Let’s talk about The Secret, manifestation, the law of attraction, positive thinking

Does anyone remember when the book “The Secret” came out in 2006? I recall reading it and thinking “yes, yes, yes” to Rhonda Byrne’s beliefs about the law of attraction and how our thoughts can directly change our lives. Basically, everyone has the ability to create their own reality and “thoughts can become things”.

About a week after reading the book my initial enthusiasm waned and I thought “no, no, no”. There is something really appealing and true about this outlook, but also something felt a bit wrong, overstated, off.

I still can’t succinctly wrap my thoughts–ha ha, that may be the problem!–around this topic, but let’s give it a try. Please add your own impressions in the comments so we can explore this together.

I believe our thinking mind can be a powerful tool. Think about how tools help create reality. A chainsaw creates logs. A drill bores holes. A hammer pounds. The mind creates (or some people might claim it channels) thoughts into useful maps of reality.

Positive thinking and affirmations can help create our reality maps. Our attitude can become our compass. We’re always taking in information and utilizing it to inform our next action. If we’re viewing the world through the lens of–say, it’s all going to hell in a handbasket–we’re then looking at everything that happens watching for the next hell to happen.

If we’re viewing the world through the lens of everything is working out as it should then our confirmation bias searches for evidence to support this.

This is where I feel positive thinking shines. If we basically eschew a positive attitude toward this living, breathing, vibrating life–our bias keeps presenting truths that match. No matter what the world says (we’re all gonna die from this pandemic, this president will be the death of us, the next few months will be hell) our internal compass can return again and again to it’s OK, we’ll get through this, the sun will come out tomorrow. (Sing, Annie, sing– I mean Claire. Sing, Claire, sing!)

However, there’s a fine line between the Vitamin of Positive Thinking and the band aid of positive thinking. A vitamin supports and nurtures our system. A bandaid denies reality and glosses it with candy-coated denial. Do you sense this difference, too?

The bandaid of positive thinking believes that it’s a mind-only world. That thoughts are the end-all. And I don’t believe that at all. Our human psyches contain deep unconscious buried emotions. Body constrictions. Legacy and ancestral burdens. Intersections where the personal and universal meet. We’re complex creatures, not mind-only creatures. We’ve souls and spirits and bodies with possible lessons to learn on this planet. We’re in cahoots with the Holy who operates above and below the level of Mr. and Mrs. Mind.

The intent of manifestation also begs examination. I have experienced many incidents of manifestation during my life. Most of these occurred during days and months of deep spiritual connection. Once, back in the early 1990’s, while moment-to-moment connected to the Great Spirit, I remember thinking, “Oh, wouldn’t it be lovely to have a chair to sit next to this campfire?” Within a few hours an old camp chair tumbled out of someone’s pickup truck right in front of our driveway.

Daughter sitting by Solstice fire, December, 2008

So many manifestations occurred that I decided to play around with it. When my son played basketball in high school I tried to manifest some baskets for him during challenging games. What do you think happened? Nada. Nothing. If anything this appeared to backfire.

No, said the Holy. No, no, no, Kathy, you’re not getting it.

Manifesting from the ego’s desires for comfort or personal gain never felt good. It felt suspect. It felt like a tool for strengthening ego’s grip. A vise grip around the heart that maybe temporarily felt good, but left residues of distress and wrongness.

Yet when we’re in connection with the Holy and can sense the direction the Holy wants to go–manifestation happens effortlessly. It flows out of the heart of the Holy like baptismal water or communion or the sacred pipe of the Lakota.

So what is “The Secret” in my book? The only secret–and it’s not a secret–is to connect with the Higher Self, God, the Great Spirit, Jesus, whatever you call it–and then allow IT to manifest through your body and mind and thoughts.

Take your Vitamin D of positive thoughts, surely, but do not neglect tending to all the grief, sadness, anger, despair and confusion that ripples or hurricanes through your system. Meet them gently and tenderly with compassion. Hello, dear upset one, I see you, I will not paste false platitudes on top of your pain, but let us sit together and hold hands as long as you need. (And yet sometimes the upset one WANTS platitudes and affirmations, so this is not a condemnation or judgment about platitudes either.)

