The law of attraction is the belief that “like attracts like.” Focusing on positive or negative thoughts can bring about positive or negative results. If you are angry or hostile your world responds with anger or hostility.
Wikipedia has this to say about the philosophy that is called the Law of Attraction –
“This belief is based upon the idea that people and their thoughts are both made from “pure energy”, and the belief that like energy attracts like energy. One example used by a proponent of the law of attraction is that if a person opened an envelope expecting to see a bill, then the law of attraction would “confirm” those thoughts and contain a bill when opened. A person who decided to instead expect a cheque might, under the same law, find a cheque instead of a bill.“
However, you don’t have to believe in the notion of “pure energy” and energy attracting other energy. It is often the case that our behavior does affect our life experiences.
What is it that creates different realities for different people in the same situation? Researchers on the relationship between “environmental” influences on personality and “genetic” influences on personality have shown that what are called “non-shared environment” influences on personality are the most important environmental effects.
They are talking about how a person’s genetics interacts with the environment and creates different experiences for that person than another person would experience in the same environment.
A shy child grows up in the family of a withdrawn and depressed mother and is severely affected by the experience. While that child’s brother, who is much more outgoing by nature, seems relatively unaffected.
Mood (and what are called “automatic thoughts” by cognitive behavioral theorists) plays a huge role in how we shape our environment, how we unconsciously change our lives.
This story illustrates how anger can shape the world, creating hostility and doubt, and, by the way, confirming the automatic thought that sustains the anger –
“The world is filled with mistrust. The world is not safe.”
A young man missed his appointment last week because he was in a car accident.
He was running a bit late, which he often does, when another driver rudely cut him off at an intersection.
Since he feels that the world is out to f– him, he has a tendency to get very upset in these situations.
And, that is what happened.
To show his unhappiness, he cut very close to the rude driver who was making a left turn at the next intersection. Unfortunately, that person, whether intentionally or not, unexpectedly veered slightly to the right just as my patient’s car was driving by with inches to spare. My patient’s car ended up scraping the entire left side of the rude person’s car.
In addition, my patient was so distracted by the scraping sound, that he veered too far himself to the right side and hit the rear bumper of a parked car.
They young man had been involved in an accident with two cars. These days, that’s not all that unusual.
But what happened next is unusual.
As I mentioned, this young man can show by his body language and tone of his voice that he is in a rage better than almost anyone I know.
He was very angry, both at the person he ran into and at himself, for having done something stupid. He got and spoke briefly with the rude driver to share insurance information, and then realized that he had better not continue the conversation, and got into his car to wait for the police.
Two motorcycle police and a patrol car arrived on the scene. They went out to talk to witnesses.
The witnesses told them that my patient had deliberately crashed into the two cars. They described him in a way that made him sound like a dangerous lunatic.
How is it that these eyewitnesses gave such a different version of the story than the version that my patient told me next week?
First, let me say that I have other information that makes me confident that my patient’s version of the story is accurate. As it happened, someone I know saw the whole event.
One of the police officers was pretty psychologically savvy, and recognized that my patient was in a situation where witnesses were quite likely to misinterpret events. Later, when he was talking with my patient, he referred to a large body of evidence that suggests that eyewitnesses to a crime often completely change important details of what happened to fit their overall impressions of the situation. My patient seemed to them to be way too angry. Their initial account of what happened was unconsciously modified to fit their understanding of what could cause someone to be that angry.
Based on those initial stories, it seemed that my patient was going to be arrested.
Fortunately this experienced policeman was able to calm the situation down and, with a fair amount of effort, got a clearer picture of the events.
My patient was not arrested. [Thank goodness he had had the sense to isolate himself in his car, who knows what might have happened had he continued to talk to the other driver or to the witnesses].
I think the story illustrates how anger and irritability shape the experiences of people who feel the world is a hostile place.
Because my patient looked so angry, everyone assumed that his actions were hostile and deliberate, and that he was acting with malice.
Based on that, they reacted to events in a way that would have confirmed my patient’s view of the world as a place filled with hostility and malice.
And all of this was happening at a more or less unconscious level. So it might have seemed to an observer to be proof of the way that energy attracts like energy.