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Thursday, August 13, 2015
A Frank Discussion About The Law Of Attraction
A Frank Discussion About The Law Of Attraction
Everything happens for a reason...
What a seemingly happy statement. Statements like these conjure images of oneness and zen, of daisies and butterflies, of lying on a raft in the ocean, bobbing along with the waves. In an odd way, it's sort of comforting to believe that every single thing in this universe happens for a reason. That kind of thinking either puts all of the blame upon or gives all of the credit to you, the individual, for every single thing that happens to you in life. Unfortunately, this line of thinking contains severely faulty logic. Cue images of the graveyard that the daisies are growing in, the frost moving in that kills off the remaining butterflies that haven't yet flown to Mexico, your raft being pulled out to sea as you do nothing to paddle your way to shore and because you've been relying on the raft rather than building up your swimming skills, picture a version of you that is so afraid to get off of your raft that you can't even contemplate reaching out to touch the increasingly choppy water-let alone dive in and swim your way back to shore.
As nice as it may feel initially to believe that everything is being handled by the universe and all you have to do is think and allow and your life will unfold without planning or participation, believers in such dangerous fantasy will, like the person floating out to sea on their raft, eventually find themselves far from shore without a paddle with nothing left to do other than sink or swim. This is what the Law Of Attraction brings us. Belief in the LoA can lead to the deterioration and even the loss of important mental faculties like empathy and critical thinking as well as your relationships with others. It can actually lead to a deterioration of the concept of personal responsibility. What a feat for a theory that purports to start out being all about personal accountability. Proponents of this system of belief would tell you that everyone on earth is responsible for every single facet of each and every area of their life.
I'm sure that you can already see why this system of belief works so well for the wealthy and elite of this world. Unfortunately it works out as terribly for those less fortunate as it does well for those who have more. But no one on earth experiences either all good or all bad situations in life, so how is it that we are to take total, full and complete responsibility for every single life situation we find ourselves in, big or small, meaningful or relatively inconsequential? Well, by taking either complete credit or total blame for every little thought our minds think and of course every word we say in life. Some might find this state of affairs to be fanciful, infantile, dogmatic, nigh Catholic or even dare I say a tad crazy train, but not believers in the Law Of Attraction!
Lets start with the abhorrent way that Law Of Attraction believers view illness, poverty, war and genocide. Sure, the correlations between disease and life situations of all kinds and the spiritual connotations of said illnesses can provide an interesting format for life assessment and self discovery as well as for certain specific life lessons to be learned, but correlation and causation aren't the same thing. Proponents of the Law Of Attraction won't let that stop them, though. These brave souls soldier on into the territory of complete and utter lunacy without a second thought (tut, tut, forward thinkers and gurus of the future, keep your inner eye focused on those pesky little thoughts before they run away with you).
Let's look at our own example of why and how the law of attraction fails to work when tested in the real world. Mike and John, both truckers, sit down at a diner and chat about a fello teamster who had a horrible trucking accident befall him or her. Now, if Mike and John believe in the LoA, you could say that it is their duty to immediately judge said person. That fellow teamster must've called their accident in with bad thoughts and Mike and John mustn't discuss this subject any further for fear that they too will call down a trucking accident upon themselves. Empathy gets thrown totally out the window here. No one cares any longer for their friend who is laid up in the hospital with terrible medical debt and having to take time off of work because of someone else's reckless driving habits. No one offers to help this person's family with chores around the house or give the kids a ride to school because suddenly the focus with John and Mike is all upon removing this unpleasantness from their conscious thoughts (which of course doesn't affect unconscious thoughts in any way) rather than being compassionate individuals who are interested in helping their friend. The focus quickly and decisively shifts from community based thinking to selfish, self-centered, dogmatic thinking. This very quickly and fully removes the empathy of the believer.
