“We all have masculine and feminine within us, and when it’s all balanced it’s like accessing a super power.” (Alicia Keys)
What do we mean by “masculine” and “feminine” and why is balancing them important?
Much has been written about the sacred feminine (yin) and the sacred masculine (yang). Although each person possesses both masculine and feminine energies, usually one type is more developed or dominant. This dominant energy affects how you perceive yourself, others, your environments and how you interact with the world.
The qualities of each type of energy are outlined in the table below. *
Feminine Energy (Yin) BEING & GIVING
Masculine Energy (Yang) DOING & RECEIVING
Linear & Logical
Allow for “flow”
Excerpted from “Learning to Dance with Life: A Guide for High Achieving Women” (2015) by Pamela Thompson, p. 84
When you live life feeling like you are on a hamster wheel and can’t get off, you are exhibiting many of the characteristics of masculine energy. It’s important to be aware of the qualities of each type of energy because being out of balance negatively impacts our bodies, our minds, our relationships and our work. For example, if we are constantly in our masculine energy, over time it leads to illness, lack of fulfillment, unhappiness, and restlessness. Whereas if we are dominated by our feminine energy, we become ill, resentful, needy and insecure.
How can you find and create your own unique balance between your feminine and masculine energies? A good place to start is with an assessment.
Here’s an illuminating exercise:
At the end of the day, take some time to pause and reflect on your day. Create 2 lists. Put at the top of one list “Doing” and the other list “Being”. Without thinking too much, do a brain dump of all the things you’ve done in that day. This could include: planning with your team, chairing a meeting, doing a performance review … . Then write down all the things you would categorize as “being” such as: walking mindfully in nature, meditating, spending time focusing attentively on someone or something.
If it’s been an unusual day, take the time to also reflect on the previous day.
Then create 2 other lists. Think about all your “Giving” behaviors that day. Examples include: making a meal for a sick friend, volunteering your time to assist others, listening to a friend’s tale of woe. .
Now think about all your “Receiving” behaviors for that day. Receiving behaviors include: treating yourself to a yoga class and being present during it, meditating for at least 10 minutes, reaching out for support when you needed it; such as “Sweetie, do you mind driving the kids to school today? I’ve got a lot on my plate.”, treating yourself to a bubble bath or massage.
Now look at your lists. What do you notice?Are you giving more than receiving and doing more than being?
Then take a few moments to go into your body and notice how you are feeling. Are you low in energy? Are you feeling resentful? Are you finding you have a “short fuse” and that you are reacting rather than taking some thoughtful time to respond to people at home and/or at work?
I invite you to do this exercise for a few days and notice what you notice. I welcome your reflections and insights below.
Stay tuned for the next installment to discover some tips and tools for balancing your masculine and feminine energy.
Do you habitually check the news feeds on your smartphone before falling asleep?
On awakening do you check Facebook on your phone?
Are you finding it challenging to fall asleep, and do you often awaken feeling unrested?
Do you feel stressed, and have difficulty focusing?
If you answered “yes” to any or all of the above questions, you are not alone, AND you may benefit from a digital detox.
What exactly is a digital detox? According to Wikipedia, a digital detox“refers to a period of time during which a person refrains from using electronic connecting devices such as smartphones and computers.” It is recommended that you do a digital detox for 24 hours or more.
67% of cellphone owners find themselves checking their device even when it’s not ringing or vibrating
One out of ten Americans report depression; heavy internet users are 2.5 times more likely to be depressed
95% of people use some type of electronics in the hour leading up to bed, and
artificial light from screens increases alertness and suppresses the hormone melatonin by up to 22% negatively affecting sleep, performance and mood
Unplugging for just one day can give some users mental and physical withdrawal symptoms.
The Benefits of a Digital Detox
Scientific studies and social experiments have noted the following results from digital detoxing:
Improved sleep/reduced fatigue
Increased connection with self and others leading to improved relationships
Getting Started/How to do a Digital Detox
Frances Booth shares some valuable suggestions on how to do a digital detox. She and others recommend the following.
