If you have experienced a high intensity group or coercive leadership, you may struggle with who or what to believe. My previous article discussed a thinking process that can guide you in exploring ideas safely – “Critical Thinking.”
The National Council for Excellence in Critical Thinking suggests “using an intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information.”
Using the Myers-Briggs for Critical Thinking
The Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator also has a critical thinking process that follows pairs of habits and attitudes to make safe judgments. We tend to perceive our world preferring either our senses and/or our intuition to gather information. Then we make decisions on what we gathered by our logic and/or our feelings.
Neither is right or wrong. These are natural ways we gather information and make decisions.
Everyone is able to use all four abilities, but tend to gravitate to one from each pair.
Here is how this analytic process works if we use both sensing and intuition to gather information and logic and feelings to make healthy decisions.
Perceiving the World with Sensing and Intuition
Let’s say that you want to buy a car. Perceiving the world with the senses mean you look at all the facts you gather from your senses that are relevant in the present day.
The best way to get information about a car is to get Consumer Report and read up on gas mileage, maintenance costs, longevity, trade-in values, dependability, and so on for the car models you have interest in. Using the senses observing certain cars of interest on a day to day basis.
Then in the showroom you can see sticker prices, hear about trade-in value for your old vehicle. And ask questions about the vehicle. Obviously, the sales person will attempt to persuade you to buy based on the facts that they believe are relevant for you to know. This is collecting all the facts in a sensing manner.
Intuition looks for information based on patterns and possibilities. As an intuitive, you take note of future possibilities like how well the vehicle will hold its value over time and whether this vehicle will serve the needs of your growing family.
You have certain gut impressions about one brand over others that may be hard to put into words. You just know your opinion is right in certain areas. Again, Consumer Report may be a resource for the intuitive. In reading between the lines of a product review, you see patterns that strengthen your understanding and knowledge. Intuition seeks the big picture that is future oriented.
The Sensing person is like an accountant who makes sure all the facts are collected and entered into the ledger. The justified balance sheet reflects the value of the decision.
The Intuitive person is like a scientist who makes an educated guess about the expected outcome. The Intuitive hypothesizes, tests the hypothesis a number of times, and uses the results to know with assurance the patterns are valid.
Decision-Making: Using the Head and the Heart
Now having looked at the immediate facts and explored each vehicle in terms of future possibilities, you have come to the decision-making stage.
The first thing you can do is look at the facts and intuitions, then logically decide which model makes the most sense to purchase. Thinking is using your intellect in an impersonal way. Your analysis does not include personal preferences. This will help you rule out the car dealer claims that appeal to your desires.
Then you look at your feelings. This involves a feeling of warmth and comfort when you picture your choice. You may consider what social statement the vehicle makes about you to your peers. You will have an opinion about reliability. You will also have a feel about your level of trust in the car dealer you plan to buy from as well as the brand credibility.
Commit and Carry Through!
These four steps will bring you to the final two steps in the process. Now you make the choice and then you act on the decision by purchasing the car.
This process can break down for the most logical person. Collecting facts can overwhelm. Picturing the future needs might seem illusive. Overthinking the logic of collected facts can come from worry about making a mistake. What others may think about your choice can pose a problem.
Or, a whole different scene – how your logic went out the window when you got behind the steering wheel for the test drive, of this high-powered roadster, in fire engine red, with the convertible top down, feeling the breeze in your face, seeing your sexy partner’s hair blowing in the wind, and hearing the deep-throated roar of the glass-packed mufflers as you drive through your neighborhood hoping someone will notice.
And then you have to come back to reality. Your words to the salesman are, “I will take the sensible one over there!”
Let’s apply this thinking process so you can make a decision that comes out of your own convictions rather than someone telling you their idea of the right decision you should make to please that person or group at the expense of your personal identity.
Applying Critical Thinking to the Law of Attraction
Oprah Winfrey got behind a movie called The Secret in 2006. If Oprah said it was good, it had to be!
It documented the answer to all of life’s woes. This was the new idea that could make you happy, healthy, and wealthy!
This idea was said to exist as a fundamental law of the universe. Anyone who followed this law would find his or her life transformed. The Law of Attraction (LOA) simply put was that every object in the universe has a vibration.
Objects of like vibrations attract other objects with the same vibrations. Simply put, positive objects and thoughts are attracted to other positive objects and thoughts. Conversely, negative attracts negative.
