Why the “law of attraction” doesn’t attract me

Everywhere I go these days there is this buzz around the “law of attraction.” Hardly a day goes by where I don’t hear someone (usually female) talk about “the universe” and what they are giving to it or getting from it. In all the conversations I’ve participated in or eavesdropped on, I haven’t heard anyone say what I’m about to announce: I don’t believe in the “law of attraction.”

I can almost hear the gasps as I type. If the law of attraction does exist despite my unbelief, then I suppose this will come back to bite me, since the basic premise of the law is that what you put out into the universe is what you get in return. I guess we’ll see about that.

The topic is on my mind tonight because I just watched a DVRed episode of Oprah featuring a panel of experts on the “law.” It’s really fascinating stuff. Much of what they say I have found to be true in my own life. Loving myself is important. Having a peaceful soul can be my reality. Having a vision for my future is helpful in achieving my goals and dreams. But I just don’t buy the central idea they hold as gospel, that what I put out into the universe is what I get back.

I think I missed the spiritual shift in our society from believing in God to believing in “The Universe.” I don’t think I even know what “the universe” means but I do know that belief in a faceless, nameless, personality-less cosmos does nothing to bring me any peace or hope. At the risk of sounding preachy, I hold fast to the traditional belief in a loving God whose son Jesus died for me. I love myself because He loves me and no matter what comes into my life, I believe He cares for me so I can trust what He sends my way. Notice the difference here – He sends it my way, I don’t attract it myself.

Ultimately the “law of attraction” is overly simplistic and leaves me with my mouth gaping open at how many important questions its proponents leave unanswered. What about the hundreds of millions of people in the world who go to bed hungry every night. Did they not put out enough “good energy” into the universe to get even their basic needs met? If the “law of attraction” is true, why are children orphaned from HIV? Did they not have a strong enough vision of their parents living? Or the millions of Americans who can’t afford basic healthcare for themselves. If they all could just envision having health insurance would the system immediately shift in their favor? Or maybe it’s a cosmic power struggle between the haves and the haves-nots. The haves are envisioning getting so much stuff for themselves that they are in fact creating the injustice around them.

If the law of attraction is true, it follows that we are each responsible (or to blame) for whatever wonderful or horrific events or things come into our lives. When I look around me and around the world I see far too many humans suffering, often at the hands of other humans, through no fault of their own and I shudder at the suggestion that it is only for lack of “visioning” that the sick are sick, that the poor are poor, and that the oppressed are oppressed.

I feel I’m alone in my disgust at this popular idea. Am I?



  1. Your Buddy Rob said,

    July 8, 2008 at 5:07 am

    One of the tenets of LOA is that what you shout ‘no’ at comes into your experience. My RSfeed setup searches for Law Of Attraction, and voila – here you are!

    The Bible is filled with LOA principles and this way of thinking is not at all new. Just one example: Jesus said ‘turn the other cheek.’ Now I used to think (as a result of flawed parochial school education) that meant ‘just bend over and take it.’ Now I have come to understand that it means to focus upon what it is that you want, and turn away from that which you don’t want. That is Law Of Attraction in a nutshell.

  2. Angie R said,

    July 8, 2008 at 6:17 am

    Beth – Thanks for sharing what you believe and you know I believe the same. Having experienced senseless tragedies recently, I can’t imagine if my belief system blamed me for these events because I did not put out enough good energy.

  3. Beth said,

    July 8, 2008 at 10:12 pm

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for visiting and posting. Your response only further raises the question of my original posting, that the law of attraction falls painfully short on addressing the issue of suffering. All a hungry person focuses on is food so why do children still sometimes go to bed hungry? I live in a culture and society full of opportunities so, for the most part, if I try hard enough I am likely to get what I want. That’s simply not true in many parts of the world because of unjust social structures, many of which are perpetuated by our developed society.

    In regards to Jesus’ teaching on turning the other cheek (found in Matthew 5:39), the context of this statement is refers to other people, not to getting what we want for our own lives. It is about giving generously, especially when it’s undeserved. Subsequent verses say “if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well…give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

  4. Hollianna said,

    September 21, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    No.. what the hungry children are focusing on is the lack of food and how hungry they are. Hence the hunger. Get it? It’s so simple, that’s why it’s so hard to understand. Our analytical minds are so used to dissecting everything to death that we complicate very simple concepts. Meditate on these things and the truth will be revealed. The law of attraction is just a way of saying it to make it more palpable to the general public (and easier to sell millions of books!). What is really happening is we are manifesting what already exists on another level and springs from within. We aren’t actually drawing things toward us from the outside. However, it is simple to understand that our thoughts create our reality, and that could not be more true.

    There are also other variables to consider in understanding the circumstances that make up our “reality” which seem to be of a random nature, but are in fact quite orchestrated. Read a bit about chaos theory. You still have to take into consideration other determining factors, such as karma and planetary configurations. Why must it take us so long to accept the things that will no doubt be common knowledge in the near future, like the earth being round – a fact that was once shunned as the law of attraction is now.

    Also, notice where all of these natural disasters are happening in the world. Tsunamis, massive earthquakes, etc. Notice the areas with the high death tolls are never affluent communities and villages. Just think about it for a bit. You don’t need to go into the bible to figure it out. Meditate and focus on things in your own life. Start simple so it makes it easier to believe and watch these things start to appear in your life. The proof is in the pudding. The problem is, you choose to fight it and even if you say you’ve tried, you don’t really believe, and that makes all the difference.

  5. Hollianna said,

    September 22, 2008 at 10:41 am

    PS If we all change the way we think, thus changing from within, the world will then and only then change. You could send all the money in the world to abolish poverty and in a few months it would be right back to the way it was before. It’s the consciousness of the people that has dropped into poverty. We’re trying to heal the world backwards by starting first in the material world, but we need to encourage they way we THINK FIRST. It’s a feat, considering the state we’re in, and it may seem like we’re lying to ourselves by “pretending” to be what we’re not to manifest what we want, but that’s the way it is, so give it a shot. You will thank yourself.

  6. Maxine said,

    January 15, 2009 at 6:49 pm

    I was involved with a Religious Science group. In the past year, one person was horrifically murdered, one young person died of illness, and another one’s beloved child died. So, this happened to them because they attracted it? How can that be proven? If they seemed scared and negative, then someone who believes in the LOA will say that yes, they attracted it by their beliefs. If they seemed, and professed to be, calm and positive, then someone who believes in the LOA will say that they SUBCONSCIOUSLY had negative beliefs that manifested. There is no way to prove what a person “really” thought. We all have worries that don’t manifest, and we all get unexpected “whammies” that we never dreamed would happen.

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