Since the movie, "The Secret," there has been a lot of chatter about "the law of attraction."
To begin let me give a quote from Dr. P. P. Quimby:
“Believing in the phenomenon, I wanted to discover the causes and find if there was any good to come out of it. At last I found that these phenomena of themselves contained no wisdom, for they were like any phenomenon to be accounted for by a higher power than was in the phenomenon. This led me to investigate the subject, so in my investigation I found that my ignorance could produce phenomena in my subject that my own wisdom could not correct. At first I found that my own thoughts affected the subject, and not only my thought but my belief. I found that my thoughts were one thing and my belief another. If I really believed in anything, the effect would follow whether I was thinking of it or not. For instance, I believed at the outset that mesmerism was governed by the laws of electricity. This was a belief. So whenever I attempted any experiment, the experiment was always in accordance with my belief, whether I was thinking of it or not, the whole would follow. I believed that silk would attract the subject. This was a belief in common with mankind. So if a person having any silk about him, for instance a lady with a silk apron, the subject's hand would be affected by it and the hand would move towards the lady even if she were behind him.”
I want to use the above quote to demonstrate the difference between the theory of “attraction” and the reality of the “law of belief.”
New agers and New Thought proponents like to promote the law of attraction but when we really look into it what we find isn't exactly what is espoused. The theory is a rather simple one, whatever you focus on expands. In other words, if you dwell on good things then you get more of what you dwell on, and if you dwell on “bad” things then you get more of them. Simply put, what you focus on becomes more of your reality.
I know, that is a very simple explanation but really, that's all there is to it. We don't need to complicate it with more errors, it has enough on its own.
The question is, is this true? If I focus on something will I get more of that something? The answer is yes and no. You will get more of that something if your belief system supports you in getting more of it however, if you have beliefs that say otherwise they will win every single time. That's the essence of Quimby's quote.
“At first I found that my own thoughts affected the subject, and not only my thought but my belief. I found that my thoughts were one thing and my belief another. If I really believed in anything, the effect would follow whether I was thinking of it or not.”
Take the above segment of Quimby's statement. He's telling us that our thoughts do have an effect thus the law of attraction would seem to hold true. However, he's telling us even more about our beliefs.
The way I like to paraphrase this idea is as follows, regardless of my thoughts my beliefs always come about. This makes it simple and clear. No matter what thoughts I hold my beliefs ultimately rule the day. They are the program of the mind which is the creative mechanism of the universe. It's just that simple.
I can think good health thoughts all day but if I truly believe that I'm dying of cancer then guess what? Cancer will grow and flourish and I will die from cancer sure enough.
This brings us to the paradox of the "law of attraction." The idea generally is, stay focused on what you want. Well, that's a great start but if you stay focused on something that you believe you cannot have then you are affirming that you cannot have it. In other words, every time you say “I'm rich” your subconscious is saying, “no, you are poor.” And the subconscious wins! You are simply affirming what you believe. This is the reason why affirmations do not work for so many. Every time they say their affirmation they end up affirming what they truly believe, and that usually goes against the goal of the affirmation.
How then do we get rid of a belief or change it? That's the question. For Quimby it was a matter of understanding your error (belief) so that Wisdom (God consciousness) could erase the belief and free you from your error. This does work but requires diligent study, self observation, and controlling one's thoughts & mind.
Other methods work as well. Such methods as EFT (Emotional Freedom Technique) and its many cousins can help knock down the emotional component of a belief which will allow you to “re-write” the memory. There are writing techniques, visualization techniques, and many more that can help. The truth is, they all take effort. You can't just hold a pose and expect your belief system to change, unless you really believe that that will work for you.
Much of the work I've been doing over the past years has been focused on changing beliefs. It's not an easy process. It takes work but it can be done.
For now I just wanted to shed a little light on how thoughts and beliefs differ and which one has the greater effect.
C. S. 2008