When I first started my journey into LOA and the Law of Attraction, it was 2012. The Secret was a hit. People were starting to discover Abraham Hicks. The principles underlying these teachings made the collective sit up and take notice. Because it sounded like magic dust.
We are in full control of our lives and can direct our thoughts any way we want to? And by doing so, we could change our lives? So we could have everything we wish for?
We could dream up a life we want and find ourselves living it? That is powerful stuff. Unheard of. Unthinkable.
This LOA or New Age movement spawned millions of followers around the world. Spinoffs of The Secret were in the works, YouTube videos around the “Laws” proliferated and until today, you still see alot of material on social media of people who teach you how to “use” the LOA to get what you want, how LOA worked for them etc.
But along the way, I stopped participating in this industry (yes it is one, just like any other other). I stopped following the spiritual “masters” in that domain and stopped participating in the online discourse and forums on related topics.
Don’t get me wrong, I have no issues with LOA per se. It is something that is grounded in Psychology, thoughts do become things and your thoughts can determine the course of your life. It is that powerful.
But here is where I think it all goes wrong, and why I think millions of followers of this movement are still living anxiety-riddled lives, wondering why their dream life hasn’t happened.
#1 Its principles are very psychology-lite and do not delve deeper into the mechanisms of how thought patterns really influences one’s life
Thoughts become things. Yes they do. In a way. If you are a Psychology student reading this, these concepts aren’t new at all to you. They are covered in your Clinical Psychology, cognitive psychology and meta-cognition modules.
Thoughts are really a habit. Your pattern of thinking, the emotional baggage that you carry around with you, the stories that you tell yourself about your life – they are all a product of your thought patterns. Many of them are deeply buried in our subconscious, the roots of these thought patterns reach all the way back into your childhood. In order to start shifting your thought patterns, you need to start examining them and making changes to the way you think about things. It requires work and isn’t an overnight process.
But LOA addresses NONE of that. It just tells you to think happy thoughts and hold a thought for I don’t know, is it 17 seconds now? Or 68 seconds? And if you don’t, there is a sense is that you’ll be doomed.
Also – putting a band-aid over a negative thought by forcing yourself to think positive reeks of toxic positivity. It completely ignores the fact that ALL of us – ALL, even the mega-successful ones that the LOA believers like to worship – have negative thoughts all the time.
It also completely ignores the amount of work and effort that goes into changing one’s thought patterns – it’s not as easy as thinking positive for 17 seconds.
Conversations should be had about why that thought came about in the first place, people should feel psychologically safe to discuss the struggles they have with their thought patterns and take concrete steps to breaking that pattern, and forming newer, healthier thought patterns.
That is how you change your life. Not by plastering your deeply-held negative beliefs with a 17 second positive thought.
A second part to this is the false sense of control having the belief that your thoughts can determine everything in life. You feel invincible, like you are God, able to change the direction of your destiny if you just focused hard enough and thought about the right things.
But life isn’t something you can control. And trying to do creates a huge amount of anxiety and unhappiness, which I talk about next.
#2 The number of rules involved in living a life according to LOA, the anxiety it causes and the nervous energy that seems to define alot of the LOA spaces.
For a teaching that is supposedly based in spirituality, LOA has so many rules for its followers to follow that it almost sounds like an institutionalized religion. Don’t get me wrong, religions serve their purpose and have their place in the world for their followers, but when LOA is passed off as something steeped in personal freedom and happiness, a la, “you can get anything you want if you just think about it”, why on earth does it have so many rules then?
- Don’t think negatively at all if you can. Think positively most of the time
- Think a positive thought for 17 seconds and hold it for 68 seconds (or whatever the formula is now)
- Visualise. Daily for 20 seconds
- Write your wishes to the Universe in present tense, because if you do it in future tense, the Universe will read it as you don’t want it now
- etc etc
There are tons of other rules that I no longer remember or care about and have completely ditched over the years. I remember being constantly anxious and hypervigilant about my thoughts and emotions. Whenever I felt a tinge of “negative” emotion creep in or an emotion lower on the vibrational scale as Hicks would call it, I felt annoyed at myself and would force myself to stop feeling that way.
Scroll through any LOA/new age spirituality/Abraham Hicks forums and you get this sense of people just being in a constant state of anxiety and nervous energy trying to “get things right”, asking questions like I’m feeling down, how do I quickly turn it around/stop thinking/feeling this way? Ever listened in one of the Abraham Hicks live shows where they put someone in the hot seat? Do you notice how almost every one of those participants have such nervous, anxious energy?
In my work with clients, we always discuss the energy that we bring into situations. If for example, you constantly dread work, drag your feet to work and allow yourself to feel demotivated most of the time, guess what thoughts you’d be having about work? Yes. Dread.
