In love, everyone needs to be “masculine” & “feminine”…

I had always been extremely extroverted, an overachiever, a triple A+ personality type, extraordinarily (materially) successful (even in my early twenties), blah, blah, blah… I was very “yang”. However, my marriage to my childhood sweetheart was an absolute mess! My husband was uncomfortable with my increasing success… No matter how much I tried to save our marriage, sadly our marriage was lost…

As time went on, my personality seemed to only attract alpha (yang) males. However, once in a committed relationship, they did everything in their (mighty) power to snuff out my light, always wanting the limelight for themselves & expecting me to take a backseat to their lives. After a while I thought I must have been doing something wrong.

I thought that I simply needed to work harder at practicing unconditional love. I had been researching psychology, philosophies, physiology, eastern philosophy, religion…. And, as we often do when we are trying something new, I made a mistake – a BIG mistake. I mistook the idea of the “feminine principle” (yin) as all I (a woman) should try to emulate in the hopes of creating harmony in myself and in my relations with others (especially my partner).

The semantically complex compound word “yinyang” simply put means “opposites”. Exact translations of “yin” & “yang” separately are: “shady side of the hill” & “sunny side of the hill”. Yin (the “shadow” side) represents the passive female principle in nature (defined by Chinese philosophy as: soft, wet, flowing, dark, mysterious… submissive); yang, the assertive male principle in nature (defined by Chinese philosophy as: rigid, dry, solid, visible, evident… dominant).

I had found the Chinese Taoist yin principle: “be like water” very helpful in handling rigid business colleagues. The principle believes that water is stronger than stone (simply look at the grand canyon). When dealing with a “rock”, one must learn how to go around the rock, to wear it down, to reach one’s final destination/goal… It actually works very well. Not wanting another failed marriage… I thought maybe there is more to the power of the innate “feminine” principle & that it was certainly worth a try.

YinYang

Since I had an extremely dominant male, I thought all I have to do to make our home harmonic is practice the yin principles. For the sake of peace, for the sake of my children, I’ll simply be the yin to his yang… I thought, “No one is perfect, so I should continue to try to love unconditionally – this time using the yin principles…” Surprisingly, ta dah! I actually found the Chinese Taoist yin principles to be very helpful guidelines in learning to love unconditionally. I was actually able to master unconditional love… I must say it gave me an inner peace and an ability to be happy like I’ve never known. My inner (mental & spiritual) life was now bliss. However, in time, it took a great toll on my physical & material well-being (my yang so-to-speak).

What was I doing wrong? “Such a great theory!” I thought, “Why isn’t it working?” I had a beloved Zen master (who sadly moved back to Japan), who told me for years, “Why are you trying to be a saint? You are not a saint. Stop trying to be one!” Zen masters always speak in riddles… so I never quite understood exactly what he was trying (repeatedly) to make me see. I would think, “I like being a good/loving person. What’s wrong with that?” Plus, I loved Zen meditation (a yin/feminine principle) – it was great for maintaining my mental well-being.

Later, I studied with a Sufi master (who is sadly back in Turkey), he would say (also repeatedly), “You have to be a warrior! You must learn to fight! Even Jesus was a warrior!!!” I never understood why a Sufi master would be referencing Jesus, but o.k. Whatever works I thought! But it didn’t work on me; I wanted to be as “loving” as I could be. Plus, I had never been happier, I loved being connected to my spiritual (yin/feminine) side – nothing bothered my inner peace.

Then at a New Year’s party. The hostess had hired a psychic as entertainment for the entire event. Everyone was letting her read their palms, cards or something… Anyway, late in the evening I finally acquiesced. I sat down and the woman looked at me and said, “You are a very loving person.” I can still feel myself swelling with pride, surrounded by a number of guests watching the “show”. Then, in front of all those people the psychic said, “No. No. Wait. You could be a very loving person, but you don’t love yourself. Until you love yourself, you’ll never be a truly loving person.” I was mortified! What a slap in the face. My swelled ego burst. I got the message this time – loud and clear!

