Proponents of the law of attraction believe that your thoughts and feelings create your life. The energy you put out into the world, they say, comes back to you in what you attract.
The theory suggests that how your life pans out is ultimately within your control, that you have the power to manifest your desires using the power of positivity.
While that may seem empowering, it can also create pressure to be happy all the time. Plus, you may be wondering if there’s evidence that the law of attraction theory actually works.
Let’s dive into the research and expert opinions to get to the bottom of this popular perspective.
Scientifically speaking, there’s no concrete evidence that says the law of attraction actually exists.
Proponents say the law of attraction is supported by theories from quantum physics that suggest this “law” has an energetic and vibrational element.
“It’s the principle that ‘like attracts like.’ What we put out into the universe, we receive back, because everything, even thoughts and feelings, carry a vibration,” says Emma Halley, a spiritual wellness coach.
“By believing that we’ve already achieved [our desires], we put a matching frequency and vibration out into the universe that will, in turn, attract it to us.”
You won’t find any scientific studies that conclusively prove the existence of the law of attraction.
However, there’s some research to support positive thinking and visualization.
A 2005 review found that people with positive affect were more likely to enjoy increased levels of happiness and success.
A 2010 review found that visualizing your desires increased the likelihood of them becoming a reality.
Though scientific support is lacking, many people around the world believe in the law of attraction and use it in their daily lives.
When it comes to manifesting your desires by sending out positive vibes, there are some definite downsides.
“There’s a massive culture of toxic positivity that has arisen as a result of the law of attraction trend,” Halley says. Some “people have simplified the method to just forcing a positive mindset in any and all situations in order to manifest.”
Halley notes that this can lead to dangerous emotional repression.
“This is dangerous, because it has a very real risk of invalidating people’s emotional state and mental well-being,” she says. “Negative feelings and low moods are valid, and they are real. You have to be able to acknowledge them first before you can have any hope of healing them.”
Over time, pushing away your emotions can lead to emotional and mental health conditions.
If you want to use the law of attraction, it’s important to acknowledge your emotions first. Otherwise, you run the risk of spiritual bypassing, or ignoring the negative and skipping the work that real growth takes.
Whether you’re a law of attraction convert or skeptic, pushing aside negative feelings in an attempt to influence the outcome of your life isn’t a healthy practice.
“It’s vital for us to create worlds where we feel seen and heard,” Brunner explains. “There’s value in being able to connect with and process challenging emotions. It’s not about aspiring to a life where we don’t experience the shadows.”
As Halley mentioned, some people refer to this as “toxic positivity,” a negative coping technique that invalidates uncomfortable feelings.
“We call it toxic positivity for a reason,” Brunner says. “Part of what fuels a person’s sense of gratitude and forward-thinking perspective is the fact that we experience a whole range of emotions. When we deny this part of ourselves, we’re really not validating our experience of what it is to be human.”
In Halley’s opinion, attempting to suppress how you truly feel is pointless. She believes your feelings affect your vibration, whether you choose to acknowledge them or not.
“I call it a false-positive mindset,” she says. “You have to remember that you can’t trick the universe. Your vibration is the only part about you that can’t lie.”
There are a number of ways you can honor your true feelings while using the law of attraction. They include:
- actively feeling your feelings
- practicing gratitude
- practicing compassion
- consciously shifting your energy
- practicing shadow work
Feel your feelings
The process of sitting with your feelings and allowing them to simply exist can be a powerful one.
From a law of attraction point of view, believers say this may release resistant energy that can prevent your desires from manifesting.
“I speak a lot about acknowledgment and validation of the experiences we’ve been through,” Brunner says. “These are the first steps to healing from any mental health related challenges and to finding true joy in our lives.”
This involves feeling the full spectrum of human emotion.
“Acknowledgment and validation also mean feeling all the feelings. This is exceptionally important on our lifelong mental wellness journey,” Brunner adds.
Halley concurs, “Honor yourself by simply being somewhere quiet and allowing the emotion to bubble up within you.”
