F*ck the Law of Attraction
Dismantling spiritual privilege and the idea that poverty is a “choice”
I’ve been thinking a lot about money, in quarantine. Specifically with regards to inequality and my own privilege in having more than I need which is still a lot less than what a lot of other people have.
I was born to a middle class family, to a dad who worked like a dog and a stay-at-home mum, in a house that my father inherited. I may not have had as much as many of our classmates but I certainly had more than the average person. When you move in a tight-knit international school circle, there’s a lot you don’t realise when surrounded by people of equal or more privilege. There was a time in my life where I found myself drawn to law of attraction-esque type spirituality and attributed my financial, mental and emotional progress over the years to some spiritual stroke of good luck that helped me rise from the ashes of lack.
So what exactly IS the law of attraction?
It is a belief stemming from New Thought philosophy asserting that positive or negative thoughts are capable of “attracting” positive or negative experiences into a person’s life. More often than not, proponents of LOA testify to it helping them reign in financial abundance and opportunity in a materialistic sense.
A terrorist attack, loss of three loved ones to suicide and a pandemic later, I’ve grown uncomfortable with the idea that there is something inherently more special about me that has made me more deserving of the opportunities that have come my way. I’ve observed that myself and many other self-identifying spiritual people who have testified to law of attraction type beliefs all happen to possess the identities and systematic advantages necessary to have the luxury of creating the lives we want for ourselves. It’s not as simplistic as “manifesting the life we want for ourselves by simply taking a higher thought” that LOA proponents would have you believe. More often that, it’s a case of us leveraging our inherent creativity, ingenuity, bravery, audacity, CONTACTS, and having a healthy dose of luck due to being at the right place at the right time. Lest we forget having the ability and mental fortitude to put in the WORK required to “manifest” what we desire.
So what exactly is spiritual privilege?
It sounds a lot like this:
“Eradicating the poverty mindset”
“We create our own destiny”
“There’s a reason for everything.”
“You attract what you give out”
“Be at peace”;
“Stop playing the victim”;
“Stop being negative”
These are all variations of LOA-type beliefs that reduce poverty and lack to being nothing more than a mere mindset stemming from one’s focus on the “negative”. Many a spiritual leader has espoused this. Many an Instagram influencer claims to have abided by this. Many a successful entrepreneur has attributed their meteoric rise to fame to this.
Now, I am by no means saying there is no merit to this train of thought. It can be a reality for those who possess the privileges necessary to “manifest” the outcome they desire and I have no problem with that. So long as you’re not spending all your time meditating on what you want instead of actually putting in the work.
My beef with LOA-type beliefs
What I do have a problem with are people espousing these “Law of Attraction“ type spiritual beliefs with dogmatic insistence while completely disregarding the oppressive systems and structures within society that don’t value all life equally, and significantly disfavour those with marginalised identities! These include but are not limited to, those born into poverty and thus, do not have access to proper education, nutrition etc. and other resources; those born with disabilities or mental health issues etc; those who’ve endured abuse.
Telling someone that they are a thought away from cultivating their desire is an extremely common form of gas-lighting. Telling people to focus on “positive vibes only” is classic by-passing masquerading under the guise of spirituality. Telling someone that the LOA is real and anything is possible if one wants it enough is exclusionary- An affront to marginalised communities, differently-abled and abused persons.
It’s also homogenising as such theories operate on the assumption of a common life experience and privileged background.
Lest we forget that said beliefs also incorrectly promote an attitude of entitlement and assume that possessing said privilege is THE way to be.
Coming to terms with my own privilege
When I was financial struggling and battling depression, I still had the privilege of a good education, being able-bodied, having the ability to speak English, a strong support system, and contacts who helped me secure work that helped me pay my bills, take care of my dependents and save. I was also fortunate enough to access counselling and a psychiatrist when my depression hit an all-time low but that too involved me shilling a lot of $$$.
I had the luxury of having a solid and steady source of income from being in a well-paying vocation to have been able to afford good mental health care in the first place.
It’s considerably easier for a person like myself who already has my physiological needs met to leverage the traits and resources within my reach to “focus on the positive” than, for example, someone born into a low-income household with a mental or physical disability who is disadvantaged from birth through no fault of his or her own!
Reality is complex
All life is not perceived as equal in the current system we’re all entrenched in or else we would not be seeing scores of people going hungry during quarantine without a red cent to fork out for food or medicine- A BASIC HUMAN RIGHT. Poverty too is a spectrum. Some people are worse off than others, through no fault of their own- contrary to the well-known axiom that states “If you’re born poor, it’s not your fault. But if you die poor, IT IS!”
I know people in abusive households with no way out.
I know differently-abled folks with serious mental health issues they don’t have control over.
I know people who have endured years of abuse, sexual and otherwise that have shaken them to the core.
To be ABLE to think positively IS IN ITSELF a privilege!
It’s one I too continue to struggle with, having battled depression and anxiety for most of my life.
This simplistic way of reducing poverty to a habitual thought process of the poor that keeps them entrenched in the shackles of poverty doesn’t take into account the innumerable changes that need to take place for everyone to be on an equal playing field if these theories are to pan out for all and not just a privileged handful.
We need to do better.
Take your blinders off and look at the illusions that keep us complicit in oppressive and exclusionary systems and trains of thought. You OBVIOUSLY cannot tap into your higher self i.e. raise your vibration and consciousness when you’re in survival mode.To expect people to take a higher thought when their basic physiological needs aren’t being met is illogical and insensitive.
Anecdotal evidence counts for f*ck all because we’re each from different backgrounds, possess different capabilities and have different life experiences.
Quit spiritualising inequality when you are a cog in the very machine perpetuating it!
We have to humble ourselves and acknowledge that we don’t have the answers to many things. All life may be intrinsically equal but all life is certainly not valued as equal by the powers that be; by the systems in place. We cannot discount that.
True spirituality should be all-encompassing. It should bring us closer together, not drift us further apart.
Let empathy be your homing signal;
with spirituality; with people; with all things in life.