Tag Archives: power of attraction

I’m Picking Up Good Vibrations

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Even in 1966, when The Beach Boys were extolling the virtues of good vibrations, the power of positive thought was nothing new.

“Gotta keep those lovin’ good vibrations a-happenin’”

Beach Boys

Dale Carnegie wrote How To Win Friends and Influence People in 1936. It later became a course of personal improvement based on positive behaviors, hailed by business executives the world over. And it was Benjamin Franklin who wrote in Poor Richard’s Almanac, “Tart Words make no Friends: spoonful of honey will catch more flies than gallon of vinegar.”

More recently The Secret, by Rhonda Byrne (2006), took the premise of the law of attraction and ran with it, selling the idea (by way of 30 million copies of the book) that the vibrational frequencies of our thoughts go forth into the universe and fetch back like vibrations—positive thoughts attract positive results. 

It seems positivity also attracts nay-sayers. Lately my social media feeds are full of chatter decrying the scourge of toxic positivity and the harm it causes in the spiritual community. In my opinion, it’s fast becoming a one sided conversation driven by those who feel they are being pressured to mask behavior or personality traits seen as negative, in order to be accepted.

In polite society, there are certain conventions regarding behaviors generally thought to be offensive. Let’s face it, you probably don’t burp, fart, or pick your nose in public regardless of how pleasurable it may be for you, or because you do it at home all the time and shouldn’t have to change who you are to be accepted. You know good and well such behaviors will draw criticism and avoidance.

Where does your right to act or speak as you feel, come up against my right to not be offended—or even feel uncomfortable? How does your comfort level, trump mine? Frankly, if your attitude is bumming me out, what compels me to engage with you?

If I see one meme a day, I see twenty, declaring that the poster is not a phony or fake and if you can’t take them as they are it’s your problem not theirs. But it’s not my problem at all. I can walk or click away, and maybe you don’t care if I do. Great, we’re both getting what we want. If it’s my page or my group, I can ask you to get with the program or leave. That’s when you cry foul.

Own Your Own Crap

Everybody certainly has the right to act and speak as they feel. However, there is no protected right to impose your true self on those who choose not to participate in the exchange, in real life or on social media.

I’m married to a man who sees his world through a lens of negativity—he points out everything that he sees as wrong, somehow lacking, below standard, or otherwise irritating to him. Whether or not his constant negative commentary is justified (by chronic pain, life threatening illness, profound grief over the loss of his only son, and probably complicated PTSD) is irrelevant. He chooses to focus on these things, and by verbalizing it in an endless stream of complaining, he imposes it on me. It’s exhausting, sometimes maddening, sometimes unbearable. I’m constantly shielding and deflecting his behaviors. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about what the stress levels are doing to my own health.

I married him, for better or worse, in sickness and in health. More importantly I love him and have compassion for his struggles. I’m no saint, he tolerates a lot too—probably not the least of which is my incessant positivity. I’m not walking away. I choose to put up with his crap, which is one reason I won’t tolerate yours—I’m already fulfilling my quota, thank you.

We live in expanding rings of community, with self at the center, surrounded by family, then friends, work groups, social groups, and so forth. The further you move from the center, the more you have to moderate your behavior to get along in a crowd.

Being told that you are a buzz kill, a kill joy, a Debbie downer, a gloomy Gus, a drain, an energy vampire, a pessimist, or any other epithet denoting negativity is not toxic positivity. At the other end of the scale are the Chatty Cathy’s, the Pollyanna’s, those accused of being naive, sticking their head in the sand, being in denial, wearing rose colored glasses, too loud, too hyper, told to tone it down, take it down a notch . . . all for being too optimistic. 

I have heard every one of those at times in my life. Does it sting? Oh my, yes. Could it be said with more tact, maybe compassion? Yes, certainly. Does it cause me to moderate how I act? With some people, in some places, yes. I’m pretty sure that’s a lesson in social awareness. 

Accusations of toxic positivity as I most often see them, are a misnomer at best. It’s an umbrella term covering the new age, love and light, power of attraction schools of thought that abound in personal development, healing arts, and spiritual practice from witchcraft to evangelical Christianity. A few recognized thought leaders include Democratic presidential candidate Marianne Williamson, motivational speaker Tony Robbins, and Joel Osteen, minister of Lakewood Church in Houston, Texas.

