From a Jungian perspective, we all share what is termed “The Lover Archetype.” This is an energy system in the human psyche responsible, in a positive sense, for creative fulfillment, passion, and sensual enjoyment. The Lover Archetype also balances giving and receiving with others. Anyone involved in an artistic or creative endeavor, and anyone creating a business is drawing on The Lover. This can mean many things: painting, cooking, gardening, writing, building a business, designing a website, etc. Einstein, Picasso, Marie Curie, Wolf Gang Puck, Eleanor Roosevelt, FDR, Steve Jobs, Einstein, Mother Theresa, and Aretha Franklin are all examples of people accessing and expressing the power of The Positive Lover. The Lover is involved in creative achievement of all kinds. Jung believed that the Lover, like all archetypes is always active. It is continually seeking expression. The Lover gives us passion and connection to life.
When we don’t give the Lover Archetype the positive channel it craves, the Lover does not go away, it goes “Shadow.” The Shadow Lover is also interested in creating, but it creates from a negative, self-destructive place. The Shadow Lover saturates our sensuality from an over indulgent and even dangerous place. This can be as obvious as over eating and creating obesity, to more serious forms of indulgence such as drug, alcohol, or sex addiction creating chaos, heartache, and sometimes death or institutionalization (hospitals, jails, etc.). Addictions saturate our senses in a way that destroys us, and sometimes the people around us. The Shadow Lover is coming from an insane, self-involved place with little regard for the outcome. The Shadow Lover is also responsible for creating businesses that exploit others or the environment and come from a purely “getting” mentality. The people who corrupted Wall Street during the financial meltdown were actively creative in a Shadow Lover sense. Dictators, drug dealers, and those involved in pornography industry are all actively accessing the Shadow Lover.
It is important to note that we all have both positive and shadow potentials within us. Mother Theresa famously said once, “I can feel the Hitler within me.” That is, she could have used her enormous energies harnessed by the Shadow Lover for the same destructive goals Hitler did. With the power of her consciousness and freedom of choice, she became a savior to the world by channeling the Positive Lover.
When we do demonstrate the Positive Lover, it can be said that we are giving access to our Genius self. We are opening a channel for the genius in us all to be expressed. Jung believed in the “collective unconscious”—that is, we are all sharing in one big pool of consciousness. From that vantage, there is only one human “mind” that we all share at a deep, unconscious level. While we may not all be talented in the same ways, we all have a creative Genius for something within us. Following our bliss, as Joseph Campbell would say, is the way to know what your own Genius wants to express.
We need to be protective of our Positive Lover as those involved in their Shadow Lover may not be all that supportive. There is a story about a bucket of crabs and people with “crab mentality”.
Crab mentality, sometimes referred to as crabs in the bucket, is a way of thinking best described by the phrase, "if I can't have it, neither can you.” The metaphor refers to a bucket of crabs. Individually, the crabs could easily escape from the bucket, but instead they grab at each other in a useless “king of the hill" competition which prevents any from escaping and ensures their collective demise. The analogy in human behavior is claimed to be that members of a group will attempt to negate or diminish the importance of any member who achieves success beyond the others, out of envy, spite or competetive feelings, to halt their progress.
Those with “crab” mentaility (read Shadow Lover) may want to pull us back. They may be threatened by seeing us succeed as it puts them more in touch with where they are ignoring their own Positive Lover, or going Shadow.
Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat Pray Love, gives the best Ted Talk I’ve ever listened to on the subject. Click below to take a look: