By now you have probably heard about the movie "The Secret." It has become a phenomenon, introducing millions of people to the Law of Attraction including viewers of Oprah, Larry King Live and dozens of other TV talk shows. Many people are raving about it. Others are denouncing and debunking it as a load of New Age hooey. Since I specialize in helping people achieve their goals, everyone keeps asking my opinion. I have been withholding my comments because many of them are less than positive, but since I have been asked repeatedly, let me weigh in on the subject. (If you are not familiar with the movie, you can purchase or view it online at www.thesecret.tv.)
Although this newsletter will focus on the shortcomings of the movie, let me begin by acknowledging that it has many positive attributes. The film is inspiring and leaves viewers with a sense of optimism as to what is possible. It is thought-provoking and presents some excellent information that, if applied, can definitely help you create the life you want. Many of the points, including the principle of gratitude and the fact that the War on Terrorism increases rather than reduces terrorism, are right on the mark.
My biggest issue with The Secret is the claim that there is a "Law of Attraction" - a direct correlation between what you think and what you get in life. Several of the speakers in the film compare the Law of Attraction to the Law of Gravity. One speaker says, "It is like having the Universe as your catalogue - you just place your order and the Universe delivers." Another says, "If you see it in your mind, you are going to hold it in your hands."
These are strong claims, and they are simply not true. While attraction is a real and powerful principle, it is not a law. The Law of Gravity, like all laws of science, can be predicted, measured and duplicated consistently with exactly the same results each time. The so-called Law of Attraction is different. While there is no question that your mind has a tremendous influence on the outcomes in your life, specific results and timeframes cannot be accurately predicted.
Calling attraction a law is not only inaccurate, it is potentially damaging. If attraction is a law, then someone who is struggling financially is obviously to blame for their situation regardless of circumstances. In my experience most people are already their own worst critics. Having a movie tell them that their lack of financial or personal success is their own fault surely does not empower or encourage them.
If attraction is an absolute law, does that mean Nelson Mandela created his 27 years in prison because of his defective thinking? Did the mindset of Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and the students at Virginia Tech attract the bullets that killed them? Did 230,000 people in Indonesia simultaneously envision death in a tsunami? Obviously not, so how does the law of attraction explain these and other exceptions?
Another factor that raises my resistance to the movie is its heavy focus on materialism. It says you can attract whatever you want, but the examples on the screen are primarily about having more money, faster cars, bigger homes and more expensive jewelry. Me, me, me. More, more, more. We live in the wealthiest, most abundant society ever to walk the face of the earth, yet most people feel dissatisfied because they don't have enough money and possessions. How did we get sucked into the belief that having more will make us happy? In our hearts we know it isn't true, yet still we squander our lives in pursuit of more stuff.
The Secret also implies that there is a spiritual element to the law of attraction - that God wants you to be rich and abundant. While attraction itself is a neutral concept, the movie focuses so heavily on wealth creation and materialism that the scarcity-mindedness and self-centeredness of the producers come through loud and clear. These qualities are the antithesis of spiritual. Since when was it spiritual to let others live in poverty while you focus on accumulating more stuff than you need in a desperate attempt to prove your worth and superiority?
Why am I taking the time to write this critical review? Because my passion is supporting people to achieve their goals and I believe that taking The Secret at face value can do you more harm than good. After studying success principles diligently for over twenty years and assisting thousands of people to reach their goals, I regret to report that success is not as simple as The Secret makes it out to be. Here are some of the most important lessons I have learned.
First, attraction does work even though it is not a hard and fast law. However it is the beliefs you have deep in your subconscious mind that do the attracting - they represent your core vibration frequency. Most people I meet who are seeking wealth and abundance are actually coming from a place of fear and scarcity. They are moving away from what they don't want rather than raising their vibration to a level that will attract what they do want. They may be talking in terms of what they want, but beneath the surface there is a neediness and desperation that vibrates at a survival level. The greater your desire for money, the more likely it is that you are in the grips of poverty thinking.
If you realize you still have some scarcity thinking, go easy on yourself. In our society this just makes you normal. Instead of beating yourself up, get to work on raising your vibration so you can attract more of what you want. Here are three ways you can do that:
||Practice the gratitude principle and appreciate the good fortune you do have. Writing down ten things you are grateful for every day is a powerful exercise (If you want to play at a higher level, avoid repeating them - put new items on your list each day.). Doing this for 90 days can transform your life.
||Be diligent about observing your critical mind. Any time you catch yourself having have a negative thought about yourself or another, let it go. Judgment is always based in fear. It is possible to not like something and still avoid negativity. For example, although I disagree with much of The Secret, I am careful to keep an open mind and avoid dwelling on my judgments.
||Spend your time with positive people and talk about positive things. If you eavesdrop on the conversations of others in the local bar or Starbucks, you will quickly realize that most people spend their lives telling stories about who did what to whom and how bad things are. Most conversations have two characters in them - me/us against "them" (the boss, the spouse, the other driver, the government, etc.) Avoid these conversations as they lower your vibration and therefore the results you attract.
Finally, the place where I believe The Secret does the greatest disservice. It suggests that there is a magic pill - the one solution that is going to fix all your problems and give you the life of your dreams with little or no effort. Quick-fix solutions like these are popular, of course, because they tell people what they want to hear. But the skeptic in me always looks to see what the "masters" promoting the concepts are actually doing instead of what they are saying. I have personally met four of the presenters interviewed for The Secret. One thing they all have in common is that they are among the hardest working people I know. Unlike the fictional characters in the movie, who wish for something and magically manifest it out of thin air, these four follow up their desires and visualizations with massive action. They attract a lot of money but is it possible their commitment to action and implementation plays a bigger role in their success than their visualizing does? What do you think?
While the idea of attracting what you want effortlessly is very appealing, I challenge you to take a look around you. Make a list of people you know who have achieved the level of success to which you aspire and learn the details of their journey. If they are self-made I am sure that every one of them - whether they are a rock star, a speaker, a professional athlete or a business owner - took a lot of action to achieve the level of income and success they now enjoy.
I recommend you watch The Secret to get inspired. Then use the energy it stimulates to spur yourself into action.
To your success!
Master Certified Coach
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Andrew Barber-Starkey is a Master Certified Coach residing in Vancouver, Canada. His coaching program, the ProCoach Success System, is designed for entrepreneurs, small-business owners, self-employed and commissioned sales people who want to double their income while simultaneously doubling their time off within 3 years.
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