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The Law of Attraction is a Dangerous Delusion

The Law of Attraction is a Dangerous Delusion

    One of the biggest bandwagons that has rolled through the self-help community in recent years is the so-called Law of Attraction (LoA). This claims that you attract into your life whatever you think about.  Before I explain why I believe that this is not a law, not true, and not helpful, let me differentiate the LoA from some associated but different self-help concepts that actually do work.

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    1.  Positive Thinking. There is considerable evidence that having a positive, optimistic, can-do frame of mind will lead to much better outcomes in many circumstances than having a negative, pessimistic or cynical approach.  Studies show that positive thinkers generally do better, live longer, and are healthier and happier than negative thinkers.

    2.  Focus, Goal Setting and Planning. There are many benefits in having a clear focus on what you want to achieve, in setting goals, in measuring progress against those goals and in taking corrective actions when you fall short.  Many successful people base their day on having an action plan that they work through.

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    3.  Visualization. Visualising a successful action can assist you to achieve it.  If you are nervous about making a speech then visualizing yourself giving a confident, dynamic performance will help you to do just that.  Visualising a great golf swing or a good tennis backhand stroke can help supplement your training and practice.

    4.  Self-Belief. Most successful people have enormous self-belief.  They know that they have something special to offer and that they can achieve great things.  They use this self-belief as the basis on which to build the plans, improvements, learnings and actions that lead to success.

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    5.  An Attitude of Gratitude. Most of us have a great deal to be thankful for.  Counting our blessings and giving thanks help us to get our difficulties into perspective and engender a positive frame of mind.

    So having listed those self-help mantras that actually work let us turn to the big idea that does not.  The Law of Attraction as expounded by Bob Proctor, 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.  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.

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    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.

    According to the LoA if I want to win the gold medal in the 100 metres in the next Olympic Games or become President of the USA or get Jennifer Lopez as my girlfriend then all I have to do is think about my goal and it will come to me.  If we want a cure for cancer then we should stop spending money on research and just think about it instead.

    The appeal of the LoA lies in its lazy proposition.  You do not need hard work and discipline to lose weight or get rich – you can do it by thinking.  Unfortunately this just is not true.   The LoA is delusional.  It is dangerous because it misleads people into believing that imagery alone will work without action.   To succeed in life you need things like talent, diligence, persistence, skills, hard-work and maybe a little luck.  You can achieve great things – but in order to do so you have to do a lot more than just think about them.

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    Paul Sloane

    Professional Keynote Speaker, Author, Innovation Expert

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    Last Updated on January 21, 2020

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    The Best Way to Create a Vision for the Life You Want

    Creating a vision for your life might seem like a frivolous, fantastical waste of time, but it’s not: creating a compelling vision of the life you want is actually one of the most effective strategies for achieving the life of your dreams. Perhaps the best way to look at the concept of a life vision is as a compass to help guide you to take the best actions and make the right choices that help propel you toward your best life.

    your vision of where or who you want to be is the greatest asset you have

      Why You Need a Vision

      Experts and life success stories support the idea that with a vision in mind, you are more likely to succeed far beyond what you could otherwise achieve without a clear vision. Think of crafting your life vision as mapping a path to your personal and professional dreams. Life satisfaction and personal happiness are within reach. The harsh reality is that if you don’t develop your own vision, you’ll allow other people and circumstances to direct the course of your life.

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      How to Create Your Life Vision

      Don’t expect a clear and well-defined vision overnight—envisioning your life and determining the course you will follow requires time, and reflection. You need to cultivate vision and perspective, and you also need to apply logic and planning for the practical application of your vision. Your best vision blossoms from your dreams, hopes, and aspirations. It will resonate with your values and ideals, and will generate energy and enthusiasm to help strengthen your commitment to explore the possibilities of your life.

      What Do You Want?

