Law of Attraction: how reality should be

The core components of LoA teachings are beliefs, desires, thoughts, and feelings, with reality/manifestations the outcome or byproduct of these.

To simplify it further: our beliefs describe how we think reality IS. Our desires describe how we think reality SHOULD BE.

“Should” is ambiguous, but in the case of desire it refers to our own pleasure or happiness.

In essence, part of our human nature is always tirelessly working out what would bring us more pleasure or happiness in life. The sum of all these preferences is a model of our ideal reality.

So within us we have a model of how reality is and a model of how reality should be for our greatest happiness and pleasure. Our current happiness is determined by how much our belief model contradicts or accords with our desire model.

The purpose of LoA material is to help us soothe and soften our model of how reality is, so that it becomes more amenable to our model of how reality should be.

We feel better when we believe our desires are possible or likely to occur; at the same time, when we are focused on how reality should be and what would bring us the most happiness and pleasure, we are immediately more inclined to experience these desires in our reality.

I don’t find the term “law of attraction” compelling, I would rather say that my reality reflects what I am focused on. But either way, believing reality is fluid and responsive to what we think, desire, and believe, is the first step in opening up to our model of how reality should be.

A Complex-PTSD proposal

This is my tentative theory of how CPTSD works and why it is so complex.

The boundary between emotions and physiological processes is gradual. We can describe emotions and mental states in terms of neurology, and we can describe physical phenomena like muscle tension, blood pressure and gastrointestinal complaints in emotional terms like having butterflies in your stomach, feeling faint, gritting your teeth and so on.

What happens in cases of CPTSD is that repeated and prolonged exposure to traumatic events causes strong emotional and physical reactions that then become the focus of further traumatising events.

For example, if an adult screams at a child the child will have strong emotional and physical responses of fear. What happens if, instead of being soothed or allowed to recover, the child is then subjected to additional abuse, ie. The adult then forcefully demands that the child “snap out” of their emotional and physical fear response and “act normal” to comply with the adult’s instructions?

In such cases the child is still in a state of fight-or-flight, but is being placed under a new set of threats and demands that specifically require the suppression of the fight-or-flight response. Yet these new threats and demands are likewise causing strong emotional and physical responses themselves!

This is how CPTSD becomes “complex”. It is complex because the child is learning and growing and developing within layers of traumatic experience that are themselves impinging on the natural emotional and physical responses to trauma.

Unpacking and untangling these interwoven layers of trauma is not easy. Along the way it may prove transformative to recognise that what you are experiencing as “anxiety” or other persistent trauma-related symptom is not actually emotion, but the physical aspect of the fight-or-flight response to trauma.

It is possible to have butterflies in your stomach, a lump in your throat, a tightness in your chest, and yet otherwise feel fine on an emotional level. If these sensations can be viewed as the physical components of old trauma responses, rather than real-time emotional responses to the present moment, their power is immediately diminished.

If you’ve ever had something in your eye you’ll know that even when the object is gone your eye can still feel scratchy and sore, and you will make it worse by continuing to rub it.

In the picture of CPTSD I have described above, the child’s initial trauma of being yelled at by the adult triggers an emotional and physical response that is then further targeted by the adult as a pretext for abuse. For that child, the mere fact of having a fight-or-flight response puts them in danger and therefore becomes the trigger for an additional or exacerbated fight-or-flight response.

The child with CPTSD not only lives in fearful anticipation and expectation of future trauma, but additionally lives in fear and vigilance against their own natural reaction to that trauma, because those reactions were the apparent cause of further punishment and abuse.

This is by no means the sum total of what is going on psychologically or neurologically in cases of CPTSD but it is, I believe, a key component of the messy feedback loop that makes this condition so complex.

Because no matter how many first-order traumas and responses you might process and clear, this preoccupation with controlling the fight-or-flight response can persist, hiding away on a meta level and overarching the other more concrete episodes of trauma such a child might have experienced.

My hypothesis is that we can unpack this meta-trauma by first identifying it, and second by making peace with the physiological expressions of the fight-or-flight response. The trauma is kept alive by the belief that fight-or-flight symptoms are dangerous, unacceptable, and need to be controlled or suppressed. But this is not true. A fight-or-flight response is a normal, healthy, and highly evolved response to dangerous situations. For people with CPTSD the condition is not an indictment of them but of the traumatic circumstances, environments and people that once surrounded them.

