The Spanish newspaper El País published an article a couple of days ago about this topic entitled Why is the Lucky Girls Syndrome the Last Example of Toxic Positivity. I would like to explain why it reflects the great confusion and lack of knowledge that most people have about this.
The Lucky Girls syndrome, or belief that you will obtain whatever you want if you wish for it a certain way, has recently gained a lot of popularity because some gurus and influencers supported it. They disseminated the so-called manifestations or the power of affirmations. According to them, if you truly want something, visualize it and complete a series of more or less complex rituals, that wish will undoubtedly come true. Humanology explains where the theory fails.
A positive view of life is not harmful per se
A positive view of life is not harmful per se, as long as it is handled correctly. Unfortunately, many charlatans and untrained people claim to be experts and share baseless information with their followers who believe them and can even experience dangerous situations. To look at life only through positive glasses, avoiding or suffocating any negative emotion while blindly trusting luck or an alleged magical capacity, has no scientific or sociological logic. Humans are complex beings; oversimplification of our way of life and our actions reflects a lack of solid foundations and knowledge. We first need to truly know and understand ourselves to live a personalized life that helps us, a life based again on knowledge. We need to know the source of those premises, what logic is behind their claims, the scientific support of their proposals and the training the person has. Is it enough to support what the person is saying?
Visualizations and affirmations, the power of manifestation… is any of it true? A tiny bit. It is true that repeating certain sentences can lead a person to believe that they created something in their reality. But it is just a personal belief. The belief comes from a series of circumstances that I would like to clarify and explain.
First of all, we have often explained here that there is a certain part of our brain, the Reticular Ascending System (RAS), that is in charge of different things, among which, it directs our conscious attention to certain aspects of our reality. What does this mean for us? Whenever we look at something, listen to, taste, touch or smell something in our world, our brain receives an incredible amount of bits of information at the same time. We don’t have the capacity to handle them all in our conscious perception of reality, so many of the data go directly to our subconscious storage. Whatever RAS does select, we are aware of. An example of this is what happens when we go to the movies: our mind is usually not aware of many of the things that are happening in the theater but focused on the movie and what is going on there. If anyone asks us after the show, we might recall whether we were cold or warm but most likely we will remember what the movie made us feel.
I mention RAS because something it usually highlights for us is whatever can support our already established beliefs. It helps us reaffirm them by calling our attention onto whatever does. When someone doubts their beliefs, they feel insecure, uncertain. Human beings dislike that feeling. For instance, a person who is afraid of dogs might immediately see any in their surroundings, even if the animal is focused on something else entirely, and feel the fear. Their RAS will inform them that the dog is there. Someone who is not afraid might not even realized that there are any there. RAS will confirm what we believe, so we are as calmed and relaxed as possible for the longest possible time.
Nobody can turn anything into a reality if it somehow depends on others
That is the first reason. The second one has to do with the affirmations themselves. Nobody can turn anything into a reality if it somehow depends on others. This is a fundamental idea and one of the most common mistakes made by alleged professionals in this field. When people start repeating sentences or phrases without any control, what they are doing is basically that, repeating sentences or phrases. That doesn’t turn them into anything real. Something different is repeating specific sentences to reinforce our beliefs in a conscious way. Our beliefs are reinforced and strengthened in our system through repetition and emotions. If I start reaffirming my belief, in particular in a way that only depends on me, I can activate my RAS which will in turn show me proof of my belief in my reality. Am I manifesting anything? NO! I am just being aware of a process that has been happening my whole life, even if I didn’t recognize it.
Let’s imagine an example. I want to become a millionaire, which is something many charlatans out there today would promise you. No matter how many times I repeat that I win the lottery, I will have no impact upon the numbers actually coming out of the lottery roller. On the other hand, if I start believing and repeating something like I have enough money to live well, I will start finding myself in situations that prove it so. My RAS will highlight them for me over and over again, giving me peace and trust. In time, I will definitely feel that I have enough money to live well and that particular affirmation will become my reality. Be careful, though, because your RAS will also confirm all negative believes no matter what.
Don’t be fooled by charlatans
Manifestations and affirmations, then, do have a positive value in our lives, if properly handled, defined and used. While their impact increases our sense of security and improves our self-esteem, they have nothing to do with magic, superpowers or some special capacity of our minds to create non-existing realities. Don’t be fooled by charlatans. If you want to learn how to do things right, ask a well-trained professional with lots of experience. Take control over your life from the basis of knowledge because, like in this case, your luck stands on your beliefs.