Sending you loving positive thoughts right now–embracing all of you–exactly as you are right now with warts and wrinkles and tears and laughter. Love, Kathy

Day 28 of a seventy-five day journey to connect more deeply with God, Spirit, Holy, Love…to explore “What the Heart Knows” during the waning days of 2020.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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40 Responses to Let’s talk about The Secret, manifestation, the law of attraction, positive thinking

  1. Larissa says:

    It’s such a balancing act, isn’t it? I’ve read that our nervous systems are like glue for “bad” and “scary” experiences, and like teflon for “good” ones. It really pays off to build the muscle of taking in pleasure, connection, joy, etc. It also pays to build the muscle of turning towards the painful gristly bits (and sometimes there’s so much sweetness and yum when we get to the bottom of those rabbit holes!)

    P.S. I wanted to “like” this post, but I can’t find the button. Maybe WordPress is trying to tell me to step away from the computer.

    • debyemm says:

      No “like” when I arrived here either. Oh well.

    • Kathy says:

      Larissa, a balancing act indeed. And isn’t it weird that our nervous systems would glom onto the “negative” experiences and allow the “positive” ones to slide off? Very strange, we humans. I like how you’ve described the sweetness when we finally reach the bottom of those holes. Thank goodness for that, sometimes!

    • Kathy says:

      P.S. Larissa and Deb, the explanation for the lack of “like” button will be tomorrow’s blog post unless something else presents itself! 🙂

  2. Val Boyko says:

    Love this reflection. I like how you differentiated with the band aid positive thinking. Over the years, I get a sense it’s more about the energy that attracts similar energy. When it’s from the ego mind or coming from lack, it vibrates at a lower level. When it comes from the heart or spirit we are finely attuned to Our Source energy and the best in life.

    • Kathy says:

      I am happy you enjoyed the differentiation, Val. It’s taken many years to be able to articulate this halfway succinctly and I know there’s more to learn. I like what you say about energy attracting at a similar level. When it comes from lack there’s just this sense that something is “off”. But maybe not for everyone. Thanks for sharing so much!

  3. Robin says:

    Thank you for this, Kathy. ❤ As you know, it's a subject I've been contemplating, too. "Vitamin D of positive thoughts." I love that. Sunshine supplements that help us build the "bones" we need to tend to all the things this life (and this Life) bring to us.

    I've been doing a "start where you are" practice in the mornings lately. Before starting my yoga/asana practice, I just sit, feel into the mind, the heart, the body, the spirit. Where am I today? What's going on inside? What am I feeling? And then, offering that. A "this is where I am right now" type of thing. It's interesting to find that the grief, the anger, the joy, the awe — all of it — is sacred and can be offered as such.

    • Kathy says:

      Robin, the metaphor of “Vitamin D of positive thoughts” just kind of popped into this mind and I was liking it too! Love what you added about sunshine supplements building spiritual bones. So cool.

      Another serendipity, of course. That’s basically what I do early in the morning. Just sit, just feel into what’s happening right here, right now. It is such a powerful way to start the morning, isn’t it?

  4. Yes, I definitely sense the difference between the vitamin and the bandage. After all, if a tsunami is about to wipe out your village no amount of positive thinking is going to change that reality. Positive thinking won’t cure every disease but it will help us to cope with it better. Looking for places to show compassion and kindness, even to ourselves, is an excellent use of positive thinking.

    • Kathy says:

      Barbara, I know at least a couple of people who are convinced if they think positively they won’t get the virus. That kind of belief just feels…well, it doesn’t go over well here. Who are we to say? Maybe they can think the virus away, but I feel there are so many other factors in this equation. I like your analogy of using it to show compassion and kindness–even to ourselves. Thanks for sharing this. I love hearing what everyone has to say.

