This is Part Three in this series on the snarkiest (and most common) ways we misinterpret the Law of Attraction.

Quick Review:

The first misconception is about blame. Many people think that they are being “blamed” if they’ve attracted something “bad” into their lives. They think that the Law of Attraction implies fault.

The second misconception is making it a part time thing. We remember Law of Attraction when something good happens. But we claim it doesn’t really “work” when something “bad” happens.

So, this brings us to the third snarkiest misconception about the Law of Attraction…

#3 – Making the Law of Attraction about reward and punishment. Taking it personally.

Let’s say you work in an office with two great people — John and Sheila. Spring has sprung, and today it’s going up to 75 degrees. The three of you grab a bag lunch and drive to a scenic overlook to enjoy the warm sunlight.

When you finish lunch, John stands up, looks beyond the overlook, and says, “Let’s test gravity.” He hurls himself over the edge. As you watch him crash and tumble his way to the bottom of the mountain, you look over at Sheila and say, “Wow. That’s so weird. I always thought John was a good person.” Sheila watches the last rocks tumble behind John and says, “Dude. Gravity is SO not working for him today.”


Many people call the Law of Attraction a “spiritual principle.” I find that it’s helpful if I simply see it as a Law. Like the Law of Gravity. It just IS. It’s not personal. It has nothing to do with being a good person. It has nothing to do with getting rewards or punishments any more than the Law of Gravity means that good people won’t fall downward.

Certainly, we all know that when we’re centered, present, and feeling good, we attract smiling people, and life flows nicely. Even driving is easier.

But it’s not because we are behaving as “good” people should behave, playing the I’m a spiritual person game. It’s because of our present moment awareness and openness.

Too many people approach the Law of Attraction by trying to be good people. Then they end up resentful and self-righteous because it “didn’t work.” And besides, there’s all those “bad” people out there getting Jaguars and big homes!

I know someone who is making huge changes in her life now. She’s working with the Law of Attraction while letting go of an abusive relationship. Overall, she’s making great progress. Lately, however, things haven’t gone so well. Some old challenging stuff showed up. In the midst of her anguish, she said, “Why me? I’m not a bad person. I’m a good person. I’m really trying here!”

We all know that feeling, of course. But here’s the thing:

The Law of Attraction is not a system of rewards and punishments. The feeling that we’ve “been good so why isn’t this working?” is just rollover minutes from all the time we spent in religions that came fully equipped with a capricious and vindictive God who was either pleased with us or not. This is an old disempowering belief system.

Let go of the habit of thinking the Law of Attraction “works” or “doesn’t work” depending on whether or not we are good people. A law is a law. If you don’t want to believe in it, that’s completely fair and fine. But if you think it has anything to do with you being “nice” or “good,” then you might find yourself disappointed over and over again.

The Law of Attraction is about how you think. It’s about clarity and focus. It’s about training yourself and your mind to focus on the positive outcomes you want in your life. It’s as basic as an athlete visualizing the upcoming game in her mind, and then heading out to the field with clarity and focus. She knows how the game is going to go. She doesn’t walk out onto the field and tell her teammates that she’s been a good person today and that they should expect a big win.

This is a lifetime practice for sure.

Let’s be clear though. I’m not saying that kindness isn’t a good thing. True kindness, however, isn’t done for rewards. True kindness is heart-centered action that comes from a place of openness and gratitude. If you have self-righteous or whiney thoughts about what a good person you are, and that better things should happen for you, then you might want to be brave. Take a courageous step and look at the belief behind those thoughts because most likely, it’s making you miserable. Self-righteousness (the whiney kind or the aggressive kind) is a massive energy drain.

In the end, it’s not about good and bad. It’s not personal. It’s about where your energy is going. It’s about your attention and focus. When your attention is on gossiping and colluding, then it’s focusing on negativity. When your energy is going to complaining or jealousy, then it’s not feeding you or your dreams. When your thoughts and your energy are in the present moment, delighting in the now, grateful for your life while being able to envision and believe in goals and dreams, then you’ll not only attract great things – but you’ll naturally be a kind person who is powerfully present to all other beings on the planet.

Gravity, however, will still apply.

  • Caren

    Oops – this link for the book is the one still in print.

  • Caren

    Christine, I’m just reading The Architecture of All Abundance, which you’ve recommended on your site. I’m LOVING it, and it really presents LOA in a way that’s SO easy to get. I loved this quote: “The universe is constantly saying yes to us. It only says yes. It is our task to discover what within us it is saying yes to.”

