Why I Will Never Use the Law of Attraction

I keep running into people talking about the Law of Attraction, and usually, they’re doing it in a way that makes them come across as judgmental so-and-sos.  Things like, “Well, of course her life is going to keep being awful if she focuses so much on negativity!”

The Law of Attraction, for those who don’t know, states that what you send out into the universe is what you get back. So if you’re relentlessly positive and never have a bad thought ever, your life will be sunshine and rainbows, apparently? But if you let yourself get angry because of injustice or being poor or stubbing your toe, well, you got what was coming to you, because your negativity attracted the bad life circumstances you find yourself in.

In short, it’s overly simplistic Christian-influenced morality all over again, where good (“positive”) people are rewarded and bad (“negative”) people are punished, and because it’s familiar and comfortable to a lot of us, it can be really seductive. After all, if the Law of Attraction is true, that means you have ultimate control over your life, and if you just learn to focus on the positive and send that positivity out into the universe and imagine yourself already having the things you want, then you can have the perfect life you always wanted.

“But Jaqui,” you might say, “you believe in magic, which is putting your intent into the universe. How is that different?” Well, hypothetical reader, I’m glad you asked. See, magic doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You’re putting your intent and energy out into the world, but the world is busy and full of other people and their intent and energy as well, and natural phenomena, and social issues. Also, magic requires effort, not just thinking good thoughts.

Were you ever taught about the effects of your actions by the metaphor of a rock being dropped into a still pond? You watch the ripples and those are the changes your actions and/or magic cause in the world. Except it’s a big damn pond, and you’re not the only one dropping rocks. There are many rocks and many ripples. Sometimes the ripples cancel each other out, or big ripples will overwhelm small ones, or weird things happen that no one could have foreseen.

Sometimes you can do everything right and bad things will still happen. Sometimes all you have is a very small rock. Those nice ladies talking about how they create their own realities generally have big rocks — the ones I’ve personally met are able-bodied, white, neurotypical, cisgender, most often straight, and comfortably middle-class. Because they’re in a privileged position in every realm but that of gender, they can see their ripples and feel secure in their power over their personal worlds. If you’re, to use myself as an example, a poor queer nonbinary Latinx with bipolar disorder and a mystery illness who can’t walk more than a hundred feet without needing to lie down for a bit… Things change. And it takes all my intent, all my magic, all the positivity and kindness (and how many of these people try to be kind, in addition to being “positive”?) I can muster just to continue surviving. My rock is small, and my ripples don’t go far, but I put everything I can into them.

And yet if I dare to complain within earshot of these LoA ladies, I’ll be told off for letting my negativity shape my reality.

And that’s what I really object to — the fact that the Law of Attraction makes the years of rape and abuse in my past my fault, because I “attracted” them to me by not being positive enough. It makes everything that’s ever gone wrong my fault, and yet I see plenty of negative people out there in the world who are doing just fine. And more than that, LoA-style thinking was frequently used by one of my abusers to justify treating me like shit.

We need to be allowed to be negative, to realize the universe is unfair. It is gloriously and wonderfully unfair, and that means that good people have terrible things happen to them that no one could have prevented, and sometimes even pessimists get good things that they in no way deserve, and that’s great because it means those unexpected blessings can happen to anyone, you and me included, and when bad things happen, it’s not because we’re failures who did something to deserve them.

You’re not a god. You can create your perception of your reality and how you interact with it to a large degree, which will probably make you happier, but you can’t just tell the universe to make everything fine for you. Not even with attraction/magic. Magic is the slightly bigger rock. It’s the coincidence that carries your ripples along on someone else’s. It’s a tiny nudge to the machinery of the universe when you need it most. The more you improve your life, the more influence you’ll have over your circumstances, and the more your magic can make further improvements. But not everyone can have the same amount of influence over the world. Not everyone starts from the same place. And just because something helped you doesn’t mean it’ll help someone else. You can’t see into someone’s soul, and you definitely can’t see everything they’re putting out into the universe when you’re not looking.

Sometimes… sometimes someone’s rock just gets swallowed up by someone else’s ripple and it’s nobody’s fucking fault. Sometimes a tragedy was going to happen to x people and you drew the cosmic short straw. Magic can help mitigate the effects, and a positive outlook can carry you when things are hard, but sometimes you have to scream and wail and gnash your teeth and that’s okay. You get to deal with the unfairness, and then, when you’re able, you go back to the work of being human.

Welcome to Earth. No one is safe.

Weird Beliefs and Abusive Cults

Every so often I come across warnings about certain people who claim to be reincarnated fictional characters and who use that belief to suck others in and abuse them. Hell, I spent some time in the inner circle of one of those people, and I’ve got the psychological scars to prove it. Cult leader behavior is shitty no matter who’s doing it.