Objects are seen as coming from thoughts which become material in nature. This idea is seen as how the universe was created by a Being who some call God. When He spoke His thought, it became a material object. The Creator created the material universe out of nothing but His thoughts. As He thought it, it came to be.
In the last part of creation, He made humanity in His likeness. Therefore, humanity can create in like manner, turning thought into object.
The movie and companion book, The Secret, consisted of narratives of people who experienced tragedy. The conviction of each as their story was shared expressed the belief that they had connected with a cosmic consciousness that was described as love, peace, and gratitude. That connection transformed their pain and suffering.
Cosmic consciousness came from a closed system that sustained all the energy, life, and purpose within the cosmos. Those who embraced cosmic consciousness were said to rise above the negativity in their lives.
Believing in LOA transformed their outlook from negative thoughts and feelings of despair and depression into a positive outlook with joy and gratitude.
The contagion of mass media from Oprah’s shows gripped many with the secret for a changed life. Following LOA promised humanity health, wealth, and happiness.
Being positive in thought and action would bring others to your side who also believed as you. The shared energy of positive people in your social circles resulted in the good life being supported and sustained.
Let’s test this out by the Critical Thinking method.
1. Collect the facts
To determine if the Law of Attraction (LOA) is an idea to pursue or embrace as your own, you want to know if the idea is safe and if it is based on truth.
King Solomon was considered the wisest of men. He observed and wrote, “History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new. Sometimes people say, ‘Here is something new!’ But actually, it is old; nothing is ever truly new.” (Ecclesiastes 1:9, 10 NLT)
What was the Source of the Law of Attraction?
Phineas Parkhurst Quimby, born in 1806, had contracted polio as a child. Quimby’s crippling disease was diagnosed by a medical doctor who labeled Qimby a hopeless case. In the 1800s there was no understanding of the disease or how to help the afflicted.
As a young adult, Quimby noticed an energizing horseback ride brought relief from his symptoms and suffering. That awareness led Quimby to think differently about his illness. Thus he began his pursuit of “healing by mental process.” His belief was that most illness came from wrong beliefs. Correcting those beliefs brought healing.
Quimby stated that he was looking for the healing methods that Jesus used. His knowledge of the Bible being extensive, he used quotes that served his purpose.
Quimby did not see himself as religious. Rather, he identified with the mental science of the 1800s to support his findings.
The New Thought Movement (NTM) is associated to Quimby’s ideas. The movement was one that spread by popular publications to everyday people. His followers believed all religions began with universal principles. Central is the belief that God who is Good created everything and infused creation with Goodness and Love.
One finds these ideas in the Greek philosophers like Plato who in 391 BC said “likes tend toward likes.”
Buddha wanted it to be known that “what you have become is what you have thought.”
Judeo-Christian literature states in Proverbs 23:7, “As a man thinketh in his heart so is he.”
Others followed Quimby’s movement and authored books on these ideas; such as Prentice Mulford (The Law of Success,1886), Henry Wood (God’s Image in Man, 1892), and Ralph Waldo Trine (What All the World’s A-Seeking, 1896).
Books promoting the New Thought Movement in the twentieth Century were Napoleon Hill (Think and Grow Rich,1937), Norman Vincent Peale (The Power of Positive Thinking, 1952), and Louise Hay (You Can Heal Your Life, 1984).
NTM became the fertile ground for a number of cult groups. A few cult groups using these ideas are still active in our time. This list includes the Rosicrucians, The Theosophical Society, and Zoroastrianism. These embraced “Wisdom-Religion” or “Ancient Wisdom.”
To varying degrees, we can include Christian Science, Transcendental Meditation, Scientology, and fraternal orders like the Freemasons.
Other contemporary cult groups following NTM are Divine Science, Unity, Universal Foundation for Better Living, International New Thought Alliance, and Home of Infinite Life. These names are groups to avoid because they are recognized by law enforcement and organizations looking out to protect the consumer from dangerous leaders and groups.
(Explore the Southern Poverty Law Center as one such organization that tracks cult groups, militia groups, racial hate groups, anti-Semitic groups, and other extremists. These are terrorist groups within our own country that have no connection with Islamic groups from the Middle East. The Southern Poverty Law Center is a good source for information.)
The cultic premise of the LOA is that only those who embraced these claims and belonged to the group had special knowledge of the mysteries of the Universe. One main principle of many of LOA groups is a prosperity message. Napoleon Hill’s book, Think and Grow Rich, is often cited as what piqued the curiosity of many who followed NTM.
