What Do YOU Mean By “Law of Attraction?”

“Do you believe in the ‘Law of Attraction’?” The event organizer at a recent luncheon I attended asked this question to begin the program. It seemed like every hand – except mine – shot into the air. I hesitated. I know what I believe, but I didn’t know what she meant by the “Law of Attraction.”

Some people say that “Law of Attraction” means that the Universe is made up of energy – and that “like energies find each other.” Well, that’s just basic chemistry. Some people use the phrase “Law of Attraction” to refer to synchronicity or coincidence. Yep – I’ve experienced those. Some people use the phrase “Law of Attraction” to refer to navigating your way through life using positive psychology. Yep – I’m good with that. Some people use “Law of Attraction” to refer to the reticular activating system in your brain – the thing that filters through the stimuli constantly bombarding us and causes us to see yellow convertibles everywhere – once we’ve decided that we want one. Yep – I’m especially good with that. And some people (snake oil salesmen) refer to “Law of Attraction” as wish fulfillment disguised as spiritual truth. For that, I will not raise my hand.

To explain the difference between “creating your reality,” the “power of your thoughts” and all those other good catch phrases – and “controlling your reality” – the seductive implication of out and out wish fulfillment (i.e. the universe is a cosmic vending machine, you just focus your thoughts and intentions on what you want and the universe will bring it to you), I’m going to use a simple, 3-dimensional cube.

I’ve already done the work and created one for you here.

Now, what do you see? Does the cube reach up and to the right? Or does it come down and to the left? Of course, after a second you will see that it can go both ways. And here’s the fun part. Which way the cube “goes” depends on where you put your focus and attention.

Every moment in life is a metaphorical cube. And where you put your focus decides which “side” of the situation you will see. The sides of the situation you see will determine the choices you believe you have available to you. And the choices you believe you have available to you will determine the next action you take – which will take you to a new metaphorical cube. And the process continues.

Now the choices you make and actions you take – depending on how you see the cube (metaphorical moment in life) can lead you down a path to a completely different life than choices and actions you might take if you had seen the other set of possibilities open to you based on the other sides of the cube that were hidden. But you can always – in every moment – see all the sides of the metaphorical cube simply by harnessing the power of your focus and attention.

That is the power of “your thoughts create your reality.” But no matter how hard you focus your attention, your thoughts cannot change the cube into another shape. Your thoughts cannot change the cube into a sphere or a pyramid. This is where the snake oil salesmen promising to help you “manifest your dreams” snag you.

The cube is the cube. Your thoughts cannot change that. And that’s fabulous news!! Because that means you are not entirely responsible for creating situations – you don’t “create” every bad thing that ever happens to you. (That’s the flip side of being able to control everything in “your reality.”) Sometimes bad things just happen.

Your thoughts cannot change situations. Your thoughts only help you see all its different sides so that you can have full awareness of all the options available to you. And there is great power in that. For when we take the time and make the disciplined effort to explore a situation from all of its different perspectives, we experience the situation differently. And ironically, once we experience the situation differently, the experience itself often changes.