Finally, by learning to recognise and discern the faint but responsive flow of actual emotions in real time, distinct from the old pattern of fight-or-flight symptoms, we are reassured that our genuine emotional responsiveness is still active, still on track, and very very different from the physiological residue of old trauma.

LoA and stuff that feels good

In contrast to my previous post, lately I have experienced a number of “things I like” popping up in my experience.

These things I like, we might also call “stuff that feels good” or stuff that I feel good about. Yet these are the kinds of things that Abraham Hicks labels “desires”.

These things popping up include artwork, furniture, technology and software, and historical sources that match my research interests. All of them had been on my radar to greater or lesser degrees, but because of my own state of mind they had seemed dull, unimportant, uninteresting, or irrelevant.

But with the emotional work I have been engaged in, these things have all become objects of fascination, excitement, progress, and joy.

What this demonstrates is the power of making peace with where I am, which included my previous post about letting go of “desires”.

One way of looking at it is that I am now feeling good enough consistently enough that I can perceive the interconnectedness of my own values and desires with the reality around me. The things I would most appreciate and enjoy are already in my vicinity, I just need to be in the right emotional vicinity to appreciate and enjoy them.

On this basis I have enough evidence to conclude to my own satisfaction that LoA works. That doesn’t mean I have everything I want in life or that the things I previously identified as my key “desires” have turned up; what it does mean is that consistent day-to-day emotional work has been matched by a change in the emotional register of things turning up in my experience.

The core of this emotional work has been, counter-intuitively, to make peace with and accept every aspect of my current experience, from unwanted circumstances to negative emotional states. Making peace with them brings a modicum of relief, and that ability to create some relief becomes, when practiced, a kind of superpower in the face of all manner of life experience.

This superpower is the real benefit and foundation of LoA teachings. If you can strengthen these relief “muscles” then you can find emotional stability independent of external circumstances. Once you can reliably attain stability you can reach for even more positive emotional states. Everything else that comes along will come along naturally. And in this light any focus on specific subjects and issues is simply to help find more relief on those subjects, be they money, relationships, or health.

Desire vs Law of Attraction

Law of Attraction is presented as a way of obtaining your desires according to underlying laws of reality. But on closer inspection LoA teachings consistently emphasise feeling good as the true aim and outcome.

Nonetheless they persist in bundling desires together with good feelings. Feel good and you will get everything you desire.

The problem is that the word “desire” is so ambiguous and emotionally charged. Abraham Hicks distinguishes between desire and yearning as the difference between focusing on the presence versus the absence of what you want.

But AH also states that many of us don’t recognise what desire actually feels like, so accustomed are we to yearning for things we don’t have and calling this desire.

Furthermore, AH warns against fixating on desires, keeping score of them, or even thinking about them at all, for risk of slowing them down and magnifying our resistance.

And to cap it all off, the ONLY reason we desire what we desire is because we think it will make us feel better. If we could feel better now to the extent that our desires had nothing more to offer us emotionally, then we would no longer feel any strong yearning for them.

All of this can become confusing, and I for one prefer more radical solutions.

So how about: f*** desires. Forget about your desires, yearnings, wants and wishes. Just give up on them. The only reason you want them is for the emotional relief or emotional improvement and that is something you actually create within yourself and can learn to practice effectively in your own mind.

At this point AH and others usually add “and when you can produce it in your own mind consistently the things you desire will come along anyway”. But f*** that. That’s a trap. If that statement appeals to you or relieves you or feels good in any way you are still holding on to desires.

When you can consistently feel good through your own practice, then…that’s it. You feel good. F*** your desires.

When you cling to desires you give away your power. You give away your ability to feel better and feel good. Besides even AH says that when you get things you have desired you won’t find it a big deal emotionally.

Emotional highs are attainable through practice of various techniques, in fact everything taught by AH is about getting into higher emotional states. Keeping desires on the hook as even a by-product of happiness is contrary to the practices.

Or as I prefer to put it: f*** your desires.

You are God

I was planning to retire this site but forgot to switch off auto-renew, so I guess it will stay live for another year!

Would God forget to switch off auto-renew? It doesn’t sound like the action of an omnipotent omniscient being.

But ever since I began my foray into mysticism and spirituality many years ago, the core of every teaching out there has always been: you are God.

What I didn’t know back then was that the dichotomy between the human mind and divine being could be complicated by something like developmental trauma.

Growing awareness of conditions like Complex PTSD show that chronic abuse and neglect can change the shape of our brains in ways that make it really difficult to live normal lives let alone spiritually enlightened ones.

