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I Am Not a Fan of “The Secret”

by J. Money on Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Shhh...The Secret
I think you’re going to love me or hate me after this one, but I just can’t help it :)The Secret” is driving me crazy!!! And that’s saying a lot coming from me – the king of being positive and you-can-do-anything-if-you-put-your-mind-to-it mentality.

And it’s true, you can do anything, but you have to do a little more than just *thinking* about it to make stuff happen. Which seems to be the gist of this Secret book/dvd/phenomenon by Rhonda Byrne (with huge help from Oprah).

I know I’m a good 4 years late on this whole thing, but it keeps on popping up due to my lovely wife writing an entire 30-page essay on it for one of her classes ;) It’s amazing how many debt and wealth references are mentioned in it too! Here’s one of my favorites (and by “favorites” I mean “paragraphs that make me want to vomit”):

The only reason any person does not have enough money is because they are blocking money from coming to them with their thoughts. Every negative thought, feeling, or emotion is blocking your good from coming to you, and that includes money. It is not that the money is being kept from you by the Universe, because all the money you require exists right now in the invisible. If you do not have enough, it is because you are stopping the flow of money coming to you, and you are doing that with your thoughts.”

I don’t know about you, but I can tell you that I work my a$$ off to stay out of debt and build up my net worth – It’s not because of any hardcore thinking or “un-blocking” of any sort. The same goes with staying fit or keeping up this blog. It’s physically impossible for these posts to be written without me actually DOING something about it. If it were as easy as sending happy thoughts all over the place there’d be no need for work! Right?

And I think that’s my main problem with The Secret – not because it seems cult-ish to me, or because it borders on an “I’m owed everything” – type outlook, but that it provokes laziness and strips people of their responsibility to make difficult choices and act accordingly. We all have to work to pay our bills and save money, we can’t just leave it to the Universe. Do you know how many times I’ve tried winning the lottery? :)

Positive thinking is a WONDERFUL thing to embrace, but just like hope and desire and luck, it’s not the total package. To get the full effect out of life you need to mash all these energies together! And contrary to what any book or movie will tell you, it’s not always going to be easy. Am I totally off here?

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PS: I’m not trying to discourage anyone from reading or liking (or even following) this book, I just wanted to share my own opinion on the matter. If The Secret, or anything else, is working for you – great! Keep doing your thing :) I encourage you to share your thoughts with us.

(Photo by Katie Tegtmeyer)


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{ 24 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Simple in France April 20, 2010 at 7:56 am

Yeah. . .you could say I’m not a fan either. You could even say I find the whole idea silly, preposterous, superstitious and unfitting of thinking people.

I don’t personally feel the need to respect unreasonable belief systems. I might as well come right out and say it. People can do what works for them and make their own choices–and I have the right to find their decisions loopy.

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2 traineeinvestor April 20, 2010 at 8:12 am

I am also not a fan – I thought it was largely nonsense.

The chapter on visualising achieving objectives in “:59 seconds” is (a) much better and (b) rebuts (with the support of studies done) some of the myths surrounding this area.

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3 sarah oneill April 20, 2010 at 9:16 am

I promised you a post today so here it is. While I did not like the cult-ish, spiritual undertones in the book I did take away a very important message. Positive thinking will get you closer to your goals then negative thinking will. Plain and simple. I don’t “blame” the universe for all of my unattained goals, because I know that ultimately the blame lies with me. I don’t go around “sending out messages to the universe” on a daily basis, but I do think that envisioning success, trying to see the silver lining in every situation, and having an overall sunny outlook will bring you better things then entitlement, negativity, and Debbie downer outlook.

The people I admire and look up to most are encouraging, hopefully, hard working, and positive. I try to mirror that behavior even when it’s hard or things aren’t going my way.

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4 Brandi Abel April 20, 2010 at 9:18 am

Ok. Are you ready for this. Cause now I’m just kinda fired up.

Let me lead with WTF? I had never even heard of this before I read this post so I’m sure I should probably look into it before I just bash on it for the next 5 minutes. But I’m gonna just run with the few things you hit on.

1) Visualizing and positive thoughts ARE awesome. But they are not going to go out and get the money FOR YOU. They are not going to write the checks for your bills for you. They are not going to go out and work an 8 hour shift at the factory/office/job site for you. The name on your paycheck is not going to say “Brandi’s Positive Thoughts”. It’s gonna say Brandi Abel as it damn well better cause I spend 8+ hours a day in that cube and then all those extra hours sweating my ass off teaching classes. OH AND I live with roommates who give me bullshit excuses all the time and I put up with all of it TO KEEP MYSELF OUT OF DEBT and to keep the money rolling in. My positive thoughts don’t do that. My brain/body work hard all day everyday to do that.

2) It is because of thinking like this that I have roommates that give me bullshit excuses about why they can’t pay rent all the time FYI. They think they are owed things. That people should cater to their needs because they don’t want to take responsibility for their OWN ACTIONS (or lack there of).

