Positive Thinking is Cool, but Have You Tried Wallowing in Fear and Anger?
I wrote a piece about a situation that bugged me. A “law of attraction” type showed up to tell me that I had a victim mentality and showed no accountability for my predicament. Initially I thought he didn’t read the piece, because three paragraphs in I write “this is my fault as much as anyone’s.”
I pointed that out. He doubled down. I pointed out that the writing itself was taking accountability. He tripled down.
Then I wasted my one wild and precious life spending time looking at his profile and confirming that he was one of those “law of attraction” crazy people. His comments weren’t really his fault (no accountability required!) because those people are completely off their onion.
In case you’re not familiar, the so-called “law of attraction” first gained popularity with the 1952 publication of The Power of Positive Thinking. It had another big moment after the author of The Secret ripped off the ideas in The Power of Positive Thinking. This caught the attention of Oprah and the rest is history.
Now Pinterest is lousy with vision boards about good health and manifesting wealth. A bustling industry depends on convincing people that their thoughts create their reality. Everything good that happens to you is created by your positive thoughts — usually in the form in visualization and affirmations — and everything bad is also your own creation.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for being your own cheerleader. Adopt a positive mindset if you’re trying to parallel park or do a fancy move on your roller skates or run a marathon. Wave your own tiny foam finger at yourself in your own tiny cheering section. Believing that you can do a thing will, obviously, increase your chances of being able to do that thing.
But the “law of attraction” cleaves the world into two groups: people who deserve good fortune (because they trained their mind to manifest good fortune) and people who don’t (because they failed to properly train their mind). If you buy this bullshit, you can easily otherize people, conveniently skipping all the usual ways of otherizing them — race, religion, sexual orientation, you…