Create a Positive Mindset
Identify for yourself why you want to do the detox and the benefits it will provide. While thinking about each benefit, imagine how you will feel in your body when you have achieved it. For example, how will it feel to be more productive, more creative, more connected to family and friends, more relaxed. … .
Identify a 24-hour period when you want to try a digital detox. Ideally make it a weekend or a time when you aren’t working. Tell your family and friends your plans, and why you’re doing it.
Plan some time in nature, as being among trees reduces blood pressure, reduces your heart rate and increases the number of natural killer cells your body produces.
Plan some one-on-one time with your partner, a friend or your family to truly connect with them.
Ask for Support
Tell your family and friends of your plans, and why you’re doing it.
You may wish to invite a partner or friend to do the detox with you. Support is important when changing any behavior.
Notice How You feel and Express Yourself
When you start the detox, notice how your feel. It’s not unusual to be fidgety and have some withdrawal symptoms. You may find it helpful to write down your feelings. If you feel the urge to connect, take some deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth. Experience the feelings rather than “pushing them down”.
During the detox and after, notice what you notice and write down those feelings.
Make Digital Detoxing a Habit
The more digital detoxing you do, the easier it becomes. Try unplugging for at least 90 minutes before you go to bed each night. Go offline for 24 hours each weekend.
I love the tagline of http://digitaldetox.org/ “Disconnect to Reconnect”. Unplugging is relatively easy, yet the results are profound.
I invite you to try a digital detox. If you’ve already tried one, please share your experiences and comments below. Share this post with people you care about who could benefit.
Many of my coaching clients when they start to work with me say that they want to have more fun. They realize their lives are all about work, and they have little or no time for themselves, and to spend with others, to play and have fun. So What does fun look and feel like?
What does having fun look life for me?
Spending time in nature by myself or with people I care about
Engaging in physical activity; e.g. swimming, cycling, hiking, kayaking, walking on the beach or by water
Sharing time truly connecting with others; e.g. over coffee, meals or at an event/experience
Laughing with others I feel close to; e.g. partner, family, friends
Creating something new that will make a difference; e.g. writing a book, article, designing a program or project
Exploring a new place (includes travel)
Appreciating beauty; e.g. in nature, music, art, dance …
Count up the number of hours you typically work in a week. Is it more than 50? (Obviously sometimes)
Make a commitment to reduce the number of hours you typically work weekly (choose a realistic number to begin with)
Experiment with a work week when you reduce your hours. Then notice how you feel. You may wish to journal about it.
Begin incorporating mindfulness practices into your personal life; e.g.
on awakening while lying in bed do a body scan from the top of your head to the bottom of your feet noticing any tension, discomfort, heaviness. Breathe into those areas of tension, discomfort or heaviness and set the intention to release and let go of them.
Start doing mindfulness walking meditations 3 times/week for 30 minutes each time.  Some of my clients do this at lunch hour. Others after work. Notice how you feel before, during and after. Is there a cumulative effect?
Unplug at least 90 minutes before retiring and encourage your colleagues to do the same.
At work, encourage people to take breaks
Set clear expectations with your direct reports and colleagues related to NOT checking emails and answering texts on evenings and weekends. Share with them the importance of them taking time for themselves and their families
Have short meetings (up to 60 minutes max) with clearly defined agendas, and expectations so people know why they’re there, how to prepare and the expected results.
Encourage people to take lunch breaks
Support people to take regular vacations and to NOT check their emails while on vacation (set up a buddy system so staff and managers can feel that the key aspects of their positions are being covered while they are away)
Have yoga classes and/or a gym on site and participate in the classes/use the facilities yourself.
What two actions will you begin integrating into your life tomorrow?Please share those actions and any related comments below. Feel free to share this post with a friend, colleague or family member.
