The masks you did not even know you were wearing
Per definition, the unconscious is not conscious to us. Something that is not conscious is something that is not visible. It is our shadow and can only be revealed to us through the mirror of other people or circumstances. It's usually what triggers us in others, but does not seem to resonate with us at all when it comes to our own behavior – in fact, confronted with it we would deny it has anything to do with us. It usually does not occur to us and we might even feel offended if someone suggested it might be what’s going on for us. We would be absolutely convinced that it is not true. Keep that in mind when reading this article. If you find you reject the idea I present, the more likely there is some truth in it for you. Just read with an open mind, take in the message and allow it to resonate inside of you. Do not take anything as a personal assault.
Per definition, as soon as we are conscious of a pattern, of a mask we are wearing, it is no longer unconscious. We might still CHOOSE to carry on with the habit or to wear the mask, or simply do so out of habit. But we are aware that we are doing it, we KNOW what we are doing, and usually have no problem owning that behavior, even though we might still not know how to stop it. For example, if I told you: “Whenever you are stressed you eat sweets”, or even "You are sabotaging your health/weight/fertility by making bad food choices", you would probably agree.
What you might not yet be conscious about is WHY and HOW exactly you sabotage yourself. If I suggested you do it because you are committed to staying unhealthy or fat, you would probably protest. After all, you are actively trying to lose weight or to become healthier, right?
Still I would suggest that your results speak louder than your words or even deeds. We co-create our realities through our beliefs, emotions, thoughts and actions. If our reality is not what we say we want, despite all our efforts, there is likely some unconscious belief-emotion-thought-action pattern running the show (another possibility is that what we say we want would not be in our best interest but when it comes to ideal health, fertility and abundance is ALWAYS in your best interest - read more in "are we really able to manifest our desires"). As such, the reality we say we do not want is exactly the one we need, the one that is indeed in our best interest, in order for us to become aware of those patterns, so we can identify and change them at their roots.
A personal example
Ever since I was a teenager I dreamed of having a “serious” relationship. I wasn’t interested in just experimenting physically, I wanted someone truly committed to me before moving into sexual exploration. Yet for some reason it just did not happen. Either I would fall in love, but the guy was not interested (or just looking for something non-serious), or someone would show interest in me, but I was not attracted. It seemed that I could never have the guys I wanted, and I adopted the belief that it had to be because I was not good enough, not worthy enough. I was deeply unhappy, lonely and yearning, even if I tried to numb those feelings through obsessing about food, over-exercising and studying hard. I felt like Life was punishing me. At age 20 I dropped the idea that I would “save it all” for someone I truly loved and started to experiment a bit with men, even if I was not at all attracted to them. I only stayed true to my vow that I would not have intercourse before being with someone who “deserved” that, in other words before being in a committed relationship. I only wanted to be with someone who truly wanted to be with me, too. I had to “wait” until almost 29 years old before I finally attracted someone who wanted to commit to me and who I also felt I could commit to. If you had asked me at any point between age 13 and 28, I would have asserted strongly and without a doubt that what I wanted most was a partner and a relationship. Suggesting that my reality was indicating something different would have been met with rage and denial from my side. Yet my reality WAS that I did not manifest the relationship I claimed I longed for in 15 long years. Was I more committed to NOT having it after all? Was I the one not wanting to commit? And if yes, why would I sabotage myself in such a way that it made me so deeply unhappy? The answer is that while the conscious part of me wanted nothing more than a committed relationship, some unconscious part of me felt I didn't deserve it and was also terrified by the idea. Looking back at my relationship with myself, my body, food and Life in general at that time, I can now see that I was deeply at war with myself, my inner Feminine, my sensuality, my sexuality. This conflict and fear fueled unconscious “toxic” beliefs, emotions, thoughts… all of which determined my vibration and as such attracted only what was in line with what I felt I deserved, with what I was comfortable with (basically non-commitment), while repelling whatever could challenge my beliefs or take me out of my comfort zone into unknown and scary territory…. On an unconscious level, the suffering seemed to be more acceptable, comfortable and bearable than facing my fears. The reason I was finally able to attract a committed partner was because I worked through some of those fears and also did some major transformation work on my relationship with myself and my inner Feminine during a 4-weeks psychotherapy retreat just a couple of months before I met him in 2010.