But did Mike and John's friend really "call in" the accident that befell them? Let's examine this situation for any trace of confirmation bias. For instance, Mike and John might talk about their friend getting into an accident and then later on down the road (excuse the pun), a trucking accident happens to them (though I'm sure there are some statistics to be looked at re the likelihood that one might experience a roadway accident at some point in their lifetime anyway and I would think that those statistics might be relatively high, logically speaking for anyone, especially for those who drive trucks for a living)...that doesn't mean that John and Mike's talk of their friend getting into an accident caused either of them any future misfortune. This is a simple matter of the old argument of which came first--the chicken or the egg? Or in the case whether the chicken even existed at all? Was there a chicken to begin with (i.e. Is this cause and effect or simple statistical probability?)? The human brain seeks to make sense of that which makes no sense; to connect the unconnected. It is our respsonsibulity to utilize our critical thinking skills in order to divine truth and meaning in these situations.
Mike and John could simply be mentioning, for instance, the topic of roadway accidents more frequently than other topics because they'd been picking up on subtle cues that they were going to be in one. John and Mike might both be more prone to discuss car accidents as well as being more prone to the possibility of being in one because they are truckers, and that's what subconsciously (because I'm sorry LoA friends, but we can't ignore the subconscious) led them to talk about it in the first place. Accidents have an impact on John and Mike as truckers because they know they're more likely than non-truck drivers to be in or impacted by one. It absolutely doesn't mean that their talk about their friend's crash or their lines of thinking caused any future accidents they might have. That would be an horribly superstitious mode of belief and adopting such a belief might impact their mental states in negative ways. To think along such lines flies in the face of logic and reason. Again, correlation and causation are two different things! Magical thinking like that displayed throughout the "secret" law of attraction require a dangerous intuitive leap and a severe confirmation bias as well as the acceptance of and heavy reliance upon magical thinking and pseudo-scientific "studies" and the broad acceptance of anecdotal evidence over scientific evidence and known fact in order for the LoA to "work" mentally and "logically." This is a dangerous practice and a slippery slope for others as much as it is for you, the believer. This dogmatic style of thinking and thought manipulation is the basis of and the very predication of most if not all cults.
To believe in the LoA, you must inevitably engage in magical thinking and that means suspending logical thought processes. Do you really want to slip into a cult mentality? Is the cold comfort that a cult mentality offers you worth the loss of your critical thinking skills, your empathy, your individuality and your ability to think for yourself? These are hard questions that one must ask before adopting the ideologies laid out in cult mentalities such as LoA (Law Of Attraction).
We can't fly by thinking it so. We can't walk through walls by thinking it so. Why should we be able to defeat diseases and illnesses and worse yet, why should we believe that we can cause them, and even worse still, why should we judge others for ostensibly doing so simply by supposedly "thinking it into being"? If one is to believe these things, then one must ask themselves deeper questions, following the "logic" of the LoA to its inevitable conclusion.
Do people call in poverty? Do they call in death (this just in: WE ALL DIE!)? Divorce? Accidents. It is statistically impossible to go through life without ever having one accident of any sort ever. Illnesses? It is also statistically impossible to go through life without ever once getting sick, and surprise, surprise, you're going to die from either an accident, injury or illness at the end of your life? The loss of a loved one? Once again, EVERYBODY DIES)? Have you ever been involved in any of these situations? Death and illness are pretty much guaranteed in this life, whether you think and act in a sycophantically, delusionally positive manner, whether you're a realist, whether you fall somewhere in between or whether you sway toward the other end of the spectrum and have chosen to adopt the victim mindset. If you've been lucky enough not to have experienced any of these things (and by the way, I hate to be the one to tell you, but it may be that you're either delusional or that you've got a severely faulty memory if you've answered "no" to all of those questions), do you have a friend or loved one who has? Like I said, if you haven't answered yes to either of those questions, you must be a Martian-or a stuffed animal-or maybe a doll, because these are things that every human experiences-categorically--without fail at some point in their lives and likely more than once.
