What does CBT and the law of attraction have in common?
Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) has recently become a much sought after type of therapy due to an increased awareness of its effectiveness in treating common disorders such as anxiety and depression.
And whilst this psychological therapy has been gaining public attention, so has the law of attraction (LOA). With many books and podcasts in circulation and the hugely popular manifestation videos on TikTok, I wanted to explore the two methods and uncover the commonalities between the two trends and how they both can create significant changes in your life!
What is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT)?
The basic essence of cognitive behavioural therapy is that how you think about things influences how you ‘feel’ about them. Therefore, a therapeutic process that encourages optimised thinking ultimately leads to feeling ‘better’, either partially or fully. The idea is to challenge the thought process, bring it into the conscious, examine it and then design new outcomes. CBT is similar to coaching in the way that it deals with your current issues and blocks, rather than focusing on issues from your past, like many other types of talking therapy.
It starts with what you think. What you think affects how you feel. Then, how you feel has an effect on your behaviour. How you behave impacts your external environment. Then, what you see happening in the physical world around you leads you to think more in that way, thus the cycle starts again. It uses the concept that what you think, feel and act like are all interconnected and have an effect on what your external environment looks like and the only way to break that cycle is to first start with what you think.
Let’s look at an example of this:
Cue/Trigger – I have to go to work today.
Thought – “I don’t like my job, I don’t want to go.”
Feeling – stress, frustration, anxiety.
Behaviour – I go to work, but feel agitated and stressed out the whole time. I come home from work and binge on alcohol, sugary fatty snack food or any other unhealthy habit.
The above is just an example of how the brain processes the information you give it. But let’s look at an alternate scenario.
Cue/Trigger – I have to go to work today.
Thought – “I don’t like this job right now, but I know it is important for me to be there, whilst I find something I do enjoy.”
Feeling – ease, contentment, hope.
Behaviour – I go to work with a hopeful attitude: this is a temporary situation that I can change. I also made a plan to go for a walk after work because the fresh air makes me feel good.
It is important to remember that just because we may not have clarity in our lives right now, there are professionals out there who can support you on a journey to figuring it out. If you don’t like your job right now, but you have no idea what you want to do next, then you could work with a coach. Maybe it is a motivation issue or lack of confidence? Again, when you feel ready to, reach out to someone and get help.
If your issues are more deep-rooted, then you can reach out to a cognitive behavioural therapist or psychotherapist to help you get to the bottom of those unwanted thoughts and start to change them.
Unlike hypnotherapy, which tends to go straight into the subconscious mind, CBT works on training the mind over a period of time. The type of therapy you may need is completely dependent on you as a person and how you react to different models of treatment. For me personally, I have benefited from a combination of coaching, hypnotherapy, meditation and BWRT®. It is your responsibility to research what support is out there and intuitively move towards the ones that feel right for you.
What is the law of attraction (LOA)?
So, now we have spoken about CBT, you are probably wondering what that has to do with the spiritual philosophy, the law of attraction. LOA is the concept brought to fame in the western world thanks to the best-selling book and film by Rhonda Byrne called The Secret. Rhonda wrote The Secret based on the 100 year old book by Wallace D Wattles called The Science of Getting Rich. It uses the core concept that energy creates more energy of a similar vibration, and seeing as we and everything in our world is at a subatomic level: energy, vibrating at different frequencies, we must assume that if our thoughts and beliefs are of a high vibration, we can manifest more of those high vibrational things into our life.
The law of attraction states that through your thoughts and beliefs, you can attract like a magnet the things that you want. Your conscious mind is the decider. It decides what you want. You are reading this now and as you are, your conscious mind is processing it, deciding what parts it wants to believe. Your subconscious mind is the initiator. Your subconscious mind is not only your most powerful asset, it is also what connects you and your physical body with the rest of the universe. The subconscious mind is the corridor between your spiritual self and your physical self. It’s the place that holds all your beliefs, fears, ambitions and memories. It’s the place where we hide the darkest parts of ourselves, which as you can guess, can be incredibly unhealthy.
Remember, you are a magnet. Attract, don't chase. What you chase will run from you. Attract like a magnet.
So this brings us to how the law of attraction works on a similar framework to CBT, because simply having a thought doesn’t necessarily mean you can manifest it into your reality. Every single one of us has our own point of attraction. The point of attraction is basically the “meeting ground” between your heart and your mind. It is the point in which you are able to manifest from a higher energy vibration so things come faster and easier.
The point of attraction is a combination of these things.
- your beliefs
- the current state of being
Beliefs - What is true for you? What you know to be true in your heart and mind.
If you want to get a new job that sparks your passion and pays a lot of money and has amazing hours that you can work around your life but you don’t wholeheartedly believe that such a job exists and if it does then you would never get it, then you will not be able to attract it, because you do not believe in your heart that you can.
You have to make sure that you know that what you know is the truth to you and you believe it. If you have a belief that is blocking or stopping you from attracting what you want, then before you can move forward with momentum, you need to change your beliefs.
