Law of Attraction - Is This For Real?

Glenn CrownoverMay 17, 2012

Law of Attraction - What Is It?

Most people actively pursuing positive, conscious change in their life have run into "The Law of Attraction". I have seen it defined in many different ways. Wikipedia summarizes it as:

A pseudoscientific belief or theory, that "like attracts like," and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results.
Flamingos Partying - by Pedro Szekely

In essence, it describes that a consistent strong mental image of something, will manifest that something in your life. Be it positive or negative. The support for this principle is often based on observing how all around us, this "like attracts like" principle is at work.

What's In A Name?

My first reaction to hearing of this theory, was one of skepticism - starting with the name itself. The "Law(s) of Attraction" is already a phrase used to describe planetary and chemical phenomena. To use the same phrase to identify a kind of "new thought" principle felt like an attempt to "coat tail" on an already established concept.

We See It Happening Everywhere

On the other hand, some of the examples typically given make a lot of sense. To start with, we do indeed see examples of like attracting like all around us. Athletic individuals are generally attracted to other athletic people. By extension, if you wish to attract an athletic individual, you have a much better chance if you are athletic yourself.

Unfortunately, not my bike.

And even more to the core principle, it is not hard to see that by focusing on certain things, there will often be a tendency for those things to enter into your life. If you have a passion of Harley Davidson motorcycles - even if you cannot afford one - you will create many more opportunities surrounding your passion, if you focus on it. By buying magazines, attending gatherings and talking with others who share this passion, you increase the likeliness that you will someday be the proud owner of a shiny Hog yourself.

The Dangerous Side

But often, proponents of the Law of Attraction take things much further than recognizing this simple tendency. According to the 2006 film (and book) The Secret, the Law of Attraction is not merely about opening your mind and increasing your opportunities - but about a "cosmic force" that works to manifest your thoughts, in ways that can't be explained by established scientific principles. Steve Pavlina describes the law as a part of a bigger concept he calls "subjective reality" and goes as far as to say that if you find that a child is being abused, you intended for that child to be abused - the mere fact that you recognized the child's abuse, implies that you manifested that abuse due to your own intentions.

I find this to be an extremely dangerous proposition. Turning a blind eye to atrocities in life do not make them go away. In fact, I believe it is quite the contrary.

My New Labels

So what to make of the Law of Attraction? And how does it relate to our own positive growth through positive affirmations?

I propose that the Law of Attraction be divided into a Weak Form and a Strong Form. The weak form being that which CAN be defined in terms of existing science - and the strong form describing the more extreme views which include a cosmic force, or propose to define everything in terms of a subjective reality.

The term "weak" should not be confused with "powerless" - this form of the Law of Attraction is quite powerful, and is a potent (and necessary) part of your personal growth! It is only "weak" in the sense that it does not attempt to describe phenomena beyond that which is rational. Believers in the weak form contend that a cause-and-effect chain indeed exists leading up to that which manifests, whether we can clearly recognize it or not.

Abstract Reflections - Francisco AntunesThe "strong form" looks to reward and blame us for all of life's manifestations - with little to explain the relationship, other than a "cosmic force". This could have the effect of encouraging believers to focus on positive thoughts in order to manifest positive results - but it also has the effect of frustrating believers as they try to reconcile the atrocities of the world. Furthermore, the strong form of this supposed "law" has no basis for belief. We can't really prove that it does not exist, as it is unfalsifiable. But that doesn't make it true.

Another danger in promoting the strong form, is that it dissuades newcomers from exploring the powers of its weak form. For many, their introduction to affirmations will include the teachings of the more extreme claims of this theory. They may then look elsewhere for personal growth - and rightly so! But this robs them of a sensible study of some of the extremely valuable takeaways from the weak form of this theory.

In a future blog post, I will focus on this weak form of the Law of Attraction, and how a deeper understanding of how and why it works can help maximize the effectiveness of affirmations.

Until then - what do you readers think about this? Have you come to similar conclusions?  Do you see value in dividing the Law of Attraction?

Please leave your comment below!

Glenn Crownover
Founder of bluejava K.K., Glenn has been providing consulting services and developing applications for web and mobile for 15+ years. Author of Affirmation Works! iPhone app and the website among many others. He currently resides in Yokohama, Japan.
May 17, 2012
Interesting take on something I've probably heard a million times, but never given much thought to.  I suppose as with any school of thought, there are people on all sides of the coin.  I think I'm with you though.  Unless you can give me scientific proof, I'll stick with what I believe could be possible and see what kind of pay-offs I get in return.

You are right that the movie “The Secret” downplayed the hard work that is needed to use the Law of Attraction to  make things happen. Thinking or affirming things into being is not really how it works. But change is possible if the Law of Attraction is combined with action. It is amazing what can happen when we focus and put in the hard work. I continue to be impressed by the power of the universal message of the “New Thought” teachers of the last 100 years, and the relevance of their ideas today. I always go back to William Walker Atkinson’s book “Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World” when I need an explanation of how the Law of Attraction REALLY works. Check out the new updated gender neutral edition at

May 9, 2014
New age nonsense. This stuff has been around for thousands of years and now charlatans are making big bucks off of it. Only God can make things happen...if it is His will to do so. Steer clear of this...
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