And two power moves to embrace the flow
I’m scream-singing Meredith Brooks in my head as I type this. Most people attribute her Grammy Award-nominated song, Bitch, to Alanis Morrissette but it was 38-year old Meredith who gave us a ballad of dichotomy in 1997 that continues to resonate decades later.
Note that the original title for this piece was, “You’re so aggressive,” and other subtle ways I’ve been called a “b*tch” at work. And this is really all about one of the classic dichotomies brought to us from birth — the dichotomy of the masculine and the feminine. Yin and yang. Adam and Eve. Giving and receiving. And while we’re pushing the social construct of gender roles towards a spectrum, it holds true that there remain two predominant energies in this world — the masculine and the feminine. Each of us is like a soft-serve swirl of both flavors.
I love seeing conversations popping up in the mainstream around the masculine and feminine nature of energy. There are so many ways we embody these energies in our lives. With some self observation, I think you’ll notice subtle shifts in the balance between the masculine and the feminine as you go about your day. Based on the people you’re around, the role you’re fulfilling, the things you’re doing, it’s natural to lean into different sides of your personality. And personality is really the outward expression of internal energies after all, right?
Characteristics of Masculine and Feminine Energy
Masculine energy is often characterized by doing. I find the narrative around this type of energy often describes it’s shadow — controlling, competitive, dominant, hard. But the highest forms of masculine energy show up as generous creative forces — giving, discipline, confidence, expansion. Without the masculine, bringing things to life would be impossible.
And as we shift into receiving, we activate our feminine energies. Feminine energy is full of ease, surrender in the best way, to intuition and flow, and understanding. The shadow of the feminine is directionless, unstable, insecure. The feminine is where we find our unique connection to the divine.
Side note — I think this why we see a lot of the modern “self-care” movement being taken on by women. While, despite the name, our energies are sexless, the double-x chromosome does tend to favor the feminine energy. And I think this energy gives us a leg up on the knowing. On the divine.
But the masculine is equally present. And, when a female-bodied person leans into her masculine personality, it can often be received with discomfort.
For me, my masculine energy comes out in doing — specifically at work. I’m great at strategy and planning. Organizing chaos. So I lead a lot of projects. And when I’ve shown up with that energy of doing, I’ve gotten pushback for being “assertive,” “aggressive,” “intimidating.” It wasn’t often that I’d hear this, but as a highly sensitive person, getting that sort of feedback two or three times was enough to send me into a doubt spiral. “Am I hurting people’s feelings? Am I being rude? Does everyone feel this way?” and it really impacted how I handled myself for awhile.
I began over-thinking every word I said. Each meeting I led became a mental obstacle course and emotional drain. I started asking people to read emails and “edit for tone” before sending. My confidence was crippled and I became significantly less effective. My impact on the business plummeted as the projects I was leading swirled and stalled. And I even noticed the need for reassurance creeping into my personal life. “Am I this way at home? Does my partner feel this way? Am I too much?”
The confident woman, in the boardroom and the bedroom, was MIA.
Two realizations pulled me out of my doubt spiral
Step 1 — Getting honest with myself and taking ownership
First, I know my heart and my intentions. A devout believer in abundance, my masculine energy doesn’t come from an ego story rooted in competition. It’s not about me rising to the top. It’s about doing what’s best for the business and creating opportunities for everyone to step into their light and shine. The strengths I have to share just happen to be action-oriented, decisive, confident.
So I made the decision to continue showing up that way. Acting any other way would be outside of my integrity.
And at the same time, I can take ownership of how my messages land. Sometimes a statement or assertion can feel too… assertive. So I’ve developed a practice of consciously turning statements into questions to encourage other voices to participate in direction-setting. And I think my most effective, disarming tactic has been a statement I often use at the start most proposals: “I am happy to be wrong here.”
I recognize that my get-shit-done approach can feel like riding a bullet train. By acknowledging that and creating space in the conversation for feedback, other opinions, and clearly stating my willingness to be corrected, it creates a totally different tone to the meeting.
Step 2: Letting the rest go
Second, knowing that I’m showing up in my integrity and that I clearly embody my intentions through the tools I outlined above, I release the fear.
The reality is each of us is someone else’s trigger. A young, confident, female-bodied voice is a huge trigger in CoRpORaTe AmERiCa. And I can’t take ownership of their discomfort. I’m happy to coach them through it if they want to go there. But it’s not mine to manage or help them avoid.
This shift didn’t happen over night. It required deep self-reflection:
What do I love about my personality?
When am I most proud of myself?
What are my intentions really?
Where can I take responsibility in this situation?
That self-reflection? That’s feminine energy in it’s highest form, y’all. A willingness to pause, go inward, be open and vulnerable, and to lean into your inner knowing for answers.
That soft-serve swirl of energies is delicious when you get the flavors right, y’know?
Yesterday I cried
Must have been relieved to see
The softer side
I can understand how you’d be so confused
I don’t envy you
I’m a little bit of everything
All rolled into one
About The Author
Sarah is a classically trained marketer, philosopher, and artist. A self-described ‘wounded healer,’ her writing, much like her coaching, is focused on how we heal ourselves through relationship with others. You can find her irregular writings on Medium and her post-class reflections here on Self-Care Society both under the handle @thebestofsarah.