How do I combine my work in therapy with this?

ithacasnowman

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A couple of years ago, I found a great psychotherapist and went through a transformative process. We focused on inner child work and I came out of the process 5 months later discovering an authentic version of myself and an unconditional love for myself.

Then something unexpected happened: my relationships with other people were transformed as well. It was almost like I gained superpowers: my body language became better (started smiling more because it made /me/ feel better), I knew what to say to strangers (just play with them, because it made /me/ feel better), my anxiety around approaching women or anxiety around disagreeing with people reduced (what's important to me is how _I_ feel about myself, and I think I'm awesome).

I didn't have to read about these in a book or learn them: they happened organically. Because they were organic, it felt like zero effort.

A few days ago, I discovered to my surprise and disappointment, that I am inherently very feminine. It's whom I am most comfortable being and I am attracted to people with those qualities. I don't know what to do or even think. There is a lot of information about masculinity on this website that resonates with me -- but I don't know how to combine the information there with my therapy. For example, I _enjoy_ being a really good person. I respect others like that. But masculinity challenges that view.

Has anyone been through a similar process/faced similar questions?
 

Will_V

Space Monkey
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Jan 24, 2021
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Glad to see that you worked on yourself and improved your life!

When you say "a few days ago, I discovered to my surprise and disappointment, that I am inherently very feminine" it sounds like you accepted an opinion or perspective from someone else. Typically self-discovery, regardless of what it reveals, is not something that happens organically in a few days or suddenly. Beware of labels and associations that other people use to categorize things for their own benefit.

I have some personality traits that many people associate with femininity, including strong empathy, playfulness, spontaneity, being fairly emotional, being very expressive with my body, enjoying the evocative and descriptive instead of merely the objective. It helps me immensely with relating to women.

But I have also found that I enjoy being dominant, and I can enjoy beating up a guy in the ring (I did some kickboxing) and that I like to be always in control, and that I like to take risks and push myself to near breaking point, and that I can be very aggressive and calculating and cold-blooded, especially under pressure. This side of me helps me to be assertive with women, and lead them, and to be able to focus on getting what I want while giving her what she wants.

It's the balance of things that creates the better man. I think one of the traps in life is to find something you're 'good at' or accepted for, and build your whole persona around it out of a fear of losing your standing - this is typical of men who are low in self esteem and afraid of what they really are, and it goes for both ends of the spectrum of 'manliness'.

But the man who truly values himself observes his tendencies and emotions and behaviour without judging them, accepting them as being there for a reason, and that they represent some part of himself yet undiscovered or immature or confused or authentic. Developing each part of oneself takes a very long time and a lot of patience, and like a rebellious confused teenager, parts that have been abandoned or neglected might express themselves in ways that are difficult to understand and untangle, expressing one thing and wanting another.

In the end it's your journey, there's no rules you have to follow, but my advice is that when your gut is telling you consistently that something you are doing is 'off', and gives you that fleeting sense of confusion and weakness when you reflect on it, it's means something is not developed or explored properly and needs work. And when something makes you feel truly solid and grounded and authentic, then express it without caring what other people think.

PS you might like this talk:
 

Vision

Space Monkey
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Jul 3, 2020
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A couple of years ago, I found a great psychotherapist and went through a transformative process. We focused on inner child work and I came out of the process 5 months later discovering an authentic version of myself and an unconditional love for myself.

Then something unexpected happened: my relationships with other people were transformed as well. It was almost like I gained superpowers: my body language became better (started smiling more because it made /me/ feel better), I knew what to say to strangers (just play with them, because it made /me/ feel better), my anxiety around approaching women or anxiety around disagreeing with people reduced (what's important to me is how _I_ feel about myself, and I think I'm awesome).

I didn't have to read about these in a book or learn them: they happened organically. Because they were organic, it felt like zero effort.

A few days ago, I discovered to my surprise and disappointment, that I am inherently very feminine. It's whom I am most comfortable being and I am attracted to people with those qualities. I don't know what to do or even think. There is a lot of information about masculinity on this website that resonates with me -- but I don't know how to combine the information there with my therapy. For example, I _enjoy_ being a really good person. I respect others like that. But masculinity challenges that view.

Has anyone been through a similar process/faced similar questions?

Do you feel like you're more masculine or feminine in your core... like beyond the conditioned habits and behaviors and instead in who you actually are at your core?
 

ithacasnowman

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@Will_V that was a very useful response; thanks for taking the time to write it.

