finding the balance between masculinity and femininity

Beyond Masculinity and Femininity: Redefining Balance Without Gendered Terms

A little while ago, a client of mine shared that they were at odds with their masculinity and femininity because they didn’t feel ‘masculine enough’ and that they operated ‘too much in the feminine’ energy. But at the same time, they didn’t want to be caught up in the culture of toxic masculinity either. They noticed that I had a Yin Yang symbol in one of my tattoos and asked what I thought about the idea of finding a balance between the masculine and the feminine.

Because I believe in the power of words, I told them, “Instead of talking about masculinity and femininity, let’s talk about the Inner Warrior and the Inner Poet.”

Refining Masculinity and Femininity

When I initially moved in with my now-married partner, he brought two paintings done in a traditional Chinese brush painting style: one of a warrior, one of a poet. For many years, I didn’t really like them. They weren’t my favorite, but still, I hung them up in one of our shared spaces because they were important to him.

In one of my meditations, the two characters from these paintings popped up in my mind, and so I spent time contemplating what they really meant. For me, they offer two different approaches to solving a problem and showing up in the world: two perspectives that were previously tied to masculinity and femininity.

The Warrior operates more in the physical realm, relying on strength, resilience, leading from a visible space, and decisiveness as they navigate the world. This, to me, very much sounds like the masculine energy – without assigning to a gender or a view by Western society. By changing the name, I didn’t associate this Inner Warrior with looking or behaving ‘like a man’ and instead, just being able to embody these qualities as a human.

The Poet, on the other hand, operates more in the mental and emotional realm, tapping into empathy, compassion, sensitivity, emotional expression, contemplation, and leading from a supporting role. As another one of my tattoos says, “True strength is gentle,” and there is still a lot of power and resilience that comes from our Inner Poet – it just takes a different path. This, to me, sounds more like the definition of feminine but again without the gender or physical appearance connotations.

finding the balance between masculinity and femininity

What does balance look like?

Both our Inner Warrior and Inner Poet are absolutely vital parts of each of us as humans, and we need to find the best balance for us. Society shouldn’t get to define what the balance should look for us just because of our gender assigned at birth, or how we dress, the color of our skin, the length of our hair, or how we present ourselves to others.

We alone should get to decide what this balance looks like for us.

Typically, the Yin Yang symbol speaks to the balance between masculinity and femininity and is created with both sides equal. Maybe over the course of our life, the energy of the Inner Warrior and the Inner Poet may balance out to be close to that even amount of energy.

Day to day, though, that balance is much more likely to be fluid.

In some of our roles we’ll need to operate more from our Inner Warrior energy, and in others, we’ll need to bring the gentle strength of our Inner Poet. It’s when we don’t listen to ourselves and just stick with ‘what’s expected of us’ that we run into a disconnection and dissatisfaction with how we feel about ourselves.

finding the balance between masculinity and femininity

The Inner Warrior and the Inner Poet in action

Alright, so this is still likely feeling like a bit of an abstract concept, so let’s get into some examples of how these two archetypes manifest in our everyday experiences and stress response.

When our body’s stress response turns on and activates, we typically go into one of the four responses: Fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. Fight is when you stand up for yourself to remove the danger or threat. Flight is when you remove yourself from that danger or threat. Freeze is when you feel stuck unsure of what to do and you stay put. Fawn is when you immediately go into tend-and-befriend mode, trying to calm the danger or threat to keep you emotionally, mentally, and/or physically safe.

Let’s look at how each of the Inner Warrior and Inner Poet can show up in each of these responses, then, based on a few different stressful scenarios:


Conflict Resolution:

Inner Warrior:

  • Fight – Look to assert dominance in the situation (which can look many different ways).
  • Flight – Assertively remove themselves from the conflict with or without a communicated boundary.
  • Freeze – Stay standing strong in the space of conflict not providing any response either way to allow the other party to speak their peace while maintaining their posture and eye contact.
  • Fawn – Start brainstorming solutions and options to resolve the conflict and find a compromise that will suit most parties involved. They will lead this process and will likely also make the decision in the end as to which solution will be followed.


Inner Poet:

  • Fight – Verbally acknowledge all sides of the conflict and facilitate a discussion to help resolve the concerns.
  • Flight – Quietly or assertively remove themselves from the conflict with or without a communicated boundary.
  • Freeze – Shut down emotions and remove themselves from mental reactions or responses to remain as calm and objective as possible.
  • Fawn – listen with compassion and an aim to understand where everyone is coming from and make sure that everyone’s voice is heard.


