For example, let's say you believe that your thoughts dictate what will come to you. Then someone steals your wallet while you're at the grocery store. According to The Secret, you brought that negative event to you by worrying and thinking negative thoughts. Because you were afraid of having your wallet stolen, you worried about it in the back of your mind, and that made that guy behind you decide to run up and steal it. Wow! You are so powerful! The universe listens to your thoughts and acts upon them, even when you aren't paying attention!
In this fantasy world, the universe is a busy-body accountant, tallying your thoughts and then scheduling events to correspond. Ridiculous!
So wow, what would happen if you really focused your attention? What would happen if you got rid of all of your negative thoughts (not humanly possible or healthy) and wished for only good things? Perfect health? Wealth? A perfect spouse? Sure, why not! If you can dream it, you can make it happen. (cough cough BULLSHIT!!)
Of course, here's the catch. It doesn't happen overnight. In fact, it might be years and years of wishful thinking before something comes true. (Coincidence?!) Oh, and most likely you actually DID things to make it finally happen. Maybe you made decisions and took actions that led to you finally acheiving your dream.
But that's not magic. The universe doesn't work the way The Secret says it does. If it did, my life would be very different because of the power of my thoughts.
What do I think about a lot? Well, actually even though I'm a rather happy atheist (with a heart of gold), I tend to worry. I often worry about Butch (my awesome husband) when he drives to and from work. I'm worried he'll get in an accident. Since we moved to West Virginia the threat of a deer running in front of him has increased drastically than when we lived in Florida. Plus now we have snow and ice instead of just rain and other bad drivers texting and talking on their cell phones. But you know what? My thoughts DO NOT LEAVE MY HEAD unless I speak them, write them down or act upon them.
In 5 years of worrying, Butch has never been in an accident. Could he get in one tomorrow? Yes. But that would be a coincidence, not magic. See? It's nonsense.
One of the most insidious and hateful parts of the Secret is the idea that people who are in a bad situation made it happen with their negative thoughts. So if a woman gets raped on her way home from work one day, she is at fault because she had negative thoughts and worries that attracted the negative energy and therefore the attack on her.
That kind of thinking is hateful and evil. Unfortunately, I can tell you, once you believe such a baseless lie, it can really get stuck in your head. I still have to remind myself when I worry about something or think a negative thought that the thought doesn't leave my head and the universe is not keeping track of them. (By the way, if you know of a way to stop worrying, let me know)
This all leads me to Ruth (not her real name. If you have a list of cool names that I can use for when people send me emails that they then let me post anonymously, let me know! Maybe I should use biblical names. How funny would that be? I went back and changed her name to Ruth... :) )
Anyway, Ruth sent me an email asking for my advice and assistance. She wrote the following:
I was reading through your discussion of 'the secret' and need some help. I see you said you have experience with the lie of attraction, and now reject it. My sister is lost to me because I am a toxic influence in her life. I am crushed, and she is ambivalent. I would rather she hate me, at least then I would exist. How can I make her see how much this hurts? That I miss and love her, that her beliefs insult and degrade me? That it is painful when I read that she thinks my chronic debilitating illness is my own fault and I was asking for it through negative thoughts? Is there anything I can do? Do you know of any other resources I can turn to? Any help is truly appreciated!
I asked Ruth if I could post this question to you, my wonderful readers, because maybe you would have some great advice or thoughts to help too. I haven't answered her yet because I have to say, my first thoughts were kind of negative about her situation. :P So what I did was send a follow-up list of questions to her to get more information. I'll let you know when she answers.
Unfortunately when someone wants to believe, and fully accepts the bullshit of the law of attraction or other psuedo-science, they can be just as dogmatic as a True Believer of religion. They want to believe. They feel the need to believe. And anything that gets in the way of those beliefs must be discarded.
It goes something like this. Ruth's sister is looking for an easy fix. She buys The Secret, reads it and believes it. After that, she will cherry-pick her experiences and memories to support the law of attraction working in her life, and conveniently ignore all the evidence that says the universe follows natural laws and is otherwise random. Then it becomes a dogmatic belief. If Ruth disagrees, and is ill, then of course her sister will assume she's toxic and bringing in bad vibes. The book has told her that Ruth made herself ill. Ruth has to be avoided. The Secret, in this situation, divides families.
Unfortunately when someone is dogmatic, in my experience there's no getting through to them, at least not in the short term. My initial advice to Ruth, before I get more information, is the following:
You can't make someone behave and think the way you want them to. The best advice I can give at this point is simply to live your life as best you can. Don't try to talk to her about the law of attraction. It's rare to get through to someone who believes something completely. You will only drive them away because when you threaten their belief system, the easiest way for them to deal with the conflict is to get rid of you, as opposed to changing their worldview.
Your best bet is to show by example. Take care of yourself, be realistic and try to make the best of your personal situation (your illness), and reach out to her if she lets you. But when you reach out to her, make it benign and non-confrontational.
Of course, the other side of the situation is a bit less pleasant. If your sister is willing to discard you so easily over the lies written in a mindless book, perhaps that's something to think about. Maybe for right now, she's the one who's being toxic? But that's just a thought. I really don't have enough information about the situation to know.
That being said, I think you have to move on, take care of yourself, make the best of your situation, and wait it out. Occasionally reach out with a non-confrontational hello. Don't talk about the law of attraction, your illness, or how you are hurt by her actions. Keep it friendly and avoid inflammatory issues.
Maybe things will change. Maybe they won't, but at least you're living your life to the best of your ability and finding happiness where you can. That's all any of us can do.
So if you would like to share some thoughts with Ruth, feel free to comment. I will let you know when she answers my questions. (edit: see below for a link to part 2)
Other posts about The Secret:
- The original post: The Law Of Attraction - And The Secret - Are Bullshit
- Follow-up post to this one: The Secret Divides Part 2
- The Secret is Still Bullshit (with video!)