I’ve been interested and on-off practicing the Law of Attraction for some time. It’s built on the premise that if you focus your attention on the right stuff, you’ll attract more of it.
There are loads of successful celebrities, including Will Smith, Oprah Winfrey, and Jim Carrey, who are big believers in this thinking.
And because I’ve wanted a bit of what they have, I’ve spent hours listening to YouTube videos about the Law of Attraction, soundtracked by inspirational music.
A lot of these videos are by Esther Hicks, known as ‘Abraham Hicks’, who has generated a net worth of $10 million from her teachings.
I’ve enjoyed listening to these videos for the feel-good factor – but since finishing Ideapod’s Out of the Box, I’m questioning the approach.
Out of the Box, by Rudá Iandê, takes a shamanistic perspective that challenges the need for
I thought I’d compare both philosophies, so you can make an informed decision about whether following the Law of Attraction is for you.
What is the Law of Attraction?
The Law of Attraction is rooted in the concept that like-attracts-like.
This means similar energies are drawn together. Where your attention goes, your energy flows.
“Everything that you experience is attracted to you because the Law of Attraction is responding to the thoughts that you are offering,” explains Jerry and Esther Hicks in The Universal Law of Attraction: Defined.
“Whether you are remembering something from the past, observing something in your present, or imagining something about your future, the thought that you are focused upon in your powerful now has activated a vibration within you—and the Law of Attraction is responding to it now.”
I interpret this message to mean: think positively about what you want and you’ll get it. Don’t think about any bad stuff, otherwise, that’s what will be coming your way.
It seems pretty simple. Cynics would say: “too good to be true”.
The Law of Attraction is something I’ve tried to embrace in the past.
On my wall at university, I had “what I seek is seeking me” written on the ceiling. I kept reaffirming that what I want in this world will come to me.
It raised a few eyebrows from friends who saw it. But each night I would look at it and sleep peacefully with the knowledge that I can get whatever I want.
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I just needed to think about it – positively and a lot. Motivational coach and Law of Attraction devotee Tony Robbins would say “obsessively”.
So did I attract all of the things I wanted? Well, yes and no.
I wrote a goal of mine in my purse and carried it around for a few months because Jim Carrey did a similar thing.
He wrote himself a cheque for $10 million and dated it three years forward.
Every evening he would drive up to Mulholland Drive, as a struggling actor, and imagine people praising his work.
Three years on, it was exactly that amount he made on his first big break.
Unfortunately, my goal never came into fruition. But I didn’t really believe that I could do it and I wasn’t taking the necessary action to make it happen.
I suppose I was just wishing.
However, around the same time, I did ask the universe for a boyfriend and, three weeks later, he appeared.
Was it a coincidence? I guess I’ll never know whether it was conscious creation or otherwise.
Which famous folk believes in the Law of Attraction?
I want to talk about this as it’s a reason people gravitate to the Law of Attraction.
I’ve already mentioned four famous Law of Attraction believers – Will Smith, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey, and Jim Carrey – but I want to share a few more so you get a feel for the movement.
Musicians including Jay Z, Kanye West, and Lady Gaga are among the followers, as are personalities like Russell Brand, Steve Harvey, and Arnold Schwarzenegger.
These are all incredibly successful people, so this sends a clear message out that whatever they’re doing is, pretty well, working.
And what exactly are some of the things they say in relation to the Law of Attraction?
“Our thoughts, our feelings, our dreams, our ideas are physical in the universe. That if we dream something, if we picture something, it adds a physical thrust towards the realization that we can put into the Universe,” Will Smith explains.
Meanwhile, Steve Harvey believes: “You are a magnet. Whatever you are, that’s what you draw to you. If you’re negative, you’re going to draw negativity. If you’re positive, you’re going to draw positivity.”
The same idea is echoed by Arnie: “When I was very young I visualized myself being and having what it was I wanted. Mentally I never had any doubts about it.”
