By Tara Swart
Neuroscientist, medical doctor, bestselling author, leadership adviser, and Faculty at MIT Sloan.
Even during the tough times of global pandemic, lockdown and isolation, we can use the powers of the laws of attraction to listen to our inner voice, stay motivated and create new possibility. Think back: have you ever had one of those days where everything goes great: from unexpectedly being taken on a really fun date; to finding a great deal on something you’ve wanted to buy for a long time; or being offered a new opportunity at work? When this happens, we say: ‘It must be my time’, or we decide we’re on a ‘winning streak’. Such opportunities appear to be random and out of our control. Or perhaps you know someone who is always ‘lucky’. They’re the person whose friend has a spare ticket for a sold-out concert, they often get a flight upgrade, and they always seem to be in a happy relationship when everyone else is single.
I’ve come to understand how all of these ‘lucky’ moments are far from pure serendipity: they are the law of attraction in action. Think about particularly ‘lucky’ or good things that have happened to you recently. A working from home opportunity seems like good fortune but why not consider it a reflection of your successful performance? That chance meeting with your partner could have felt more like a ‘golden ticket’ than the result of the conscious effort you had made to be open to meeting people and being in the right place at the right time. Life is not just happening to us; we are creating it with everything that we do.
The law of attraction is strongly connected to us aligning all of our brain power. It describes the way that we can create the relationships, situations and material things that come into our lives as a direct consequence of the way we think and the subconscious beliefs that underlie that. We ‘manifest’ them by focusing on them, visualizing them becoming true, and directing our energy towards them through our actions. This is the idea that by choosing to focus your energy and attention towards something, it can be manifested in your life.
This idea of ‘manifesting’ is controversial and often gets dismissed, with people writing off the whole idea of the law of attraction as a result, but I think the issue is partly a question of semantics. Manifesting is merely another way of saying we ‘make something happen’. It relates to the action rather than to mere intention. Instead of loading this word with wondrous and spontaneous happenings, we should consider it as a directed and purposeful connection between our intention and the actions that we take. This takes the inspirational ideology and backs it up with modern science.
Let’s consider what is known as the ‘intention point’. It’s defined as the meeting place between ‘heart’ and ‘mind’, but science shows us that there is more than just blind faith in this notion. When we set a goal from the ‘intention point’ what actually happens scientifically is that our intuition, our deepest emotions and our rational thinking line up and work in harmony rather than conflict. It’s almost impossible to reach our goals when we are out of kilter in these three dimensions.
It’s interesting how, when we’re making life choices, we tend to distinguish the concepts of our head, heart and gut as separate things, often pulling us in different directions – we pit the logical processes of the brain against the more instinctive responses of our body and the pull of our emotions (in both big decisions, such as choosing a job we want, versus the realities of security and stability especially at such an uncertain time; and small choices, such as deciding whether to buy a new expensive jacket online or not). Increasingly, emerging science is demonstrating the interrelatedness of the relationship between our body and mind, teaching us more about the brain–body connection. By accepting this and striving for intentions that feel right at a whole-brain, and whole-body level, makes scientific sense.
Attracting what you really want
There is nothing mystical or magical about setting your intention. It’s just a question of asking yourself ‘is my life panning out in the way I want it to?’ and if the answer is no, envisaging the way you’d like it to be, and taking action based on this.
It is key to remember that our intention and focus are at their strongest when our goals align with our deepest life choices and values. For example, if you force yourself to make career choices for money at the expense of a sincere desire to have a sense of purpose, you could end up with issues such as stress and anxiety, in your physical, emotional or spiritual life, as you try to live out of sync with your true self. Or if you compromise on what you need from a partner because your biological clock is ticking, you may end up finding that you have ticked some boxes but still have unmet needs deep down.
Such symptoms represent an internal cry of: ‘This isn’t what I want!’ These internal conflicts impact on our resilience by hampering our immunity. When you’re under constant stress, for example, your brain and body are flooded with the stress hormone cortisol, which has a knock-on impact on white blood cells – the first line of defense in our immune systems. This is truer than ever given the unprecedented uncertainty we are going through right now.
In contrast, when we are more balanced, with our goals and behavior aligned with our deep self, we are primed for success. We are less likely to be sidetracked by anxiety or negativity, and stress hormone levels are likely to be lower so we will be healthier with stronger immunity, avoiding frequent minor illnesses all the way up to major health scares. Mood-regulating hormones and feel-good endorphins allow our fullest brain power to flow more freely.
Once we are able to integrate our mind and body more fully, our motivation and energy will align in a powerful way. There are small opportunities to work on this during lockdown and emerge more certain of what you want in life and more confident that you won’t compromise on making it happen. Start by asking yourself what you’ve learnt about yourself during this wake-up call that means something about the choices you will make going forward.
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