I mention these three because all have drawn criticism from their detractors and contemporaries both. Williamson is being called a whacka-doodle, Robinson has been held up as a snake oil salesman of the worst kind, and Osteen is accused of bypassing the scripture of fire and brimstone to preach a false gospel of prosperity and positivity—despite heading up the fastest growing non-denominational Christian congregation in the United States. 

I’m not here to debate the validity or value of these self appointed gurus’ offerings. I don’t necessarily subscribe to their pitches. For all the followers, there are as many haters. It boils down to a cup of tea—maybe it’s your cup of tea, or maybe it’s not. Offering you a sip is not the same as forcing it down your throat. If it feels that way, maybe you should reconsider hanging out with people who think it’s the nectar of the gods.

This is not to say that toxic positivity does not exist. At its core, toxic positivity is a problem of insensitivity and lack of compassion. Telling a clinically depressed person to cheer up, or suggesting they wouldn’t need medication if they just tried to be more positive is not only insensitive, it’s just plain ignorant. As is telling members of marginalized and minority communities, where systemic discrimination blocks upward mobility and success, that they need to stay positive and try harder.

Equally toxic is the implied (or direct) suggestion that if positive thought brings positive results negative thoughts attract negative results. Of course, that’s utter nonsense. As Rabbi Harold Kushner put fort in his best selling book, bad things happen to good people all the time. It’s nobody’s fault, it is not some divine punishment, it is not the action of a vengeful God or gods, or the powers that be.

  • Fact #1: Good and bad things happen all the time.
  • Fact #2: These things happen as a result of our decisions and actions.
  • Fact #3 These things happen through indirect forces we have no control over.
  • Fact#4 All three of the above facts can co-exist; no one is no more true than the other.

What About The Exceptions

Does positive thought have any efficacy at all, then? I choose to believe it does. 

There’s this funny little quirk of our brain and how it processes information—it’s not so good at distinguishing between real and make-believe. For example, watch a scary movie and you’ll feel your pulse quickening and your heart racing. Your body systems are also being flooded with stress hormones preparing the body to flee or stand and fight. All of this happens even as you repeat to yourself, “it’s only a movie, it’s only a movie.”

The same glitch has been used by competitive athletes for decades, under the headings of self fulfilled prophesy and mental conditioning. An olympic skater might go over their routine a thousand or more times in their mind, imagining each glide, spin, jump and landing, envisioning perfection in every detail, willing it to happen just that way.

Even the practice of making vision boards, providing a constant visual reminder of what you want to manifest, fools your mind into thinking it’s already a reality. Though you may not be consciously aware of it, you begin to make choices and act in ways that facilitate your goals. Or even more simply, the familiarity of the images compels you to have those things in real time. Whichever it is, I’ve manifested a good many material things in my life by first attracting them with thought.

Diversity in personality and behavior is one of the things that makes us all unique. Fly your freak flag, or your grump flag, or your love and light, positive attraction, unicorn pooping rainbows flag, and allow others to do the same. Maybe don’t join a camp if you don’t feel allegiance to its flag.


Wishcraft or Witchcraft — The Power of Intention

I’m facilitating my Self CARE™ program of personal development for a closed Facebook group focused on healing of body, mind and spirit. It’s bringing me all the way back to my days as a health and wellness coach, and my blog,  Living Well, Body – Mind – Spirit.

I didn’t identify as a witch 20-some years ago. I was spiritual—delving into metaphysics and all the possibilities in the universe. I believed then, as I do now, that there was “something” to the power of attraction. I made vision boards, I filled journals, read all the books and listened to all the tapes for manifesting the life of my dreams.  

Now, after learning the craft of the witch, I see the intersection of wishcraft and witchcraft, even though the two are not one-in-the-same.

My definition of witchcraft may be different that yours, and it ever evolves the more I learn and practice. As a newbie, I can remember being disappointed that while there might be a secret club (many of them, in fact), there were no mystical secrets, no arcane words foreign to my ear, to be passed on, allowing me to unlock the power of real magick. At least not the kind of secrets I envisioned—where the knowledge, or the words, or the tool, would be imparted and instantly I would be able to change physical matter, levitate things (or myself), light a candle with mere thought, or be able to turn an enemy into a toad.

It’s almost embarrassing now to believe I even hoped that was possible, but I was at a place in my life where I felt completely powerless. I just wanted to make it all go away as soon as possible—poof! I say almost embarrassing, because this is the crossroad where so many of us choose the path of the witch.