Can you see why to judge others (or even yourself, really) in this manner might be hurtful? Can you see why doing so might lead others to be offended or even to remove you from their lives? It is suggested (quite heavily I might add) that those who follow the Law Of Attraction do away with their connections to anyone who lives a less than perfectly bland and seemingly flawless life (as if we know the ins and outs of the lives of those around us when we're not around-now that's a truly arrogant notion). You would have to be a pretty judgmental person who is willing to make some seriously flawed intuitive leaps to make assumptions and judgments not only about someone's health, wealth and life situation, but about what their exact thoughts both conscious and subconscious are and aren't at any given time ("you called in your cancer-which doesn't exist by the way, by thinking xy&z").
This is not to say that one should adopt a wholly external locus of control and resign oneself to being a victim of circumstance for the remainder of their days. That is absolutely not what I'm suggesting. In fact, I've done some writing about that very state of mind and how dangerous it is. Balance is crucial here, folks, as it is in all things.
For one thing, though, assumptions about what a person who has experienced and/or is experiencing one or more of the above life circumstances is or isn't, was or wasn't thinking are about the only thing one CAN make, since there's no way for them to know what their state of mind is, was, isn't, wasn't, might be, might not be, might've been or might not have at any given time. None of that can be proven. None of it can be known. For another, to believe in this magical way of thinking, one would have to totally discount the subconscious mind and the power that it holds. We can't control all of our thoughts. We simply have no control over our subconscious minds, and guess what--everybody has one, so before you go congratulating yourself on avoiding all illness and accidents because of your sterling character, flawless nature and inherently high "vibration," you might want to consider that even you have a subconscious mind, so if you truly believe that you can think cancer into existence (or out of existence for that matter), then maybe it's time to start considering what horrors might be brewing in your own subconscious mind at this very moment (and hey, whether you are aware of them or not, they're still a-brewin,' because that IS how the human brain works regardless of whether we want it to work that way or not).
As far as positive thinking is concerned, unconditional positive regard can be a helpful tool when used appropriately by parents and romantic partners. Self esteem is a healthy thing. But, there have been several studies done recently on negative thinking (i.e. realism and preparation for the worst- see the article below for some great scientifically backed reasons why positive thinking doesn't always work-- http://greatist.com/happiness/positive-thinking-negative-benefits and this great article here on how positive thinking your way across a bed of hot coals didn't and won't work to protect you from burns http://mobile.nytimes.com/2012/08/05/opinion/sunday/the-positive-power-of-negative-thinking.html?referrer=&_r=0 just ask Tony Robbins and his group of retreat customers! )
that clearly show us that negative thinking can in fact also be quite helpful when it comes to spurring us on to act and accomplish goals. To decide which manner of thinking might be best in any given situation, each situation must be appropriately analyzed so that one can in fact determine which line of thinking and action is appropriate. To that end, negativity, if we follow the faulty LoA logic of constant thought manifestation, actually helps us to manifest positive things-and wait, doesn't that sort of disprove the whole premise of Law Of Attraction entirely?? After all, how many electricians do you know that are going to tell you that yes, like attracts like (one of the basic tenets of LoA)? It has been proven time and time again that a positive charge repels another positive charge. That's science. That's fact. That's irrefutable. It's substantive and quantitative and all of those other real world things that truly govern our universe that the Law Of Attraction isn't.
To suggest that only positive thoughts have value and that negative thoughts should be avoided at all costs (we already covered how you can't do that--you're not capable of doing that--hands down--ever) not only ignores the necessity of balance in all things, which is very important by the way as well as the thought/choice/action model, but it is a self-defeating line of thinking. This type of thinking is infantile. To actively try to avoid negative thoughts is in fact to focus on negative thoughts. What would be much more healthy, constructive and helpful would be to simply come to the realization that negativity exists in this world as does positivity and that sometimes there is simply no rhyme or reason for the awful (or great) things that happen in this life. It would be helpful to examine why you might think the thoughts you think and how to translate them into action or conversely, how to decide that they're not worthy of action and aren't helpful, but one doesn't need a hokey philosophy bandied about by ex-AMWay salesmen that comes with a hefty spiritual price tag and hefty personal cost. What isn't helpful is to sit back and judge from afar while using circular logic and reasoning that can be neither proven nor disproven to skirt around the actual facts.