But what I keep seeing is the conversation taking shape around them believing $weird_thing, and not the part where they conned their housemates out of money, or consistently deprived them of sleep to break them down, or gathered the whole house together to berate someone who did something “wrong” (which could be anything from watching a movie without permission to not being social enough with the group). And the people who stand in line to jeer at how obviously anyone with these beliefs is crazy and should be avoided are doing these small-time cult leaders’ work for them.

Most of the people who got sucked in, in my experience, were people who were already dealing with weird shit. Maybe their favorite fictional character is taking up residence in their heads. Whether it’s an alternate personality, a mask their patron deity uses to talk to them, a random thoughtform, a connection to the ideal form of that character off in the creative aether, or even a “past” life1 in a fiction-spawned alternate universe is irrelevant — I’ve given up on drawing and redrawing those lines, because except in the case of the deity thing, it doesn’t much matter. What matters is that it sure is a thing that’s happening. And along come some people who are very enthusiastic about all this, and understand, and don’t judge. And all the people giving warnings about these people? Why, they’re saying it’s because they believe these crazy things — crazy things which our prospective cult member is experiencing for themselves. It starts to sound like these people repeating warnings are just prejudiced against a belief, not concerned about abusive behavior — and that’s how the cult leader will spin it. Things got blown out of proportion. It’s grudgewank. They just hate these beliefs and don’t understand. The group understands, though. They know exactly what their prospective member is going through, and they’re just good friends who want to help.

And then yet another person is propping up a manipulative asshole’s ego, unless they get fed up with the abuse and make it out on their own… where, if they’ve kept their beliefs, they can never talk about it for fear of being ridiculed for not “knowing better”. If they haven’t, they’re likely to go to the opposite extreme, denouncing their former beliefs and anyone who shares them.

I’ve seen a site run by a former cult member literally refuse to honor someone else’s request for anonymity because the person still believed some of the same things the cult did — despite the fact that this person was condemning the leader’s behavior and encouraging her to take some responsibility for what she was doing. But these beliefs are bad and wrong and we must PUNISH people who — wait, is this starting to sound exactly like the cult’s bullying sessions to anyone else? Kind of makes you wonder who’s done the better job of breaking away from the abuse: the person who’s calling the cult leader out while still keeping their personal beliefs, or the person going for the vicious take-downs of the Bad Guys, like good little cult members do to prove how Good they are.

In short: shit is fucked up, and fucked up in a way that hurts the people we should be trying to help the most. We need some tolerance, not for happy fluffy “All beliefs are equally valid!” reasons, but because when someone goes, “You don’t understand!” the response can be, “Look, this person over here? They have similar beliefs, and I think it’s weird as hell, but they’re not the kind of person who keeps you up for five nights running because they’re under psychic attack or whatever.”

You still get to think it’s weird as hell. That’s totally valid. You don’t have to agree with any of it. But if you’re willing to accept that there are people out there who can believe in all manner of weirdness and not abuse everyone around them, it makes things safer for both vulnerable people and abuse survivors.

…Hi. I’m Jaqui, and I believe in some weird-as-hell things, but I have no tolerance for cult leader bullshit. And that’s the important part.

  1. Shared UPG: linear time is for incarnate existence, and doesn’t seem to hold much meaning outside of it, so it’s possible to have your incarnations “out of order”, as it were, or even explore different potential universes based on things being different. This may partly explain the overabundance of Merlins and Cleopatras out there. []

I have no title for this

I made a “culture” category on my blog, because from time to time I like to get my rant on about social issues, the diversity (or lack thereof) in media, and all that happy fun social justice stuff.

And yet, these past few months, when truly horrible things have been happening, I’ve been silent, because it’s just too much. Too horrible. Too terrifying. Too many people… I want to say “dead before their time”, but as someone who honors Hela, I know better: “their time” comes whenever circumstances allow it, and it’s never fair and rarely kind. It just is.

All the same, I’m angry because it could have been different. It should have been different. Maybe their deaths would have found them no matter what, and maybe not, but the way those deaths found them is our failure as a society. Most especially, it is a failure of those in positions of privilege to let other privileged people know that this shit will not stand.

And despite all the horrible things that have happened, there are still people saying “we believe the men” and “we support the police” and “it was a parking dispute” and “you can’t prove it was a hate crime” and fucking “God has called our son home” instead of “our daughter took her life due to our mistreatment”. Because too many people with privilege see those without as inherently untrustworthy, and our pain isn’t real to them.

There is nothing I can say to this parade of atrocity, other than this: I am watching. I am listening. I will remember. I will act. And I am so, so sorry.