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Is It Love or an Illusion?

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This post originally appeared on mydailyvibe.com

There is something very magical and mystical about the experience of "falling in love." Emotions get stirred, imagination bursts to life and sparks fly igniting passion and unmistakable bliss. When the attraction is mutual, each person feels as if they are in "heaven." Suddenly, life has new meaning, a new purpose, and they are transported into the realm of the Gods. This is the collective ideal, or better yet our romantic ideal -- so much so that we all yearn for it.

We mistakenly call this love, and many find themselves searching for someone to realize or actualize this ideal with. We believe that this ideal is what will complete us and make us happy. But things are not so cut and dry when it comes to the realm of Love and Eros. As you will see from the nature of the "Anima" and "Animus," this romantic ideal is only the beginning, the tip of the iceberg, as we begin our dance with the unconscious.

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Anima/Animus

Many of you who are familiar with Jung, know the phenomena of projection of the "Anima" or "Animus" (the contrasexual soul images in our unconscious) onto each other. The psyche seeks wholeness and a union of our inner opposites is what he coined as the process of individuation. When projection occurs, this process begins as these forces within us are now made visible, become active. This individuation process teaches by way of contrasts. As a result, we may fall in love or get involved in dark or toxic relationships, but these, too, are revealing another force within us -- our shadow. In order to grow and be a whole person, we need to become aware of what is really happening within us, become aware of our inner world. That is why when someone is attracted to us, we need to stop and ask ourselves -- is it love or is it an illusion?

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The shadow

In truth, two people won't really know each other until a period of time has passed and given them a chance to see who the other really is -- and in order to have access to this knowledge self-honesty and self-disclosure is required.

But this rarely happens, because both are eager to maintain the fantasy at all costs or rather continue the projections to avoid exposing the underbelly of the shadow or their lesser attractive parts. In other words, willfully avoiding or withholding the self honesty and self disclosure stage of the relationship. Many to their great surprise become aware of the other's shadow elements only after affections have been secured and not before.

It is inevitable that these projections will fall off. They actually have to so that we can see who the other person is and relate to a real person instead of through our projections. Many relationships end at this stage and the alchemical process begins all over again with someone else. Some may even go on to marry the person who they feel they are "in love" with and become disillusioned when they realize that the person they married is not who/what they thought they were. The other had been a stranger all along, a stranger in his/her bed.

So the importance of being aware of our projections, or taking back our projections, is that we can see and accept the other for who he/she is and not what we want them to be. Not what we wish they would change into; not for what they can give us; but who they are. The whole person is what interests and intrigues us. The kind of love that can grow between two lovers when there is honesty and transparency is profound because there are no barriers, only truth. Real love, unlike projection, is a willingness to see and embrace the shadow elements of the other. The dual nature of the beloved is neither feared nor rejected, but appreciated for its complexity and depths.

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Conscious Love

In actuality, you can never love someone consciously, truly, deeply and madly without knowing the height and depth of their shadow. The little monster hidden behind the carefully constructed persona/mask lurks in the shadows at the beginning of a relationship. If aware and insightful, one can catch glimpses of its nature early on. Otherwise love will be superficial or unconscious, and this kind of love rarely, if ever, satisfies the soul long term.

The price one pays for keeping the shadow elements at arm's length, whether on a personal or relational level, in favor of the lighter ones is huge. The repercussions are life altering. You cannot ignore/avoid the shadow for too long, it will literally wreck havoc in your life and relationships, destroying the very foundations of your reality. As horrible as that sounds, the shadow, when faced and allowed to integrate ends up becoming your greatest ally.

When we only want to love the light elements of a person, we deny ourselves the richness and depth that can actually fulfill us in the end. But people expend so much energy in hiding who they are that they fail to realize how futile and harmful pretenses are to themselves and others. Pretending to be demure when you are a lion, a gentleman when you are a scoundrel is pure deception. You deceive the one who you wish to form a relationship with, but how long do you think you can keep the charade going before one or other realizes you are neither demure nor a gentleman? When you continue practicing such deceptions in the hope of securing a mate, rest assured it won't be love that you secure.

In love and relationships, authenticity is everything -- without it you have nothing.

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