In Ancient Chinese philosophy, yin and yang is a concept of dualism, describing how seemingly opposite or contrary forces may actually be complementary, interconnected, and interdependent in the natural world, and may give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another.
There are many given meanings to this ancient symbol: light and darkness, good and bad, positive and negative, heaven and earth, love and hate, life and death.
Yin and yang is also a perfect representation of the Animus and Anima – the male and female – that dwells within us all.
Jung described the animus as the unconscious masculine side of a woman, and the anima as the unconscious feminine side of a man, each transcending the personal psyche.
The Anima (the feminine energy in the male)
Derived from Latin meaning “a current of air, wind, breath, the vital principle, life, soul”, the Anima refers to the unconscious feminine dimension of a male which can often be forgotten or repressed in daily life. However, in order to psychologically progress and reach greater internal balance and harmony, it is necessary for a man to recognise, embrace and connect to this latent element of his character.
As described by Jungian Psychologist Dan Johnston, the man who has connected with his feminine Anima displays “tenderness, patience, consideration and compassion.” However, repression of the female element within the man results in a negative Anima that triggers personality traits such as “vanity, moodiness, bitchiness, and sensitivity to hurt feelings.”
The Animus (the masculine energy in the female)
The Animus, which is a Latin word that means “the rational soul; life; the mental powers, intelligence“, is the unconscious male dimension in the female psyche. Due to societal, parental and cultural conditioning, the Animus, or male element within the woman, can be often inhibited, restrained and suppressed. However, some societies and cultures (such as the Western way of life), ruthlessly impose masculinity ideals as ways to excel, succeed and get anywhere in life for women.
These external elements can contribute towards a negative Animus, which reveals itself in a woman’s personality through argumentative tendencies, ruthlessness, destructiveness, and insensitivity. However, integrating a positive Animus into the female psyche can result in strength, assertiveness, levelheadedness, and rationality.
Jung believed that in order for a person to develop self-awareness and understanding and become whole they must encounter and work to embrace their internal Anima or Animus.
The masculine/feminine elements within us have nothing to do with sexuality, and everything to do with creating a balance on the scales of passive (female) and aggressive (male) energies within us.
Balancing male and female energy
Gender roles are not as defined now as they were in the past, but there is still a fairly strong separation of gender energy. Everyone naturally has both aspects in their physical and spiritual makeup but society has separated the two for thousands of years creating an imbalance.
A young girl would be called a tomboy if she enjoyed outdoor sports or getting dirty more than playing with dolls. In reality she is a girl who has an outward expression of her masculine energy. Likewise, a boy who wanted to dance or paint may have been called a 'girl’ or a ‘sissy’. In truth, he is just a boy with an outward expression of his feminine energy, something that would make him a good partner and father in the future.
For hundreds of years, we have lived in a world that has been biased toward the patriarchal, supressing the feminine. This has not only been damaging to females, but also to the wellbeing of our planet. The suppression of the feminine has resulted in nature being much less respected and has resuted in problems with pollution and lack of habitat.
But, as feminine qualities are receiving more recognition it is important not to suppress the masculine in an attempt to bring in more power for female energy. That would just create an imbalance in the opposite direction. Balance is the key to greater happiness and prosperity.
We all need to be conscious of keeping a balance of masculine and feminine energies. Here are a few ideas on how you can create balance:
Create balance: Masculine energy
For females, connecting to the inner Animus is also about understanding masculine energy which manifests itself as everything that is active, dominant, and logical.
1. Do Something Competitive
In nature, males are naturally competitive.
- Take on a sporting challenge such as running a marathon.
- Set a challenging goal for yourself in your work.
- Compete in a team sport.
- Learn to play chess or cards and play to win.
- Play a video game with a partner.
2. Complete a home maintenance task
Home maintenance jobs are often seen as a ‘man’s job’. Embrace jobs that need doing around the home yourself. Learn masculine skills, (e.g. fixing car problems, handy-man abilities like using drills, fixing broken appliances, etc.)
- Look for any minor repairs that need to be done around your home. Seek guidance from the internet and local building stores.
- Attend a ‘how-to’ class in something like car maintenance.
- Dig a hole and create a water feature in your garden.
- Learn how to change a car tyre.
- Renew grouting or sealant in your bathroom.
