Walt Whitman once wrote:
"I am large, I
There is a reason why this simple yet beautiful verse has
reverberated across history:
It contains immense
We all contain
We are all a divine
amalgamation of water and fire, soul and spirit, yin and yang.
Ultimately, when we
narrow everything down within us, we see that we contain two
that of the feminine
In psychology, these two
polar opposite forces are known as the Anima and
Animus. And learning to connect with, explore, and
balance each of these inner forces is crucial for our well-being.
In this article, we'll
What is the
Anima and Animus?
First coined by famous psychiatrist Carl Jung, the terms
"Anima" and "Animus" refer to the indwelling masculine and feminine
energies that we all possess.
Specifically, the anima
is thought to be the feminine part of a man's soul, and the animus
refers to the masculine part of a female's soul. Both the anima and
animus are ancient archetypes (or raw forms of energy) that every
Let's explore these parts of us more in depth...
Derived from Latin meaning,
"a current of air,
wind, breath, the vital principle, life, soul",
...the Anima refers to
the unconscious feminine dimension of a male which is often
forgotten or repressed in daily life.
As it's generally considered taboo to embrace the inner female side,
men often fail to fully embody and embrace this fundamental energy.
Sadly, if a male does embrace his Anima, he is often criticized as
being "a wimp," "a sissy," "a fag," and other horribly derogatory
However, in the perspective of psychology, in order to fully step
into a mature masculine role, a man must go on a quest to explore
this inner Divine Feminine energy.
In other words, he
must unite with the other half of his Soul...
Often, this quest results
in some sort of projection, that is, trying to find the ideal lover
or soul mate in the form of another idealized person.
But we can never embody
the Anima through another person - only through our own concerted
effort. The key realization here is that we must find this force
within us, rather than disown it onto another.
described by Jungian Psychologist
the man who has
connected with his feminine Anima displays "tenderness,
patience, consideration and compassion"...
However, repression of
the female element within males often results in a negative Anima
that emerges as personality traits such as,
bitchiness, and sensitivity to hurt feelings"...
Indeed, a man who has
failed to embody his Anima also tends to fall
prey to emotional numbness and
toxic masculine traits such as,
ruthlessness, coldness, and a purely rational approach to
The Animus, which is a Latin word that means,
"the rational soul;
life; the mental powers, intelligence",
...is the unconscious
male dimension in the female psyche.
Due to societal,
parental, and cultural conditioning, the Animus, or male element
within the woman, is often inhibited, restrained, and suppressed.
But the Animus isn't always repressed - sometimes, it is actually
over-emphasized and imposed upon women.
Take Western society for
Here is a culture
that ruthlessly imposes masculine ideals such as
stoicism, emotional numbness, and ruthlessness as ways to excel
and succeed in life.
All of these external
elements can contribute towards a negative Animus, which can reveal
itself in a woman's personality through
However, integrating a
positive Animus into the female psyche can result in,
Becoming Whole = Reclaiming the Inner Feminine and Masculine
In the mind of Jung - who derived many of his thoughts and teachings
from Eastern Philosophies - in order for a person to be whole
through the process of "Individuation,"
a person must encounter and work to embrace their internal Anima or
Animus (or Feminine and Masculine energy).
As Jung goes on to explain, the process of this becoming whole
(or Individuation) can be described as:
becoming an "in-dividual,"
and, in so far as "individuality" embraces our innermost, last,
and incomparable uniqueness, it also implies becoming one's own
We could therefore
translate individuation as "coming to selfhood," or
Thus connecting with our
inner male or female energy is essential for the development of
self-awareness and understanding,
which are important components of inner work and deep spiritual
Nothing to Do
With Your Sexuality
Connecting to your inner Anima or Animus does not
require you to become homosexual or lesbian, as
And if you identify with
either of these sexual orientations, it doesn't require you to
become heterosexual either.
The Anima and Animus
energy within us has nothing to do with sexuality.
Instead, it's all
about creating balance.
In essence, what we are
striving for is to balance the opposites within us to create
a sense of Wholeness.
In other words, what
we are practicing is a living form of
The point isn't to give
up your sexual preference or identity, but to become a more mature
How to Connect
With Your Anima or Animus
So how can we connect with the inner Divine Feminine (Anima)
or Divine Masculine (Animus)?
Here are some
For Males -
Connecting to the Anima
Connecting to the Anima for males is about understanding
feminine energy which manifests itself as,
art of listening with
concern and compassion
your passionate side through romantic gestures
of/nurture something (like a plant, lover, or animal)
thoughtfulness and consideration of the needs of others
inner Anima creatively, e.g., music, art, sculpture,
mindfulness, meditation, and other ways to get in touch
with, and understand your emotions
hobbies or interests to incorporate feminine energies in
self-love and self-care
You can also read our
article on the
Divine Feminine for more
For Females -
Connecting to the Animus
For females, connecting to the inner Animus is also about
understanding masculine energy which manifests itself as
everything that is,
Adopt a role
or position that puts you in authority
Learn to take
charge of something in your life
develop your leadership abilities
non-fiction instead of purely fiction
self-sufficient and self-reliant
masculine skills, (e.g., fixing car problems, learning
to use a drill, fix broken appliances, etc.)
emotional balance by practicing mindfulness, meditation,
and self-exploration, etc.
historical male figure (or female with a strong Animus)
who you admire and use them as a role model (see my
archetypes article for
You can also read our
article on the
Divine Masculine for more
Life is about
When we lack a strong
connection to either the masculine or feminine part of
ourselves, we suffer.
Remember that your
Soul contains both sides.
Thankfully, all that is
needed to get back into balance is to observe your life.
Ask yourself what side of
the spectrum you are leaning more toward:
If you're a female, for
instance, you might find that you carry too much Animus energy and
therefore need to get back in touch with your feminine side.
Vice versa if you're a
Creating a balanced
self is always contextual and will shift and
change throughout your life...