What’s wrong with the Law of Attraction?

I do not believe in the Law of Attraction. As you may know, I write self-help books. I do not discuss the Law of Attraction in any of my books. There is a reason for that. More than ten years ago, when it first became all the rage, I thought that the Law of Attraction is the next best thing to my first cup of coffee every morning. I am now much older and somewhat wiser and have done an awful lot of difficult living since. I have discovered that the theory supporting the Law of Attraction is full of holes.

This “law” is based on the assumption that “like” attracts “like.” According to the promoters of the Law of Attraction, all thoughts are energy, and each thought vibrates at a different frequency. Thoughts of similar frequencies attract each other. So, if you think positive thoughts the whole day long, you will attract positive events into your life. If you think negative thoughts the whole day long, say you spend most of your time worrying about what is going to go wrong in the future or obsessing about what went wrong in the past, you are in serious trouble.

Who can think positive thoughts the whole day long, though? I certainly can’t; I can barely manage to think positively from one moment to the next, never mind all day long.

It has been many years since I rejected the idea that the Law of Attraction could be of any use to me. Recently, while writing my latest book, it came back to haunt me. It sounds so tempting: all you have to do whenever you are desperate for something to happen in your life, is to lock yourself into a positive mindset, focus your thoughts on whatever it is that you want, ignore any self-doubt and avoid all self-criticism, believe that you already have what you want and voilà! You will have manifested your heart’s dearest desire.

If only it were that easy. Sigh.

In the last ten years, I have had more eye operations that I care to count, nearly all emergencies, nearly all in a wretched attempt to save my sight. Practising the Law of Attraction has made no difference to the outcome of my operations, I have still lost all sight in my left eye (I now have a very fancy artificial eye in that eye socket) and I have restricted vision in my right eye.

I have recently read two excellent articles about why the Law of Attraction doesn’t work: one by Mark Mason and the other by Shaunta Grimes. These two articles inspired me to reflect on why I do not believe in it. I have never really given it much thought. I decided the whole Law of Attraction craze was no more than a storm in a coffee cup, and I moved on.

On closer inspection, I decided I do not believe in the Law of Attraction because:

  • It fosters self-centeredness. The Law of Attraction is all about you, what you want and how and when you are going to get it. When my situation becomes unbearable, I cope by thinking of others and what I could do to help them with their problems.
  • I have found that staying positive, at all times, in the face of overwhelming threat or exceptionally bad news, is impossible. Distressing events happen, c’est la vie. If I allow myself to accept the despair I feel, for a specified amount of time – an hour, two hours – it is easier to get over it and on with life afterwards.
  • Ignoring your inner and outer critics, whatever happens, is not a good coping strategy. Sometimes self-doubt can help you to avoid disasters. Sometimes the advice of friends can help you get back on track when you lose your way. The trick is to pay attention to these warnings and to choose carefully which to heed and which to ignore.
  • If you try to suppress a negative thought at all costs, you will end up being incapable of thinking of anything else. That’s just the way your brain is wired. Better to acknowledge that thought, without necessarily reacting on the emotion it might generate, and then to let it go. Admittedly, this needs a bit of practice, but I have found it is a habit worth cultivating.
  • It encourages perfectionism. It is better to accept that you are not perfect, that you have made and will continue to make mistakes. Life becomes easier when you accept that other people are not perfect either, that they also make mistakes and then you can forgive both yourself and others.

In the book I am writing at the moment, I go on at length about what I do believe in: accepting my imperfections, mindfully getting the most out of every single moment, collecting experiences rather than possessions, counting my blessings and sharing those blessings with others.

Of all the above, what helped most, even on the darkest of days, and during the longest of nights, was reminding myself of my blessings. I could always find something that I was grateful for, even if it was just being alive. What kept me going was:

  • Being fully present in each moment, even in difficult moments,
  • Being grateful that I can experience each moment and for what I can learn from whatever I am experiencing,
  • Sharing what I have learned with others.

It took me ten years to devise a workable strategy to cope with unexpected and unavoidable change. Because of the reasons I cite above, the law of Attraction is not part of this strategy.

I have created a checklist and cheat sheet about coping with change, based on my strategy, that I share with the subscribers to my mailing list. Claim yours and I will shortly let you know when I have published my book about embracing change.

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7 Replies to “What’s wrong with the Law of Attraction?”

  1. I really enjoyed this piece. Thank you for writing this! I’d love to receive your input on what you think about my LDR posts on my page. Please leave me a comment if you can share some of your insights!

  2. I used to agree with you. Then attraction worked for me in my life. Wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t seen it. Yes it was very self centered. But I also hold with the notion that “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” Shakespeare so I no longer think I know what’s going on. I don’t.

    1. Sometimes it works. Other times it does not. The inconsistency makes it useless, as far as I am concerned, but I do agree, there ARE more things in heaven and earth…xxxM

  3. Agree with your views. Life would be very easy if only by means of positive thinking everything will turn into the right direction. Better accept that life consists of up and downs.

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