Perhaps where I went wrong, all those years ago, was not truly believing in my ability to achieve my goal. Despite thinking about it and holding it in my mind’s eye, I didn’t think it was actually possible.
I was asking, sort of believing and waiting to receive – without taking the necessary action to make it happen.
Where does Abraham Hicks come into this?
So let me explain the confusing name.
Esther Hicks, who was a student of positive thinking and esoterism before publishing her first Law of Attraction book in 1988, is better known as Abraham Hicks.
Why? As explained in our article on Esther Hicks and the Law of Attraction:
“Esther’s spiritual journey opened her up to connect with her collection of light beings, known as Abraham. According to Esther, Abraham is a group of 100 entities, including Buddha and Jesus.”
Channeling this group of entities, Esther has gone on to write 13 books – some in conjunction with her late husband, Jerry Hicks.
Money and The Law of Attraction, which featured on the New York Times Best Seller List, is one of the most famous.
Her approach informed the Law of Attraction film The Secret – and she even narrated and appeared in the film’s original version.
So what is her message? Abraham Hicks’ teachings, as unpacked in our article, “intend to help every human being co-create a better life, and the process starts by recognizing the beauty and abundance within and around us.”
On her Instagram account, with 690k followers, she writes:
“The thoughts you think relative to money; relationships, home; business or every subject, cause a vibrational environment that brings to you the people and circumstances that surround you. Everything that comes to you is about what you’ve got going on vibrationally, and, what you’ve got going on vibrationally is usually because of what you are observing. But it does not have to be.”
So far, so good.
We just need to think positively and all will be well – how hard can that be?
But there is a dark side to her vibrational approach.
The best-selling author has been known to say that murdered Jews in the Holocaust were responsible for attracting violence upon themselves and that less than 1% of rape cases are true violations while the rest are attractions.
I mean, I personally question how someone can possibly say that.
As was added in the critique:
“Fortunately, our courts, judges, prosecutors, and cops are not disciples of Hicks. Otherwise, we would live in a world where the rapists walk free while their victims blame themselves for having co-created their misfortune. Life becomes clear under the shiny light of Hicks and her Abraham. There’s no unfairness in the world. We co-create everything, even our end.”
It’s easy to get on board with the positive thinking she advocates, but it’s much harder to support the notion that someone brings hideous situations on themselves.
The problem with positive thinking
In the critique, it was explained that: “Hicks teaches us that we must be satisfied with our path while pursuing our goals. We must stick to every thought that brings happiness and fulfillment and reject every thought that brings pain or unease.”
Positivity, she believes, should be our default position if we want to attract the stuff we want in life.
Now, this is where Rudá Iandê comes in.
His shamanistic teachings reject the idea that we should just be positive beacons of love and light and suppress all of the other emotions that come along for the ride.
“Just because you are committed to joy, don’t deny your sadness—allow your sadness to give you a deeper and richer appreciation of the beauty of joy. Just because you’re committed to universal love, don’t deny your anger,” he explains in Out of the Box.
“Your more volatile emotions can play an important role in the larger game of your life,” he adds. “This is what a shaman knows how to do: to turn each emotion into a powerful element that can be alchemized to support a greater purpose.”
In essence, we can learn to work with our emotions.
Instead of avoiding hardship, Ruda encourages us to be brave and stay fully present in the situations we most want to avoid – taking all the pleasure and pain that life is serving us.
He wants us to feel all of our sadness, fear, and confusion.
Escaping to another world of positivity in your mind is what he calls “mental masturbation” – and, he says, it’s one of our worst habits.
“Escaping into the imagination causes us to lose our connection to our body and instinct. We become dissociated and ungrounded. It slowly drains our personal power over time,” he explains.
He wants us to embrace and integrate whatever feelings come up to generate more personal power. This, he says, will naturally push us to materialize new possibilities in our lives.
Why do people believe in the Law of Attraction?
The Law of Attraction is packaged as a tool for allowing us to call in whatever our hearts desire, so why wouldn’t we want to believe in this?
