What to do? Buddhism and many other philosophies tell us that desires are the very things that will hamper us getting what we want. Law of Attraction (LOA) principles state you must desire, then ask for it, then be willing to receive it; and then there is the more traditional, Western approach to goal-setting, where you are encouraged to set a goal and do what it takes to achieve it. This is all so confusing! Who is right? Well, my answer is all and none of them.
First let’s take the LOA principles. The most common mistake made with the idea of ‘you are what you think’ (therefore think about what you want and it will come to you) is that despite what most people assume to be true, this is not about your thinking. What it is about is the energetic vibration of the thoughts that you think. If you are thinking ‘I attract wonderful clients/more money/great partner’ and are busy visualizing it every day; if you’ve got a vision board up by your desk and are affirming this thought as much as you can – but then you also have low, depressed or any other kind of energy that is not in tune with these thoughts actually being true right now, then you are giving out a mixed message.
Here’s an example:
Thought: I want more clients
Emphasis: is on the ‘I want’ (if you already had plenty of clients you wouldn’t be saying ‘I want’ in the first place)
Energetic vibration: lack
Conclusion: what you are putting out energetically is an experience of lack, and what you’ll get back therefore is more of the same. Because there is a mixed message, some clients might also come your way, but that then results in you becoming more confused, or blaming yourself for not doing it properly.
It can be concluded from this that all you have to do is get your energy ‘right’; and all will be well. However, this is a lot easier said than done! And that’s because for most people, something that you desire is born out of a feeling that you need or want it, which has the very energy you are supposed to not be having. You see how easy it is to get in a muddle with all this!
The moral of this is that if you believe in and want to use LOA principles, then pay attention to the energetic vibe you put out. Be very careful that you consistently and consciously not only choose your thoughts, but also match your energy to those thoughts. Hence, instead of saying ‘I want more clients’, you could project yourself into the future and affirm how you feel, in the here and now, when those clients are present. The mind can be very tricky with this, by the way, so watch for the insidious internal comments of “this is silly,” or “but I haven’t really got many clients now,” or “yes, but…” If you want to explore this more, I will be writing about it very soon.
The second approach goes in entirely the opposite direction, which is to drop all desires. If you don’t have any desires then it doesn’t matter whether they are met or not, because there is nothing that needs to be met in the first place. Again, much easier said than done!
Clearly, at a physical level we have desires that need to be met for our survival, namely food, water, shelter. We may be spiritual beings having a human experience, but that is the point – a human experience only happens in a body and that needs to be taken care of to continue existing. But regarding other desires, like “I want more clients/money/a partner” – it is only too easy to get attached to the end result – and yet it is this very attachment to a specific result that sets the stage for anxiety, worry, and fear that you won’t get what you want. Here, releasing the attachment is the only thing that works, because as you learn to do this, all manner of creative energies can freely flow again.
Finally, goal-setting. The usual business style is to focus 100% on your goals, and therefore you are more likely to achieve them. Studies have shown that just the setting of a goal in the first place means you are 75% more likely to achieve it. Hence the attraction to this method. This approach insists you disregard distractions and obstacles, and while that is highly commendable in many instances, (see the Channel 4 TV programme Bank of Dave for a good example), it also does not work for those who prefer to respond to opportunities, instead of making them happen. Plus it is easy to fall into feeling a failure when the goal is not achieved; and becoming so attached to them that your whole identity is bound up in them.
As far as I can see, and this is a work in progress , there is no point in asking for something you want unless you genuinely don’t mind whether or not you receive it. This doesn’t mean you can’t have a goal – just that you are not attached emotionally to it. And that’s the crunch, because it is easy to appear as if we are unattached to an outcome, but not quite as easy to have this be 100% genuine. Usually, humans have preferences. Where there are preferences, there is attachment. Where there is attachment, there is suffering. Where there is no attachment, your energetic vibration will be clearer, cleaner and you are very much more likely to be feeling happy, joyous, and peaceful; in which case it just won’t matter as much whether you get the ‘thing’ that you thought would provide these feelings in the first place.
I am reminded here of the lovely story of Krishnamurti (you can read it here) where he told his followers what his secret was. If not being attached appeals to you, read it!
Ultimately, perhaps the idea of a ‘gentle intent’ incorporates all these philosophies – there is a direction for the thoughts and vibrations; there is no attachment to the outcome of these; but there is an intention rather than nothing at all. Next time you find yourself wanting something, explore the idea of a gentle intent and see what happens.