart. You can heal these shadow fragments of your inner male and inner female. And when you do, you will liberate the true essence of your authentic masculine and feminine that has been trapped in these twisted shadow forms. Through this process, you empower yourself, you experience a renewed sense of inner peace, and you naturally become more expressive, proactive, and loved from within.
The shadow inner male
To begin with, I want to remind you that the shadow inner male can be active in a woman as well as a man, or in persons who identify themselves with a kaleidoscope of possible genders.
Most importantly, if you have an aspect of your inner male that is shadow, it does not mean that the entirety of your inner male is dysfunctional. Rather, it means that in a particular area of your life, your inner male functions in a counterproductive way. Maybe your inner male is strong and healthy in the arena of your work and career, but not so much in the area of intimacy.
For example, perhaps you have no problem expressing yourself proactively and setting boundaries in your profession, but when you enter the intimacy of relationships, you suddenly collapse and enmesh or you find it difficult to express your true feelings, or maybe you try to control and dominate others.
By definition, your shadow inner male is a fragment that has split off from your core inner male, and lives in your psyche in its own childish, traumatized reality. There, he produces unconscious triggers that cause you to behave in ways that later make you ask yourself, “Why did I react like that, when I know better?” So let’s explore how the shadow inner male functions, and how he became shadow in the first place.
The shadow inner male is disconnected from the inner female
The shadow inner male is always disconnected from your inner female. If he were connected to your inner female, your inner male would be automatically healthy. But, because of his disconnection from your inner female, he has lost her guidance, her 360-degree perception of the whole, and the nourishment that comes from her. Without her intuitive perceptions, he cannot navigate in the uncertainty of life, and he cannot aim in the right direction to achieve the correct goal. Without her fluidity, he becomes dry, rigid and controlling. Without her sustenance, which is the energy of life, he becomes withdrawn and ineffective.
Fundamentally, the inner male can have two types of shadow aspects: the Collapsed Inner Male and the Draconian Inner Male. Even though they have opposite characteristics, they are both toxic and destructive. This blog post addresses the collapsed inner male.
The collapsed inner male
The collapsed inner male has lost the ability to be assertive, to be proactive, and to project his work through external action in the world. Instead of moving in an outward direction, he reverts inward, collapsing into himself, and he loses his potency. He becomes shut off, passive and mushy. He creates boundaries by withdrawing and isolating himself, instead of defining his territory and asserting his wants and needs.
In a way, he mimics the mode of the rigidified shadow inner female. He goes inward but without being open and receptive. He creates boundaries by withdrawing and creating isolation instead of defining his territory and asserting his wants and needs.
There are several reasons why the inner male fragments and becomes collapsed. The most common occurs when a person has been the victim of physical or emotional abuse or neglect as a child. Abuse and neglect stunt the development of the protective and assertive function of the healthy inner male. In children, the inner male is still maturing and, under the condition of abuse or neglect, the inner male learns that he is impotent to protect the child from the destructive behavior of a much stronger adult, or to assert himself with an adult who ignores his attempts. Consequently, instead of developing his potency and skills, the inner male gives up and adopts strategies based on withdrawal, passivity or disassociation.
The most unfortunate consequence of having a collapsed inner male is that, as adults, people do not know how to protect themselves and they get involved in relationships that are abusive because their inner male is not capable of protecting them or even registering that they are being abused. This even happens to the extreme of identifying with the abuser, whereby the inner male, instead of championing the person, allies with the abuser and makes the abused one feel and think that they are at fault and the abuser is right to abuse them. So, the pattern of abuse is perpetuated to varying degrees. This is a very sad situation indeed and one that abusers count on to continue their nefarious activity.
The collapsed shadow inner male is also not able to help the person to leave the abusive relationship because his ability to create boundaries and to separate is impaired. Remember, as I described in my recent article, How Your Sacred Lovers Within Play a Crucial Role in Your Life, the healthy inner male knows how to differentiate, separate and leave as part of his protective function.
Often, instead of asserting and championing themselves and speaking up for their rights, people with a collapsed shadow inner male adopt strategies that are passive aggressive which produce anger in the person they are interacting with. This establishes a loop whereby they feel attacked and victimized and withdraw even more, frustrating the person they are interacting with to the extreme. This is a pattern that creates suffering and breakups in intimate relationships.
Another common cause of the collapsed inner male occurs in people, particularly men, who have rejected masculinity, often quite consciously. These are usually sensitive individuals who do not identify with the patriarchal male model, and decide that they do not want to follow a masculine example that is violent or disrespectful of women and life in general. Maybe they have seen their father abuse their mother, or be rigidly authoritarian or dominating and controlling of others, and they refuse to follow the same violent path. These people, not finding a positive alternative to express their own authentic masculinity, reject their masculinity altogether. Instead, they veer toward their inner female, which, without the balancing potency of the inner male, becomes the destructive and overwhelming shadow female. Consequently, they lose their mastery and sovereignty of the outer world.
This lack of assertion in the outer world can undermine people’s success in their work and career. For example, they might not be able to assert their rights in the workplace, which in turn affects their self-esteem. They also might not be able to develop the structure and discipline to bring their projects to completion. These are often people who have multiple projects going on at the same time but they lose the much-needed focus and commitment that would otherwise come from having a healthy inner male. Depression, low self-esteem, frustration, disillusionment and a sense of impotency in the world are the common painful emotions generated by the collapsed shadow inner male.
What to do about it: Tools for Transformation
- Research examples of men and women with a healthy inner male that you can model yourself after. They could be characters from a novel or a film, someone famous like Jane Goodall or Nelson Mandela, or humble people who have asserted their visions with their entrepreneurial actions and have done something good for the world. In other words, find examples of people who have a healthy inner male. Remember, the healthy inner male always listens to the inspiration of the inner female because she is connected with the well-being of the whole. Find people who have taken action to produce something wholesome and life-affirming in the world. They are role models of the harmony and collaboration between their inner male and inner female. Pretend to be them, and imagine how you would act.
- Consciously face your fear and speak your truth, even in small everyday situations. Assert what you want by following through with actions, even if it is scary and you feel vulnerable. But do it with your heart open, not with rage and frustration. Notice that people with genuine authority don’t exert force, they simply state what they want in a calm and respectful manner. Train yourself to go outward and to speak your truth in a lovingly assertive way.
- When you have an impulse, an inspiration or a desire, immediately go into action and do it. Practice doing it within 5 minutes. Do it, externalize it, even if it is something small. Don’t procrastinate. For example, if you notice that you are thirsty, get some water right away, rather than putting it off until you finish whatever project you are working on. Likewise, if you have an idea or an inspiration, write it down immediately. If you want to give a gift to someone, don’t relegate it to do later, instead take an action toward procuring that gift now. This is the way of the healthy inner male.
- Finally, take a project you started and finish it. This is how the healthy inner male creates structure and brings things to completion. Then, take the next project that is unfinished and finish it. Continue one at a time until all of your unfinished projects are completed.
By doing these practices, you are retraining your inner male to express outwardly through positive actions and clear communication. You are teaching him not to collapse but to give generously of himself in interpersonal relationships and to society. You are empowering him by showing him that masculinity is a force of good and something to be proud of, that the healthy inner male can make your life a productive, loving experience and, ultimately, make this world a better place.
This article is part one in a series. Read Part Two: The Draconian Shadow Inner Male.
Photo credit: Patrick Neufelder