  5. Susan D. Durham says:

    Oh, this is lovely! A resounding “Yes” to your wisdom. I even chuckled a bit thinking about the times I’ve tried to force good, positive outcomes to manifest. It did feel suspect, with residues of distress and wrongness. You captured this so succinctly!! I, too, have experienced those lovely synchronistic times when just what I’m wishing for manifests, or something manifests that delights, and I think “Aha.”

    Letting ourselves be guided by our Holy is effortless and all-encompassing. Love and light in its purest form, and, for me, it can happen when I’m not even looking. Maybe especially when I’m not even looking.

    One of the most heartbreaking things I’ve witnessed is having people tell you that if you just think positively, your cancer or other illness will go away. “You can make yourself whole again.” While I fully believe that our outlook is beneficial, I’ve seen people struggle and think they’re just not “positive” enough, or they’d be all better. Sad, so sad.

    How I love what you’re bringing to us, my friend. Thank you so much!

    • Kathy says:

      Susan, what a good point about how love & light in their purest forms can can appear when we’re not even looking. Especially when we’re not even looking. Almost like a gift of grace. As to people saying if a person with an illness just needs to think more positively–that is heartbreaking. It puts guilt on top of illness. And look at all the saints and enlightened people who died of cancer and other diseases! So glad you’re enjoying this 75 day series. Me too! I feel so content with it right now. (Of course that can change at any minute, but it’s feeling like this is a good thing.)

  6. Stacy says:

    I remember reading Pollyanna as a child and so wanted to be like her – keep on the sunny side of life. When I read Candide in college, I thought that Panglosse was a fool – how can this possibly be the best of all possible worlds? And then came a psychologist’s claim that thoughts control behavior -thinking like a sourpuss makes one act like a sourpuss.

    All of this takes a simplistic view of the mind. I believe, as you said, that we have to embrace all of our feelings, even the negative ones. The key is balance – and a constant return to the Holy. (For me, anyway. My battle had always been not to get caught in the quagmire of despair.) XOXO

    • Kathy says:

      Stacy, balance and a constant return to the Holy. You’ve summed it up so well. Our brains want it to be one way or another–something simplistic–but it isn’t. Blessings to you today!

  7. sherrysescape says:

    You express things so well and I happen to agree with your thoughts which makes this post uplifting for me. Thanks.

  8. debyemm says:

    My daughter learned about The Secret on Oprah. My understanding is that program presented the concept in its best definition. She said to me, “this is what you have always been talking about.” So I bought the book and later gave it to my younger sister because none of it was unfamiliar and most was already practiced in my own metaphysical philosophy (Science of Mind) but I did think it might help my sister with some of her daily struggles.

    I do believe we can set a trajectory but there is something more that produces the result – we don’t directly control that but we can see our own influence over whatever comes to pass. Did we have doubts, were there concerns that may have blocked or altered the outcome ? Since I’ve been doing this practice for about 45 years, I’ve had lots of experiential experimentation to determine impacts.

    I don’t think it is healthy to deny reality and I will add, the best time to affect what is going to manifest is before one begins to see it solidifying. Once the die is set, so to speak, one simply has to deal with whatever is (reality).

    I also don’t think it is all ME. Every other person and energetic trajectory is having an influence. What we see is the collective effect outcome.

    And lessons to learn, oh yes. A lot of what we are here for (I believe) is that and it isn’t always pretty – many of mine have been a huge mess that I was somehow able to come out on the other side of (and sometimes with a lot of metaphysical work to modify the outcome – see it as “good” so that it can “become” that, not because it is good or feeling good at that point. Please note that I did not say CONTROL the outcome).

    LOVE the serendipity of the old camp chair, of course I do !!

    And manifesting simply for the ego’s satisfaction may work but it may turn out not to be so wonderful in my experience. Not a healthy effort to make (like trying to help your son rack up points).

    Compassion for one’s self and others is critical to a healthy perspective about the challenges of this thing called Life. Or so I do believe.