3) I’ll put this in perspective. I ran track in high school. It was hard work. And every day I would SHOW UP to practice at 3:30pm and get my ass kicked for 2 hours. At the end of every practice we would all spend 5-10 minutes in silence visualizing. I LOVED those 5-10 minutes because after ALL THAT HARD WORK I put in I really could see all my hard work in action in my thoughts. I visualized. And then on Friday at the track meet while I competed I could make it happen. Not because I saw it in my head, but because I showed up, put in the man hours, and then got the reward/satisfaction of that hard work in the form of a medal.

I don’t even know what else to say other than I’ll add this to the list of reasons I think Oprah is way way way way overrated.

I do believe people can stand in their own way. The only problem is now no one is even standing. They’re sitting on their couches saying “well I must not be thinking hard enough about getting that job” as they start up another soap opera and apply for help from the government.

Ok. Rant done.

*disclaimer* I am a 26 year old female who worked her ass off to put herself through school and is currently working 4 jobs to pay off her debt. You might say I have a skewed perspective on this issue. Maybe it’s all the sweat in my eyes….

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5 Young Mogul April 20, 2010 at 9:54 am

I have never been a fan of The Secret, so I’m glad there is someone else who shares my perspective. I never took the time to read the book or watch the DVD once I found out what the topic was. I got all of the information I needed from watching numerous clips on YouTube.

We already live in a society where everyone thinks they are going to win the lottery or become the next Britney or LaBron. So, this book just adds to that ‘do nothing, get lucky’ mentality.

It comes as no surprise to me that the logical, hardworking, get-out-of-debt people are the ones in the greatest disagreement with this book.

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6 Abigail April 20, 2010 at 10:09 am

Yes, when Tim and I could barely work due to health reasons and were thusly falling deeper into debt CLEARLY we were just “blocking” money from us.

What *were* we thinking?!

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7 J. Money April 20, 2010 at 11:33 am

“The people I admire and look up to most are encouraging, hopeful, hard working, and positive. I try to mirror that behavior even when it’s hard or things aren’t going my way.”

Well said sarah oneill :) If that were the main message from The Secret I’d be totally happy with it. I think it just went too far into the positive thinking territory without much discussion on the action part. Although I did see it mentioned here and there so it wasn’t a total 100% anti-action message, I just wish it played a MUCH bigger role.

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8 Doniree Walker April 20, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I’d like to read your wife’s essay :)

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9 jennifer April 20, 2010 at 1:14 pm

haha! Love this post- I have been saying this book is such a load of crap since it came out! I work for everything I have as well! Although I do believe positive thinking can probably get you there faster, but honestly, that sounds kinda like luck to me, which I don’t have a hand in!

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10 Albert April 20, 2010 at 1:17 pm

Well said J! I used to fall into the positive mindset attitude and I thought that was all I needed to do was to think positively. Now I believe that positive thinking creates opportunities, but it is still up to us to take advantage of them and work them until they create what we desire.

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11 Brad Chaffee April 20, 2010 at 1:31 pm

I think it is crap too J$!! A co-worker tried to get me into the whole thing a few years back and I watched it for 30 minutes before laughing hysterically about what it was saying, but even more at the people who believe this nonsense.

I believe in positive thinking and all of that. It won’t take you long in reading EOD to find that out, but what The Secret claims is just a scheme designed to get people’s money based on igniting their emotions and dreams by making them think it’s THAT EASY.

The guy who introduced it to me was offended at my respectful but clearly agitated commentary in my email response. He couldn’t understand how anyone could disagree with it.

The truth is that thinking positive about something doesn’t make it happen, it just puts you in a place to make it happen. When you think positive and believe in yourself, your actions reflect your desires. That’s it! There’s really no secret about it!

Great post dude!

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12 Yana April 20, 2010 at 1:37 pm

I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to. What I assume the problem is, is that the book prescribes a belief system – a way to think and be. It is contrived, not a natural way for the reader to be. I don’t believe that people can make themselves be what they are not, or believe what they do not just by listening to someone else. What they end up doing is pretending. It may well be that traits described by the system, like a positive attitude, bring success, but if it isn’t inherent or naturally developed in the person, it is futility.

It reminds me of two things. 1) Dieting to lose weight – because many who do that are trying to accomplish something by a temporary measure, and if they succeed, they are “done”. It doesn’t work that way. 2) Sinner’s prayer/repeat after me religion. Totally fraudulent and idolatrous, and a way to avoid any god that might be real.

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13 falling Into Favor April 20, 2010 at 1:51 pm

I’m stealing Yana’s first sentence: I haven’t read the book and don’t plan to. Cosigned! *

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14 Kevin April 20, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I agree with you. If you take the book at face value it is very cult like but if you take a look at it from a sane point of view, it’s basically saying have a positive outlook in life.

Oprah endorsed the book but when someone sent her a letter saying they weren’t going to take their kid to the doctor and just think positive, she decided to say no no no the secret is just one aspect of life you still need to work hard and listen to modern science.

