Originally published on June 14, 2022
Just What’s the Problem with the Law of Attraction?
If you’ve ever read a new-age philosophy book such as “The Secret,” you’re probably familiar with a concept known as the Law of Attraction. If not, no worries; we’ll break it down here either way.
In a nutshell, the Law of Attraction (sometimes stylized “LoA”) is the idea that our thoughts create our external reality. Or, in other words, what we think about and focus on manifests in our lives.
Of course, there’s plenty of debate about whether this “law” is even real. So, what’s my take on it? I believe there’s some truth to it at a high level, but I’m less confident it applies to the more detailed aspects and situations of our lives.
However, that’s also not really here nor there, as the point of this post is not to question the validity of such a concept but to highlight the problem with the law of attraction and how it applies to our mental health. So, with that in mind, let’s do just that.
Enlisting the Law of Attraction
Regardless of whether we believe the LoA to be valid, for the time being, and for the sake of argument, let’s assume it is. According to this law, if we want something to happen in our lives, we first need to bring it into existence via our thinking.
For those of us with squeaky clean minds (almost no one), this is a relatively easy task. All we have to do is focus on what we want, and, according to the LoA, that thing will come to fruition in our lives. Sure, maybe not in a one-to-one translation, but at least something resembling our original thought or the feeling behind it.
For instance, if I want to get a new car but am unsure as to how it will make its way into my life, all I have to do — according to the Law of Attraction — is visualize myself with that car and feel good about it and, one day, that vehicle, or one like it, will present itself.
And, yes, I know that for many folks, the very notion of this law will seem ridiculous, but, again, let’s try to suspend our disbelief for a moment; there’s a more profound point I’m trying to make here, so let’s do our best not to get stuck at the starting line.
Anxiety Enters the Equation
Now, here’s where things get interesting. Since this is a mental health blog, I think it’s safe to assume that some of you have already tried to implement the LoA and struggled with it for one key reason. That reason is this: when you try to visualize what you want, anxiety sometimes gets in the way, prevents you from thinking positively, and forces you into a seemingly never-ending cycle of rumination. Here’s what I mean by that.
We know that the LoA tells us our thoughts create our reality. Thus, when we try to think about what we want, and anxiety pops up, we feel as though we’re constructing futures filled with negativity, fear, and other unwanted emotions and outcomes. Of course, we don’t want to do such a thing, so, in turn, we tell ourselves we must push back against such thoughts and feelings. Otherwise, what we want to make its way into our lives will never do so. And this is where the problem arises.
As I’ve discussed extensively on this blog, fighting against negative thoughts is a metaphorical and psychological death sentence. Why? Because you can’t control the mind with the mind. The only way past unwanted musings is around them — not through.
The more we try to wrestle with or fight off the unwanted inhabitants of our psyches, the more we struggle with them and the longer we keep them around. Thus, in an almost comical fashion, our good intentions and aims to fulfill the requirements of the Law of Attraction become the very things that keep us stuck where we are: in our despair.
So, with the problem with the Law of Attraction on the table, we come to the most essential, LoA-related question: How are we supposed to get what we want in life when our minds won’t let us focus on our desires? I see two possible solutions.
The first is to stop believing in the LoA. After all, I’m sure we can all think of plenty of outcomes and scenarios that have made their way into our lives without us ever having thought about them. But, of course, that would be a bit radical given the subject of this post, so let’s also cover another potential solution.
That second course of action would be to drop the anxiety-provoking thoughts keeping us stuck. Here’s why this strategy sometimes succeeds. When we dig into the LoA’s “scriptures,” we see that its conclusions and inner workings are slightly vague. Specifically, it says positive thoughts attract positive outcomes, while negative thoughts attract negative ones.
In other words, nothing in the LoA’s teachings says our positive reflections have to link to any specific idea, subject, or situation. And that means — assuming we’re buying into the LoA in the first place — we can still attract amazing things into our lives without thinking about them directly.
Regardless of all the other conclusions we could come up with here, that’s the one I want us to land on. For, at the end of the day, whether it’s anxiety, depression, or some other mental illness we’re dealing with, what we really want is to feel good.
And how do we achieve that end? By staying out of our heads, getting back to the present moment, allowing life to bring us whatever good fortunes it has in store, and avoiding the problem with the law of attraction from the get-go.
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**Above image designed and owned by Brian Sachetta ©2022