The law of attraction is a concept that has become increasingly popular within spiritual communities, especially since the release of the book and movie, “The Secret” about 10 years ago. The law of attraction states that we are creators of our life experience and that we create with our every thought. Based on the premise that “like attracts like”, the law of attraction suggests that by thinking positive thoughts and avoiding negative thoughts, we can raise our vibration, which will allow us to manifest what we want in our lives.
Understanding that we have the ability to create what we want in our lives is incredibly helpful and empowering, so from that vantage point the law of attraction illuminates an important truth. However, there is more to the story. The idea that one can simply manifest whatever he/she wants by creating a clear vision and thinking positive is inaccurate because life is much more complex than that.
First, the law of attraction often does not take into account the importance of feeling and processing strong emotions and challenging experiences from the past. Instead, the advice is to remember that your thoughts are creating your reality and to focus your attention on something that feels better. This approach can lead to spiritual bypassing, which is when we use a spiritual concept to avoid and deny what is present.
For example, a person may make a gratitude list, create a vision board, or say an affirmation (all popular law of attraction suggestions), when they would be best served by having a good cry, expressing anger, or processing and integrating a painful experience from the past. Trying to think positive and “raise your vibration” when you have strong emotions that need to be accepted, felt, and released, is like putting a small Band-Aid on a gaping wound — it’s just not going to work.
Suggesting that someone think positively when there is unresolved trauma and/or too much in the way emotionally, can also evoke feelings of shame, blame, and self-doubt. People often think that if they had more discipline and self-control they could successfully avoid negative thinking and raise their vibration to manifest what they want in their lives, but nothing could be further from the truth. It’s only when people are able to work through what is underneath those challenging feelings that they can move forward and create new possibilities in their lives.
Another aspect of the law of attraction that can create more harm than good is the idea that we are 100% responsible for everything that shows up in our lives. This belief does not take into account the great mystery of this life experience. There are certain parts of life, such as unavoidable karmic relationships and core life lessons, that we line up with because they uniquely support our soul’s growth. These experiences are often difficult and are truly unavoidable, so the idea that we are completely responsible for them can create a false sense of control over things we really don’t have control over.
This idea of 100% responsibility can also create a barrier to extending genuine compassion and help to others who most need it. If a person is experiencing difficulty in the realm of relationship, health, finances, etc., seeing them as being entirely responsible for their circumstances and believing that they “manifested” all of their problems, closes one’s heart to the suffering of another fellow human being. While it’s true that some people are stuck in negative belief systems that contribute to the challenges they face, there are also other factors (like karmic lessons) that are not under their control.
Additionally, if someone is stuck in negativity it is often because of a whole lifetime of experiences, which led to that way of thinking and being in the world. Instead of seeing these individuals as being completely responsible for what they are experiencing, it can be helpful to have compassion for whatever is showing up for them and to keep your heart open to their suffering and the ways you may be able to offer loving support. This approach builds a bridge instead of creating separation.
Understanding that we are creators of this life experience is a powerful truth that the law of attraction has helped to spread, and there is certainly a place for vision boards, positive thinking, affirmations, etc., in creating the life we desire. However, it’s important to remember that positivity alone cannot create change when there are strong emotions and painful past experiences that need our attention.
It’s also helpful to remember that life is a great mystery. Instead of assuming that you or anyone is 100% responsible for their life experience, consider that there are certain things beyond our control and that we all deserve to be met with understanding and compassion when going through difficult times.
With love & gratitude ~