Add to that the fact that so many spiritual teachers and seekers are pretty f-ed up on some level, and usually with unique and idiosyncratic forms of trauma and personal baggage making their success stories unrepeatable.

I thought that turning towards the divine aspect of my own being would make up for whatever anomalies there were in my upbringing and development. But I underestimated the degree to which trauma could colour and distort my perception.

Nonetheless after many years of work I have come full-circle to the simple dichotomy of the human mind and divine being. We are all connected to divine being. We all have the ability to let go of our complex, detailed, and narrow perception of life, and focus instead on the peace and ease and bliss of divine being that exists behind and around and within us.

This divine being feels good and is not shaken or disturbed by the things that upset our human minds. We feel good when we focus more on this part of us. When we focus too much on the human mind and the circumstances around us we exclude and limit our awareness of the deeper and broader and better-feeling part.

It’s that simple. The aim of my practice at this stage is simply to spend more of each day focused on the good-feeling divine part of me, and less on the problem-focused and struggle-oriented human mind.

Rethinking my writing career

I’ve been on hiatus since the birth of our third child, but honestly my desire to write had cooled long before that.

What motivated me to write opinion pieces was my search for fundamental truths that could help me – and maybe others – make sense of reality and find some solace or comfort in the bigger picture.

But over time I realised that the purpose of existence was not a return to the path designated by immutable ethical principles. Once we admit that divine providence is in command, we have to admit that “evil” is part of the plan and embrace agnosticism toward the relative trajectory of other people’s lives.

The best I can do is look to my own well-being in this moment, and the thoughts and subjects to which my well-being is most responsive.

At this juncture, those of a moralist or ethical bent will worry what might happen if everyone focuses exclusively on their own well-being, and what might go wrong if everyone freely defines well-being for themselves. They might fear that I am advocating hedonism or egoism, and denying our ability to discriminate between good and evil actions.

But I am not advocating that others desist from ethical or moralist theory and education. It is up to the individual to decide whether ethics and moralism (and of which sorts) are subjects that are conducive to their own well-being. All I can say is that they are not so for me.

And for me to worry about anything – let alone societal ethical and moral standards – is not conducive to my well-being.

So why write anymore?

Having determined that I can only really speak for myself and my own well-being, my enthusiasm for writing has waned. I use writing as a tool to flesh out nascent thoughts and elaborate on ideas and principles, but I don’t expect my writing to be of wider value or appeal anymore.

How would I know what you would or should want to read? I don’t.

Not long after I arrived at these conclusions on an objective, theoretical level, I also became aware that my own personal search for truth and meaning was profoundly private and idiosyncratic in its origins and underlying motive.

My search for answers originated in the very unusual “questions” posed by the deeply dysfunctional environment in which I grew up. Universal answers proved insufficient or inappropriate for my circumstances; and the answers I needed are too individual and particular to be of value to a broader audience.

With all this in mind, I have very little left to say, and therefore little left to write. I remember writing prolifically at times and being published regularly, and sometimes I have an impulse to comment or contribute an opinion on a topical issue.

But if my answers don’t align with other people’s questions, what is the point? If I am not providing value to others then only the value to myself matters and the fact is that I no longer feel satisfaction or pleasure in writing like that.

And perhaps this is the ideal end. The whole point of asking questions is to find answers, and I found the answers I was looking for. I never wanted to be a career writer who churns out content for entertainment or sensation, but that seems like the only way I could have continued beyond the life of my own private search.

And there is a comfort and solace in realising that no one needs my input, I was not put on this earth to do research for other people or provide them value or insight or verbal entertainment. All I need to do – and “need” is too strong a word – is to find the thoughts and subjects most conducive to my well-being. That is the secret to a happy life.

Everything in its own time

One of the biggest causes of frustration and negative emotion comes from worrying about time.

We worry that we don’t have enough time, that we aren’t making the best use of our time, or that the things we want won’t come at the right time for us.

But if we accept that everything will come in its own time, neither too soon nor too late, there is much relief and comfort to be found in that belief.

In terms of the stories we tell about reality, missing out or having bad timing is just another bad-feeling narrative, like not having enough money or having chronic bad health.

The pressure to make things come sooner rather than later is not helpful. If instead we trust that the things we desire are coming and that they will come in their own time when everything is most ready for them to come; and if we acknowledge that these things coming too soon would not be of advantage to us, and that we do not know all the conditions and factors in play; then this principle of everything coming at the right time for it to come is a way of trusting in the universe and a higher power to make all things turn out for our benefit.