Look from the Intuitive Perspective
When Oprah embossed the Secret on her television show, LOA was presented as fundamental to the consciousness of the universe and therefore a basic law of the universe.
What happened to all the hype from the movie, book and media interviews that said this was the universal answer to all human woes? It did not hold the attention of the general public. The public contagion dwindled. But its existence continues to be promoted by charismatic leaders who have formed cults.
The possibility of thinking good thoughts and having a positive attitude seems plausible. The pattern however was people who actively pursued the LOA philosophy became disillusioned because of required effort and time to carry out the required practices.
Does the Universe operate on universal laws? To some degree, of course. Another law of the universe that everyone quickly recognizes is “the law of gravity.” Put simply, “What goes up, must come down.” Gravity pulls an object back to the Earth’s surface.
Newton is credited with the discovery when he observed an apple fall from the tree. Later, he drew the relationship between the orbit of the moon around the earth.
Science is critical thinking that observes patterns and hypothesizes principles as a result. By this process human beings analyze, reflect, and act to problem-solve.
Scientific opinion sees LOA as not substantiated by serious science that does recognize scientific hypotheses that are observed in the universe. Einstein lead science away from Newton’s naturalistic view of science to recognize principles of quantum physics. Contemporary science looks for principles rather than laws out of respect that our universe is quite complex. Over time, new ideas and understandings come as humanity learns new ways to understand our world.
Science of the Mind
Cognitive science began in the 1950s as a number of scientific fields explored theories of mind. In the 1970s, the Cognitive Science Society was formed and its journal Cognitive Science began to publish research articles from the field. Cognitive Science questions the validity of using the universal laws to support NTM. However, cognitive science agrees that faulty thinking is a valid basis for human distress.
Cognitive psychology observed the relationship between thoughts and emotions and developed a well-researched approach to mental health. The premise is simple. Dysfunctional thinking leads to negative emotions like anxiety, anger, and depression.
Teaching people to recognize dysfunctional or automatic thoughts and to replace them with healthy thoughts resulted in positive emotions. So, isn’t this LOA?
LOA instructs people to think positive thoughts to have the positive outcomes. LOA attributes success to cosmic consciousness and the Good in the Universe. The source of healthy, happy, and wealthy in LOA is based on the human being connecting with universal consciousness. The outcome is based on something other than the exercise of free will on the part of each individual human being.
Cognitive psychology teaches people to recognize habits of negative thinking and make changes. Until people can understand and become mindful of automatic thoughts, positive changes don’t happen.
Those who followed the teachings of LOA and experienced success are in reality making positive changes in the manner cognitive science observes. The Universe is not party to the results that they are experiencing.
If LOA was a law of the universe, it should be easier for humanity as a whole to have the positive outcomes. I believe LOA merely awakens people to a choice regarding how they think and feel. The effort to sustain positive thinking requires more effort than most want to exert.
Humanity desires quick and easy fixes to life’s struggles. Humanity wants success without expending too much energy. The reason LOA appears successful is those who actively practice these ideas are in reality experiencing good cognitive therapy.
Those who drop out of LOA become disillusioned by the effort required for change.
A Spiritual Consideration
The following passage from the Apostle Paul addresses how faith in the Creator God can bring peace to any troubled mind. Notice how the author emphasizes the active embracing and practicing of the positive thoughts in keeping with faith in the existence of the Creator God and His desire to bring peace.
In the New Testament book of Philippians 4:6-9 it says,
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”
This passage from the Bible states that applying the Creator’s truth results in peace and a positive life. Numerous Biblical passages repeat the same message that comes from trusting in the reality of a loving Creator who desires the best for His children.
Faith and science agree with the outcome of thinking in positive ways that focuses on how God desires us to experience Him. Faith sees God as alive and active in the life of faith followers.
The Biblical reference above integrates what we know from cognitive science with what we know from Scriptures written 2000 or more years ago and produces an emotional change within the heart and mind of a faith follower.
One last area of integration is the use of guided imagery. Psalm 23 provides the picture of a place of safety that one can envision in the mind. The power of his imagery exists within the personal life of King David who wrote this psalm.
We find David hiding in caves with his battalion of soldiers to stay out of King Saul’s reach. Saul’s jealousy of David fueled his desire to kill David. Think of David’s state of mind just trying to stay alive!
Verse 5 says, “You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings.”
