We’ve all heard about the law of attraction. What you put out, you get back. You attract what you are inside of you. If you are positive the world will be positive. We are told things like ‘this is a universal law’. There will be a lot of talk about energy, and karma, and so on.
I believe this notion to be, of all the pop psychology ideas being bandied about these days, the most pernicious. There are many ways in which it is wrong, some of which I will list.
- This idea is based on the notion that like attracts like. This and similar statements are meant to make you believe that this is all very scientific. It has, however, been widely debunked and has absolutely no basis in scientific fact.
- Apparently if you believe as if you already have something, it will happen. No work is required. Some proponents will even tell you that effort is not necessary. Why would anyone believe this? I am not sure.
- Because you need to avoid everything negative (only positive vibes allowed) this includes challenges. You must avoid challenge because challenge is stress and stress is negative.
- To show faith in the universe and live as if you have achieved your goal, you are essentially living in a fake future that does not exist. Lose your belief in this reality and you will lose your goal. Does this not sound like a delusion?
Of course, this is all very extreme. Many people do not take this to the extremes that are mentioned here. They will tell you that this is not what it’s all about. But what they will tell you, what you will find all over the internet, is this – you must guard yourself against the negative. Disassociate yourself from negative people, and surround yourself only with positive people. Where this runs into danger is what is being defined as negativity.
Negativity is being defined as anything bad. If you know someone who is ill, avoid them. They have attracted the illness due to their negative thoughts and apparently you can catch the negativity and get ill yourself that way. If the person is mentally ill, avoid them. Negativity has resulted in their condition and you must avoid them to protect yourself. Has someone in your life had an accident, lost their job, had a failed relationship? Negativity strikes again. They are immediately labelled a negative person and you don’t need that in your life. The only way anything negative happens if the person who experienced this attracted it via mysterious and unverifiable negative energy. The people who think this way have apparently failed to notice that they are blaming the victim. If something bad happens to you, it’s your fault. You attracted it by not being positive enough. In a world full of suffering, where so many people are in poverty, in need, in war zones, displaced, sick, and so on, do we really need a philosophy that encourages people to live in a ‘positive’ bubble that ignores any pain beyond the end of their own nose? Do we really want to be discouraging empathy, to be encouraging narcissism?
Another issue of this, is of course, that this nonsense takes people into self-hatred. According to this, positivity always attracts more positivity, with no exceptions. That means that if you do not miraculously achieve your goals, or if something bad happens to you, then you aren’t positive enough. You face the sole responsibility for everything that happens to you. And you are going to fail, of course, leaving anyone silly enough to believe this nonsense in a state of self-blame and self-loathing.
There will be a million statements insisting this is all true. The placebo effect and confirmation bias can account for them. In my opinion, such notions encourage disconnection, disillusion, delusion, lack of empathy, and mental distress. Live presently, not in some fantasy future. Attend to what is going on now. We should all strive for betterment, but the key word here is strive. Don’t make believe, don’t fantasize, work for what you want, and take pleasure in what is real. It’s an imperfect world, but there is much to take pleasure in.