Reader Question: (Referencing Your Baggage is the Gateway to Your Superpower) one thing I question is your statement about energy being neither good nor bad. Is energy in your mind different than vibration? In Law of Attraction they’re all about keeping your vibrational energy high. Which makes me assume they’re saying energy can be positive or negative.
When The Secret burst on the scene in 2007, it finally brought The Law of Attraction and concepts of spiritual energy into mainstream conversation. These were not new concepts, nor was this the first time they had been offered to the public, but there's little evidence they had ever enjoyed such widespread discussion.
Its popularity was due in part to its oversimplification of the concepts, which also led to extensive and ongoing confusion.
First, a Little Background on Energy and Vibration
What was largely lost in the popular conversation was that energy and vibration are not the same thing. Vibration is a behavior of energy, and The Law of Attraction is based on the Law of Vibration.
To understand the Law of Vibration and what vibration really is, we must begin with understanding that everything in our known universe is made of energy. That means humans, animals, plants, the earth itself, the air we breathe, rocks and soil, stars and planets, even our thoughts and emotions are just various configurations of that same fundamental building block, the energy of each entity vibrating in its own frequency or pattern.
The human body, for example, is made of cells. Those cells are made of molecules and atoms. The molecules and atoms are made of energy. That energy is vibrating in the frequency pattern that matches that particular cell's function. Those cells together make up the body.
According to the Law of Vibration, energy is always in motion (vibrating) and never at rest. The vibration speed is what helps us distinguish between plants and animals, humans and rocks. That rock may look solid, but its subatomic particles are moving at a high speed. The speed gives the illusion that the rock is solid and static. The frequency of that vibration matches what we perceive as “rock.”
The Law of Attraction, which is based on The Law of Vibration, states that we attract what we are sending out. In simple words, our vibration becomes attuned to similar vibrations in our experiential space “attracting” those vibrations to us.
That can be illustrated with two tuning forks. Striking the first tuning fork causes it to vibrate, resonate, and send out a sound, essentially a mating call. The second turning fork begins vibrating at the same frequency sending out the same sound waves, answering the mating call. The two appear to be vibrating together. This is possible because the baseline vibration of two tuning forks is similar.
In this illustration, we can see that the vibration itself is neutral, neither good nor bad, positive nor negative, just a matching frequency, nothing more than a back-and-forth movement of particles or waves.
Thoughts and Feelings
Our thoughts and emotions behave in a similar way.
Our thoughts and emotions are also comprised of energy and also vibrate, resonate, and send out their own "sound," their own mating calls. Some nearby thoughts and emotions that are vibrating at a similar frequency will become attuned. Others, will pass on by, perhaps because the gap between their inherent vibration and the vibration we are emitting are too far apart to become attuned to each other.
Now think about how this works in reverse. Instead of the vibrations you are sending out, consider the vibrations coming at you from your environment including the people around you, the actions you are taking, the books and news you are reading, the movies and shows you watching. Everything. They are all emitting their own vibrations in your vicinity. Do you resonate with them? Become attuned? If your vibrations at that time are similar, chances are you will at least notice and may attune EVEN IF that vibration represents something you don’t want. We sometimes speak of this as feeling “chemistry,” rarely if ever pausing to consider what the actual attraction might be.
It’s similar to tuning in a radio station – when the frequency is adjacent, you first hear the static, then decide whether to tune in closer to get a clear signal and listen. However, if you happen to dialing in a different part of the channel spectrum, you will receive no indication of that particular station. And if the station that is static-y is not immediately to your liking, you’ll pass on by in search of something better.
The frequencies for the stations are no more than their assigned number. There is nothing in that number that relates to the content or how that content makes you feel. The frequencies themselves are completely neutral.
A good friend tells this story about herself: “For my first 40 years, I could walk into a room with 10 handsome men and march straight to the one who was bad news. They didn’t have to say a word. The vibe was simply there.”
Once she recognized the pattern, she began working with her baggage and transforming it into her superpower. She has now been very happily married for over 20 years. You could say she changed her vibration to match what she really wanted, or she became more aware of the vibrations for what she didn’t want. Either way, she did inner work, not a superficial fix.
The Blame and Shame Culture of Good Vibrations and Positive Thoughts
Though the goal is calibrating your vibration to what you really want, simply thinking positive thoughts is not enough. At best, it’s shallow. At worst, it may do more harm than good.
There are several problems with this “just raise your vibration with positive thoughts” mindset that can cause good people to feel bad about themselves.
Consider this - As your conscious mind dwells on your habitual thoughts, the frequency (vibration) of those thoughts wears a groove in your subconscious. The more that groove is reinforced by your conscious thoughts, the more that vibration dominates and becomes your default mode. The more it becomes your default, the more similar vibrations (circumstances, experiences, relationships) attune to you (and you to them) and become part of your reality. This is why we create the same experiences and relationships over whether we want them or not.
