The Law of Attraction (LOA) has been everywhere lately. People tend to have a Marmite-type reaction to it; they either love it or hate it. They either view it as their missing self-help messiah or a money-grabbing crook.
Personally, I think it has great merit. But I think it's dangerous for people with OCD.
There's enormous value in being deliberate about what you put out into the world. Your expectations about people and events do hugely influence your subsequent experience. If you turn up with a smile on your face, people are likely to smile back. If you are the resident grumpy-guts, people are likely to avoid you, pity you or confront you. It's old news really: you get back what you put in.
Behaviour is what affects things. We all know this, right? But the LOA doesn't centre its teaching around behaviour. It should. Those who use it effectively know that the inspired action is the significant thing. Go into whatever you want with a bit of heart and you'll get somewhere.
Unfortunately, The LOA emphasis is too often placed on the thoughts ('thoughts become things'). Think only about what you want and only do the things that make you feel good.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not knocking positive thinking or visualisation. But healthy-minded people know when to stop thinking and start acting. They know to make the vision board of pretty wishful images, and when to put it down and go out cycling, apply for the job and get on with life. And they know that sometimes you have to do something that scares you to get over it and make progress.
I can't speak for other OCD sufferers, but my rumination OCD (over-thinking, over-worrying, over-analysing) is a terrible bed-fellow for the LOA.
The trouble is that, as an OCD sufferer, controlling my thoughts and avoiding negative emotions is a route to hell, plain and simple. I'm just coming back from there and I don't want to go again!
I used to believe that if I thought about something long enough, I could change it; if I plan something well enough, I can control it; if I analyse something enough, I can perfect make sense of it. This is bullshit. I'm discovering this day by day. All my thoughts do is create more thoughts. Those thoughts go round and round and lead me nowhere but mental paralysis.
The LOA tells me that my thoughts create real-life things. As an OCD-sufferer, this says to me that my worrying about hurting myself or someone else will lead me to actually do those things. This leads to avoidance and more worry, stimulating the belief that I may do something harmful and I should control/avoid my thoughts and certain people, places, objects and activities even more strictly.
This goes completely against the psychiatric treatment of OCD. Therapists teach sufferers to face the negative thoughts, encourage them even. This helps us test the theory that these thoughts produce negative outcomes, which of course they don't; they're just thoughts.
Taken a step further, my OCD could lead me to believe that unconnected events are my fault because I thought about them. This is another symptom which could be perpetuated by the LOA.
Now, I understand very well that what good LOA advocates are trying to share is that your emotions will attract things to you. And this is true. But avoiding emotions is also dangerous. Suppressed emotions cause all sorts of problems. Avoiding my anxiety took me from not driving one time all the way to not being able to travel on any mode of transport and being scared even of lifts and escalators for a year!
The LOA seems like it says we should avoid negative emotions. But treatment for anxiety says the opposite. My therapist taught me to feel any anxiety that arises until it subsides. In this way I could test the theory that being scared was something to be scared of - that bad things would happen as a result of my fear. The truth is that anxiety doesn't produce anything; it's just anxiety.
Depression is a little different, we don't want to delve deeper into depression and encourage these feelings per se. This is a state of mind that needs kicking up the ass and sent packing. A deeper discussion for another day. But when it comes to mental health, I think perhaps it's like fevers and colds and we can apply this basic rule: "Feed the anxiety, starve the depression."
It's time to stop thinking and start dancing around like a crazy person to Prodigy... oh, that might just be me!
With love x
Some of this wisdom has come from reading the seminal book on OCD "Overcoming Obsessive Compulsive Disorder" by David Veale and Rob Willson. My therapist recommended it to me and it is brilliant - and they explain this stuff much better than I do!