I’m taking part in WEGO Health’s Health Activist Writer’s Month Challenge
Day 7 #HAWMC – Say WHAT!? What’s the most ridiculous thing you’ve heard about health or your condition? Where did you hear it and what did you think?
I’ve heard a lot of ridiculous things over my 24 year ‘career’ with depression. “Buck up”, “chin up”, “smile and the world smiles with you – cry and you cry alone”, “snap out of it”, “if you get a job you’ll feel better”, “you think you have problems”, “what have you got to be sad about”, “don’t be depressed”, etc. I thought I’d heard it all, but then the Law of Attraction popped into existence.
The Law of Attraction has its genesis in a bunch of similar theories. One of the more recent forerunners was the book/movie phenomenon, “What the BLEEP Do We Know?” I never saw the movie, but I heard many earnest and spiritually minded folk talking about it. The fact that it incorporated – drumroll – quantum physics, lent it scientific respectability. In my former life, I was a scientist. My background was in physics. I’d studied quantum physics a lot. Heisenberg was an old friend (or nemesis around exam time). I thought, what can it hurt to read it and see what the fuss is about? The truth was, the book was boring. Not to mention, I’d never heard of most of the scientists quoted in it. I tried to read it earnestly – with highlighter – as Sjogren’s brain fog doesn’t have much respect for physics degrees or anything else. I couldn’t get into it. I decided, never mind, if it speaks to other people and inspires them, then that’s all that matters.
There were other theories that I found a little more interesting such as Dr Masaru Emoto’s work with water crystals and the impact of the environment on their formation. I didn’t care whether the science was valid as I have an artistic leaning that doesn’t care about logic when the practical expression of a theory is – in a word – beautiful.
Then along came the Law of Attraction/The Secret, or as the realists call it, ‘Magical Thinking’. I listened with moderate interest as it started doing the rounds, and as some of its proponents began talking about ‘manifesting’. I didn’t have to read the book. The language of the law of attraction was everywhere. It began to spread like a virus across the Internet. I avoided it as much as I could, which was difficult when people started manifesting on their Facebook feeds. It was impossible to escape.
The law of attraction uses some kind of theory of “human transmission towers” emitting “frequencies”. Considering that it has become popular knowledge that the brain emits a small electric field, I guess it had to happen. The bottom line of the law of the attraction, which is not a new idea, is that you attract what you think. In other words, what you think becomes your reality. Now, as a long-time student of cognitive therapy, there is an element of truth in this. If you spend years thinking you have no worth, you will believe you have no worth. It is only after redefining your inner dialogue and language that you realize it’s more productive to be kind to yourself – you will find more satisfaction and less suffering in life if you think you’re a person of worth with something useful to contribute. This is a process that usually takes a lot of time and work and self-compassion, but it’s obviously worth it.
Apparently the law of attraction extends to material things like money, houses, cars and (for some reason) parking spaces. By natural extension, the law of attraction extends to health. If you are sick, you attracted it. If you have cancer, you attracted it. If you are depressed, you attracted it with your negative thoughts (frequencies) – naturally. Rhonda Byrne, the author of The Secret, apparently went so far as to say that if you were involved in a natural or human disaster such as war, famine or a tsunami, you were emitting on the same frequency as the disaster and had therefore – yes – attracted it. What the BLEEP!?
Even if you were an earnest disciple and fervently thought about and visualized your desired reality (it’s not so far removed from the more modest theories of Shakti Gawain’s Creative Visualization), but didn’t manifest it, whether it was a diamond necklace or a $100,000 a year job or good health – it was because you had let a negative thought creep in. The universe heard – even if you had one negative voice of doubt in hundreds of positive ones – and you would fail to manifest your desire. Negative thinking was your downfall!
As the law of attraction swept through popular culture and some of the language into everyday usage, it ended up that even a stranger could accost you for not thinking positively enough. You no longer need to worry about Orwellian Thought Police. The Positive Thinking Police are here! When I got sick, I fervently hoped and wished and prayed for years that I would get well, as backed that up with all kinds of therapies, exercises and treatments designed to make me well. Who wanted to be sick with an illness such as depression, which was reviled as moral or spiritual weakness, or worse, laziness? Apparently all that hoping and wishing and praying didn’t manifest because all the universe heard was that I wanted to be ill. I enjoyed being depressed. I enjoyed being alienated from family. I enjoyed being a social pariah.
Oops, I did it again! What nonsense. At least with 19 million sales of The Secret book to date, you can be sure there’s at least one person out there who’s manifesting her desired reality!