The Secret and Follow-Through

Erik Mazzone commented here on a previous post of mine …

But to play devil’s advocate, nonetheless: if you are really following through on actions, why would you necessarily need intention or attention? If I run 5 miles every day, aren’t I going to get more fit even if I am not “placing an order with the universe”?

I find that my failures are usually of the discipline and execution variety — on the action front. Can the Law of Attraction help with this?

I love Devil’s Advocates! (Except the Keanu Reeves movie of the same name. There’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back. Anyway.)

First, I should begin by pointing out that everything I’m about to write should be interpreted as having been prefaced with a big ol’ “In my experience….” – and the stress is on the “my” not to imbue myself with an unearned authority but to emphasize that my experience is (and must be, out of necessity) very personal to me. In short – YMMV.*

To answer the first question – sure, of course you will be more fit. The question becomes, “how easily/quickly do you want to get there?” And also “how far do you want to surpass ‘there'”? And finally, “how much fun do you want to have while you’re doing it?” Questions like “won’t I get there if I just do it?” essentially focus on the result. And in life, I think, it’s far more interesting to focus on the process. (Also helps to lessen the inevitable “got what I wanted – now what?!” blues.) I can work my ass off, seven days a week, devoting my life to my job, and maybe I’ll get rich (maybe I won’t, but there’s a possibility, and certainly a better one than if I sat around watching Lifetime movies all day). But I can also use the Law of Attraction to create the same result, with less effort and more – I won’t say “balance” because I think that’s bogus, and usually misunderstood to mean a static condition – let’s say “with less effort and more well-roundedness.” (If that’s even a word.)

Erik asks another excellent question about using the Law of Attraction to improve one’s ability to follow through on an “order” with the requisite action. Sure you can! In fact, I find lately more and more that the things I’m asking for aren’t really “things” at all but traits and habits that will help me use the LoA more effectively and efficiently. Case in point: me.

Right now, I’m working on “organizational ability and productivity.” I sort of slunk into a very lethargic mode a few months ago due to some family stress, and am only recently climbing my way out of that hole. I’m using the LoA as a framework for this endeavor – placing my order (which means asking once!), aligning my thoughts and feelings, and acting as if it were already true. Now, going back to the first question for a bit, sure I could have simply changed my actions. But how long do you think those actions would have come easily to me? Well, I know myself, so I’ll provide the answer: about a week. I can use sheer momentum to fuel a change in action for myself for about a week. But after that point, unless I’ve aligned those thoughts and feelings accordingly, I can kiss the improvements good-bye.

Think about this for a minute – could this possibly explain why (as but one example) people find it so hard to quit smoking? Or lose weight? They’ve been relying purely on action alone to carry them through to their goal. And what’s their goal? “To lose weight.” “To stop smoking.” In short – negative states. The absence of something. Whereas, LoA teaches that whatever we focus on is what we get – that our thoughts are reduced to their essence. So “to stop smoking” becomes “smoking” – and “to lose weight” becomes “weight.”

I have a story to share on that, too – I used to smoke, a lot. I tried to quit about 12 times before finally succeeding. Here’s what happened: I planned a quit date of “the day after Thanksgiving.” I did my research. I put in the requisite supply of healthy snacks. I joined an online support group. I identified all my “triggers” and had great plans to deal with each of them. And the not-smoking lasted all of … 36 hours.

I was despondent, and really down on myself. I logged on to the support group and typed in this woefully pathetic message entitled “Why Can’t I QUIT?!” And the responses poured in. “You’re setting yourself up for failure by assuming it to be so,” said one. “You can quit. You just don’t want to,” said another. And so on.

Something happened while reading those messages. They all started to merge into one piece of advice, somehow – as if all those posters had one piece of the puzzle and I had to look at them all together, laid out before me, in order to see the picture. So, I took a deep breath and started again. But this time, I focused on my thoughts and feelings. I began thinking a new way, and it literally was a monologue I wrote out that went something like this:

I am smoke-free. I have healthy lungs that can take in all the fresh air I’d ever want. I am SO excited about the new life I’m getting. Smoking makes me sick. I will literally throw up if I get near a lit cigarette. I am so happy to be a nonsmoker. Every urge to smoke is telling me that this is working and is something to celebrate.

And on and on like that. Now, in retrospect, even that was probably too focused on the absence of the problem, but there comes a point when you have to define what you’re after, and that was the best I could do with this one. Notice the emphasis was on what I was gaining, not what I was losing.

That was four years ago. I’d love to tell you I never smoked again, but that would be a lie. I did smoke – two puffs off one cigarette four months later in the midst of a tornado, but then I decided that if I was going to die that night, I’d rather die a nonsmoker so I put it out and didn’t smoke again until about two months ago; as my separation from my husband was starting to manifest, I allowed the fact that he started smoking again to give me permission to do the same. It lasted a week, and I was able to regain control of my thoughts once more and haven’t smoked since.

The only difference between that final “quit” and the one that preceded it by a few days was my thoughts, collectively. Could I have succeeded on willpower – on actions – alone? Well, apparently not. Maybe someone else could, and more power to you. But for me, I think, life’s hard enough. Why not take all the help I can get?

Hope this helps, Erik!

* – Your Mileage May Vary.

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2 comments so far

  1. Erik on

    Great post, and thanks for the clarification. And congratulations on quitting smoking!

  2. sherriesisk on

    Thanks, Erik! That one experience, above all others, is what got me fascinated with the psychology of change. Why this one time, I succeeded, and the others, I didn’t. I’ve taken so many lessons from that experience, and the “truths” I learned there continually apply in so many contexts.


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