By Rachel Negar Partiali, Ph.D.
We live in a narcissistically-prone society that equates emotional vulnerability with weakness, and inaction with laziness. Emotional expressiveness and allowing room for stillness are often overlooked as being important for our personal growth.
Our society emphasizes masculine traits and downplays the role of feminine ones. What is glorified are masculine qualities that are associated with doing, such as logical decision-making, task orientation, competitiveness, assertiveness, and analytical and concrete thinking. These characteristics are viewed as necessary to produce results that carry high value in our society. What is less esteemed are feminine traits represented by the part of us that is intuitive, creative, receptive, emotive, and compassionate. These characteristics are what enable us to surrender, create connections, and relate to other people.
Our femininity is the part of us that is about being.
Regardless of our gender, we each have feminine and masculine parts within us. Neither quality is more valuable than the other. In fact, an integration of both qualities is needed for an individual to experience the fullness of his/her identity. The problem arises when one aspect of our identity is devalued, overlooked, or even disparaged in relation to another.
It seems like society, as a whole, has a preference for masculine traits. Whether it’s matriculating through the school system or climbing up the corporate ladder, we are constantly evaluated and rewarded for producing results. Creating the openness to be with the deepest parts of ourselves, to nourish ourselves, and to receive, is something we have to learn to see as important.
When we only tend to our masculine side and neglect to emotionally nourish ourselves, we end up feeling overwhelmed and depleted. Benjamin Hunnicutt, a leisure researcher, says that when we do not attend to our femininity “we starve the capacity we have to love.”
International Women’s Day is celebrated globally every year on March 8th. It is the day where we can celebrate and honor the women in our lives, and the women who have made heroic contributions to our society. But March 8th also is a day where we can consciously choose to honor “her.” The “her” I am referring to is our own femininity. This is the part of our psyche that seeks inner expansion, rather than being preoccupied with seeking expansion in the outer world.
What is the importance of nourishing our femininity?
- Nurturing our femininity enhances our ability to connect, whether it is connecting to ourselves or connecting to others. The more we can connect to ourselves and others, the deeper our level of satisfaction with life.
- Nourishing ourselves from the inside is the antidote to living an empty existence.
- Allowing space for our feelings to be fully expressed can dissipate psychological symptoms such as anxiety and depression.
- Developing a sense of self-compassion helps foster feelings of inner peace.
- Stillness is the precursor to creation. When we are still we become open to wisdom and creativity.
All of these reasons to nurture our femininity may sound great, but how can we do this?
There is no single way to give space to the expression of our femininity. We can choose to honor “her” in a way that feels intuitively right for us. Some suggestions include
- Spend time alone, allowing space for your imagination to take over.
- Dedicate time to meditate daily.
- Allow space for healthy expression of your feelings through creative activity, especially the feelings you do not necessarily like (i.e., journaling, painting, dancing).
- Surround yourself with beauty. Spend time in nature, or buy yourself flowers.
- Throughout the day, make mindful intentions to connect to your body. Check in with yourself by asking, “How is my body feeling right now? Where do I feel tension in my body?”
- Create deep and meaningful relationships with others. Allow yourself to have conversations where you may end up feeling vulnerable, giving a chance for the other person to see the authentic you.
We don’t have to wait once a year to pay homage to our femininity and to the feminine figures who have changed history for the better. I choose to honor “her” today, and everyday. I hope you will join me.