      The question sounds deceptively simple, but it’s often the most difficult to answer. Allowing yourself to explore your deepest desires can be very frightening. You may also not think you have the time to consider something as fanciful as what you want out of life, but it’s important to remind yourself that a life of fulfillment does not usually happen by chance, but by design.

      It’s helpful to ask some thought-provoking questions to help you discover the possibilities of what you want out of life. Consider every aspect of your life, personal and professional, tangible and intangible. Contemplate all the important areas, family and friends, career and success, health and quality of life, spiritual connection and personal growth, and don’t forget about fun and enjoyment.

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      Some tips to guide you:

      • Remember to ask why you want certain things
      • Think about what you want, not on what you don’t want.
      • Give yourself permission to dream.
      • Be creative. Consider ideas that you never thought possible.
      • Focus on your wishes, not what others expect of you.

      Some questions to start your exploration:

      • What really matters to you in life? Not what should matter, what does matter.
      • What would you like to have more of in your life?
      • Set aside money for a moment; what do you want in your career?
      • What are your secret passions and dreams?
      • What would bring more joy and happiness into your life?
      • What do you want your relationships to be like?
      • What qualities would you like to develop?
      • What are your values? What issues do you care about?
      • What are your talents? What’s special about you?
      • What would you most like to accomplish?
      • What would legacy would you like to leave behind?

      It may be helpful to write your thoughts down in a journal or creative vision board if you’re the creative type. Add your own questions, and ask others what they want out of life. Relax and make this exercise fun. You may want to set your answers aside for a while and come back to them later to see if any have changed or if you have anything to add.

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      What Would Your Best Life Look Like?

      Describe your ideal life in detail. Allow yourself to dream and imagine, and create a vivid picture. If you can’t visualize a picture, focus on how your best life would feel. If you find it difficult to envision your life 20 or 30 years from now, start with five years—even a few years into the future will give you a place to start. What you see may surprise you. Set aside preconceived notions. This is your chance to dream and fantasize.

      A few prompts to get you started:

      • What will you have accomplished already?
      • How will you feel about yourself?
      • What kind of people are in your life? How do you feel about them?
      • What does your ideal day look like?
      • Where are you? Where do you live? Think specifics, what city, state, or country, type of community, house or an apartment, style and atmosphere.
      • What would you be doing?
      • Are you with another person, a group of people, or are you by yourself?
      • How are you dressed?
      • What’s your state of mind? Happy or sad? Contented or frustrated?
      • What does your physical body look like? How do you feel about that?
      • Does your best life make you smile and make your heart sing? If it doesn’t, dig deeper, dream bigger.

      It’s important to focus on the result, or at least a way-point in your life. Don’t think about the process for getting there yet—that’s the next stepGive yourself permission to revisit this vision every day, even if only for a few minutes. Keep your vision alive and in the front of your mind.

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      Plan Backwards

      It may sound counter-intuitive to plan backwards rather than forwards, but when you’re planning your life from the end result, it’s often more useful to consider the last step and work your way back to the first. This is actually a valuable and practical strategy for making your vision a reality.

      • What’s the last thing that would’ve had to happen to achieve your best life?
      • What’s the most important choice you would’ve had to make?
      • What would you have needed to learn along the way?
      • What important actions would you have had to take?
      • What beliefs would you have needed to change?
      • What habits or behaviors would you have had to cultivate?
      • What type of support would you have had to enlist?
      • How long will it have taken you to realize your best life?
      • What steps or milestones would you have needed to reach along the way?

      Now it’s time to think about your first step, and the next step after that. Ponder the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in the future. It may seem impossible, but it’s quite achievable if you take it step-by-step.

      It’s important to revisit this vision from time to time. Don’t be surprised if your answers to the questions, your technicolor vision, and the resulting plans change. That can actually be a very good thing; as you change in unforeseeable ways, the best life you envision will change as well. For now, it’s important to use the process, create your vision, and take the first step towards making that vision a reality.

      Featured photo credit: Matt Noble via unsplash.com

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