Why Can't People Just Love Each Other?


Have you ever asked yourself, “Why can’t people just love each other?” Until I studied Jungian psychology, I certainly did. I knew lots of good people who acted loving. Yet when I got to know them I invariably discovered that they were just as challenged in the love department as I was. So why do even the most well-meaning people find it so difficult to love?
What I discovered after several years of inner work was that the primary obstacle to love is a psychologically ignorant ego which fears otherness, both without and within.  From personal experience I also learned that this one-sided ego-centricism has nine basic characteristics:
1.  No matter how loving we try to be, the primary motivation beneath our good intentions is self-interest.
2.  Our belief that we are a loving person is not based on authentic feeling, but on the persona (our social personality) we constructed in childhood to gain society’s and/or God’s approval.
3.  We (our egos) believe that our loving persona/mask is who we really are.
4.  We do not know we have an unconscious self which contains everything our ego disowned while constructing our persona. For example, if we chose to be loving, we repressed any hateful thoughts and emotions we noticed. Thus, our unconscious, non-egoic self contains the rejected opposites of everything our egos identified with.
5.  We do not know that our rejected and unknown opposites comprise our shadow, or that we even have a shadow, or that the more we repress it the more it influences our behavior in unloving ways despite our best efforts.
6.  We do not know that we project our most disliked shadow qualities onto others, nor that we do this because pointing fingers at them takes the heat off us and relieves our fear that we are unworthy.
7.  We do not know that the real problem is not that we are unworthy, but that we are incomplete.
8.  We do not know that accepting the otherness of our shadows will help complete us,  embolden us to trust other people, and create more tolerance for their otherness.
9.  We do not know that willing ourselves to love can’t create the real thing. What can create love is suffering the awareness of our incompleteness, asking for help, accepting our shadows, forgiving ourselves for being human, and connecting with our true Self.
After last week’s post about the Healer archetype, Emerald commented: “I want to be a Healer. However, I’m also a very ambitious person with a needy tendency to want to be all things to all people. I’m not sure how much of my desire to heal is derived from my ego’s ambition, and how much is derived from actual love and a desire to transcend my ego for the greater good. So how can I tell when my desires come from a non-selfish place? Also, how can I cultivate Healer qualities in myself?”
I love this comment. That Emerald can accept some uncomfortable truths about herself indicates she’s surviving the painful crisis of meeting her shadow. That she’s reflecting on her insights says her ego is growing strong enough to travel the path to self-knowledge. As Jungian analyst Monika Wikman writes, “Crisis and pain often catalyze a genuine, heart-felt attempt to reach toward the mysteries.”
So, Emerald, here are my answers to your questions. First, if you continue on this path your inner guide will show you your true motives. Second, because your ego is giving your heart the nourishment it needs, the seed of love planted there at your conception will grow of its own accord. Congratulations! You’re already cultivating your Healer, my young friend.
You can purchase Healing the Sacred Divide at this Amazon link or www.Larsonpublications.com.

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        1. Excellent! I’ve added your site to my google reader and will add it to my blog roll. Now please write! You have much to say and your voice needs to be heard. 🙂

  1. Beautiful – this is right on time for me! I’ve been attempting to do some Shadow work as I feel I have this “block” that’s been hindering me – mostly emotional wise (PTSD issues no doubt). I read “Descent to the Goddess” by Sylvia Brinton Perera last year that really opened my eyes and helped put things into place for me. Your post has given me a whole other host of concepts and prompts to explore, think and journal about; for some of these obstacles are very hard to accept but must be confronted in order to effectively deal with them and help us realize our true selves and our abundance. Thank you!

    1. Thank you for letting me know this was helpful to you. It’s the reason I write this blog. Please know that we all have blocks and obstacles and that honestly facing them moment by moment, step by step, day by day, is the way to move beyond them. There’s no growth without suffering. My very best wishes to you on your courageous journey. Jeanie

  2. Thank you for answering my questions. I was very excited to see that you made a post that related to my comment! I was showing it off to my boyfriend yesterday. 🙂
    It seems to me that I am always having issues with problem #1 from your list above. Trying to think and act with unselfish motives is like trying to reach the end of an infinite hallway.
    However, I do know that I’ve made a lot of progress because I’m more aware of and open to my emotions. I also know that I have a long way to go. I’m still very afraid to connect with other people because I’m afraid that they’ll find me annoying or strange. This occupies almost all of my mind-space when I meet new people or when I’m talking to my acquaintances. I also have many semi-unconscious negative feelings toward men due to past experiences. It is my knee-jerk reaction to pre-judge, mistrust, and keep a distance. I think this is where I project my shadow the most.
    One thing that has helped me expunge some of my fears is education. I think of fear as a barrier to love. The love is always there and always will be for everyone and everything. However, fear becomes an obstacle that keeps people from tuning in to that love. Because most of my fears are related to my own ignorance and short-sightedness, each time I learn and accept an important truth a barrier is lifted and I become a more open and light-hearted person. The statement, “The truth shall set you free,” has been very relevant to my inner journey.
    With this in mind, I think your seed of love metaphor is absolutely perfect! I must discover and accept personal truths, however uncomfortable they may be. I must accept and be responsive to my own emotions. However, more than anything else, I must simply let myself be. The seed of love is there, and it will grow naturally without my ego trying to force it.
    Thank you again!

    1. You’re very welcome, Emerald. Thank you for your questions. I enjoyed answering them, especially for someone as open and self-aware as you are! Jeanie

      1. I’m very grateful that I have someone to ask my questions to. Before I began following you blog and reading your books (as well as several others that I found in your selected bibliographies), I really had no clue what I was even trying to do. I only knew that I wanted to regain my childhood sense of wonder to reconnect with the divine mysteries of the universe, and that the identity I’d been clinging to had become a hindrance to that goal. I did many crazy, non-nonsensical, reputation ruining, self-destructive, and even dangerous things in hopes that I’d abstractly “un-repress” myself through doing the things that I’d sworn off in the past, only to realize that there was a good reason that I didn’t behave in these ways in the first place. I found your blog just by chance this past Spring when I did a Google search on the feminine principle. It was truly a God-send because it was the first time in 2 1/2 years that I felt like I had some answers and that I wasn’t alone in my journey. Since reading your work, I’ve put many thoughts and feelings in their proper places. I feel more free now than I have in a very long time. Thank you again.
        P.S. I’m sorry for writing such long comments. I can be a chatty Kathy when it comes to talking about my inner work.

        1. I’m very happy that I can be of help. Your powerful need to understand yourself bodes well for success on your journey. Taking your inner longing seriously, searching for what satisfies it, persisting in the face of adversity: these are the qualities of a seeker. No problem about the long comments. Writing down your insights is a valuable tool on the inner search! My best, Jeanie

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