A friend of mine bemoaned mindless killings, mindless violence and associated race baiting in a long post on Facebook. She, like I, lives in South Africa and I read a lot of similar posts from other South Africans and also from elsewhere in the world. What my friend, and others, write is true and of grave concern, but I also note people who write about deeds of great humanity that occur everywhere in the world. The bad things that happen in the world often overshadow the good. The result is that we are less aware of the great good happening in the world around us than we are of the atrocities committed. Sometimes I think this is so in order for us as the human race to learn empathy. However, I’m writing because of the fixation of people on what is bad in the world around them. I wish to relate a lesson of my own in relation to that which we attract into our lives.
You have probably heard of the Law of Attraction. I don’t profess to be an expert or to have the key to attracting endless wealth into your life, but I have experienced one lesson, even though I have learned to apply it in only the one area of my life.
Somewhere in my childhood it appears that I learned to believe that my task is to make other people’s lives more comfortable, even to ‘fix’ what is not working for them in their lives. I did not realise the arrogance of this belief, because it assumes I know what is ‘wrong’ and how to ‘fix’ what is ‘wrong’. In time I became what is termed a ‘rescuer’.
I met someone who professed on first sight that I was the one they wanted to spend the rest of their life with. I felt flattered and made the choice to love this person exclusively. I thought this person had their future planned and we would work at integrating our futures into a combined future life. Working from my assumption without clarifying that it was correct meant that I had a vision and I felt the need to ‘fix’ in my partner’s life any misalignment. Needless to say I endured 15 years of progressive hell. My partner turned from being passive-aggressive to aggressive and turned to substance abuse.
I did not ever blame them. I realised that what I was experiencing I was attracting into my life. The question for me was: “How should I change so that I attract a different behaviour into my life?” Even with asking this question I still felt responsible to ‘fix’ everything that I perceived as being wrong. After 15 years I ended the relationship, taking full ownership of the accumulated debt – in order to ‘fix’ everything on termination.
Ending the relationship did not end my way of thinking and the Law of Attraction works on the energy we radiate through our thoughts and actions. Less than three years later I again met someone I thought I would like to strike up a relationship with. This time I thought I’d go into the relationship with “my eyes open” and yet within a brief period of time I was being manipulated to ‘fix’ their life for them.
This time I took action and joined an organisation called Tough Love and worked on myself through the programme for nine months. I realised I was responsible for creating co-dependent relationships and enabling a problem in the other person to persist and grow, instead of empowering them to work on their problem themselves.
At the same time I became aware how pervasive this need to ‘fix’ people had become in my life. Johannesburg, South Africa, where I live, attracts a large number of hopeful people looking for work and a future, many of whom spend a part or the rest of their lives begging, particularly at traffic intersections. I felt overwhelmed by the desire to ‘fix’ their lives for them. Because of the way my 15 year relationship ended I no longer had the financial means to ‘fix’ other people’s lives, I started thinking of other ways. But most important to this article is that I experienced beggars everywhere and I experienced guilt, depression and hopelessness. What I failed to realise was that my energy of guilt, depression and hopelessness simply attracted more of the same towards me.
Over time I took ownership of the concept that everyone is responsible for their own lives and we are not placed on this earth to ‘fix’ their lives and thus disempowering them. Our task is to empathise and thereby empower them to make the best of their lives.
Suddenly the beggars at the traffic intersections stopped begging and responded to me affirming their humanity by greeting me, fist bumping and entering into conversation. The people at the traffic intersections had not changed, only I had changed. As a result my experience changed completely.
I therefore know – at least in this small example – that the Law of Attraction is a real law. I also know that it takes deliberate work to change my thinking, really change my thinking, in order to attract a different experience into my life. I know that it is easy to stay with the thoughts that cause guilt, fear, depression and hopelessness. I also know that they overwhelm and that in that state of being overwhelmed it is difficult to believe there is another way of thinking that will produce a different result. I know that there are many other areas of my life where overwhelm still holds sway and I need to do the work to change my thinking. I also acknowledge that working with a group of people enables the work I need to do in my own life. The Tough Love programme is very much a coaching programme and the meetings are group coaching interventions.
But knowing that thoughts and actions produce reality through the Law of Attraction (or call it whatever you will) empowers me to know that I am never the victim of the world around me, I can change that world, at least my own experience of that world, to an experience of my choosing.
(It is a specific preference of mine to use gender-neutral pronouns.)