    There’s something about your post that’s making me SO glad we’re radical unschoolers… I can’t quite articulate it. My youngest is VERY contrary, and has been since he was old enough to form an opinion. It’s something I’ve totally accepted about him, and in doing that, found my own contrary self. I wouldn’t have gotten to that point if it weren’t for RU. There’s something about accepting him, even when he can be “not nice”, and totally supporting who he is, and honoring him… oh! I think this is it: I’ve suspended judgement on good/bad in working for acceptance of *what is*. So I don’t even have to think about if I’m being “good”. I just know if I’m acting from a heart-centered place, things flow. And that will be true for him, too. I think that’s it.

  • Ellie Walsh


    I love the gravity analogy – I also use this analogy when people say “The Law of Attraction is not working for me!”

    I’ve read some of the comments here and I am aware not everyone wants to believe this law governs our daily lives….

    I think what many people don’t realize is it is never just the thought that creates – if that were so – with the gazillion thoughts that run in our heads we would all be in lots of trouble! 😉

    Rather it is the intensity of the feelings behind the thought – that is why so many times the things we yell NO! at – are the very things we receive in our lives…. The
    Universe does not understand NO! it only picks up our vibration… The vibration of NO! is very intense and so it creates rather quickly….

  • Irene

    I like the info. I practice the LOA regularly. I know within me that I attract what I think of. At the same time the reminder is there we do have choices. My motto these days is to live each day without worrying about tomorrow. Yes, at times it may be difficult however this gives me the opportunity to be fully present in the moment. What is helping me a lot is reading A New Earth. There is one thing I understand clearly there is no coincidence. As for The Secret there is good information and I choose what I want out of it and leave the rest.

  • Thom Rutledge

    Christine, if Rhonda Byrne & Company do not want to imply blame with The Secret, they actually need to go back to the editing process and make some significant changes. Being a psychotherapist, who emphasizes non-victimization and ultimate personal responsibility, from every angle that I look, this project misses the mark. Those of us who are authors, putting our work out there, have some responsibility to, as stated in the Hippocratic Oath, first do no harm. I ask that you, and your readers, at least consider a different perspective: I have written this web site with the intent to be fair in my critique. Thanks for having your blog out to be a part of this discussion. Thom Rutledge /

  • Peggi Habets

    Hi Christine,
    Another great post. I’m enjoying reading your take on the LOA. I was so disappointed after viewing The Secret. I thought it seemed so materialistic and silly. I wish they would have focused more on the how than the what. I think you have done a much better job of keeping the focus on the act.

  • Michael Donlan

    I agree. The Law of Attraction is not about good or bad. It will work for anyone who tries it. In fact, I will contend that even when things are going bad for someone who claims to be using the Law of attraction that the Law is still working for them. For instance, I barely graduated high school. I was a C student after lots of hours of work, blood sweat and tears. It is only now that I realize that I had to go through all of that in order to build up my tenacity and persistence, so I can make some “impossible” dreams come true for me and for my family.

  • stephen t

    Hi Christine – great series! I haven’t felt the need to comment, but have been keeping up with this all week.

    I do have a response to Mark’s latest comment. Perhaps you’re correct that “attraction” is not as accurate a term as “creation.” When I realized that this “Law of Attraction” was about how I create my life, I began thinking of it as the Law of Creation.

    When I think of attraction I think of something outside myself, something that is not connected to me and affects my life from the outside. That perspective doesn’t feel right anymore. I think more in terms of creation – the events of my life are created from within me and then manifest physically.

    We all experienced 9-11. Additionally I have experienced hurricanes, fires, earthquakes and other manner of “mass events.” I am comfortable with the idea that I created not only my experience of those events, but my vibration co-created the event itself.

    My understanding (puny though it may be) is that my life is born from my vibration. Simply put, life doesn’t happen to me; I happen to life.

  • Janie

    Colin, I forgot this in my earlier post. I believe in God. I believe now more than at any other point in my life. When I pray for God to watch over (the collective) “us,” I am including everyone and I have faith God will, too. I don’t think that God has an “’All one’ club.”

  • m

    “It’s about clarity and focus. ”

    Ahh I like this … yes being clear makes everything easier… also all those times in my life when I’ve tried to be ‘good’ have been frankly hideous. The self righteousness about being a good person has spilled out into lots of horrible ways -thanks for reminding me of this.

    Now I make my guide not being good but pleasure.

  • Mark

    I keep coming back to the same pesky thought:

    Why on earth is the word “Attraction” being applied here?

    Why is it called the “Law of Attraction”, and who made that up? And why is everyone just agreeing with it?

    When I suggest that we don’t “Attract” fires and earthquakes and 9/11, there seems to be agreement.

    Sounds like what we’re talking about is- to quote Byron Katie- “Loving What IS” or “Accepting What Is” Not necessarily “Attracting What Is.”

