I’m 50 this year though I can hardly imagine where all the years have gone.  And as I plan my half century celebration and speak to friends going back decades, it seems only yesterday that I was a teenager flailing against the world and seeking something more substantial than what was on offer. As a woman in our modern western society, I have been incredibly fortunate to have been born in our time, to have been able to explore my spirituality and my psyche and to be able to lead and inspire others to realise their true selves too.

What does success mean to the feminine?

However, despite all this I am still only a woman.  To use a cliche I am a woman in a man’s world.  I am a woman surrounded by masculine values to be strong, directive, driven, serious about my career,  clinical, academic, studious, hardworking, aggressive, financially motivated and incentivised, and at the end of the day to have a kind of success that is measured in numbers not in value.  Lynne Twist in her book, ‘The Soul of Money’ talks about powerful executive women who have lost their very connection to their feminine energy because they have adopted the more aggressive and directional values of big business which they describe as a painful sacrifice.  I’ve felt increasingly rebellious about this state of affairs.  I’ve felt really quite indignant that these values, that aren’t mine at all, are ones that would indicate to the world at large that I am ‘successful’.  I even realised at one stage a couple of years ago, that adopting these values was actually causing me harm.  I will dedicate an article to my experience of that time soon where I had a large lump in my left breast and some deep reflection and personal work revealed that I wasn’t honouring the woman in me and was straining myself with too much responsibility and fear about failure so I consciously chose to drop those values.  The lump dissolved. However, if I choose not to go along with these values, I have to review what I’m doing with my life and what creates a sense of success, fulfillment and happiness for me and perhaps for many of us who are in the caring professions.

And this leads me to review what I mean by success.  Because what it means out there, to the outside world, may not be the same thing.  The problem is, the minute I start defining success for me in my life, I stand apart and alone. And I find myself moving ever more into my feminine energy to really get a measure of just who I am as a woman in this incredibly masculine value dominated world.

The Nature of the Feminine

As I enter the third age of woman hood – from child, to child-bearer, to wise woman I find myself relaxing and realising that I have a great inherent gift that is my femininity.  It is connected to the seasons, it ebbs and flows with the moods of nature, and it is inherently both nurturing and destructive.  It is forever in alignment with the planet, its expression a natural untameable fact of life.

The Valuing of the Masculine

And yet in the past I, and so many of us, men and women alike, have continued to hide it in favour of the more dominant achievement based values that have infected the whole world.  We have ourselves degraded and devalued our power and wisdom by believing that the masculine directional, scientific, achievement based culture is what is the most valuable of all.  We flock to these values and compete with the masculine on its own terms further enforcing the polarity between the masculine and the feminine.  We eschew women who cannot demonstrate themselves to be competent and successful in a masculine world. We have become isolated as woman in individual houses, with our individual families, with our individual money and sense of territoriality.  We are divided. And we have allowed ourselves to be ruled.

As I work on the most tragic case I’ve ever come across of a woman and the forced adoption of her children by the state on grounds of a spurious personality disorder diagnosis, I realise that woman is also subject to the masculine values of the state:  that achievement here again is about successful placement of children for adoption and most definitely not, the more creative, sentient and nurturing side of being a woman and a mother.  That no time, space nor money is offered to promote the beauty of the natural bond between mother and child, is tragic and I weep not just for her, but for women worldwide who have lost children through death, adoption or murder – and usually from masculine driven directives.  Whether it be modern medicine or warfare, adoption or kidnapping, it would appear that the uninitiated masculine in these realms fears its own vulnerability, is anxious about its standing, is eager to tame the external in some kind of obsessive drive to tame the wild feminine that makes up the other, less predictable and more moody, half of life. What fear of the feminine energy is evident in the masculine in the world.

The Feminine Guarantees Nothing Except the Joy of Being Alive

And as I reflect on my own life, I realise that success for me is about being fearless and about loving and embracing every moment of my life because the feminine in life guarantees nothing. She is moody, destructive and wild. She is nurturing, creative and warm. She is nature. And nature does not wait in an orderly queue before it is given permission to act.  As I allow nature to express itself through me, I’m learning to love my seasons of boundless creativity, deep sadness, passionate love, at times hurt, loss, and at others, inspired work.  There seems a certain essential flow of life that in the past, I would have ignored as I clamoured to be seen as professional or qualified at work, and strict and orderly at home.  I recognise that I can express both masculine and feminine and do have the masculine as part of my value system and in fact, need it to be able to function in our modern world. But now I accept ever more my moods my ups and downs, my seasons. And in doing so, the one thing I express in my work is my feminine power.

When we resist this calling to wisdom that our bodies take us through, we experience symptoms of ‘menopause’: hot flushes, emotional outburst and so on. And believing that we are ill, we go to doctors to impose further masculine directed treatments to inhibit these ‘abnormal’ signs of being an initiated woman. That we have lost touch with ourselves and seek these treatments seems to evidence to me that we have more faith in those masculine directives out there, than in own self knowledge and feminine power.

I’d love to share with you some more insights that I’ve had about how this applies to us as therapists and how we can embrace the feminine in our practices, that is both men and women to create real connection and resonance with those we are treating. I’ll be talking more about woman and her wisdom in my next teleseminar on the 30th October. Join me for the live call by going to my free teleseminar sign up page. The live call is free.  The audio recording will be available in the Mind membership series which costs just £7.

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