And by extension, where we are right now and what we are experiencing right now must be okay for this present time. When people say “you are where you are meant to be”, it can seem galling if we really want to be somewhere else. But that somewhere else will only come in its own time, not too soon and not too late. So where you are is where you are meant to be, because nowhere else is ready for you to be there yet.

As the logic of this plays out in your mind it brings a feeling of peace and relief from the pressure to make things happen faster. And that awful pressure is often the main reason why the present seemed so uncomfortable in the first place!

Timing and enjoyment

Too often we worry that we won’t get what we want soon enough to enjoy it properly, or we may get it too soon to enjoy other things.

We want our desires right now, so we can maximise our enjoyment of them over time.

Some people don’t want to find a partner and settle down too quickly because they fear they will miss out on exploring life and multiple relationships and enjoying the freedom of the single life.

Other people fear they will not find a partner before they are too old to have children or that somehow it will just be too late for them, and they will be alone forever.

Social conventions play a big part in these reckonings of when something is too early or too late. We look to our peers to keep score of where we are.

But our experience of time is profoundly malleable! We can deconstruct our assumptions and beliefs about time to our advantage just as much as any other subject or desire.

For example: many of us desire to be rich, but we do not necessarily inquire what that means, scrutinise it, and examine the different ways of being rich. When we do deconstruct our desire, we might find that what we actually want is something else: a feeling of freedom, emotional comfort, the esteem of others.

Likewise, our sense of how time works can be examined and deconstructed. Do you wish you could be young again? What does being young mean to you, beyond actual number of years lived? It might mean energy, optimism, beauty, health, or it might mean having fun and enjoying life.

But there is no reason why those qualities cannot increase in the future, regardless of the years of life you have already lived.

For myself, after three kids and the sleep-deprivation that entailed, something happened to my sense of time. The past no longer feels linear. My memory is certainly not linear. Instead all the memories from my past are floating around in a big bubble. So what is the past? What is linear time when my experience is no longer so linear?

Why can’t the past feel like it took just a moment, and the future feel infinite? There are no rules for your experience of time, there are only possibilities, and the good-feeling ones are worth reflecting on.

So don’t worry about the timing. Everything will come in its own time. There is no need to hurry it or be prepared and no need for anxiety or angst that it is not yet time for it to come, or the thought that it would have been better if it had come sooner.

Childhood attachment and the Law of Attraction

If children do not receive a secure attachment with a parent or caregiver in the first three years of life, it will take decades to repair the damage.

At least so I’ve been told.

Why is this?

Children are naturally loving. Human beings are naturally loving. So why is attachment so important?

Good attachment reflects back to the child the love that is within them. It calibrates the child’s love to the parents’ love and care and positive attention.

A good attachment teaches the child that love is meaningful, coherent, and efficacious.

A bad attachment or no attachment teaches the child that love is unreliable, impotent, dangerous, highly conditional, or simply meaningless.

When it comes to the Law of Attraction, the essence of the teachings is to nourish and expand the unconditional love we first had as infants, the love that ought to have been cultivated through parental attachment.

For adults with some degree of secure attachment this ought to be relatively easy, because they have on some level an experience of reciprocal love from early life that, however neglected it might be, took root and remained alive in them.

Adults who never received a secure attachment in the first place cannot so easily fall back on that inner wellspring of love. It did not take root. There was no reciprocity to affirm the goodness and value and meaning of love.

It’s a bit like having a compass with no markings. It will still point North, but if no one teaches you what that means or how to use a compass, you will never develop a sense of direction beyond your immediate surroundings and daily life.

So what can we do, those of us who did not receive a secure attachment?

Our own unconditional love from childhood is still there, but it is overshadowed by survival and trauma and is pale and shallow due to lack of reinforcement.

What we lack is not love per se but the practice and familiarity and conviction of it. Without a good attachment it is not obvious to us that love is the thing we need. We were instead taught that obedience, or self-improvement, or helpfulness, or people pleasing, or hyper-vigilance or any other of countless maladaptive mechanisms was what we needed.

What we lack is the belief that loving will attract more love, that it is a successful strategy or tool for enjoying life and thriving within it. On the most basic level, a good attachment teaches the child that love attracts more love, and all the support and care and encouragement that goes with it.

But how can we believe this if we have never experienced it?

I think the key is to recognise that we did not simply lack reciprocal love from parents or caregivers: this is not a case of asking a question and receiving no answer. Instead we received the wrong answers.

