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.