    • Kathy says:

      Deb, this is so enlightening to read everyone’s perspectives on this. You have made several good points that I am going to consider even more when turning off the computer tonight. You mention how doubts can cloud the trajectory: that very well could be true. All sorts of unconscious forces may be at work. Also interesting about the timing of affecting reality. That too may be a consideration. And yes, we are so interconnected! Lots of pathways intersecting with the other. I think of Rumi’s field where The Creator plays.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I remember writing a post about this–or something similar–on Gaia all those years ago. Not sure I’ve come to any concrete knowing, but it’s sure been interesting experimenting. Sounds like you’ve done a lot of that, too.

      • debyemm says:

        True – decades of experimenting.
        I saw this quote from Ernest Holmes this morning which clarifies, I believe –
        “Man is not the power, he is the avenue through which the power flows.”
        The main criticism I have seen of The Secret is that it is too focused on “getting stuff” and that can prove disappointing.
        I’ve gotten a lot of “stuff” – a new car I didn’t have to pay for, a husband, two sons and many, many times have boosted the revenue in our business – all by applied metaphysical techniques.
        I really like Mike Dooley’s perspective – he suggests simply thinking of how the outcome will make you feel and then letting The Universe take care of the cursed hows. Even Science of Mind suggests not dictating specifics.
        So here is the story about “the car”, one of my earliest manifestations. I was going to a Science of Mind church. So, I wanted a car but couldn’t afford to buy one and had never had a brand new one. I started by entering a contest for a Camero sports car. Did lots of metaphysical work on that and then entered another contest for a different car. I worried I had muddled up my manifestation. I also had worries – about letting other people drive it, about how I would pay for the insurance, etc – practical things.
        Finally, I narrowed it down – I want a brand new car because I had never had one and I didn’t want to have to pay for it (financially I simply couldn’t). Shortly thereafter, my grandmother called me to say she wanted to buy me a new car. She told me the amount she was willing to spend and put a funny condition on it – no car radio. That part was funny because to get a car without a radio, it had to be custom made and cost more than a car off the lot. Eventually, I was rear ended and had to get another car with the insurance money, and yes, it had a radio.
        When it “works” it is so natural, only YOU know you had anything to do with it. Like your camp chair.

        • Kathy says:

          Deb, thanks for sharing that story about your car. That is cool! I love how that can work. I have had many similar stories–have probably shared them with you before. Once I needed $2,000 with no logical way of getting it. Spirit said it would come–and a miracle happened about every week. The first week we had $50 leftover from our paycheck, had never happened before. The second week won $50. It went on like that until I had the whole amount. It was such a gift of manifestation.

          • debyemm says:

            Awesome. I think it really depends on the situation, the motivation and the intention. It can work and when it fails, I learn more from that than the successes.

  9. ceora jean powers hull says:

    kathy, much of what you write rings true for me also. i find great comfort and joy being able to connect with a kindred spirit. deep bow of gratitude, again ❤

    • Kathy says:

      Ceora, it is so nice to meet you over here on the blog. It looks like we do have some friends in common on Facebook. It is such a pleasure to meet kindred spirits, always. ❤

  10. Amanda-Lyn says:

    Its incredible to how much we cling when it harms us more than letting go would. Sure letting go is painful and scary but it the long run its ultimately better ♥

    • Kathy says:

      Amanda, I do so agree with you. And yet it sometimes seems we cling for a long time before it all drops away. We have such scared little ones inside of us sometimes. Thank you so much for sharing here.

  11. I agree with you, Kathy. There is such a thing as toxic positivity. I suppose it all goes back to being aware of what we are thinking and doing. If we are only on the surface, then it is hardly surprising if we completely miss the point.

