The Dark Side of Positive Thinking: A Dive into the Law of Attraction


In today’s world of “silver platter” results – the expectation that we get what we want with minimal effort – the idea of “thinking positively to attract positive experiences” fits like a glove.

Prominent celebrities endorse it and countless careers have been built around teaching this philosophy. The so-called Law of Attraction (LOA) appears to have deeply embedded itself into the mainstream psyche. However, delving deeper into this seemingly innocent concept reveals a darker side.

The Allure and Deception of The Law of Attraction

The concept of positive thinking holds a special allure. Who wouldn’t be captivated by the promise that by simply changing your thoughts and feelings, you could materially change your life circumstances?

Visualising your ambitions, having set goals, practising affirmations, and meditating all sound promising and are not inherently dangerous.

The danger lies not in the practices themselves, but in the commercialised and distorted interpretations like the Law of Attraction that imbue them with pseudo-spirituality.

The Profitable World of Pseudoscience

Despite how one may personally feel about the LOA, there’s no denying its widespread popularity. But beneath the appealing facade lies a mire of pseudoscience and misconceptions. Take, for instance, the often-cited Einstein quote about matching the frequency of the reality one desires. This quote, however frequently used by LOA proponents, was never actually spoken by Einstein.

The Law of Attraction isn’t merely a philosophy – it’s an industry. And it’s not a modest one. The sheer volume of money circulating in this realm is staggering, prompting a legitimate question: What ideologies are these profit-makers really selling? And at what cost?

Misleading The Masses

The internet era, while being a bastion of information, has also become a breeding ground for misinformation. Terms like “quantum” are thrown around with abandon, often by those lacking a foundational understanding of the actual science behind them.

Websites and articles like the one titled “The Quantum Mechanics of Changing Thoughts” from “Dr. Kim” and “Dr. Hill”, claim a scientific basis while lacking the relevant scientific background. Citing qualifications in Tibetan Buddhism, hypnosis, or NLP doesn’t grant the authority to discuss quantum physics.

Another commonly referenced piece of ‘evidence’ is Dr. Masuru Emoto’s water experiment. He posited that emotional energies could alter the physical structure of water. However, a closer look reveals that this so-called scientific experiment lacks the rigorous standards expected in the scientific community. The double-blind study, which was published in a journal co-edited by one of the study’s own researchers, has been heavily criticised for its methodology and execution.

Emoto’s credibility further diminishes when considering his refusal to take the “1 Million Paranormal Challenge” that would have empirically tested his claims.

The Fundamental Flaws

The scientific skepticism surrounding the Law of Attraction isn’t just rooted in its questionable empirical evidence. The ideology itself, when deconstructed, presents problems. 

At its core, the LOA seems to absolve individuals of any real accountability, suggesting that positive or negative experiences are merely a product of one’s thoughts.

The pitfalls of this belief system extend beyond mere pseudoscience. They lay a foundation for manipulation, enabling those with ulterior motives to capitalise on people’s vulnerabilities.

From Innocence to Ignorance

It all starts quite harmlessly. Who wouldn’t want to believe that simply visualising a better future can make it happen? And with such wide acceptance and charismatic promotion, it’s easy to consider the law of attraction as a universally beneficial tool.

Yet, this belief system of thinking results into reality can actually reduce empathy, skew your understanding of your responsibilities, and lead to an unsettling lack of awareness of broader societal issues.

For instance, someone who passionately believes in ‘the secret’ of the law of attraction will attribute others’ misfortunes to negative thinking. This perspective doesn’t just oversimplify complex issues – it victimises those suffering by implying they are to blame for their own hardships.

The Mirage of Meditation and Yoga

While meditation and yoga are valuable tools for many aspects of mental and physical health, they are not the panaceas they are sometimes touted to be. An increasing number of individuals believe they can simply “yoga and meditate away” deep-seated traumas or mental health issues. Sadly, using these practices as the sole approach to dealing with significant problems is not only naive but potentially dangerous.

Hence, it might come as a surprise to many that yoga instructors, too, can be found in psychiatric wards, grappling with issues like depression. This phenomenon shines a light on the often-overlooked reality that no profession or practice renders an individual immune to mental health challenges.

One could argue that the pressures on yoga instructors are unique. They’re often seen as embodiments of peace, calm, and balance, both on and off the mat. This can lead to unrealistic expectations, both self-imposed and from their students. The constant need to maintain a serene facade can be emotionally exhausting, especially if the instructor is internally battling tumultuous feelings or depressive episodes. There’s an unspoken stigma that yoga teachers should be immune to such struggles given their daily engagement with a practice centered on inner peace and mindfulness.