Your energy and perspectives determine your thoughts and vice versa.
If work is awful yet you are able to shift your perspective/energy, you will find that your experience of it also changes. However, many LOA spaces online hold very nervous and on-edge energy, that I can’t imagine would be terribly healthy, should you spend alot of time in those spaces.
#3 The focus on quick-fix solutions and the constant pursuit of feeling good
Much of the advice imparted leans heavily in favour of the “quick fix solution”.
- How can I feel better quickly?
- How can I manifest more money now?
- What can I do to manifest a partner within x months?
It’s nice if life were always so straight-forward and easy, but it usually isn’t. There is nothing shameful or weird about putting in the work to get to where we need to be. And one of the reasons we are put here on earth is to experience challenges and learn how to overcome them. Discomfort sometimes is part of that learning journey. Pain, sadness, unhappiness etc is also part of the human experience.
But sometimes LOA makes it feel as if it’s somehow wrong to feel sad. That it’s not okay to feel angry or bored or jealous – what Hicks calls low-vibe emotions.
Hey but guess what? It’s only human to feel those things! To be in tune with yourself and be comfortable with the range of emotions available to us. Life is full of ups and downs, it’s only natural to feel great one moment and sad the next.
To deny yourself of the so-called “low-vibe emotions” would mean that you are blocking those emotions from expressing themselves. You run away from feeling them. That isn’t healthy. Yes, they are uncomfortable. But a huge part of self-love and self-care is allowing those emotions to bubble forth and allow yourself to sit with it and feel into it.
Constantly pursuing a narrow range of emotions and running away from the not-so-positive ones not only feeds into the anxiety mentioned in point 2, but it also can make it harder for you to know how to take care of yourself and self-soothe when the not-so-fun emotions come up, because they most definitely will.
#4 The blatant victim blaming or suffering in parts of the world that no one can explain
This is something that has always bothered me about the LOA community and teachings. How then do bad things hapen to people? Why are certain countries constantly facing war, famine, poverty whereas others never get to experience that? Why do some people just seem so unlucky in life?
This is where LOA stumbles and falls flat. Because their key principle of “you get what you think of” puts the responsibility and blame of, say, being poor, or getting abused or raped, squarely on the shoulders of the victim. Many will do an about-turn and try to explain away such experiences as the soul of the victim asking to be born into such experiences to have a different soul experience in this lifetime.
Really? And how do they know that for sure? This is one of the biggest loopholes in the “law” which never gets a proper explanation.
#5 THE KICKER: The overt focus and obsession on the self. Gaining more material possessions, money and the scarcity mindset
Have you ever seen anyone of the LOA followers express a desire to use the principles for public or social good, for the benefit of the world?
No? Yeah, me neither.
A vast majority, dare I see almost ALL of the talk about “using the LOA” as if it were some instrument is all about pure selfish gain. How to get richer is a popular one, followed by how do I get an ex back/how do I get someone to like me?
And this is the biggest reason why I just found myself disengaging from the community. Defining success through narrow definitions like “being rich”, “having a big house” etc and hyper-focusing on just that one ex or one person to fulfil your relationship needs, is not freedom. Those are self-limiting beliefs, it’s a scarcity mindset.
It’s oppression. Self-inflicted oppression. There is nothing freeing or peaceful about chasing what society defines as success. You are just putting yourself right into the boxes that others have built for you.
Chasing a relationship with an ex or a celebrity or someone who doesn’t like you – that isn’t respecting freewill and it isn’t love either. It’s obsession and control and a sign of your scarcity mindset at work.
There are many partners in the world for you, you don’t have to hyper-focus on one person and demand that the Universe give him/her to you. And isn’t the act itself a sign that you don’t trust what the Universe has in store for you – which is so un-LOA like?
Hoarding possessions and the desire to accumulate more and more is you sending a signal to the Universe that what you have is never enough. Nothing is ever going to be enough for you.
The invitation here is, to examine how it is you have been using these LOA teachings in your life and if you are truly seeing any benefits from it. Examine what it is you have been using these teachings for – to just better your circumstances or can you start to use it for the greater good of mankind?
As my question is at the end of every post – if you are a believer/follower of LOA teachings, what are the stories you have been telling yourself that is holding yourself back from the life you want, and preventing you from living freely?
Spiritual teachings of any kind can be a great pillar of support in one’s life. But as with all teachings and thought paradigms, we need to examine them critically and be discerning. Take what aligns with our Highest Good and leave the rest behind. Question it.
It’s when we are awake and discerning and clear that we truly get to taste the freedom that we’ve always been searching for.