If you just think positive but don’t do anything, nothing is going to happen.

But anyways I’m not a fan of the book and would never recommend it.

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15 Stella April 20, 2010 at 3:41 pm

I’m all for the power of positive thinking, positive affirmations, visualization, etc., but I agree–you have to actually take steps to achieve a goal, not just “dream” it true. Conversely, the whole “blame the victim” you attract negative events, etc. into your life really irks me as well. It’s like Pat Robertson blaming the Haiti earthquake victims to tell someone that their negativity is why they got laid off, cancer, cheated on, etc.

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16 Adam@Magical Penny April 20, 2010 at 6:29 pm

I guess it’s more about being open to possibilities.
For a non-money example it could be running a marathon;

Friend: “Hey, you want to run the marathon with me?. I’m doing it for my fav charity”
You without the ‘secret’: “Uh…I can’t. I don’t run, I don’t have the time to train etc…
You with the secret -being open to the ‘universe’ “Uh…i can’t run but hey its for charity -I’ll give it a go!.

WIth money it could be ‘open’ to the idea of helping out a friend with a business that might take off, or being ‘open’ to working on a side project for extra cash.

Granted there’s a lot of ‘spin’ in the book about manifesting your desires etc but if you think of it like being open to opportunities you might other have missed by being dismissive, then that’s the secret!

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17 Little House April 20, 2010 at 9:43 pm

I haven’t read this book, and don’t ever intend to due to the following:
1. Oprah endorsed it. (anything she endorses wholeheartedly usually stinks—of kick-backs!)
2. This gives lazy people an excuse to be lazy, and just think positively. (my students think positively all day, but their work doesn’t get done unless they put their pencils to their paper!)
3. If this book had any inkling of truth, I’d be loaded! (I’m comfortable, but by no means wealthy or rich!)

Thanks for reminding me to never read this book :)

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18 Carlyle April 20, 2010 at 10:39 pm

I’m feeling pretty smug with myself as I’d never heard of “The Secret” before this post. I guess I’m doing pretty good with my plan to avoid as much exposure to Pop Culture as possible!

I don’t know if the book addresses work but if it does I much prefer the practical advice of a guy like Mike Rowe. Here’s a quote from an interview with him that appeared in Outside Magazine;

“‘Follow your passion’ is the worst advice you can give someone,” he says. “Exhibit A: our 200 dirty jobs—Rene the fish gutter, or the guy who makes flowerpots out of cow shit. Once they found a thing they could make a living from, they figured out how to get great at it and how to love it. If you bring your passion with you, you can apply it to anything that makes sense. If you follow it, you’re going to be miserable until X, Y, Z happens, which might be never.”

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19 J. Money April 20, 2010 at 10:43 pm

Haha, well I don’t know about that (I’m following my passion right now by blogging!), but it’s def. an interesting way to look at things…

And now I’m afraid I scared away all the fishies! I want you all to read The Secret so you can see what I’m talking about ;) Or at the very lease debate me or tell me I’m a loon! Haha…Out of all these comments today only 1 semi-disagreed with me… where are the rest of you hiding?

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20 Yana April 20, 2010 at 11:38 pm

I don’t know about “Follow your passion” being the worst advice – the one I think is bad is “Do what you love, the money will follow”. I think that only works when what you love is following money, without regard to anything else.

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21 Brian April 21, 2010 at 12:25 am

I haven’t read it but I know people who have (in fact my wife did). I am pretty sure her takeaway was the positive thinking part, but not the drawing money toward her part. Thinking positively should be something we all try to do. But I am pretty sold on extra money coming my way because I either worked harder or because my investments are paying off.

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22 Shelley April 21, 2010 at 6:50 pm

OK – I do like The Secret just from the pure stand point that we are all energy. We all vibrate. Just like the walls around your house are not “solid,” the wall is still energy and it vibrates.

Sure, you need to put hard work into anything you achieve, but you have to have the positive thoughts and visualization to back it up. I have a jerk of a Baby Daddy. The more that I thought it, talked about it, the more jerkiness that I had to deal with because I was focussed on it. Once I stopped, I didn’t notice his jerkiness as much and it didn’t crop up as much as when I was focussed on it. I was just inviting that negativity to me.

You know how sad, sorry people always seem to have sad, sorry things happen to them? Well, that is the energy that you walk with everyday. It just repels something good from entering.

It has nothing to do with the book. It is the Laws of the Universe.

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23 Benjie @ Zordane April 23, 2010 at 12:10 am

I would say that this book is like a starter, or one that tells you where to start “thinking”, but it should not end there. You’re right that we need to do physical stuff like working ourselves out to get paid, and for that “invisible matter” to take physical form, you need to make it happen.

Thinking or having positive thoughts alone can’t get you anywhere, but if you put your mind, effort and your spirit of goal achieving, you could get far and make it a reality.

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24 Laura H April 24, 2010 at 7:52 am

Gotta say, “affirmations” worked a lot faster once I started visualizing *how* this would happen as well as the result.

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