How stupid I had been! The harmonic yinyang principle was never about separating yin & yang (the opposites). It was never about being a compliment to someone else… It was about being the compliment to my self – being everything (passive & aggressive, soft & hard, flowing & solid, shadowy & clearly visible, mysterious & evident, submissive & dominant…) all in one. Every person has to be a lover and a fighter. The key is to train oneself to know when (and how much of) each principle is required. The mastery is being able to do that well enough to use all of the principles in only a constructive way (that is what the dots in the symbol represent — when one aspect becomes so powerful that it is about to take away from/become destructive to the other — it is time to change focus/strategy) .

At first I was too assertive (yang without enough yin). Physically and materially at my peak, but my inner self was a mess. Then I became too passive (yin with not enough yang). My psychological and spiritual life blossomed –  while my finances and body were devoured by my spouse. Now, I am able to know exactly when to be assertive and when to be passive, which is needed when & how to utilize just the right amount of both. Am I happy? You bet I am! Am I at peace? You know it. Do I know how to get my needs met without bulldozing others? Un-huh. Do I love myself? Yes, I do. Am I a loving person? I think so (but I might want to get the number of that psychic)!

An Interesting Side Note:
The earliest recorded English usage of Chinese Taoist/Daoist “yin and yang”, is cited in the Oxford English Dictionary as: 1671 – yet we are just now starting to understand their true meaning. Talk about being lost in translation!

Love is a Tide!

I could say if one does this, or, one does that… life, love, your physical health, your mental health and your spiritual well-being will always be what you desire them to be – healthy, happy and positive – but they won’t. I adore inspirational quotes and stories just as much as anyone, but we must remember they are only half of our life (and love) stories. Finding the love and way of being we want, actually lies not so much in learning how to recognize and appreciate the high moments – it is in fact learning how to gracefully handle life’s lowest moments.

The t(d)aoist symbol:

YinYang

which many recognize today as “yin & yang” symbolizes an ancient philosophy “the way”. It teaches that everything (every moment) in a healthy life ebbs and flows – like a tide. First the tide comes in then it goes out. Opposites. First there is day then there is night – then there is day…. Rotation. First there is joy then there is sadness then there is joy then there is sadness…. Constant (movement). In summary: All of life is a constant rotation of opposites (positives and negatives). By excepting this, one does not feel the pressure of feeling guilty when their life is not “perfect”. No one is perfect. Remembering this simple fact makes loving yourself and others so much easier!

The same eastern lifestyle philosophy believes that the lows in life are actually necessary learning tools. Lows help us develop knowledge and wisdom to later attain ever greater highs – such as in love. Remember: the lows are necessary. Although it can be hard at first, view them as learning opportunities. This mental attitude is the first step in turning a low point into your next high.

I am sure at least one person reading this post (that is now going through and/or has gone through an extended or extreme low point in their lives – physically, mentally, in love and/or spiritually) is probably thinking, “Yeah, yeah, what do you know of my suffering?” To that thought I will simply say, “I assure you, I can empathize”.

The small white dot in the sea of darkness (as seen in the ying & yang symbol above) is the first sign that the tide is changing. Learn to be able to see those positive opportunities (those rays of hope) when things are not going well. Don’t get stuck or dwell in ill health, mental anguish, a destructive relationship pattern or loss of faith in the world. As long as you continue to move forward you will find your good health, your love and your happiness again. Don’t get stuck in negative patterns!

Accept the fact that everyday is not going to be blissful. Forgive yourself when you feel that you haven’t lived up to your, your partner’s, or society’s ideal. Be thankful for what you learn when times are tough. With a mental attitude like that you will find you are healthier physically, happier and find it easier to love yourself (and others) more. Learn life and loves lessons, but try not to lose your harmony or grace, this will make even your darkest moments seem light.