Before I start, I want to clarify something.
It isn’t the Law of Attraction itself that creates intense suffering, it is our usage and interpretation of the LOA that harms us. (Try to put that into a single title!)
Since the launch of the mega-popular books like The Secret in 2006, the Law of Attraction has skyrocketed in popularity. These days you can find LOA principles sprinkled everywhere over social media and in endless self-help articles aimed at helping you to “find happiness.”
Although many of these memes, articles, and websites have good intentions, the majority of them misunderstand and misapply the Law of Attraction, leading to stress, anger, frustration, and sadness.
What is the Law of Attraction?
The Law of Attraction is a philosophy that is based on the simple premise that whatever you think, you attract. Therefore, if you think positive thoughts, you will “manifest” positive things. If you think negative thoughts, you will manifest negative things.
To an extent, this is true. What we think usually does become the reality we live in. As the trendy cliche goes, “Your vibe attracts your tribe.” And it’s true: whatever you think, you become. Whatever you focus on generally tends to appear in your life sooner or later.
Naturally, this reality is very appealing to people because it suddenly feels like we have control! In fact, the LOA starts feeling like a magical fairy wand that we can wave and use to manifest every single one of our heart’s desires!
But here’s where the catch comes: the moment you use the LOA to intensely manifest your desires is the moment you open the door to suffering.
Why the Law of Attraction Creates Intense Suffering
I find that focusing on manifesting is limited and exhausting since it leaves God out. It often involves a shopping list of what the ego wants to “get from the universe.” By its very nature that’s profoundly limited. – Tosha Silver, Outrageous Openness
Simply type in “the Law of Attraction” on places like Pinterest and Facebook, and you’ll see picture after picture, and blog piece after blog piece, instructing you on how to manifest your heart’s desires.
You’ll see pictures that say things like, “Believe you deserve it and the universe will serve it,” “Be the energy you want to attract,” “Create the feeling first, then the having will come!” “It’s OK for me to have everything I want,” etc.
You’ll also see blog posts entitled things like, “7 Secrets of Manifesting Money INSTANTLY,” “How to Create a Vision Board That Works,” “6 Daily Law of Attraction Hacks,” “How to Design your Ideal Life With the Law of Attraction,” “11 Ways to Manifest Weight Loss,” and so forth.
Can you see the overarching theme here?
The Law of Attraction has become so massively popular in the spiritual and mainstream world because it is all about get-get-get!
In fact, the Law of Attraction has become the face of what famous Buddhist teacher Chögyam Trungpa calls Spiritual Materialism. In other words, the LOA is being used as a way to spiritualize desire and attachment – both of which create endless suffering.
There is nothing wrong with wanting to have more money, find your true love or achieve your goals. But when you believe all of these things will bring you the happiness you want, you’re stuck on another hamster wheel of suffering.
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The LOA starts to reinforce enslavement and obsession with desires rather than being a valuable tool to use mindfully.
The more you try to chase and “manifest” things, the further you get from the truth that true happiness can be found right here, in the present moment, regardless of what you do or don’t have.
Even when you DO get what you so desperately wanted, you start fearing that it will be taken away from you! So you start clinging to, protecting, and fighting to keep what you’ve been given.
Does this sound like a recipe for peace or well being to you?
What hurts the most is when your desires aren’t fulfilled, and you’re left feeling frustrated, sad, desperate, and inadequate. You’ll hear people in the spiritual community telling you that your “vibration must be too low,” or your thoughts are not positive enough … even if you have been passionate “following all the rules” for months or even years. This, of course, further deepens your bitterness, emptiness, and feelings of being a failure.
Your Thoughts Aren’t Responsible For Everything That Happens
One of the cruelest misapplications of the Law of Attraction is towards other people’s suffering.
Because of our mind’s tendency to think in black or white terms, we tend to become dogmatic about certain ideas very quickly – and this has happened with the LOA.
Soon, we start believing that people who lose their children to suicide or develop cancer do so because “their thoughts are attracting their reality” or “their vibration is manifesting these events.”
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However, not only are these beliefs insanely simplistic and short-sighted, but they also express an implicit lack of empathy towards others.
While our thoughts do have the tendency to create our reality, they are not the sole causes for certain situations in our lives. If our thinking was always 100% responsible for our reality, then we would always get precisely what we want, when we want it. (Let’s face it, this notion is precisely why people obsess over the LOA so much.)
Also, if our thinking was entirely responsible for our reality, then whenever we think negative thoughts, our lives would always take a turn for the worst. But have you ever gone into an exam and thought “I’m going to do terribly and fail,” but later, found that you passed and did well?
Have you ever gone to a job interview and thought “I’m so nervous, I’ll screw this up,” and pictured yourself near-homeless, but received a phone call saying that you’ve been hired?
The fact is that our thoughts aren’t solely responsible for our reality. Our vibration doesn’t always attract experiences that “match it.” Otherwise, compassionate people wouldn’t die horrible deaths, and cruel people wouldn’t live fantastic lives.
We desperately want to make the Law of Attraction explain everything in life because it makes us feel safe and like we’re in control. That is understandable. But if we truly want to experience unconditional love and peace, we need to admit that there are some holes in this theory. We need to find the courage to be free of ideas that are inherently limiting.
The LOA (Lust, Obsession Attachment)
As I mentioned before, the Law of Attraction (LOA) is not the problem here, it’s people’s use and interpretation of it that is the problem.
When used by and understood through the ego, the Law of Attraction becomes more about lust, obsession, and attachment more than anything else.
We start believing that happiness can only be found in the future when we obtain or change something. But there is a serious flaw in this philosophy.
Sure, on the surface it may be fun and exciting to finally “attract” what we have been manifesting, visualizing, and creating vision boards about. This is equivalent to getting a shot of heroin. But afterward, when the buzz dies off, we start looking for more and more to manifest. We start viewing our lives through the lens of “what can I get more of?”
Very soon, we are constantly chasing-chasing-chasing what we believe, deep down, will finally “fulfill us” or bring us happiness. We become obsessed and addicted to a vision of what our lives “could be” if only we could just raise our vibration high enough and manifest all that we want.
Paradoxically, the more you try to think positive thoughts about what you want to attract, the more negative thoughts and feelings arise about how inadequate your life is or who you are as a person. In the back of your mind, you start feeling more and more anxiety, frustration, and desperation. These nagging feelings are either repressed and explode at a later date or are fought off with “positive thinking.”
Essentially, a war arises inside of your mind, in which you are constantly battling yourself in an attempt to get what you desire because you believe it will make you happy.
Can you see how messed up this all is? What a fiasco!
True Abundance and Happiness
As Sol and I have explored in numerous articles on this website, true abundance and happiness is not something you get, it’s something you are.
Thankfully, there is no need to give a shopping list to the Universe of all your desires, because the Universe (which is you at your core), already knows what is best for your growth and well-being.
Sometimes you will be thrown challenges or things that appear “bad” at first. But later, you will discover that they actually helped you to evolve and find true joy.
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Other times, you will experience “good” things which may turn out to harm you, which may later help you to grow stronger. Can you see how nothing is linear? Everything is connected. And everything is perfectly orchestrated. There’s no need to worry.
As endless spiritual teachers and masters have pointed out through the ages, true abundance and happiness can ONLY ever be found in the present moment. Not in the past, not in the future, in the present.