For those relationships and circumstances we don’t want, it might seem that switching to positive thoughts would be the antidote, but…
Let’s say you want a new job. The one you have pays your bills or provides you with insurance, but the job itself has become stressful or stagnant. You no longer feel valuable. You and your job are no longer vibrating on a compatible frequency, and you are feeling the tension between the mismatched vibrations.
So you do all the “right” things. You make your list of what you want in a new job. You put together your resume. You scan the job boards diligently and let your friends know you are looking. You think positive new job thoughts.
But you come home many evenings fuming and drained. You complain. You vent. You go all-in with your frustration and dejectedness. You wallow in your defeatedness.
It’s the equivalent of knitting all day and unraveling that knitting every night. Nothing new ever gets created.
Before long, your thoughts drift to: I’m no good at this manifesting thing. Thinking positive thoughts all day is exhausting and feels fake. Everyone can manifest except me. I don’t really think it works. I’m such a failure.
Soon “You have the power” becomes “It’s all your fault.”
That wears the “negative” groove deeper in your subconscious, carving out a false story to tell again and again, creating an ongoing downward, though possibly invisible, spiral.
And you stay stuck.
The underlying implication is that people who are struggling or just plain old baffled, who have been victimized or are in a healing mode, or who are dealing with chronic and possibly debilitating physical or mental conditions are doing it to themselves. It’s their own fault and all they need to do is raise their vibration. They could heal themselves if they would just think more positive thoughts.
Feeding All the Feelings
This is dangerous and cruel. Pasting a “fake it till you make it” smile over the feelings is a false positive, the emotional equivalent of sticking a band aid over a mortal wound. It can literally cause harm, especially if what is happening is not OK.
Worse, it hides the information your feelings are trying their best to reveal to you.
The attempt to numb shoves away the valuable information available within the feelings of that challenging or painful situation. You need to feel all your feelings including your low moods and negative emotions and their related physical sensations. Because they are there to tell you something important, they will keep returning in different ways until you stop turning away and tuning them out. It’s often when we refuse to allow ourselves to feel all our feelings, when we try to push them away or cover them up, that it becomes something bigger including greater emotional discomfort or physical ailments. Not allowing yourself to process those feelings or trying to push them away with positive thoughts only prolongs the process.
The shame and blame culture has taught us to avoid feeling uncomfortable emotions for fear of getting stuck there, when it’s actually avoiding them or covering them over that sets us up for depression, anxiety, and circumstances we would much prefer to not have.
This also applies when a friend is aching. Perhaps it is human nature to want to fix things for people, but telling someone to just raise their vibration or think more positive thoughts says we don’t know how to simply sit with them when they are in pain, to hold them when they are crying, to listen when they need to talk. It says our need to be the fixer, the hero, is more important than comforting them. It says we have forgotten, or perhaps we’re afraid, to say, “That’s awful and I’m so sorry this is happening.” And to stop there unless invited to go on.
At that moment, we can see better things for them than they can see for themselves (guilty!) so we immediately start trying to force change, force positivity, and drag them towards a higher vibration.
In reality, we often don’t know what’s best for another person or even for ourselves, and telling someone to just shift their vibration is shallow advice at best.
Sometimes, struggle is a good thing. Struggle catches our attention, halting us when we are zipping past on the surface of everyday life. It shows us opportunities for healing or change that we’d otherwise miss, reminding us that our awareness, learning, and healing are most powerful when they are rooted in our day-to-day reality. Turning away from our tough experiences and struggles and all their feelings only fragments us and blinds us to our wholeness. It requires negating or numbing our feelings, shutting down or splitting off some part of ourselves and results in eroding our inner barometer.
When we turn away from our own difficult places or try to deflect someone from theirs, we also cut all of us off from our innate understanding and compassion. And just like that, we are operating from shame and blame. Shame and blame based solutions, structures, and relationships never work.
The broad underlying reason for raising your vibration is to manifest something better, but manifesting has never been about being perfectly positive or perfectly aligned. Our positive and negative vibrations can be better viewed as a yin and yang symbiosis. It takes both to create balance and wholeness. There is always a ray of light in the darkness and always a spot of darkness in the light. It takes the duality to experience the unity. Without both, there is no harmony, only flat, one-dimensional greyness.
We are human and our most nurturing state is to welcome ALL of our humanness. The first step in healing our suffering is to acknowledge our pain, fear, sorrow, and loss. Bypassing it only prolongs it. Trying to raise our vibration by staying positive all the time only negates it.
The determination to always be positive is a sneaky form of resistance and we can never shift something we are resisting.
Image Credit: Rohan Makhecha