3. Test your physical strength
Take your limits beyond everyday chores to spark useful masculine energy.
- Lift weights
- Practice squats and stay in the squat position as long as you can.
- Climb a steep hill carrying a weight such as a rock.
- Practice doing a headstand
- Do a set number of press ups every day.
Remember to be safe, and consult your doctor before engaging in greater physical activity.
4. Practice assertiveness
Assertiveness is seen as a masculine trait. Remember, as with all the ideas here, the aim is to create balance. When embracing your masculine side don't forget to keep the balance of the feminine.
- Adopt a role or position that puts you in authority/dominance.
- Learn to take charge of something in your life.
- Discover and develop your leadership abilities.
- Read non-fiction instead of purely fiction.
- Become more self-sufficient and self-reliant.
Feminine energy is flowing, ever-changing. Feminine energy will flow from one task to the next, always looking for something else that needs to be done. While this is good, we must remember that balance is the key. Masculine energy knows when to stop and rest and recharge. After doing a set number of tasks allow yourself time to relax. Recognise that it is just as important to look after yourself as it is to look after others.
Create Balance: Welcoming the Feminine
Connecting to the Anima for males is about understanding feminine energy which manifests itself as passivity, sensitivity, and emotionality.
1. Create Art
The side of your brain responsible for creativity can be found on the feminine side. Look for ways of expressing the inner Anima creatively, e.g. through music, art, sculpture, poetry, or dance.
- Get a sketchbook and pencil and just draw whatever comes to mind
- Sign up for a local art class
- Put on some music and dance.
- Buy a colouring book and pens (there are lots available for adults now).
- Make music. If you don’t have an instrument you can create one from household items.
These are just some ideas. The list of things you could do is endless.
One of the strongest female traits is to nurture. This could be to nurture anything from plants to people. It isn’t just children that need nurturing - that belief alone has created an imbalance. Everyone craves to be nurtured and to nurture others. This is an inner strength that can be expressed in various forms:
- Encourage those around you in whatever they are doing.
- Practice the art of listening with concern and compassion.
- Be a vessel of positive energy that draws people to you
- Nurture yourself and others with fresh food, water, and rest
- Touch: Give someone a hug, a touch on the arm, or hold someone’s hand.
3. Trust your intuition
Intuition is a feminine energy and is the balance to a masculine analytical mind. The education system has churned out people more used to using their analytical mind. Your intuition is your internal GPS and is never wrong. Your senses and your higher-self can see and feel things that your basic human senses cannot. Practice following your gut instincts and see where they take you. The more you build this natural gift the stronger it will become. Read my blog post here for more ideas.
4. Don’t fight your Emotions
Boys especially have been brought up believing that emotion is a weakness. Expressing emotions is not only a way to keep yourself on a good balance of masculine and feminine energy, it's good for your personal health, improves relationships, and builds your self-awareness.
- Practice mindfulness, meditation and other ways to get in touch with, and understand inner emotions.
- Practice thoughtfulness and consideration of the needs of others.
- Practice Self-Study in order to develop greater consideration of your internal needs for love and fulfillment.
5. Think Holistically
The word ‘holistic’ means to look at any situation as a whole. In health, holistic healing is to treat all aspects of human health: mind, body, and soul. Think of ways throughout your day that you can bring in a more holistic approach. When dealing with other people take into account their spiritual and religious beliefs and any health needs they may have.
Life is fluid and in constant motion. Change is the only thing we can be sure of. As you go through your day be constantly aware of creating balance. One day, you may need to focus more attention on your feminine side, the next day the masculine. Look at each task you face from the masculine and feminine perspectives. You could even give each energy a name and then be aware that you are in the background watching and making the decisions.
Consider what has been happening in your life recently. Do you attend business meetings that have a strong male bias? If yes, how can you introduce more female energy? If you are in an environment, such as nursing, that is a more nurturing environment can you think of ways to introduce more masculine energy?
Everything in the universe is about balance. As you go through your day constantly adjust your energy to bring about balance. It will be good for your health and peace of mind and good for others too. Jung discovered that the human psyche was androgynous and consisted of both masculine and feminine, so, in essence, what we are striving for is this androgynous state, the state that is often attributed to our spirits which balance all opposites into one unified whole.