    Do we have the power to manifest stuff? Yes.

    Do we sometimes engage in stupid behavior that causes “bad things” to happen as a result? Yes!

    But do we “attract” – unconsciously – EVERYTHING that happens to us? Erupting volcanos in Pompeii? Tsunamis? 9/11? Etc.?

    I think that we both attract things, and then we are surprised or blindsided by things. We can choose how we respond or grow from that. In hindsight we can then see “Oh, that ‘bad experience’ helped me in some ways.” – But does that mean we “attracted” it? Who can say for sure?

    I feel peace just watching things unfold, and responding accordingly. I remove the notion that something is bad…I wait and see.

  • Stacey

    I’m rereading A New Earth and SO excited that Oprah and Tolle will be offering their teleclass starting March 3rd. I am SO curious about how it will be received. People who are reading it have left messages on Oprah’s website talking about how it is changing their lives. Tolle in his intro to the book says that he fully expects that you will either find the information inaccessible or transformative. So for the 10’s (100’s?) of millions of Oprah watchers, what percentage will read the book? And what percentage will be transformed? I want to know!

    Anyway, I mention it because the book is such a wonderful synthesis of the LoA, the best of what religion has to offer, and some Byron Katie for good measure. One of the things he wrote that sticks with me is that all events are neutral and, to quote Shakespeare, “nothing is either bad or good but thinking makes it so.”

    I love what Tolle says about your thoughts: they are like breathing or digestion – automatic functions – but your awareness of them makes all the difference and mindful meditative practices are wonderful ways to gain insights and stop the reactivity that seems to create so much suffering. Oliver might enjoy reading some of the Abraham stuff, too. They are clear that your thoughts are not loaded guns that will go off at any moment, wrecking havoc, and there is always time (again, with awareness) to choose a better feeling thought, which will attract another and another. I work in health care and everyone is talking about what a bad flu season it is and how people who got the flu shot are even getting the flu. It’s hard not to get amped up about it all but I always choose the “my body knows exactly what to do” thought and I really can’t remember the last time I was ill – and the same goes for my toddler son who is constantly around other snotty-nosed kids.

    Okay, that’s all for now – I was up all last night attending births and so I’m rambling a bit. 🙂 As you can tell I’m very much enjoying this series – lots of good food for thought!

  • Christine Kane

    paula g and janie – looks like we were all writing at the same time!

    paula – yes, i’ve always been mystified by the “why do good people do bad things?” and “when bad things happen to good people” books. we’re all at choice at all times – and as hard as that ruiz agreement is to grok – it’s not personal. (ellen degeneres did a great interview with him at one point and she really got into that particular agreement, saying how hard it was for her!) and of course, this is obviously quite a triggery topic.

    janie — thanks for your thoughts. I think we probably all have funny (or not so funny) childhood stories of the various theologies we were taught. and i know that it’s so hard on people who AREN’T like that and who have deep spiritual experiences within a religion to hear the indelible memories in our heads. thanks for your take on it.

  • Christine Kane

    Olivier – Great food for thought. And absolutely true. My husband reminds me that not only did I major in theology, but that I’ve taken years of courses in this kind of stuff. There is a balance involved. And of course, I remember getting crazy confused about the LOA stuff when i first read it and worked with it.

    mags – It’s a natural unconscious thing we do. I still do it too – and it kind of makes me laugh.

    nic – very true. but at first for some people – it IS about those things. which is one way to get started on the spiritual path. then when you get those things, you face the void and you have to ask yourself – ‘huh? is that IT?’ and then you can move to the deeper work!

    thanks hagit!

    ohmigod! the wrath of colin! it’s just like back at the town pump in the early days of gigging! actually colin – i don’t understand the question. who are the bitter anti-God people? and I don’t think i’m being “anti-God” here as much as I am being anti-anthropomorphizing-God (no spell check in the comments section) into a vengeful angry old man. please clarify if you would.

    kelsey – as i’ve been saying all along – it’s totally up to each person to define for themselves what LOA means – if it means anything at all! as for medical stuff – i used to get poison ivy BAD all the time. I would never say “i attracted it.” but I did approach it from a “where’s the imbalance in me that gets this – when people like my husband can pretty much eat it and never get it!” It was more of a curiosity. i couldn’t approach bulimia like this cuz I blamed myself and shamed myself about it. until i could let that go, it wouldn’t heal. anyway – i’m glad you are taking each day as it comes. and I’m glad you are being gentle and kind with yourself! I will know right now for you that both you and baby are in perfect health. (by the way – my favorite health affirmation that actually worked and made a case of poison ivy go away with NO medicine or steroids is “my body knows EXACTLY what to do.” it might not work for you – but i find that it provides me with a deep sense of peace.)

    thanks linda. I hear you. and yes i’m with you, all of life is spiritual. and my husband always reminds me that every thought and word is prayer. thanks for the gratitude reminder!