But David is not overtly anxious about his circumstances. He is not experiencing physiological symptoms of anxiety. I believe this is true for two reasons: His faith in the God of Israel was evident in the history of his life as commented on in the Talmud. The Talmud is the rabbi’s commentary on the Jewish Scriptures.
The second is the state of his health. Gastrointestinal distress is a common problem for those who are anxious, stressed, and vigilant. This we know is not David’s condition. His mental imagery is God setting a banquet table overflowing with food in a most stressful situation. David is at peace, eating his meal without discomfort. He feels blessed and protected by God, His Shepherd.
Guided Imagery helps an individual in distress to quiet anxious thoughts, to reduce emotional intensity, to relax the body, and to experience God’s presence in the human spirit.
The purpose of these techniques is not merely for material benefit. Positive thoughts coming from faith in God and images associated to God’s presence in one’s life is energizing and restorative for mind and body at times of stress.
God’s desire is for us to obey His law which is a simple choice: “Love God, love one another, and share this message with others.” There is no ominous scary voice of impending judgment as with the original Ten Commandments. It is the loving voice of God incarnate, Jesus Christ. In that law will you find peace of heart, mind, and soul.
God’s Answer To When Negative Things Happen
As I finished the LOA article, friends experienced a cyber-attack on their cloud servers. According to LOA, to be generating positive vibrations should mean the cosmos is protecting you from the negative. Yet the negative happened.
Phineas Quimby, founder of the New Thought Movement, the origin of LOA, claimed that Jesus was the source of his ideas.
Did he ever really look deeply into the relationship Jesus had with His disciples?
In the days before He was crucified, Jesus prepared His disciples for what was to come. To understand why Jesus spoke as He did, we must remember that Jesus was God incarnate.
Put yourself in the disciples’ shoes. They hear Jesus tell them He is leaving and they are going to be alone facing tragic events.
How positive and reassuring are His words? Jesus said to these men with whom he had three years of an intimate relationship, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows…”
Those are not positive thoughts. They witnessed Jesus’ love for them as well as others. He had just told them He was leaving them. The close relationship they had with Him would be gone. Each was hearing Jesus say they would be on their own!
Where is the Law of Attraction? Where is the positive energy, the positive thought that connects the disciple to the goodness of the Cosmos.
What Jesus says next is where hope is found. It is not in the Cosmic Consciousness where you will find hope, health and happiness. Jesus told the disciples, “But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV)
It is in the fact that Jesus, by dying for us, brought hope that empowers you and me to be able to live through any adversity. He in His death took the penalty of our sin on Himself. In His resurrection, He gave us life if we believe that He was our way back to God, the Father who loved us as evident in the sacrifice of His son in our place.
Oh, hear this my friend! The life-changing attraction is to the person, Jesus Christ. The attraction to Jesus is where you and I find health, hope, and happiness!
He, Jesus, the Creator of the Cosmos, by overcoming death gives us life. His victory over death empowers any who follow Him to be able to say, “By your death Jesus, I have life. By your resurrection, my needs are met. By the gift of your Spirit, I am able to live this life as one who can overcome anything while I await your return!
The attraction to the person of Jesus is not a law. It is an eternal truth. Drawn to Jesus means you can say as Peter, one of the disciples, ““Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68 NIV)
May your attraction be to Jesus Christ who wishes to draw all of humanity back to God.
The Woman Rising Project, Inc., is proud to have Dr. Lowell Routley as a lead contributor to The Healing Project. Dr. Routley is a life coach to our founder, Julia McCoy.
About the Author
Lowell Routley is a Christian mental health professional with 42 years of counseling experience. His four decades have been the training ground that Dr. Routley credits for his understanding of people. Thirty of those years were ministering to people who were suffering from a lifetime of extreme trauma, torture, and mind control. Those individuals bear witness to the amazing resilience of the human mind and spirit resulting from the Creator’s design. When our Creator made humanity in His likeness, He endowed each of us from conception with a Core identity and He knew each of us by name. His desire was for humanity to be reconciled to Him through the death of His Son whom He sacrificed to demonstrate His love. Witnessing the assault of evil on innocence as reported by the survivors has convinced Dr. Routley that the Creator designed the human mind to survive horror, sustain hope, and seek healing. Based on the ability for restoration of Core identity demonstrated in dozens of lives, Dr. Routley presents this series to help anyone who desires find a rich, fulfilling life by living from one’s Core being.