I've been using this graphic to explore masculine vs feminine traits:

The stuff on under Feminine Energy (minus wounded feminine) -- that stuff is me. @Vision it's at my core. I also find it extraordinarily attractive in other people. The stuff on the right is mostly interesting to me but doesn't excite me as much.

But what you wrote about parts that have been abandoned or neglected -- I took some time to question why I don't like those parts and I think it may be that those were left unexplored because of my estranged relationship with my father. I found those unattractive in him, and in other men, and maybe I need to understand and accept that bias.

I don't know though -- maybe I'm not giving myself enough credit for having those masculine traits. I took cold water showers for 400 days straight. And I work out. But those didn't really do much. I enjoy leading on the dance floor; it evokes playfulness + drive, and I've started to partner dance regularly.

Do you have recommendations on how I can explore/activate my masculinity?

This stuff makes me nervous. I feel like I only just found my authentic self, but now I'm learning it's undeveloped. It's making me feel inadequate and terrified about losing my authentic self again.
 

Will_V

Space Monkey
space monkey
Joined
Jan 24, 2021
Messages
157
@Will_V that was a very useful response; thanks for taking the time to write it.

I've been using this graphic to explore masculine vs feminine traits:

The stuff on under Feminine Energy (minus wounded feminine) -- that stuff is me. @Vision it's at my core. I also find it extraordinarily attractive in other people. The stuff on the right is mostly interesting to me but doesn't excite me as much.

But what you wrote about parts that have been abandoned or neglected -- I took some time to question why I don't like those parts and I think it may be that those were left unexplored because of my estranged relationship with my father. I found those unattractive in him, and in other men, and maybe I need to understand and accept that bias.

I don't know though -- maybe I'm not giving myself enough credit for having those masculine traits. I took cold water showers for 400 days straight. And I work out. But those didn't really do much. I enjoy leading on the dance floor; it evokes playfulness + drive, and I've started to partner dance regularly.

Do you have recommendations on how I can explore/activate my masculinity?

This stuff makes me nervous. I feel like I only just found my authentic self, but now I'm learning it's undeveloped. It's making me feel inadequate and terrified about losing my authentic self again.

The thing with those lists is that they represent the stronger association with either masculine or feminine, but they are not inherent to one or the other. A man who has a young son or daughter will express many of these 'feminine' qualities, and a woman who is managing a business with employees will express many of these 'masculine' qualities.

But at the end of the day, a man or a woman tends toward more of one type of personality or the other, because it is their nature. For example my ex gf had a quite dominant personality, she was great at presentations at work, and liked to be the one steering other people around and having them take their cue from her, but when she came home at night what she wanted was the exact opposite, to feel no responsibility and to surrender to overpowering, assertive masculine energy. She had a father who was quite submissive to her mother, and no doubt she developed her assertiveness to take on the mantle, so to speak, of her situation, quite against her natural playfulness and submissiveness.

It can work the other way around, if a man is too dominated by his father, he can begin to adopt opposite qualities to compensate for his father's perceived lack of emotionality and tenderness. I have seen a particularly strong example of this first-hand as well, and if this man is not self-reflective and able to perceive himself, it can make him adrift and overwhelmed in his relationships with both men and women.

That's why I have a pretty strong belief that a man's proper relationship with his father is less personal and more symbolic compared to his mother, and that it is natural that he should distance himself somewhat from his father when he is still growing up, and carve his own path with his father merely as a guide, one who had both good and bad qualities. And then as he reaches middle age he can come to love him the way a man loves a teacher who taught him useful things, or the place where he grew up, without getting overwhelmed by it.

But in the end, if a man is fully developed, he becomes his own entity, his own judge, throwing one idea out and accepting another on merit without reacting to other people's whims.

So all I can say to you is don't get too hung up on analysis and diagnostics at this point. Allow yourself to move through the world honestly, calmly, and with a keen eye for the truth, and you will see how everything works and you will know when it's time to work on a particular part of yourself.

I have a saying to myself that I repeat whenever I am uncomfortable with something: "Truth first, reconciliation later". And then I allow myself to feel it, and I observe it without judgement, and it reveals itself as good or bad as time goes on. In this way I have developed parts of myself that are popularly associated with both masculinity and femininity, and let go of needy, destructive or overly emotional tendencies that were planted there merely by my past reactivity to someone or something else.
 
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