In mythology, Icarus, in trying to fly too high, melted his waxed wings causing him to fall down to the earth. Symbolically, his flight is seen as being too focused on achievement, a quality usually associated with the masculine. In order to resume balance, Icarus needed to become more grounded, to return to earthly matters, a typically feminine trait.
All people contain both masculine and feminine qualities. However, like the myth suggests, difficulties exist when qualities become imbalanced. In society, we see this imbalance when the masculine sets forth and discovers without the feminine relationship trait. This leads to the invasions of lands, the building of structures, and medical research which lack both ethics and the consideration of nature. We get Rambo and an underlying current of power and control.
Generally, masculine traits of planning, order, accomplishments and linear thinking are given greater value in society. In comparison, feminine qualities of spontaneity, cycles of nature, non-competiveness, intuition and looking relationally at situations are usually less valued. Take a moment to reflect to what degree masculine and feminine traits are valued in schools, churches, hospitals, the media and in your workplace and family of origin.
As children we learned to act, believe and feel based upon the values given to feminine and masculine qualities by our parents. We were taught to overvalue and undervalue certain traits in order for our parents to get their needs met and subsequently, to have our needs meet. For example, if a girl was rewarded for being ‘just like dad’ she may tend to admire the intellect, be goal-orientated and have repressed emotions.
However, as much as we tried to please our parents, their needs, like ours, went unfulfilled. They were disappointed in us and we were disappointed by them. These disappointments often lead us to continue to act out certain roles or traits in hopes of fulfilling these unmeet childhood needs in our adult relationships.
We may become the agreeable, smiling girl or the stoic, rescuing boy when triggered by people who remind us of our parents or with authority figures. Like any unconscious act, any degree of need fulfillment we do feel is temporary. We sometimes feel worse than before, or later wonder, “Who was I?” or “What came over me?” In these situations, we fell into old patterns of trying to fulfill our and other’s needs.
However, as adults we no longer need parental or authoritarian approval. We can freely and consciously integrate qualities which have been previously downplayed or choose to enhance others. As we become more balanced we heal our psychic gender-splitting and no longer look for our ‘other half’ outwardly and in ‘all the wrong places.’ By no longer expecting our self or others to assume gender roles and traits to meet our needs, we begin to attract and be attracted to healthier relationships and situations.