The mask I didn’t even know I was wearing
Since then I have come a long way. I transformed the belief that I would never be able to have the men I wanted for example. Yet I was - and still am - not completely satisfied in my relationships. I always seem to attract men with a rather strong Feminine (in the past I was even a few times attracted to men who later turned out to be gay), who I have to take by the hand and lead towards more consciousness and self-love - starting with, but not limited to how to take care of themselves properly with food - rather than being able to lean on them (of course it is always an exchange, and I end up learning from them, too, but as a general tendency I am more in the driver's seat). Men with a lot of potential, but who do not express it fully yet. While it makes sense to me that as a woman with a rather well-developed Masculine I would attract more “Feminine” men, I consciously do not want that role anymore. I want a partner, not a project. I desire a man of substance, with a clear and meaningful purpose, vision and mission in life, a purpose that goes beyond himself or his relationship with me (or anyone else), a man of authenticity and integrity, whose life is aligned with his deepest values, who follows through with his word, gets things done, is able to create and hold a safe space, is conscious and present, and worships me as much as I worship him. These are all traits of the Divine Masculine and I am very aware that in order to attract a man who expresses that part of himself, I need to be deeply anchored in my Divine Feminine, since we always attract our energetic reciprocals. I used to feel trapped because it seemed like even if I wanted to be more in my Feminine - and in my view tried to be - there was just so far I could go on my own, because my men would not fully assume their Masculine role. And how could I abandon the director’s chair if I could not count on them to take it over from me? If I couldn't trust them to direct even their own life without betraying their deeper heart? How would things get done? I was frustrated feeling like they were preventing me from doing and being what I most yearned to, feeling powerless and dependent. I dragged and pushed and pulled… always trying to make them change, so that then I could change, too. Yes, it was as tiring as it sounds… (see my article "You cannot save someone who needs to drown"). At some point I concluded that I could not spend all my energy trying to lift men higher, so that they would uplift me in turn, if they did not want to. I had to focus on uplifting myself instead, so that from there I could attract a man of the same vibration. I figured I had to be the kind of man that I wanted to attract! How could I ask a man to fully express his potential if I was not doing it myself? And so I reanimated the dormant Artemis and Athena in me – goddesses archetypes with a strong, goal-orientated Masculine – that had been very dominant in me in the past, but that had gotten a bit into the background with the arrival of Haestia, Persephone, Aphrodite and Demeter (goddesses with a stronger Feminine). I took a deep breath, rolled up my sleeves and focused on my self-sufficient, independent side, redefining my purpose, vision and mission, setting myself new professional goals and launching new projects… feeling strong, confident, "in control" and happy.
And then… Just when I thought I had it all figured out (which is always a dangerous thing...), along comes a man (David Deida in the form of his book “Dear Lover”) who seems to know my deepest heart better than I do, putting his literary finger right where it still yearns, tearing down masks I did not even realize I was wearing, opening me up from the inside out to a whole new level of truth, the truth of my Feminine essence.
The truth that I do not need to take my inner Masculine to a new level, but my inner Feminine. And not just a little, as I had already figured out and tried before, but dramatically, out of my comfort zone. And completely independently of what a man does or does not do.
The truth that even though I am consciously claiming to want to be with a highly evolved man, I am unconsciously not really willing to be the reciprocal highly evolved Feminine. I am far too comfortable in the Masculine chair as to leave it over to him to the extent that he would want and need to claim it. I am not willing to trust his direction more than mine, even if I constantly claim that I am tired of taking the lead. In consequence, I attract men (and also some women, when it comes to certain friends and business partners) whose direction and lead I can indeed not fully trust, confirming my belief and justifying my need to stay in the director’s chair, to stay independent, to be my own man. Unconsciously I am (was) scared to trust unconditionally, to give myself as fully as I would like to be claimed.
As soon as the light gets into the darkness, it is transformed. As soon as truth is seen, it cannot be unseen. And I just cannot help but drop all my guard instantly upon reading what my heart recognizes as truth and surrender to David Deida’s Masculine wisdom in deep trust and admiration… and I cry because I feel more seen than I have ever been able to even see myself before, I realize where I have been lying to myself unconsciously, and I suddenly understand exactly why things had to be the way they have up till now and what MY role has been in all of that… and I laugh because I am aware now what I can and have to do about it, independent of any man, I understand on a whole new level that it’s ME who actually holds the keys to fulfill my heart’s deepest desires, what those desires and keys actually are, and that in fact I already started using them (thanks to Tantra) and just need to do so with even more confidence and consistency. If you recognize yourself in my story I absolutely recommend David Deida's books to you for more detail. I already loved his work on how to evolve the Masculine (the Way of the Superior Man), but his work on how to evolve the Feminine stays nothing short. Because it is NOT about dropping your Masculine and with it your purpose, your professional goals and missions, and becoming a "submissive" woman... There are subtle differences, that are far beyond the scope of this already very long article...