 A tool from Easter psychology that I have found extremely useful for getting “out of my head” and into my body is Mindfulness Walking Meditation. Mindfulness practices focus on the senses and feeling sensations and emotions in our bodies. When we do a mindfulness walking meditation we feel the ground beneath our feet, we feel the breeze against our face, we feel the cool air going from our nostrils down into our lungs. We smell the scent of salt or the aroma of lavender in the air and observe the scenery in front of us. We try to stay out of our minds and experience our senses. Rather than spend a walk in nature constantly thinking and processing all the things we have to do, instead we stay present and experience nature and all of its beautiful sights, smells, sounds and sensations.
I believe it’s time for a new type of leader, and a new type of organizational culture; one that focuses on people, understanding, and collaboration; instead of money, results, and competition. … This is the first in a series of blog posts on balanced and mindful leadership.
In my coaching with business and professional women from around the world, greater and greater numbers, and younger and younger women are coming to me exhausted, “juggling so many balls”, feeling that there is no longer any fun in their lives; they are all about work with little or no time for themselves, or to spend with people they love. Some of them have health concerns. They are looking for tools and support to help them find peace amongst the chaos of daily life and work.
Well-educated professional women are leaving their senior positions or turning down career advancements when they have children, as there is not enough time to do it all. Those who try to do it all, often become ill or end up in separation and divorce.
The old paradigm of working harder to get ahead is no longer working. In fact, productivity starts to decline after a certain number of hours of consistent work. It’s time for a new paradigm and new type of leader: a balanced and mindful one.
What are the attributes of a balanced and mindful leader?
Lives life in alignment with their core values
Runs an organization or operates within an organization in alignment with the organizational values
Knows their BIG WHY (life purpose)
Understands the importance of Work/Life Balance and models that for others
Rewards teams rather than individuals for their performance
Models and rewards inter and intra-organizational collaboration
Recognizes the need for space to encourage creativity and innovation
Uses their body as well as their minds to make decisions; e.g. Leadership is an art as well as a science.
Inspires and supports others to be the best they can be
Is emotionally intelligent and aware of their strengths and weaknesses
Surrounds self with folks with complementary skill-sets to shore up their weaknesses and complement their strengths, rather than people like themselves.
Encourages brainstorming and questioning of the status quo.
Allows their managers and staff to make mistakes, share and learn from them; encourages a culture of innovation – e.g. Engineers without Borders Annual Failure report – http://reports.ewb.ca/
Do you agree with the need for a new type of leader? What are your thoughts? I welcome your comments below. Feel free to share the post with others who you think might like to join in the discussion.
February is known as the month of love. During this time, many of us think of our primary relationships, of romance and of Valentine’s Day. What I know to be true is that we need to truly love ourselves before we can cultivate deep and satisfying relationships with others.
Many of us have been socialized from a young age to always give to others before ourselves. We may feel guilty if we take time for ourselves; such as having lunch with a friend, or to nurture ourselves; such as having a massage.
What happens if we constantly give to others without giving to ourselves? We may become resentful. For example, if we’re always giving to a friend, and when we ask for help, she doesn’t have time for us. We often become less tolerant and our patience wears thin so we react to our partners, children and co-workers in a reactive manner, rather than mindfully and sensitively. Over time we become exhausted. Do you relate? We all need and deserve some time for ourselves and to care for ourselves.
What activities do you regularly integrate into your life to nurture yourself?
For me doing yoga three to four times a week is extremely important. Meditating daily is also a way for me to ground and relax. Bubble baths with lavender bath salts is a self-care strategy of choice. For you, regular massages with a trusted practitioner may be your top nurturing behavior.
Make a list of the things you do already to nurture yourself. Add to the list other things you would like to begin doing. Cheryl Richardson’s best-selling book The Art of Extreme Self Care is a great resource that offers 12 strategies to transform your life one month at a time. Get into action by putting your self-care strategies in your calendar (e.g. yoga classes), and by scheduling appointments with your favorite massage therapist, or lunch with a dear friend.
Remember, YOU are precious and deserve to be nurtured.
What self-care strategies do you employ to nurture yourself? How do you feel during and after doing something for yourself? I welcome your comments and strategies below. Feel free to share this post with a friend.