The Law Of Attraction (which as we covered earlier--isn't a law, since first a law must start out as a hypothesis, which then only after being tested becomes a theory, which then after proof is offered and after its place within related and similar principles, phenomenon and laws is determined, can it finally be called a law) is based around the principle that like attracts like and sadly, a whole pseudoscientific field of "quantum physics" which has sprung up around it. Without getting into unnecessary depth here, let me just say this. Actual physics has proven that positive charge attracts negative and negative attracts positive, certainly not that positive attracts positive and negative attracts negative. To think otherwise flauts science, fact, logic and reason. LoA is also based around the idea that our "energy fields" which emit energy at a level of 10•10 teslas somehow work AT ALL (which they can't and don't) to extend outside of ourselves and affect not only the world, but the whole entire universe around us and those in it. This theory blatantly disregards the fact that we live on a planet that is literally beneath our feet as we walk through life each day that emits 10•5 teslas. Can you imagine how much concentrated power it would take to overwhelm an energy field that huge? An energy field of ten to the fifth teslas is so much greater than our puny little ten to the tenth tesla energy fields that it dampens them completely. Our energy simply can't travel that far and doesn't affect things in that manner and I personally vacillate between being saddened and being comforted by that fact. God knows what would happen if we could affect everything and everyone around us simply by thinking thoughts (wouldn't that create an argument for none of us having any actual power if we follow LoA logic?? How could we possibly go through life day in and day out competing against others for our personal thoughts to win out, affecting other peoples' free will and ability to steer their own courses?). Narcissism and sociopathy would run rampant-or at least much more rampant than they already do. Such personality disorders would abound even more than they already do with us humans, and thanks to the fact that the concept of the Law Of Attraction is even a thing, that's already become an even more serious problem. As I mentioned before, the Law Of Attraction has been proven to lower our senses of empathy and our sense of self and situational awareness. Loss of empathy in particular can actually lead to such personality disorders as the ones described above and I for one prefer my empathy entact. I like being a realist. I like being me-all 6 beautifully imperfect feet of me, so no thanks LoA converts. I'll take a pass, and just for the record, I don't think you'd like this world too darn much if the LoA was the predominant universal law, so let's thank our lucky stars that it doesn't hold water, because if it did, you might find yourself coming full circle and being hungry for a heaping plateful of logic and reason (eat those green things, damn it! There are starving children in Africa!).
*I may choose to write more about some of the struggles that my clients have had once they inevitably realized (they always do and sometimes at that point, their relationships are beyond repair and they've done quite a lot of damage to their psyches) that LoA doesn't work. I'm working on a piece right now about the dubious history of LoA practitioners and coaches (we've got failed farmers, failed businessmen, failed lawyers, failed tv producers, poor people who became rich simply by writing about knowing how to become rich-and if that doesn't make your head spin, I simply don't know what will! and last but by no means least, the two failed AMWay salespeople at the top of the current LoA "pyramid," Esther and the late Jerry Hicks). Stay tuned for more on this topic coming soon.
I know and respect several people who believe in this line of thinking. Disagreement does not equal disrespect, but as a lifestyle consultant and writer and as someone who has a chronic illness, I do have a real problem with this line of thinking. I appreciate all of the input both in person, on the phone and on social media that those of you who have been kind enough to discuss the subject with me-whatever side of the issue you happen to fall on-have given me and I can't thank those of you who are willing to have respectful, mature discussions on the matter enough. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.
*Below is the link to my interview with Ngoc Luzardo of www.ardentlight.com on her personal experience with becoming (and then recovering from being) a Law Of Attraction believer and how it deeply impacted her life and personal relationships. https://soundcloud.com/dominique-miller-9/a-discussion-about-the-law-of-attraction