In response to the question of love, we received a myriad of false answers. As adults we can with time and effort find out what the answer is supposed to be, and not let anything but the correct answer be acceptable to us. If you know what it feels like to love, then you can know what being loved looks and feels and sounds and acts like.

Law of attraction means that if we allow ourselves to feel love, our lives will reflect this love back to us. As adults we no longer look automatically to others for reassurance and support; we can choose to keep focusing on love even if no one is right now reflecting love back to us.

But as love becomes our predominant practice, reality cannot help but come on board in the same way.

Rethinking Christ at Easter-time

All the Christian talk of personal relationship with Christ never made sense to me.

Except that in other religions I found a very straightforward depiction of a divine in-dwelling part of us, a part that is always pure and full of God’s love and power.

Some religions said it is always there, but we don’t always align with it.

Others said it is there only when we allow it to come and dwell within us.

But whether we are born with it but lose our way, or born without it and find our way, it amounts to the same thing.

For me there is no difference between believing in Christ and finding that His divine spirit comes and dwells within you, and learning that Ishvara is the part of you that is one with Brahman, and it is up to you to remember it and really know it.

I used to worry because people seemed so convinced about their “relationship with Jesus” and I really didn’t see what they were referring to.

Many people insisted that the truth lay only within the bounds of their own religious sect or immediate experience, and they were either disinterested or even afraid at the thought of other religions.

Now I can see that many of those people who proclaimed their personal relationship with Christ were just spouting empty words; others sincerely feel a strong connection to Jesus as an historical and spiritual figure of the highest importance; still others genuinely develop an internal awareness of the divine within them under the auspices of Christ and their Christian practice and belief.

But they don’t necessarily understand it that way, in the way that I understand it from my vantage point as the son of a priest, seeing things from the inside, followed by decades of searching for answers wherever wisdom seemed to reside.

Without meaning to, this Easter has become a fitting occasion to own the wisdom I have gathered from my search and my experience.

I understand Christ and Christianity now, as far as I ever wanted to and as far as I need to. What I believe, what I will teach my children, is an authentic expression of my own journey and the answers to my questions.

It feels good to stop searching and take ownership of what I have found. It feels good to take a stand on what I know to be obviously true after so many years of doubting and looking for proof.

Because aside from the content of what I know and assert and what makes most sense to me, there is the pleasure and relief of making an assertion that is authentically my own and no longer holding back for fear of offending others or being misunderstood or mislabeled.

The Easter season mirrors my own experience with the part of me that though branded, rejected, betrayed and condemned, though beaten, crushed and denied by myself and others, could never be defeated, and can never die.

No matter how much we suppress and ignore the divine within us, it does not die.

What makes law of attraction so hard to learn?

What makes law of attraction so hard to learn? In principle it is very simple and straightforward.

But like any skill, our preconceptions and ulterior motives get in the way. Like Zhuangzi’s archer:

When an archer shoots for enjoyment, he has all his skill; when he shoots for a brass buckle, he gets nervous; when he shoots for a prize of gold, he begins to see two targets.

We learn easily when we are interested and engaged, but we are obstructed when there is something important at stake.

Most of us approach law of attraction teachings with the mindset of everything at stake. We have often given up on other ways of approaching our desires and goals. We approach law of attraction teachings like an archer looking for the target so we can immediately claim our prize.

Abraham-Hicks is fond of saying that the only reason we want anything is because we believe we will feel better in the having of it. But I think the only reason we study the law of attraction is because we hope we will get everything we want in the mastering of it.

The sheer desperation to get what we want is an obstacle not just to practicing LoA teachings, but to acquiring any skill. If LoA were presented merely as a method of emotional regulation to help us navigate the ups and downs of daily life, it would have far less cachet for most people.

But that is the kind of modest emotional investment that would make it easier to learn the principles behind law of attraction. Because the essence of the Abraham-Hicks teachings is: find a way to feel better, and you will feel better. It’s prosaic and tautological, except that life will improve around you if you actually do start feeling better consistently.

Keep it simple like this and the principles are much easier to learn. Just feeling modestly better in everyday life is achievable and beneficial, without dragging in inflated dreams and yearnings for great wealth or fame or spectacular success in life.

It’s like learning to stretch: take it gradually, and you will enjoy the process with consistent improvement. Or rush it and push yourself and you will most likely be in too much pain to persist.

So in summary, if we take the big prizes out of the equation, we stand a better chance of actually learning how to work with the law of attraction. Make it enough to just feel modestly better all day, every day, with no greater hopes or expectations for change.