Turn to gratitude
“Gratitude is the fastest route to peace, and, ultimately, happiness,” Halley says. “There’s always something to be grateful for. It’s one of the highest frequencies there is besides unconditional love.”
Halley says finding something — anything — to be grateful for when you’re feeling low is a life-changing practice.
“Make it part of your routine, in the morning or before bed,” she advises.
Gratitude isn’t about dulling your emotions or forcing yourself to be positive. It’s about appreciating the gift of life and finding some light in the dark when things are tough.
Although it isn’t easy to feel gratitude all the time, you can cultivate it with regular practice.
Beating yourself up for experiencing bad moods isn’t helpful to you or anyone.
“Nurturing our emotional health is about connecting with our ‘true voice’ and honoring who we really are,” Brunner says. “Be as compassionate toward yourself and others as much as you possibly can.”
Being compassionate might look like taking time to explore your emotions, allowing yourself to feel what you’re feeling, or speaking to yourself with love and care.
It can also involve meditation and sending loving, caring thoughts to others.
Shift your energy with intention
Once you’ve sat with your emotions and felt them fully, you may find it helpful to consciously shift your energy to complete the process.
Shifting your energy isn’t the same as pushing feelings away. It’s the next step to move forward after processing your feelings once you’ve returned to a more emotionally neutral state.
To do this, Halley advises getting into the “feeling place” of your desires by imagining they’re already yours. She says doing so can elevate your mood.
“Manifestation requires you to use all five of your senses,” she says.
Imagine yourself feeling, tasting, touching, and experiencing whatever it is that you want to attract into your life.
“See how your mood elevates just by doing this simple act,” Halley says.
Practice shadow work
Some people think the law of attraction is about relentless positivity.
However, many law of attraction enthusiasts practice shadow work, a method of deep reflection and self-inquiry.
Shadow work can uncover:
- limiting beliefs
- emotional hang-ups
- repressed aspects of self
- intergenerational trauma
Rather than avoiding or repressing emotions, this process involves tackling them head-on. For some, it serves as a healthy way to handle the lows while practicing the law of attraction.
“Shadow work is about sitting in the negative feelings and emotions and asking ourselves where they’re actually coming from,” Halley explains.
She says the subconscious conditioning and belief systems often dictate reactions to situations.
“When we react to things or feel an emotion rise up within us, it comes from a place within our subconscious that has created a narrative at some point in our lives,” Halley says.
By doing shadow work, you can look closer at these parts of yourself and begin to heal them. Halley says this enables you to “unravel” unhelpful stories and release emotional blocks that contribute to negativity.
So, can you still manifest your desires while experiencing negativity and low moods?
Halley says yes. She believes that, instead of forcing positive emotions or repressing your true feelings, you should aim for peace.
“I do believe you can manifest your desires while experiencing low moods and negativity, because we all experience these feelings. It’s part of the human experience,” she says.
No one practicing the law of attraction is happy all of the time.
Those who do so successfully have “found a way to live in a peaceful state of mind, and they position their thoughts to be in alignment with the life they want to manifest,” she says.
These people approach life from a place of gratitude. That perspective brings about feelings of happiness and joy while still making space for everything else.
Practicing the law of attraction may make you feel pressured to be upbeat and optimistic at all times.
However, it’s not possible to be happy all the time, and it can be damaging to your emotional health to try.
If you’re using the law of attraction, it may be beneficial to explore negative emotions and use them to work through limiting beliefs and old wounds.
In the end, we’re all human. We all experience the full spectrum of emotions. Halley’s advice is to practice compassion and validate your feelings first.
Once you do this, you may find yourself ready to begin manifesting your desires with a fresh perspective.
Victoria Stokes is a writer from the United Kingdom. When she’s not writing about her favorite topics, personal development, and well-being, she usually has her nose stuck in a good book. Victoria lists coffee, cocktails, and the color pink among some of her favorite things. Find her on Instagram.