  12. I, too, have often thought of the magic divulged in The Secret. How nice, if it worked that well. Sometimes, it does. My big problem with it is the times that it doesn’t. When all of your thoughts and energy are going – and all of the thoughts and energy of all you can convince to jump on board to help – toward this really important, very crucial outcome…and still the child dies. Or the cancer comes back. Or the job doesn’t pan out. Then, it seems like The Secret mentality turns into another form of “blame the victim.” For, surely, if you had believed strongly enough, tried hard enough, the outcome would have been different. And the last thing sufferers need is self-blame, added to their already dire situation.
    I have been extremely busy lately, and am afraid I’ve missed lots of good writing by you and other friends. I may not be able to get all caught up today, but I’m working to get caught up!

    • Kathy says:

      Cindy, you have made a very important point. It’s fine when it works well–and sometimes it does. But when it doesn’t that “blame the victim” mentality can be horrible. I am still shocked that some people think they don’t have to wear a mask or social distance because they’re going to think positive and never get the virus. WHAT? But who knows–maybe they won’t. But I think things are more complex than this. It is so nice to see you…I will have to see what you’ve been up on your blog, too, and maybe even like it. Tee hee!

  13. I do have a view that we’re often where we’re meant to be in life, and I do believe that thoughts can manifest things – if they’re backed up by action. I love those serendipities that seem to happen that help us out sometimes. Where I disagree is when it seems that if only we think positive we can overcome any challenge – which disregards all the inequalities that exist in the world.

  14. Lori says:

    Funny you should bring up the book The Secret. I recently saw a documentary on James Arthur Ray who was in the movie The Secret promoting his own brand of positive thinking. He was a cult-like figure and ended up in Jail. Long story, and I know it’s really not relevant to your post. Just mentioned it cause I recently saw the documentary.

    I totally understand and agree with how manifesting our good works. When I was a child in bed at night, I used to pray to God for little things and they usually happened. I also tried manifesting my move OUT of Florida for twenty years. Looking back, I know why it took so long. My husband didn’t want to move, and I couldn’t manifest his mind change. After his accident, he was more than ready for a change and totally willing to move back. Within a couple months of his change of heart, a job opportunity popped up back home he didn’t even look for. We were packed and on our way within 6 months of his change of heart. The spirit tends to guide us to where we’re supposed to be. I know I was meant to be in Florida for a while, I just was ready to move sooner than him.

    Anita Moorjani writes books and does talks about this topic. Thanks for posting this, I enjoy this kind of discussion.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh my, Lori–that is QUITE a back story! How interesting. Perhaps he was not aware about the difference between manifesting from ego and from Spirit. I like your example about how it’s worked for you and how it hasn’t. You are right–it’s sometimes more than just us and our individual will. It’s the others in our lives too. Such much behind-the-scenes happening that we really don’t know. And I have read at least one of Anita’s books. She has an amazing tale to tell.

  15. Joanne says:

    The law of attraction, manifestation and positive thinking are all realities in my life, but you may already know that. I used to view the manifestations in my life with awed amazement, but as I grew older I learned to accept those realities without question.
    It’s always interesting to see another point of view on these topics, and there’s one point you made that really stood out to my mainifestation-believing mind. “If we basically eschew a positive attitude toward this living, breathing, vibrating life–our bias keeps presenting truths that match” – yes, we will see what we expect, not because of any bias, but because that’s what we are looking for. If you buy a new blue car because you don’t think many people have blue cars, suddenly you will see blue cars everywhere. Regardless, having a positive attitude and wishing people well will always make us, and them, feel better. It doesn’t matter whether we “believe” law of attraction is a thing, or not. If the end result is good, then our thoughts have served a positive purpose. 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      Thanks for sharing your perspective, Joanne. Interesting that you are accepting your manifestations without awed amazement. I am still amazed and filled with awe every time! I accept the realities without question but still the heart goes floppety-flop like it’s never happened before. Wondering if that part will ever grow up. P.S. Agree with you that we will see what we’re looking for. That having a positive attitude will make us and others feel better.

  16. Thank you for sharing your opinion on manifestation – I think it is a really interesting topic!

Thank you for reading. May you be blessed in your life...may you find joy in the simple things...

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