Even though I have known for a long time that there is a treasure in every unwanted symptom or habit and in fact made it one of the pillars of my work, helping all my clients to understand the symbolism of their symptoms by looking at its function, what it forces them to do or what it prevents them from doing..., I hadn’t quite taken it as far as Deida has made me see now. He honestly shook me up deeply and makes me question many things far beyond the relationship topic… just like to be expected from a highly evolved Masculine...
For example, it’s been YEARS that I complain about the air pollution in Brussels and say that it’s my heart’s desire to leave the city for a life more aligned with my values of nature, silence and food autonomy. Yet somehow something always gets in the way… I always find good reasons why it is not yet the moment to leave. The closest I ever got was last year, but then I broke up with my partner… While I believe that if I am still here, there must be a good reason for it (I still have to complete certain tasks here, learn certain lessons...), it just dawns on me that I might unconsciously be afraid to make my dream come true, just like I used to be afraid to make my dream of a committed relationship become reality. Even if it means sacrificing (part of) what I consciously claim to be my highest priorities: my health and fertility (because I cannot be 100% healthy living in an unhealthy place - as within, so without). What exactly are those fears about? That’s what I need to dig deeper into now… Or maybe I just have to drop all the "what if's and "but's" and take the leap, IF it is my true heart's desire (and I believe it is...).
Likewise, I have been working hard on getting more "flexible" in my body. Stretching almost every day... not understanding why my level of flexibility would not really improve... when I thought of myself as being quite "flexible" mentally... or am I not? Now I understand much better. Physical stiffness is a result of emotional stiffness, and for as long as I can think I have repressed my emotions, not allowing them to flow freely (which is logical considering that I didn't even know what it concretely means to let your emotions flow freely - what that "looks" like in reality). So while one conscious part of me was trying to become more flexible, another unconscious part was committed to blocking free energy flow (energy in motion = e-motion). Because it's scary and could lead to rejection! Only now, through Tantra, am I actually learning how to free up my emotional flow - and with it the free flow of my thoughts, beliefs and body (if I continue to exercise it accordingly)...
Back to you…
If you are long-term dissatisfied in any area of your life, whether it is health, energy, fertility, relationships, work, money… and the situation just doesn't seem to improve, no matter how hard you try, assume for a moment that you are actually committed to keeping it that way. That in some weird (or not so weird) way this – consciously unwanted – reality that you might loudly protest against or even fight with all possible and impossible means, is serving your unconscious to be comfortable. If you are overweight, you might be committed to keeping yourself that way, probably to protect yourself in one way or another, even if on the surface you are constantly dieting or trying to lose weight. If you have persistent physical fatigue, you might complain about it and try a lot of things to have more energy, yet on an unconscious level not having enough energy is probably exactly what you need, maybe to escape some difficult fact about yourself. If you suffocate in work, even though you consciously try to create more "me-time", you might feel like a victim to circumstances and complain constantly about your abusive boss, but unconsciously you are probably glad to not have time to even breathe, leave alone feel what works or doesn't work in your life. If you are in a job you hate, but cannot seem to quit it, even though you are actively looking for a new one, there might be an unconscious benefit to that situation. The same is true if you are in a relationship that is not completely satisfying. You might complain about it a lot or even be working hard to “improve” it on the surface, yet on some unconscious level you are probably very comfortable in it, be it for financial or material reasons, out of fear of the unknown, because your life would be boring without the “drama” or because it matches your idea of what you deserve, to just name a few possible reasons.
Simply becoming aware of those formerly unconscious mechanisms will be enough to ignite transformation. The more precisely you are able to identify the underlying fears or blocking factors, the better. You then need to make a conscious decision to make a new commitment – a commitment that is aligned with what you truly long for. IF you truly want to lose that weight or IF you truly want to live in nature or IF you truly want to have more time for yourself or IF you truly want a certain type of relationship, you need to commit to do what it takes to get there. If not, you continue to commit to your fears, to settle for less, which of course is always an option, but then at least you do it consciously and own the choice and the consequences for your health and your happiness.