  • Janie

    I’m loving this series Christine!

    “Rollover minutes” (love that!) from religions, family dynamics, intimate relationships, friendships…. oh the list …

    Colin, I regret that I am one of the “we.” The Catholicism I was raised with was not a kind and loving religion. My parochial school experience actually drove me away from Catholicism. One example: In the 4th grade, I was actually told by a nun that the offertory prayers for the sick would not be sent by God to the intended recipient because I mis-pronounced the recipient’s name during that part of our parochial school mass. I actually believed that for years!

    My mom is very catholic and her friends, including the priests, are lovely people. When I spend time with them I am reminded of those aspects of Catholicism that drain and repel me. So, I enjoy their company and leave religion out of it.

    I honor and respect your faith and your lifetime commitment to it. I think you are blessed that your experience has been such that your religion works for you. When I learned that I could have faith without religion, things shifted for me in many positive ways and continue to do so as I continue to explore and develop my faith. That is how I have been blessed. Perhaps in the coming years, religion, too, will become part of my experience. I am not closed to that prospect; I just have not found one that resonates with my faith. All my best to you Father Colin 🙂

  • Paula G

    Have I mentioned again how much I love this series & your take on it?

    It brings to mind something I heard Caroline Myss say on her show recently. Taking a spiritual path is not about trying to be good or doing something to get a reward. That ties into what you’re saying – it’s not about if you’re a “good” or “bad” person. Good and bad things happen to both good and bad people. And both good and bad people do bad things. So it just adds validity to your explanation that it is not personal.

    It falls right in with Ruiz’s The Four Agreements, one which is “Don’t Take Things Personally”. Indeed.

    I am still trying to recover from the beauty of your “rollover minutes” comment though. 🙂

  • Linda W

    Wow, Christine, this is a great series. I do think of the LOA as a spiritual principle, since I believe that ALL of life is spiritual. But I totally agree that a danger is to make it into good or bad. I find that even when I’m thinking that life is good,as opposed to bad, I still have to be careful not to get self-righteous. The best practice for me is gratitude. Just remember to say thank you.

  • Kelsey

    Hi Christine,

    I have been thinking lots about the Law of Attraction lately. I am currently in the hospital on bed rest for some pregnancy complications. I don’t believe I did anything to make this happen. Since I’m here, I’m trying to focus on positive aspects of this situation: we’re so close to good care, I don’t have to worry about taking care of anything, they bring me warm meals three times a day (and I don’t even have to do the dishes!). . . things like that. Of course there are many, MANY difficult things about this situation, but I am learning there is no power in focusing on those.

    Right now we are hoping that I can go as long as possible without a complication arising that means the baby has to be born before 34 weeks. I’m trying to just take one day at a time and my first thought upon waking is that I managed to stay pregnant for one more day. This has been a real exercise in trusting my body, focusing on little positive things, and letting go of anxiety. I’m not sure I understand exactly how the Law of Attraction plays into all of it, but I know I wouldn’t be helping myself or my baby by stewing in all the “what-ifs” of our current situation.

    I’m really enjoying this series. . . sorry for such a long comment!

  • Colin

    ‘The feeling that we’ve “been good so why isn’t this working?” is just rollover minutes from all the time we spent in religions that came fully equipped with a capricious and vindictive God who was either pleased with us or not. This is an old disempowering belief system.’
    Man, talk about a snarky misconception. Perhaps you will now attract lots of bitter anti-God people, and who is ‘we’?

  • Hagit

    I love that last paragraph, and LOL about gravity.

  • Nic Wise

    Hows this for a 4th one (which a LOT of friends who I showed The Secret to “came up with”)

    It’s all about money and material things.

    Enjoying the series 🙂 thanks 🙂

  • Mags

    I’m loving this series, Christine – Thank you!

    I started reading this post thinking “I never do this”, but by the end of it I realised that I do treat the LOA like this, at least some of the time 🙂 Thank you for helping me to gently confront this!

  • Olivier

    As I already hinted to in your first post of this excellent series, the LOA is most probably not the only spiritual law at hand.
    To use you analogy of gravity, there are 3 other forces that rule contemporary physics (electro-magnetism, weak and strong force).
    So trying to explain everything by the law of attraction is, in my opinion, not realistic.

    There is also a second argument I think you forget: who can control his own thoughts and say he never is scared of negative effects in his life? If we have them, following the LOA we will attract it. That’s why, at my blog, I heavily promote mindfulness practices. They give the possibility to choose our thoughts.