03/16/2016 10:13 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Breaking the Law of Attraction


"The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up."
--Paul Valery

Are we over The Secret yet?

Not that there wasn't some good teaching in that movie. But generally, it created misperceptions about the Law of Attraction, causing many people to now doubt that the law itself is valid.

It's like trying to use your butter knife as a refrigerator magnet. Technically, the properties are present in that butter knife to create a strong magnet. But if you don't magnetize it--or don't magnetize it properly--that butter knife just ain't gonna do the trick. Does that mean that magnetic force is a myth? Nope. It means you haven't done the work to get that butter knife to create the strong magnetic field you desire.

Unfortunately, many teachers of the Law of Attraction claim that affirmations are all that's necessary to activate your magnetic field. You simply state what you desire to do, have or be over and over until it becomes a reality.

If it's not working out for you (which it won't for the majority of us), it's not because your affirmations aren't affirming enough. It's because they're running into a more powerful force: the limiting beliefs of your unconscious mind.

People who have researched affirmations have come to some interesting conclusions about them. For example, Dr. Joanne Wood at the University of Waterloo worked with colleagues from the University of New Brunswick. They recently published their research about affirmations in the Journal of Psychological Science. The team found that "repeating positive self-statements may benefit certain people, such as individuals with high self-esteem, but backfire for the very people who need them the most." Their subjects who used positive affirmations that conflicted with their own negative self-assessment actually ended up feeling worse.

You know those public bathrooms that use industrial strength deodorizers? Isn't the combined stench even worse than the original stink of the bathroom itself? That's what an affirmation will do when thrown on top of a negative or limiting belief.

The unconscious mind is a brilliant persuader. It has years of "evidence" proving the validity of its beliefs. It has direct access to emotions and even your nervous system to manipulate and/or sabotage you if you try to change or ignore its "truths." And the unconscious mind often believes that your very survival is dependent on maintaining these beliefs, so it really isn't concerned about playing fair to win. Stacked up against this powerful opponent, your puny affirmation, even with a Technicolor vision board behind it, doesn't stand a chance.

There is a Law of Attraction and it does work. In fact, it's working in your life right now, though you may not be consciously directing it. So what is the real work of magnetizing yourself to attract what you desire?

The first step is to get your unconscious mind on board. This probably requires some work to dig up and identify the underlying negative or limiting beliefs that have produced the negative or limiting results you've attracted thus far.

Once these beliefs are identified, you need to release them before you can persuade your powerful unconscious mind to adopt new beliefs. In other words, air out the bathroom completely first before adding that new scent!

How? Well, it is not solely a conscious process. Typically, it won't work to have your conscious mind enter into a debate with your unconscious mind to convince it to release these underlying beliefs. In the Neuro Linguistic programming (NLP) I teach, we use a variety of techniques to access the root cause of negative or limiting beliefs. Working with, not against, the unconscious mind, we then release and re-wire these beliefs at that root.

Once your unconscious mind accepts a new, more positive belief as "fact," you have begun to become a magnet for what you want. At this point, it's important to follow up with action toward your goals. Nope, your desire isn't going to just land on your doorstep while you nap on the couch. You'll need to get your feet moving in the direction of what you want. Take whatever action you know to take.

Your new beliefs, your commitment, and your positive action steps will activate the Law of Attraction in a way that no simple affirmation can do.

"To accomplish great things we must not only act, but also dream; not only plan, but also believe."
- Anatole France

To your TOTAL empowerment!
Dr. Matt


Byline: Matthew B. James, MA, Ph.D., is President of The Empowerment Partnership. Author of several books, Dr. Matt has trained thousands of students to be totally empowered using Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP), Huna, Mental Emotional Release® (MER®) therapy, and Empowerment Fit, a program that incorporates targeted mind/body/spirit practices to create optimal physical fitness and health. To reach Dr. James, visit his Facebook page or visit his blog at