Courage and the Law of Attraction

This newsletter was written by Steve Pavlina, sent on August 11, 2009. It’s re-published here for achival purposes, with permission.

A pattern I’ve noticed with many would-be Law of Attraction enthusiasts is that they often try to use the LoA as a substitute for courage. Instead of facing their fears head on, they shrink back and focus on forming and visualizing intentions, hoping they can somehow attract what they want without having to stretch beyond their comfort zone.

This approach really doesn’t work. People who attempt this simply end up attracting an abundance of frustration. Then they complain that the LoA doesn’t work.

For example, suppose you want to attract an intimate partner into your life. Does it make sense to sit on your couch holding the intention for this person to show up at your door? Well, it’s fine to do that, but not if you’re using it as a means of avoiding going outside and talking to people. If the people you want to meet are outside, and you’re sitting at home trying to manifest someone, there’s a disconnect somewhere, isn’t there?

You can’t fool the LoA. Your whole being is part of the attraction process. If you’re sending out a genuine intention on one channel, but you’re secretly worried about what fears you might have to face along the way, and you’re hoping to use the LoA as a magical shortcut to avoid facing those fears, then you’re still broadcasting fear on another channel. Your intention will simply fizzle out, and little or none of it will manifest.

On the other hand, when you hold a clear intention, and then you cooperate fully with that intention by stretching beyond your comfort zone to meet it head on, you’re going to find it manifesting right quick. When you broadcast your intention on one channel and move toward it with courageous action on another channel, you’re congruent. Your thoughts, feelings, and actions are in harmony.

Going back to our example of attracting a partner, it’s great to focus on attracting what you want. Sit on your couch and visualize you and your new partner having fun together and feeling a wonderful loving connection. It’s very nice to do this. But when you’re done, get off your butt, go outside, and meet people you find attractive. Your own body in motion is part of the manifestation process. If you don’t have the courage to go outside, how can you possibly pretend that you’re a vibrational match for your intention of connecting with a great partner? Were you hoping to date the next Jehovah’s Witness that knocks on your door?

Building Your Courage

Fear melts when you face it head on. It really does. When you fail to face up to it, the fear grows and grows. Fear is really nothing but an illusion, but your thoughts make it seem real. When you realize it’s only illusion and run straight at it, the fear dissolves very quickly.

I learned this lesson in my late teens, albeit in a rather destructive way. I got hooked on shoplifting, and soon I was doing it almost every day for the thrill. The first time I shoplifted, I stole some cassette tapes from a music store. As I walked out of the store, my heart was racing so fast it was practically bursting out of my chest. But when I realized I’d gotten away with it, I breathed a huge sigh of relief, and then I felt amazing. I enjoyed an awesome surge of power for facing my fear and pushing right through it.

Eventually I reached the point where I could steal several hundred dollars worth of merchandise at a time from a major department store, and my heart wouldn’t skip a beat, even though I knew I’d be facing jail time if I got caught. I progressed from committing misdemeanor petty theft to felony grand theft and kept right on going. The bigger risk required more courage, but it also meant shedding more fear.

I noticed a similar effect the first time I got arrested. Initially I felt terrible and ashamed, but I recall that when I was sitting in the back of the police car as we drove to the police station, there was also this feeling of exhilaration. I was facing yet another fear, and I was still breathing and living through it. I knew I’d have to deal with some unpleasant stuff as a consequence of getting caught, but I believed I’d get through it okay, and I did.

Ironically, the more I got arrested, the bolder I became. Shoplifting became my form of courage training. Eventually I got to the point where the fourth time I got arrested — that time for felony grand theft — I was sitting in the back of the police car laughing out loud. The officer must have thought I was nuts. I was laughing because I was amused at life’s attempts to scare me. I realized that no matter what, I could always choose to be courageous, regardless of the consequences. I could stare in the face of very negative consequences and still move forward without hesitating.

Now obviously that was a rather destructive — not to mention illegal — way to develop courage, but it was certainly effective. That training has served me well ever since. It made other potential fears seem miniscule by comparison. For example, when I started my first business and went bankrupt, it just didn’t faze me. I kept right on going. How could I be worried about something like that when I could be sitting in jail? How can I possibly get worked up about a silly fear like running out of money?

Stepping Up

On some level, you must see how silly your fears really are… and how utterly lame it is to let them have any say in how you live your life.

What’s the big deal about walking up to a stranger and trying to start a conversation? What’s the worst outcome? They might be rude to you and reject you? Oooohhh… so scary!

What about public speaking? Is it really the end of the world if you screw up and embarrass yourself in front of a group of people? So what? Life goes on…

What if you adopt a lifestyle that causes other people to disapprove of you? Who cares? Why should that bother you at all? It’s your life to live.

