law of attraction, heal

The Law of Attraction May Not Be What You Think

I love the idea of the law of attraction.

You’ve heard of it, right?

The “law” of nature that (purportedly) says, “think it, feel it, celebrate it, take action toward it, and it will come.” That we create our reality. That we can manifest our dreams.

Saying those words fills me with hope. They make me feel I can control my outcomes. Direct my life.

And we can to some extent, right? We know this from the science of human potential: neuroplasticity, epigenetics, core biology, body-mind psychology, and the physics of energy. They tell us that our reality—our bodies, our minds, our spirits, our healing, our lives—is so much in our hands.

Problem is, the law of attraction shames us and makes us aim too low.

It Shames Us

There’s a dark side to how the law of attraction is often articulated by new aged spiritual pundits.

What if the outcome of my hard work to “think it, feel it, celebrate it, and take action toward it” doesn’t result in the manifestation I hoped for? Even if I did all the “right” things? Even if I really, really felt it? Even if I worked really, really hard? Even if I got deeply into the theta state of my consciousness and visualized the heck out it?

What if I hit roadblocks and disappointment instead?

What if I didn’t get even close to my dreams and desires?

Am I doing it wrong? Is there something wrong with me?

There it is, folks. That’s the dark side.

The “law” of attraction, as it’s often taught, has a dark side: it shames us when we fail. When it fails us. When in spite of following the recipe correctly (think it, feel it, celebrate it, and take action toward it), we don’t even come close.

What’s with that?

Well, duh! We’re not completely in charge, are we? That would be ridiculous. That would be a real disappointment!

We Aim Too Low

What would happen if we never “failed?” If we never hit dead ends or had to grapple with disappointments? What would happen if we always got what we wanted?

You got it right—we’d be much lesser versions of ourselves than we could be.

I’m always floored by how much better I am—and my life is—when I fail. Failure gets me out of my own way. After working hard, doggedly pursuing my goals, failure forces me to stop, move aside, and ask for help.

Failure helps remind me that I aimed too low. I can do so much better than my own imagination!

I see this as the Universe (feel free to use your favorite noun here—Divine intelligence, God, Nature, quantum field of intelligence) carving me into my better self. Usually in ways that I could never conceive of on my own. I’m so much better when I don’t always get what I want.

Yes, we’re neuroplastic—our brains and minds quite literally grow, heal, and change through our directed efforts.

Yes, we’re epigenetic—our genes change their expression in profound ways through the ways we care for ourselves.

Yes, we’re metaphysical—we can harness our energy to make us fly!

That’s all huge. That’s potential. That’s phenomenal personal power and control.

But, that ain’t all. We’re not all. And, I thank God for that.

Tools of Attraction

I like to think of the “law” of attraction as a set of tools—powerful tools.

Tools that are the thoughts, feelings, celebrations, and actions that help us activate the neuroplasticity, epigenetics, core biology, body-mind psychology, energy, and support we need to manifest our dreams and desires.

Tools that get us prepared. That make us ripe and ready for the miracles that occur when we do our work, then get out of the way. Tools that help us release our potential.

There. Laws are too simplistic, aren’t they? Tools beat the heck out of laws any day.

Have you ever been let down or shamed by not getting what you wanted? After working really hard and doing all the “right” things? How did it eventually turn out for you? Talk to me!

Have a Beautiful day!


Karyn Shanks MD


Karyn Shanks, MD, is a physician who lives and practices in Iowa City. Her work is inspired by the revolutionary science of Functional Medicine, body-mind wisdom, and the transformational journeys of thousands of clients over her twenty-eight year career. She believes that the bones of healing are in what we do for ourselves.


    I really like this, and I think it touches on something important: not giving away our power.

    A lot of times, especially in more new age circles, it can seem like we’re supposed to rest our power on the ideas or rituals themselves, rather than using them as tools to help our innate power.

    It’s not the “law” of attraction that gives us power, but rather something that helps us channel and focus our already strong minds and spirits towards what we want.

    It’s not that we’re doing anything wrong, or that WE are wrong. Perhaps it’s just that there’s something we don’t yet know or understand, or it’s what Bob Ross would call a “happy accident”.

    Great article – look forward to sharing!


    You are so right on! It’s exactly that, isn’t it? And I love that you quote my
    beloved Bob Ross!:) Thanks for reading!


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