Dancing in the Shadows by Laura Bryannan

Chapter 14


Jungian psychology teaches that each man has his feminine side (his anima), and each woman has her masculine side (her animus). In the simplest terms, the anima in every person is in tune with Spirit. It is the part of us which receives inspiration, knowing and guidance from the Universe. The animus is the part of everyone which acts on these inspirations. It conceives plans, creates, follows through, and protects us from interference until the job is done. How the inner feminine and masculine elements interact together in a woman's psyche often has an impact on the quality of her relationships--an area of struggle for most survivors.

Our Highest Self contains the "blueprints" for our inner male in its most balanced and positive form. At the day-to-day personality level, however, we find that the positive qualities of our inner male have been warped, changed or stolen through interaction with the men in our lives as we grew up. Women who were abused by men, in particular, often have a cruel, sadistic or perverted inner male that tells them they're stupid, ugly, fat, they'll never amount to anything, etc. This personality-level inner male I'll call the Programmed Animus (as opposed to the True or Highest Self Animus).

Since what we harbor inside of us we tend to attract to us, it is no surprise that women abused by men when they were children often continue to encounter abusive men as adults. It is important, then, to seek out your inner male and make his acquaintance. Discovering who he is, what he wants, and the kinds of things he tends to say to you is the first step. Too often, women take what their Programmed Animus says to them in their head as reality. For example, a woman may be quaking in her shoes contemplating the prospect of an important job interview. But instead of pampering and taking care of that scared part of herself, a voice in her head screams at it to stop whimpering, tells it that it's stupid and, for all intents and purposes, kicks it down the basement stairs and locks it up. Just who is the tyrant terrorizing this woman's inner child? Her Programmed Animus.

One friend named her Programmed Animus Mr. Thor, after the Norse thunder god, because he seemed to be throwing lightening bolts at her all the time. Isolating his voice from your own true voice is a good way to begin taking back control of your life. When you know more about him, you'll be less likely to take what he says as reality.

Identifying the Programmed Animus

Check out your dreams. Are you often terrorized by police, Nazis, demons, robbers, dirty old men, punks, murderers? Your dreams could be trying to show you the state of your inner male. If you have dreams of terror, you've probably got some inner dynamics in your day-to-day life terrorizing you too. Those little voices in your head that push you to work too much, to keep suffering in a bad relationship, to keep binging, etc., are the monsters of your dreams. Or, in other words, if the way you're living your life is hurting you or your soul, the characters in your dreams will hurt you too.

Conversely, you may find that the male figures in your dreams show a continual pattern of helplessness or unhelpfulness. This may show that, instead of being a tyrant, your inner male is a "wimp," and lacks the will and strength to support your choices in life. If you have this kind of Programmed Animus you will have trouble finishing what you start, standing up for yourself or what you believe in, delaying gratification, etc.

More clues: do you run negative tapes in your head? Stuff like, I'm hopeless, nothing ever goes right for me, everyone hates me, I'm stupid, I'm evil, I'm lazy, I'm ugly. Those voices are not coming from your Highest Self, you can be sure of that! She would never say anything that mean to you. Those tapes were picked up from parents, relatives, teachers, or other important people in your past.

Question everything you say to yourself that seems to "come down from on high": collective statements using "they" or "everybody" in connection to "always," "should," and "ought." Like negative tapes, these statements were picked up by authority figures around you. Since most parents and pedagogues do not see children in their own right, authorities will endow their little girls with the "true" convictions of the day which often have little bearing on the girl's personal reality.

Have you had repeated associations with a particular kind of man? Have your last three boyfriends been alcoholics? Do your lovers always two-time you? Do you have an uncanny knack of finding dictators to work for? Have the men in your life always been unemotional and withholding? You can look at the patterns of your relationships with men and get some pretty good clues as to what's going on with your internal male. Chances are, he's a lot like the men you've known!

Identifying the True Animus

One of the easiest ways to get a glimpse of your True Animus is to think of favorite male characters in stories, movies and TV shows. Try to get beyond the ones who simply turned you on sexually, but who had some sort of inner strength, compassion or wisdom that you admired. Make a list of the positive qualities these characters possessed--why did you like them so much? These positive qualities are probably contained in the male aspect of your Highest Self. You wouldn't be able to recognize them outside yourself if you didn't contain them inside yourself.

You may have been fortunate enough to dream of some positive male figures. These men are your True Animus, who have come to you straight from your subconscious mind! How they behave in your dreams and how you feel toward them can be meditated upon to further strengthen these qualities in yourself.

Animus Meditation

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Last Updated: 1 feb 99
Laura Bryannan