Eventually, I began to see witchcraft as a practice, a skill that improves with dedication and experience. Still, something was missing from the equation. Now (over the past year or so), I’ve deepened my understanding of witchcraft to be a practice of personal power that comes from personal development. I’ve come around full circle, back to the basics of coaching. 

Desire + Intention + Action = Successful Outcomes.

But that isn’t witchcraft. Or, is it?

In 2000 my marriage of 23 years ended in divorce, my world was upside down, my future was unsure and the last thing I felt was that I had any control in my life.

Each morning before getting ready for work, I’d sit on the wide, raised hearth of the fireplace drinking coffee and making check lists. Most of them were straight forward chores, cleaning, painting, removing overgrown shrubbery, making flower beds—all things to make my new place feel like home. When I checked the items off a list, I tucked it into an envelope with others I’d completed. Seeing the packet grow thicker over time gave me a feelingI of accomplishment and confidence.

I started a wish list that included things like, new carpeting, remodeled kitchen, potting shed, potager garden, sunroom addition, gas fireplace insert, and more. My mother would have called my list pipe dreams, because I had no idea how I was going to make any of it happen. 

About the same time, I jumped onto the power of attraction bandwagon. Among other books in the genre, I read The Circle: How The Power of a Single Wish Can Change Your Life, by Laura Day. Much of the book’s contents fades from my memory, other than the objective to write a description of my perfect life.

I wrote of a small cottage in a, quiet waterside community, where I would spend my days writing, in a cozy room tucked under the eaves. I’d shop at the market for the evening meal, that I’d share with my spouse. We’d go for walks or ride our bikes, smile and wave as we passed by others, knowing most everybody we saw—a storybook existence, to be sure. I wrote it in great detail, including the style of the house and furnishings, the shops in the village, the colors of the sunrise and sunset, and everything that happened each day between those hours.

I was a middle-aged divorced mom still raising the youngest of three daughters, running around like the proverbial chicken, but trying to keep my head on. Looking back, that morning hour of list making and wishing was my instinctual way of tending to myself. The completed lists of everything I was doing, even if it was just remembering to buy groceries, do the laundry, and pay the bills on time, were reassuring me that I was capable, that I would make it on my own. The wish lists for my future were a promise to myself that I could still have everything I dreamed of—I wasn’t a failure and it wasn’t too late.

Life carried on as it does. I remarried, I went to work and came home every day. My youngest daughter grew and left the nest, she and her sisters all did what children do, built a life of their own. Routine days and milestones passed and I took it all in stride. At some point, I ran across those early wish lists, tucked into an envelope, slipped into one of my journals, forgotten.

Or so I thought. As I looked over the lists, and then read the description of my dream life, I was astounded to see how much of it had come to pass, without having consciously thought about it and in ways I never expected. I am still in the very same home, and though I envisioned something quite different, I realize I have almost everything I wrote in that description, vine covered cottage included.

Did I make it all happen?  Of course I did; I made the choices and took the steps. But success isn’t always that easy. Many, many people want things they never get, many try only to fail. Far too many are blocked by institutionalized disadvantage, discrimination, and oppression . . . and yet there are those who overcome.

The power of thought is limitless. I like to remind people that everything in this world that did not spring forth naturally, began first with a thought; everything made by man or beast exists by the intention to manifest a thought into being.

But thoughts work in the opposite way as well. There is a common misconception about aerodynamics and the bumblebee, with wings too small to keep its chubby body aloft. It’s been used over and over again to inspire determination. And, it turns out to be wrong. Bumblebees move their wings in a different pattern that indeed makes flight not only possible, but scientifically sound. So there goes the inspiration, right?

Perhaps, but think about it this way. What if the bumblebee had listened to all the bad press, and formed the thought that it was true, that it couldn’t possibly fly and so didn’t. The only single thing keeping it from flight would be its own thought form—it’s belief and acceptance of something completely false.

My mentor is talking a lot about thought forms, exploring the idea that everything in our personal existence is a creation of our thoughts manifest in form. That’s a very simplistic way to frame her concept—it’s not an easy one to wrap my brain around, and I have no idea if it’s valid or not, but I’m traveling down the track with her. 

How much of what I believe to be true and irrefutable is really a result of the thoughts I form around it? Does the placebo effect prove this out? In a limited fashion, yes. But if I’m diagnosed with a fatal disease, can I think it away? If not, how do we explain those rare cases of people who have survived against all odds? A miracle, yes, but are miracles necessarily divine intervention from some unknown and powerful source? If that’s the case, the seeming arbitrary determination of who deserves miracles and who is passed over is troublesome to me. 

