Monday, May 24, 2010

The Secret? The Law of Attraction Invites Delusional Thinking

"I just read The Secret, so I'm feeling very positive," she told me. "I'm going to put my wish out to the universe and attract the relationship that I want." 

What? My friend is a smart, successful businesswomen, experienced with life, love, and the active pursuit of a good life. I didn't want to be a wet blanket, a negative crimp in her style, a realistic pain in the neck, but I couldn't just sit there and say, "What a great idea?" I restricted my comment to, "I think The Law of Attraction is BS." "It is?"she said, her tone expressing surprise and disappointment.

I didn't go on to crush her with reality and logic which she clearly didn't want to hear at that moment.
Later I found a terrific article on the topic by Paul Sloane, a British Twitterer. http://is.gd/aN3AL   

 Here is an excerpt from his writing.

"The Law of Attraction as expounded by Rhonda Byrne in her best-selling book, The Secret, and by her many followers claims that all you need to do is to think about the things that you want in your life and the 'Universe' will supply them in abundance - whether they are positive or negative. So if you think about money you will get money; if you focus on your debts you will stay in debt. If you think about being slim you will become slim whereas if you constantly worry about how fat you are you will stay fat. Unfortunately for the proponents of this law there is no scientific evidence to support it.  (Bolding is my addition. Smart people generally look for evidence of truth and fact.) There are plenty of anecdotes from people who believe the law worked for them but for each of these stories there are many other possible explanations. No one has carried out a controlled experiment showing that the so-called law actually works.

Furthermore the law runs up against some very practical difficulties. What if several people all want the same promotion and think about it furiously? How can they all get the same post? The law implies that whatever difficulties you have in life are the result of you thinking the wrong thoughts. So it appears that an abused child, a rape victim or a prisoner in a concentration camp was somehow to blame because they thought negative thoughts. This is offensive to victims and flies in the face of common sense."

My question is, "Why do people hang on to this extreme positive self-talk when it doesn't work?  Here are some answers:
• The positive thinking trend has become a cult for some people. Group dynamics research tells us that if you deviate from the norms of a group, you get high pressure from group members to conform; so you do!
• Hanging on is easier and more pleasant than facing the reality that we won't be able to have everything we want in life.
• Aggressively pursuing the positive outcome we want in life takes much planning and effort.

I'd be interested in your Comments about other reasons for hanging on to the PST habit. Also, check out the April 25, 2010 post on IWO about why we hang on to NST when it not only doesn't work but also makes us miserable, lowers self-esteem, and messes up relationships. Even if PST doesn't work to bring the outcomes we want and may get in the way of our taking action, it generally doesn't damage our self-esteem!

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