We all want to feel like we manifest all of the things we want.
It’s usually at times of crisis that people look to spiritual means, like the Law of Attraction.
And, given the famous followers, it’s easy to see why people gravitate towards the movement.
Having a net worth of $320 million like Lady Gaga wouldn’t be too shabby, would it? How about Tony Robbins’ $500 million fortune?
I’ve been thinking about the Law of Attraction again recently, as my world feels quite chaotic and I’m trying to redesign it consciously.
There are some big changes going on and I want to get clear on what it is I want for the next chapter of my life.
It’s hard to just be positive, though.
I’m going to work with the Law of Attraction by writing myself a letter to open in three months’ time. I’m going to think about how I’d like to feel and write the letter as though it’s already happened.
A life coach advised me to do this.
Maybe I’ll include that the day was exciting and interesting and that I’m feeling at peace with my decisions. Perhaps I’ll note that the last three months were essential for my growth and that everything makes sense now.
The idea is that I’ll embody these positive feelings.
But I don’t plan to suppress all of the other emotions that arise between now and then. Fear, confusion, and anxiety are on this journey through the unknown with me.
My reason for doing this is because of Ruda’s teachings in Out of the Box.
“You start becoming an active cosmic citizen when you are integrated with your emotions, but you have a larger purpose,” he explains. “You use all of your emotions in service of something greater. Use the energy of anger to affirm your commitment to love. Use it in service of your love and creativity.”
This makes a lot of sense to me – much more than just being positive all the time.
How the Out of the Box teachings work
There are loads of exercises that Ruda teaches in his online workshop.
They include meditating on thoughts and holding space for feelings that come up.
One exercise is centered on making a commitment to ourselves to stay present with our emotions.
And that whenever we feel happiness, anger, fear, or any emotions, we take five minutes to be quiet and isolated with those thoughts.
The key, he says, is in observing the rhythm and frequency and sound of our thoughts, ignoring the narrative in our minds.
He asks us to observe how our emotions are impacting our body – including observing our breath.
Relaxing is the next step – forgetting ourselves for a while and becoming pure emotion and pure energy in movement.
“Each emotion triggers a completely different set of reactions in the body and in the mind,” Ruda explains. “Certain emotions are hot while some are cold. Some of them accelerate your mind, while some may torture you. Map out of these sensations, so you can learn as much as possible about each of them.”
This is just one of many exercises in his workshop.
Esther’s teachings are beautiful, but we must recognize their limitations.
“The human mind is just the tip of an iceberg and is mostly made of subjectivity. It’s naive to think we can control our mind, given that our mind is triggered by powers beyond our control that reside in our guts,” we write. “Further, it’s absolutely impossible to choose how we feel because our emotions do not attend to our will.”
I do understand the concept that your energy flows to where your attention goes – but I can’t help but disagree that people bring on rapes and murders. That doesn’t sit well with me.
This makes me struggle to get onboard with the concept entirely.
I believe that, along with beautiful situations, we should voice and feel all of the hard things going on in life. And not fear that we’re going to bring on a tsunami of more awful situations as a byproduct of being true to what’s going.
Though this, as we know, counters the widely understood concept of Law of Attraction.
As Esther Hicks writes on Instagram: “Complaining about anything holds you in the place of refusing to receive the things you’ve been asking for.”
I think the Law of Attraction can work if it isn’t taken too literally and you don’t find yourself suppressing all of the things you’re dealing with, in order to just be love and light.
I spoke to my mum, and Abraham Hicks follower and she explained that her interpretation of the philosophy is to find the positives in the negative situations.
For her, it’s not about ignoring the pain and fear she’s currently experiencing – but to extract positives from the otherwise negative situations.
I can get on board with this.
There are nuggets of wisdom I plan to take from both Esther and Ruda.
However, to really get to the crux of discovering your personal power and to find peace in the present moment, a shamanistic approach comes up top.