She came with a very clear goal to alter the way she felt and behaved at work with aggressive bosses and how to make her relationships last. I soon realized her need for control, her need to take counter positions with her boss and colleagues. It was hard for her to look at new perspectives and choices, because that would reflect negatively on her, as she ‘should’ have thought of all possible perspectives and their permutations and combinations. Any difference of opinion that was mirrored back at work or in personal relationship further reaffirmed her belief, that she is not all that she ‘should’ be. She constantly fit new ideas and transforming experiences into already rigidly held cultural and religious attitude and gave it old meanings.
While I held a quite understanding of her dilemmas and difficulties, just listening to her helped her explore some of these polarities she held. As she came to trust me and the process, it allowed for more active mirroring through paraphrasing, challenging and gentle confronting questions. She began to further explore her ‘self’ and her behaviours. She could sense a loosening of the stranglehold of the static masculine and spoke at length of how her family was governed by the collective conventions and canons of the church. How she was conditioned to disconnect with herself and her femininity. While I responded with a mirroring resonance to her current state of despair and an attitude of positive assurance she began to look at her internalized standards and started recalibrating them. While she one sidedly met with the standards of static masculine in her professional world she came home to relieve herself of these burdens by other compensative behaviours. In a way seeking static feminine affirmation and acceptance of herself as she is.
I had to be aware of not making suggestions at any point, so that I don’t take the position of static masculine, a polarization she already suffers from. She began to see herself in the experience of other people, to accept them and be accepted as she is. Today she has a fairly well proportioned relation with her self and is able to hold and process her professional and personal life. As a coach I was left with the insight that when the experience of the static masculine is well proportioned, the compensatory experience of the dynamic feminine will be well proportioned. And from that place a movement into static feminine takes place naturally, a place of giving and receiving nurturance to the other and self.
While the culturally dominant bias toward activity urges us to be different with the coachee; what we need perhaps is to call on our own authentic self in each encounter with a coachee and attend to his conscious experiences and unconscious patterns. At the same time it is important to focus a similar intense gaze on our own inner experiences and outer behaviours as a coach.
I would hope for you to read and to reflect on the content symbolically and intuitively. I find that I am already pulled away from its orientation, questioning the intensity of the centrality of ‘being’ and fascinated by how and when we must focus on ‘doing’.
Patterns of Culture – Ruth Benedict
Knowing woman: a feminine psychology – Irene Claremont
Dictionary of symbols and Imagery
The way of all women- Esther Harding
Kali: the feminine force – Ajit Mookerjee
Addiction to Perfection- Marion Woodman
The Re- Enchantment of Everyday Life- Thomas Moore
Psychology and Religion- Vol 11 of the collected works - C G Jung
Masculine and Feminine – Gareth S Hill
The Symbolic Life – Vol 18 of the collected works – C G Jung