What is The Law of Attraction?
The Law of Attraction has been around in many guises for many many years. It can be seen in the teachings of Buddha hundreds of years ago ('What you have become is what you have thought'), the Bible ('What a man passionately thinks, he becomes' Proverbs 23:7), and in ideas such as Karma (the idea that what happens to you is caused by your actions).
So, the Law of Attraction has been around for a long time, but was popularized by movies such as The Secret (2006) and books such as Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill (1937) and Leveraging the Universe by Mike Dooley (2005).
Nowadays it is a pretty widespread idea, with proponents including Oprah Winfrey, Jim Carrey, Denzel Washington, Will Smith, Conor McGregor, Beyoncé, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
So what is The Law of Attraction, and does it really work?
The Law of Attraction is the ability to attract into our lives whatever we are focusing on. It uses the power of the mind to translate whatever is in our minds and materialises them into reality. This sounds amazing, right? I want a mansion, all I have to do is focus on it, really think about it, and it will just happen! Wrong!
The Law of Attraction is not a magic trick, it is a way of thinking, planning, visualising, and goal setting. The Law of Attraction dictates that whatever can be imagined and held in mind can be achieved if you take action on a plan to get where you want to be.
I think this is the distinction that many people forget about. Either they think that the Law of Attraction is marvellous and they don't have to work any more, things will just happen for them, or they think that the Law of Attraction is a load of nonsense because why would things just happen for someone. Once you understand that the Law of Attraction is about figuring out what you want, how you are going to get there, and then implementing your plans, it all starts to make much more sense.
If is what successful business owners, entrepreneurs, sportsmen, innovators, and so on do anyway. It is about knowing where the goalposts are, knowing what you want in life, and gearing yourself towards that.
How Does the Law of Attraction Work?
There are other aspects to the Law of Attraction, which some people find slightly nonsensical. For example, there is the idea that we vibrate at certain frequencies and attract others who vibrate at a high frequency. Depending on who you follow on social media, you might see entrepreneurs stating that they vibrate at a high frequency and that this attracts good things and positive people into their lives.
What is behind this is the idea that positive people attract positive people, and negative people attract negative people. We all have mirror neurons in our brains that enable us to reflect what is going on around us. Have you ever yawned because someone near you has yawned? That's your mirror neurons at work. So the idea here is that when we are super positive and uplifting, that positivity spreads to those around us, and when we are upset, down on ourselves, or angry, that negativity spreads as well.
Furthermore, I am a believer that if we are in a positive state of mind, we are more likely to see opportunities, believe that we can use these opportunities, and be more productive than if we are in a negative state of mind. If we are feeling sorry for ourselves we are less likely to see things as opportunities and more likely to see them as challenges that we don't want to deal with.
Does it really work?
There is some scientific support for the tenets of the Law of Attraction. For example, scientists in Korea found a strong connection between positive thinking and overall life satisfaction. However, just because there is a connection, doesn't mean that positive thinking caused higher life satisfaction. It might be that people have higher satisfaction with their lives and so they have more positive thoughts.
Scientists at the Institute for Neurology in London found that people who visualise a better future are more likely to be able to bring that future into existence. This seems pretty self-explanatory to me, if you can see and picture a better future for yourself, you are more likely to work hard to reach it. If you cannot see how things will get better, you are not likely to take any action to make your life better.
What are the downsides?
Many people don't fully understand the ideas behind the Law of Attraction and the fact that there is work involved in reaching your goals (you can't just think things into existence). This can be harmful to people who are really suffering with depression or trauma or anxiety (and so on). If those around them are telling them to just "Be the energy you want to attract", they are not dealing with the pain or trauma or mental health.
Furthermore, the idea is linked to that of Karma; 'good things come to good people and bad things come to bad people'. If this idea is touted around when someone is really suffering, they might internalise the idea that bad things have happened to them because they are a bad person or have done bad things. It might just be that you lost your job because the owner of the company was bad at handling money, not because you are a bad person.
A brief search on Instagram for 'LOA' and I came across a post that says "If you're in a negative place, don't think, don't speak, don't call anyone. Don't build the thought ways. If you're in a negative place, you have one thing to do - chill!" We can only imagine how damaging this can be to someone who is upset, isolated, even suicidal.
When we are in a bad place, we need to reach out to others, rather than be shamed for spreading negativity.
So, my take away from learning about the good, the bad, and the ugly of The Law of Attraction is that it is important to set goals, make plans, and focus on and work towards what we want. It is important to be open to positivity and opportunities that might come along with it. However, we cannot ignore genuine suffering, mental health, and the fact that sometimes, no matter how good our intentions are, bad things just do happen.
As always, if you would like to book an initial counselling session with me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
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