As a witch who stands loud and proud for social justice and equal rights for all, I have to walk this tight rope carefully. Saying the power of desire plus intention is limitless— if we can find the key to unlock it—is one thing. Saying we can wish all our troubles away if we just think positive is another. One is a willingness to explore the possibilities and put in the effort (practice, practice, practice) and the other is toxic positivity.

For now, I’m willing to believe that my thoughts have power beyond my current understanding. I’m willing to put forth the required work in action, and explore the possibilities. I’ll never know if I don’t try, and really, what can it hurt?


The Lie in The Power of Attraction & Positive Thought

revelation-2937691_640There is an entire industry built around the (false) premise that if your life is in the crapper, you have nobody to blame but yourself. You just aren’t trying hard enough, you don’t have the willpower it takes. You simply aren’t attracting positive energy into your life.

Books on the power of attraction and manifesting your dreams fill the personal development/self-help isle at bookstores and libraries. Self-help gurus have made fortunes telling you how to erase your tapes, design your dreams, and create your destiny.

In a second level iteration, the positive thought programming has filtered into the world of multi-level marketing, an industry weighted toward attracting women (mostly) with the patronizing promise that they can make six figures or more if they just put their mind to it and stay positive.

I once bought into that multi-level, positive power, attract your dream, and live the life pitch, in what seems like another lifetime. It lasted about three months for me, until I heard the motto T.D.T.D, too dumb to doubt. Just do everything your upline associate tells you without question and you too can be driving a new car, wearing a mink coat, and earning six figures a year.

The lie at the core of manifesting your success/dream from nothing but willpower and grit, is that if you fail, you simply didn’t try hard enough. It’s all your fault.

If the single mother, going to school, burning the midnight oil to pass her tests and taking care of her children every day, fails in a multi-level business that requires her to be a sole entrepreneur and keep a team of downline associates motivated in order to increase her income, she just wasn’t trying hard enough.

Or the woman who lives in an urban neighborhood where the median income is below poverty level and she doesn’t know a single soul who can spend one dollar on miracle make-up, miracle diets, magical healing oils or overpriced clothing that WOPs (women of privilege) wear to run errands, she wasn’t aspiring high enough.

Or the woman trapped in an abusive relationship, whose neanderthal husband does everything in his power to see her fail (details not necessary) wan’t owning her own power.

The truth is life is a crap fest, shit happens and chaos abounds. And just because really bad shit happens to you once, doesn’t mean it won’t happen again—and it sure as sugar doesn’t mean you somehow attracted it. I know. I lost a step son and a future son-in-law in two separate car accidents six months apart. Having received that 3 a.m. call every parent dreads once, and then again, that I’m somehow immune to the tragedy repeating itself.

The truth is, we don’t have control over everything. We can direct our lives, we can conduct our behavior, we can work really hard and we can succeed, but if we don’t it’s not necessarily because we weren’t trying hard enough—or that we’re unwittingly asking for it.

The trick in success, I think, is to know what you want, to take action that moves you towards your goal, and avoid behaviors and actions that don’t support your outcome whenever you can. Then hope you catch the right breaks.

There are certainly self-development tools and techniques that help, and accentuating the positive can’t hurt. Changing the way you perceive a challenge can change the way you approach it and improve your chance of success. Self-fulfilled prophesy really does work to an extent, because it seems that the brain doesn’t distinguish between reality and imagination or visualization.

Tell yourself something is true often enough, and you’ll begin acting as though it is. Act as though it is, and chances are it will become true. Of course all this success manifestation is limited by the laws of nature, physics and odds. If you are 5’6″ and well beyond the age of growing, you cannot think yourself into being 6’2″, and odds are a miraculous medical procedure isn’t going to do it either.

But, what about magic? What about witchcraft and spell casting? Is it all a hoax, or maybe a lot of coincidence we just want to believe is magic? Well, think about this: everything that exists in this world outside of nature began as nothing more than a thought.  From the wheel, to the device your are reading this on that allows me to type words and you to read them 100, or 1,000 or 10,000 miles alway in a matter of seconds was once just a thought. And would have once, most definitely, been thought of as magic.

Creating something from nothing more than a thought must mean our thoughts are, or at least can be, incredibly powerful when backed up by intention and action. So think positive, work toward your goals and dreams, recognize any limitations, ask for help when you need it and can get it, and don’t blame yourself for setbacks beyond your control.

In other words, go out and give it your best shot—make magic happen.


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