The universe creates from the strongest energy, the energy that you perceive to be reality. This, in most cases, for the majority of people is usually the negative and unwanted belief.
According to Sigmund Freud’s psychosexual development theory - there are five stages where a person’s personality develops during early childhood. Failure to resolve a stage can lead one to become fixated in that stage, leading to unhealthy personality traits later in life.
Many of our primary beliefs and responses come from childhood, between birth and around seven years old, this is the primary stage of ego. There are then secondary (secondary stage of ego) beliefs and responses which stem from experiences around the ages of 8-17. Of course, we go through many different experiences in our adult life, both traumatic and positive but these are usually much easier to identify and challenge.
The primary experiences are the foundation, or core layer of our personality, beliefs and responses. They are so deeply entwined that it can be hard to identify them and see that they are there. Until these are addressed and released, they will continue to be triggers in our adult life.
The secondary stages are still prominent and have a big impact on our adult life, but they are somewhat more identifiable and less ingrained in our personality and what we believe to be ‘us’.
Primary stage of ego - Claire was only five years old when she witnessed her parents arguing about money. The energy in the room was powerful as both her mother and father were emotionally triggered by a lack of finances which were putting stress on their relationship. Claire heard her mother say, “We will never make enough money to pay these bills”, to which her father replied, “money isn't that important.”
Claire grew up with negative beliefs about money. She believed that she was from a family who would never make ‘enough’ money and that money was not important.
Now in her thirties, Claire was frustrated and could not work out why she was constantly in debt and unable to attract abundance.
Once Claire identified the root cause of that belief, she was able to transform it into one that better served her needs and allowed her to change her attitude towards manifesting financial prosperity into her life.
An exercise to use at home
You can use this exercise to address different beliefs that may be holding you back in later life and start working through them. Some people find it more accountable and effective to work alongside a professional, so find the way that works best for you, whatever that may look like.
- What are some examples of negative beliefs and responses that you have used yourself or have witnessed others using?
- Describe the point of attraction and explain what that means for you as an individual.
- In your own words, briefly explain what the primary stage of ego is and how those beliefs and responses may manifest in your adult life.
Momentum is the power you give the thought.
Imagine for a moment that you are rubbing two sticks together. You have to line up the stick so it touches the other stick and you keep the friction aligned as it rubs faster and faster, it builds its momentum until finally, there is a spark, followed by a flame. You then grab some more sticks like the ones you are using (these are your thoughts by the way.) and you add these thoughts and start building a fire.
In order for a thought to become a thing, it needs to build momentum to bring it into existence.
It takes the law of attraction between 16-17 seconds to grab a thought and begin the momentum. So that means you need to hold the same two sticks (thoughts) for 16 to 17 seconds and believe them to be true before you can begin rubbing them together (momentum).
How many times have you had a great thought which is very quickly replaced with a negative one? One of those, I am going to do this and BAM it’s quickly replaced with “actually, I am not good enough?” (This is where CBT challenges the initial thought of feeling not good enough, helping you to find a positive alternative.)
Your current state of being is how you are feeling and what you are doing right now.
If you feel good and happy and motivated and grateful, then you are in a place of attraction for good positive things. Your day to day actions are positive and healthy. This is where being mindful comes into play. This is where being appreciative of what you have already comes into play. If you are staying in bed until late lunchtime, eating takeaways every day and spending the rest of the day idly scrolling through social media, then you are most likely in a low vibrational state of being. If you are out walking in nature, laughing with friends over a healthy lunch and hugging your loved ones then your state of being is of a higher vibration.
If you are tuned into Heart radio, you will only hear the music and DJs that are being broadcasted from that specific frequency. It is not possible for you to be tuned into Heart Radio and pick up the songs from BBC Radio 2. You would literally have to change the frequency if you wanted to change the station. It is true that you may, at various times in your life, find yourself in a place where you are able to drop in and out of two different frequencies. You know that annoying place where you are picking up two stations and you just wish that the radio would focus on one so you can enjoy the listening experience? Well, that is how the law of attraction feels when you can’t decide where you want to focus your attention.
The link between CBT and LOA
Let's look closer at how they actually relate to one another:
Specific thoughts (CBT) and beliefs (LOA)
What is true for you, what are you thinking about whether it is habitual or conscious.
Feelings (CBT) and momentum (LOA)
The amount of thought energy invested in a subject, how you feel about the thought you have. Is it true?
Your current state of being (LOA) vs your behaviours (CBT)
How you feel now, what you are doing, how you are acting now, as a result of that belief/thought and feeling/energy invested.
Environment (CBT) and manifestation (LOA)
The result is how your environment looks or in law of attraction, it is classed as a manifestation of your thoughts and beliefs.
Whether you are drawn more to the psychology-based approach of CBT or the spiritual model of LOA, the true question to be asked is how can you bring the two into alignment in your own life, in order to start living healthier and with more abundance? There isn’t one way, there are many ways, many perspectives and life is more wholesome when there is a balance of all aspects of who we are.