Furthermore, the modern commodification of yoga, with its emphasis on perfect postures, picturesque settings, and an idyllic lifestyle, can add layers of pressure. The world of social media only heightens this, as instructors might feel the need to present a life that’s constantly in harmony, amplifying feelings of inadequacy or imposter syndrome if their internal world doesn’t match this portrayal.

The Business of Belief

Over the past few decades, the law of attraction has evolved from a spiritual principle into a massive industry. At its core, the law of attraction posits that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person’s life. As this concept gained traction, particularly in the West, it paved the way for a burgeoning market of books, seminars, online courses, and coaching programs.

One of the most notable catalysts for its mainstream appeal was the book and subsequent documentary, “The Secret,” released in 2006. Rhonda Byrne’s presentation of the law of attraction as a universal principle promised success, health, and abundant happiness to its adherents. The overwhelming success of “The Secret” led to an influx of similar publications and multimedia content, each offering the “key” to harnessing the law of attraction for personal gain.

Beyond literature and film, numerous seminars and workshops promise to teach attendees the techniques to effectively “manifest” their desires. High-profile coaches and motivational speakers have built multi-million dollar empires around the law of attraction, offering exclusive courses that can sometimes cost thousands of dollars.

The digital age has given further momentum to this movement. Social media platforms are replete with influencers and content creators promoting vision boards, affirmation challenges, and manifestation rituals, often tied to paid content or products. Moreover, mobile applications designed to assist users in their manifestation journey—through guided meditations, affirmations, or visualisation exercises—are not uncommon.

The Dark Side of the Law of Attraction

The law of attraction is not just an ideology; it’s a booming business. There are countless books, courses, and seminars dedicated to teaching individuals how to “manifest their dream life”. But as with any lucrative industry, there’s a darker side to consider. How many of these gurus genuinely believe in what they’re selling, and how many are capitalising on vulnerable individuals seeking a quick fix to their problems?

The law of attraction, with its promise of manifesting one’s deepest desires through positive thinking and visualisation, has undoubtedly captivated the minds of millions. While many find solace and motivation in its teachings, the commercialisation of the law of attraction has raised several ethical concerns and revealed some darker undercurrents.

At its core, the business side of the law of attraction thrives on the insecurities and desires of individuals. 

By promising a life of abundance, success, and health, it naturally appeals to those feeling lost, insecure, or unsatisfied with their current circumstances. Yet, there are instances where this vulnerability is exploited. 

High-priced seminars, exclusive courses, and premium coaching sessions can drain the finances of followers who are led to believe that the more they invest financially, the more they’ll gain spiritually and materially. This creates a cycle where individuals feel the need to purchase products or services to achieve their goals continuously.

Moreover, the law of attraction, when misrepresented, can inadvertently promote victim-blaming. By stating that one’s circumstances are solely a result of their thoughts and vibrations, it implies that negative experiences, such as illness or financial hardships, are a result of one’s “negative thinking.” This not only oversimplifies the complexities of life but can also cause psychological harm, leading individuals to internalise blame for circumstances beyond their control.

Additionally, the oversaturation of the market with countless self-proclaimed “gurus” has muddied the waters. With minimal barriers to entry, anyone can claim expertise in the law of attraction, leading to a proliferation of misinformation. Followers, especially those new to the concept, may struggle to discern genuine guidance from opportunistic marketing, making them susceptible to misleading or even predatory practices.

In a digital era dominated by influencer culture, the law of attraction has also become a tool for projecting a curated reality. Social media platforms are awash with success stories, often tied to paid courses or products, creating an illusion that success is easily attainable. 

This selective representation can generate feelings of inadequacy among followers who, despite their best efforts, cannot replicate the same success.

Conclusion: A Tool for Gaslighting?

The most ominous outcome of the unchecked proliferation of the law of attraction philosophy is its potential use as a tool for manipulation. There are instances where communities or even cult-like entities use these beliefs to gaslight their members, making them believe that any negative experiences are solely due to their lack of faith or positive thinking.

In essence, while the law of attraction might have some merits in promoting a positive outlook on life, it’s crucial to approach it with a healthy dose of skepticism. It’s always important to remember that true growth and healing often require confronting and understanding one’s issues, not merely visualising a brighter tomorrow.