What does being feminine mean to you?
I am a driven, successful woman who’s made it in a man’s world. I became an Olympic athlete competing in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games. At Boeing, I was the one woman engineer out of eighty men in the 777 Flight Test Group (the most macho division of Boeing). I went back to get my MBA and became a manager at Arthur Andersen, a high-powered consulting firm.
Growing up, I adopted a belief that men had all the power and were dangerous, and to survive I had to be as good or better than men. I had to beat them at their own game.
When Susan and I started Thrive! and were doing two-day corporate off-sites with mostly male executives, I’d always introduce myself with my credentials. It was like saying to the men in the room, “back off, don’t f*ck with me!”
I kept trying to accomplish enough so that I’d finally feel safe, but it never happened. I lived in a constant state of flight, fight or freeze, which caused me to overcompensate by working harder, trying to be perfect, and trying to be super-efficient in order to fit the male model of work and success.
As a result, I had chronic fatigue, a back injury that would never heal, allergies, skin and gut issues. I was miserable. Something had to change, but I didn’t know what.
Then a friend said to me, “You know, you can’t out-masculine a male.”
What? Really? “No, they are men. They’ll always have more masculine energy than you.”
That woke me up. I realized that by working so hard to create safety around me, I’d been trying to be tougher than men.
Then she said, “As a female, connecting to your feminine essence is your greatest resource. It’ll give you energy because as a woman it is your primary energy.”
I didn’t have a clue what she was talking about. What I learned about being feminine growing up was it was weak, unproductive, irrelevant and dismissible. I worked hard to suppress my sensitive, emotional and creative sides.
Since I am a woman, thinking this negatively about feminine energy generated a significant amount of self-hate inside me. No wonder I was having all of these health issues! Makes perfect sense now, but I couldn’t see it then.
I don’t know what you thought about your feminine essence growing up. Whatever it was, when you add in the cultural messages about what women should be – sexy, beautiful, do-it-all, and have a 36-24-36 figure — you have a pretty tiny playing field in defining “feminine.”
Masculine and Feminine Energy
As humans, we all have both masculine and feminine energy within us. But one is primary. When you’re utilizing the opposite energy as your primary source (like I was) it’s like driving a Ferrari with the brakes on. You’re working against your natural energy source.
As women, we feel much more fulfillment, pleasure, and energy when we embrace our feminine essence as our primary driver. Being feminine has much less to do with whether you wear make-up, the color pink or have babies – unless those things help you experience your feminine energy.
Instead, your feminine energy has much more to do with whether you’re in your body, feeling your feelings and connected to your heart.
Masculine energy is about drive, competition, and achievement. Feminine energy is about slowness, collaboration, and sensuality.
Masculine energy lives in the upper part of our bodies: heads, shoulders, and arms. Feminine energy lives in the lower abdomen— our hips and legs. It’s our connection to mother earth.
Yang and Yin
(Masculine) and (Feminine)
Thinking – Feeling
Assertion – Attraction
Doing – Being
Outcome – Process
Father Spirit – Mother Earth
Go – Flow
Individual – Collective
Even if you’re actively competing in a man’s world, finding experiences that help you activate your feminine essence would be helpful.
What happened for me is that I started integrating my feminine essence into my life. I started connecting with my hips and took up dancing, acting, and painting. I started wearing and decorating my house with bright, bold colors. I reconnected to my inherent emotional expression and sensitivity. Now, rather than seeing them as liabilities, I know that my emotions and my sensitivity are two of my greatest gifts.
My health turned around too! I now have more energy, my skin and gut issues have cleared up, and my back only acts up if I’m driving too much. As for allergies, I used to be allergic to over 20 different things, now it’s only one!
Recently, I was surprised to learn that I was still using my masculine energy to drive my daily tasks. In the morning, I’d draft an aggressive to-do list, working hard to get everything done before I relaxed. I’d eat meals fast, often standing up as if eating were an annoying interruption to my valuable work. If I didn’t complete everything on the list, I’d beat myself up.
At the end of the day, I’d feel empty and spent rather than fulfilled by a day I got to design. I was getting cranky and burned out and wondering —why isn’t this more fun?
It wasn’t fun because I was focused on efficiency rather than pleasure.
So I started the Pleasure Project. Doesn’t that sound fun?!
I’m investigating what gives me pleasure and adding more pleasure in my every day. For me pleasure is about my senses – tastes, smells, sounds, textures and what looks beautiful.
I’ve started putting essential oils in my diffuser.
I’ve slowed the pace of my meals, savoring the flavors.
I take a dance break making sure to move my hips.
I’ve gotten some beautiful notebooks and taken the time to decorate my daily planner.
At the end of the day, I don’t feel so spent and, amazingly, I get tons of sh*t done!
So, what’s your day like? Do you let yourself have pleasure in the midst of your day?
Wanna join me in a pleasure project? Please do!!
You might find that a little dose of pleasure goes a long way in helping you stay energized and fulfilled.
P. S. I’d love to hear what you do to integrate your feminine essence and pleasure in your daily life.
CrisMarie Campbell and Susan Clarke are Master certified life coaches, business consultants, speakers and authors of The Beauty of Conflict. They believe real relationships are the key to creating great business results. They’ll take your team from mediocre to great.
Interested in coaching? Check out CrisMarie’s executive coaching and personal coaching, or Susan’s personal coaching and equus coaching.
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