A few years ago, I stumbled across this book, which promised some awesome rewards for the price of committed blind faith. It was a very seductive offer, and I was in a compromised place in life, a place familiar to the majority population. The book was sexy and an easy read while I stood in Target, waiting for my daughter to get out of her martial arts class, and I was tempted to buy it right away. But it was so easy to get through, in fact, that I managed to skim through the whole thing within that 30 minute time and find holes in the general message, “Ask. Believe. Receive.”
The power of positive thinking is no news, first of all. Your brain is a conductor, and whatever instructions you give it, it will follow, more than less. The negative thought will have you gravitating towards actions, people, circumstances, that match your external realities to your internal ones. People suffering from depression are often drowning in the sense of hopelessness, which colors what they think and feel, regardless of what they do externally to mask it. The shift from this thought process to one of sudden hope and promise of a better tomorrow, of dreams to come true, all within access of your thoughts alone, can inspire a complete change in direction for the person from the inside out. So positive thinking is real and valid in the value it has for changing one’s life for the better.
But “The Secret” goes too far. It states that such thoughts also cause one’s misfortunes. When I read that, I immediately unlatched, because I knew it to be untrue.
When my brother was hit by a car and killed when I was 16, my family was probably among the happiest, most positive, excitable, carefree, fortunate-feeling family in the world. Nobody foresaw anything bad happening. I didn’t even know the term “dysfunctional family” until much later in life, and thought that sad families were rare exceptions, usually found in “extreme” cases (parents fought, kids didn’t listen to them) that ended up in talk shows.
Another reason that easily disproves the thought-blame game is in an area that has always impassioned me: children who are victims of heinous crimes. I can find no logical explanation that the child victim’s tragic fate was caused by faulty thinking. Was this due to their predators having had stronger thoughts of evil than the child had of innocence and goodness? Ridiculous and offensive.
Nonetheless, “The Secret” blew up everywhere, and I would get excited shares about it from well-meaning family members. I love them for their good intentions, and I hope the book triggered a chain of needed positive thinking to propel their lives in the most joyful, productive ways. They would have to gloss over the severely flawed and potentially harmful viewpoints from the book, though.
There is a huge trend on “positive thinking” nowadays, which is great; maybe the profitability of “The Secret” inspired the resurgence from individuals and marketers alike. But it doesn’t guarantee a genuine person or way of being. More on this to come.