Throughout my twenties and most of my thirties, I pushed myself hard.
After securing media coverage for a client on the TODAY Show, I barely stopped to breathe before I was pitching their story toNational Geographic or lining up a meeting for them with the French Embassy. When it came to generating results, I was convinced if I just “forced” the outcome, it was bound to happen!
Sometimes this worked, often it didn’t. But, invariably, this over-aggressive mode of operating always left me feeling exhausted, overextended and depleted (not to mention hugely deficient in the fun and joy department!).
Over time—and as a result of a lot of personal growth work—I came to realize these stressful feelings were a sign that my energy (how we get things done) was out of balance and too heavily weighted in the masculine realm. I had not yet learned how to tap into my feminine strengths, such as asking for and receiving help and pausing and reflecting before I leap into action.
Regardless of our gender, we all possess both feminine (often called “yin”) and masculine (often called “yang”) energies. Yet, in our Western culture where results and outcome are so highly valued, most of us—both men and women—are out of balance and many of us have come to overly-rely on our yang strengths. Although I’m sure there are also many of you who experience the opposite and may be too reliant on your yin strengths.
The danger of this imbalance is physical and emotional exhaustion (envision pushing a wheelbarrow full of rocks up a mountain and the long-term effect this has on your body). You risk burn-out and more importantly, you miss out on the many gifts that come from accessing your highly intuitive yin-oriented talents and gifts such as collaborating with others or tapping your intuitive wisdom.
Both masculine and feminine energies are important. I could not have birthed my first book without tapping my yin strengths — accessing my intuition and waiting until I was fully inspired to begin writing—and my yang strengths—calling on the fire in my belly to execute the timeline and get the book to the publisher by the required deadlines! But real power comes when we learn how—and when—to call forth both of these strengths.
BALANCING YIN/YANG HOMEWORK
Reflect on the short list below of a few yin and yang strengths. Then,
1) Observe how your body feels as you read first the yin list and then the yang list;
2) Make a list of some of your yin and yang strengths that have supported your personal and professional success thus far, and
3) Jot down a few specific ways you could begin to allow more of your yin qualities to surface (ex: carving out time to take a personal retreat, calling a mentor for support or “sitting” with an idea or strategy for a week before taking action on it).
Then, over time, try cultivating an awareness for which energy could best serve in a given situation. Whether it’s at work, in the midst of parenting or while launching a new project, envision yourself becoming comfortable learning to weave your yin and yang attributes together—as you feel guided in the moment.
Yin (or feminine) Energy
Yang (or masculine) Energy
Some of the ways I balance my yin/yang energies are through movement such as dance, yoga, qi gong, tai chi, creative writing, drawing, taking retreats and journaling.
Pick up a copy of my book The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal: How to Reclaim, Rejuvenate and Re-Balance Your Life at your local library (or you can purchase it here) for additional guided exercises around this topic. I also teach around this theme during my self-renewal retreats and private life balance workshops.
This is a vast topic and an important one. (Relationship expert Linda Bloom says most marriages that are on the rocks are due to men and women being out of balance around their yin/yang energy.) If someone would have suggested this facet of balance to me when I was in the middle of leading a press conference twelve years ago, I would have thought they were crazy.
Take your time and invoke lots of curiosity and compassion as you dive into this theme; it took me more than 35 years to begin to understand this concept and I’m still working on it today.