Career Challenges:

Inner Warrior:

  • Fight – Take bold and decisive action in the face of career challenges, such as pursuing ambitious goals, advocating for oneself, and confronting obstacles head-on with determination.
  • Flight – Assertively seek new opportunities or career paths, whether by actively pursuing job opportunities elsewhere or by making strategic decisions to pivot one’s career trajectory.
  • Freeze – Maintain composure and resilience in the face of adversity, refraining from being overwhelmed by challenges and instead focusing on finding solutions and adapting to changing circumstances.
  • Fawn – Take a proactive approach to problem-solving, collaborating with colleagues or seeking mentorship to overcome career challenges and achieve professional growth.


Inner Poet:

  • Fight – Acknowledge and validate one’s emotions and experiences in response to career challenges, while also actively seeking opportunities for personal and professional growth through creative problem-solving and innovation.
  • Flight – Prioritize self-care and emotional well-being in response to career challenges, whether by taking breaks, seeking support from loved ones, or exploring creative outlets to relieve stress and restore balance.
  • Freeze – Maintain a sense of inner calm and stability amidst career challenges, practicing mindfulness and self-reflection to stay grounded and focused on long-term goals and aspirations.
  • Fawn – Cultivate empathy and compassion in professional interactions, seeking to understand the perspectives and needs of colleagues and stakeholders, and working collaboratively to navigate career challenges and achieve collective success.
finding the balance between masculinity and femininity

Personal Relationships:

Inner Warrior:

  • Fight – Assertively express needs and boundaries in personal relationships, advocating for oneself and confronting conflicts directly to resolve issues and maintain healthy boundaries.
  • Flight – Take decisive action to protect oneself in relationships, whether by distancing oneself emotionally or physically from toxic dynamics or by ending relationships that no longer serve one’s well-being.
  • Freeze – Maintain a strong and composed presence in the face of relationship challenges, refraining from reacting impulsively and instead taking time to assess the situation and consider potential solutions.
  • Fawn – Take a proactive approach to nurturing relationships, actively seeking to understand the needs and desires of loved ones and supporting their growth and well-being.


Inner Poet:

  • Fight – Foster open communication and emotional intimacy in personal relationships, engaging in meaningful dialogue and expressing vulnerability to deepen connections and resolve conflicts.
  • Flight – Prioritize self-care and emotional well-being in relationships, recognizing when boundaries need to be set or when it’s necessary to take a step back to preserve one’s mental and emotional health.
  • Freeze – Remain empathetic and compassionate in the face of relationship challenges, practicing active listening and holding space for others’ emotions without judgment or defensiveness.
  • Fawn – Demonstrate empathy and support in personal relationships, actively seeking to meet the emotional and practical needs of loved ones while fostering mutual understanding and respect.


Self-Care Practices:

When it comes to self-care, our Inner Warrior energy may motivate us to engage in physical activities, set goals, and overcome obstacles with resilience and determination. Meanwhile, our Inner Poet energy may inspire us to prioritize mindfulness, self-reflection, and emotional healing to restore balance and inner peace.



In decision-making processes, our Inner Warrior energy may drive us to analyze facts, take decisive action, and pursue our ambitions with confidence. Conversely, our Inner Poet energy may encourage us to trust our intuition, listen to our emotions, and consider the broader impact of our choices on ourselves and others.

finding the balance between masculinity and femininity

Next Steps – Embracing your Own Unique Balance

You see, by shifting our focus from traditional definitions of masculinity and femininity to these archetypes, we transcend societal expectations and define our own path towards balance and authenticity. Whether we find ourselves in moments of fight, flight, freeze, or fawn, these archetypes of the Inner Warrior and the Inner Poet offer guiding principles for navigating challenges with strength, compassion, and resilience.

My challenge for you is to reflect on how you define your own Inner Warrior and Inner Poet. How does this feel in comparison to defining masculinity and femininity? What qualities and strengths do they embody for you? How do they show up in your daily experiences and responses to stress? And most importantly, how can you cultivate a balanced relationship between these energies to live authentically and with purpose?

As you spend time with these questions, remember that you alone have the power to define what balance looks like for you day to day, moment to moment.

finding the balance between masculinity and femininity

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