Can you imagine what your life would be like if you had a lot more courage — the courage to face your fear of failure, fear of rejection, fear of success, and fear of embarrassment? Imagine what it would be like to move forward in spite of fear instead of hesitating, rationalizing, and making excuses. Hesitation doesn’t create results. Courageous action does. Having a viable excuse isn’t even in the same ballpark as achieving a desired result.

At some point in your life, you may say to yourself, “Enough with this. I’m sick and tired of being ruled by these stupid fears. I’m going to do whatever it takes to squash them!”

You may not want to hear this, but courage is essential for long-term growth. You can hammer away at taking in more information, but eventually you’re going to have to face some fears if you want to make real progress toward your goals and dreams. There’s no getting around it. Courage is an absolute must.

Courage Training

But how do you do this? How do you build up your courage to face and overcome your fears?

There are many methods you can use. My personal favorite is progressive training. Start by tackling a very small version of your fear. Face it over and over again. Once you can do that consistently, you can progress to a slightly more magnified version of the fear. Keep doing this progressively until you’ve effectively squashed the fear, and it no longer limits you.

For example, suppose you have major approach anxiety when it comes to starting up conversations with strangers. That’s a fear that will surely limit your social life and relationship options. It will take a real commitment to overcome this fear, but it’s certainly one that can be overcome.

I suggest you commit to going out to a public place at least a couple times a week, ideally 4-7 times a week if you really want to make rapid progress. Go out for 90-120 minutes at a time if you can swing it.

Each time you go out, give yourself a simple social goal to accomplish. It should be something that requires a small amount of courage but that you still feel quite confident you can achieve.

For example, go to a large shopping mall, and visit a few dozen stores. In each store ask one of the employees a simple question like “Hi… Do you know what time it is?” Or ask for directions to the nearest restroom. It doesn’t matter what you ask. Your goal is to get used to approaching and talking to people. Do this a few dozen times, and it will eventually feel very easy and probably boring to you. If it takes a little courage for you to do this, you’ll gain a confidence boost afterwards. Most people would find this easy but still mildly rewarding once it’s done.

For the next level, you might try throwing out comments to other customers in each store. Say things like, “Oh, I think that shirt would look great on you.” or “Have you eaten here before? Do you know if the food’s any good?” You don’t have to say hi and introduce yourself. Just toss something out like you already know the person. It doesn’t matter if the other person replies back. This exercise is entirely for you.

If you feel more comfortable talking to store employees, then you might try this with employees first until you feel ready to branch out. Go to one of the Apple stores and chat with one of their employees — they tend to be very talkative, as long as you talk about Apple stuff.

Sometimes a stray comment will turn into a full-on conversation if the other person is receptive. If that happens, have fun and go with it. Recently when I was in an art gallery, I made a stray comment about a painting to one of the employees, and we ended up talking about art for 15 minutes. I learned quite a bit that I didn’t previously know. When I had to go, she sent me off with a free art book that the store normally sells.

Each time you go out, up the ante. Give yourself a slightly bigger challenge than the one you last achieved. It should take a little bit of courage but not so much that you cringe when you think about it. Turn it into a fun game. See how far you can take it.

To increase the challenge, think about going longer, wider, and deeper. See how long you can keep a conversation going with someone you just met. See how many different things you can learn about the other person (birthday, hometown, siblings’ names, most important values, etc). See how many different types of people you can approach. See how deep of a connection you can create in a short period of time. Remember that this is a training exercise, so it’s okay to try things you wouldn’t normally do in a regular conversation. Push yourself!

It’s critical that you don’t just do this haphazardly. Go out regularly, and keep raising the bar each time you go out. Challenge yourself to reclaim more and more territory from your fear. If you don’t keep raising the bar, the fear will simply creep back in, and you’ll stagnate. Don’t let your courage succumb to atrophy.

Of course you can do this with non-social fears too. You can use progressive training to face and overcome any type of fear. Taken one by one, none of the baby steps should be terribly difficult for you. Each new challenge builds upon your previous success. But when you string all those little steps all in a row, some serious progress can be made in a relatively short period of time.

One of my goals is to be able to meet a random stranger on the street, start a conversation, get to a place of sharing and acknowledging a connection of unconditional love with them, and part ways with a nice hug — in 5 minutes or less. I can do this pretty well in certain circles, like when I’m around people who are very open and spiritual — in those cases it’s almost too easy — but I’d like to be able to do it with just about everyone if possible. I’m not sure how easy it will be, but it’s a fun challenge to work on.

In working toward this goal, I’ve noticed that as I open myself up more and more, other people seem to pick up on it. It’s like I exude a vibe of greater approachability. One morning as I was walking down the Vegas Strip, some random guy walking by looked up at me and gave me a high-five for no apparent reason. That’s a small example of seeing other people moving to connect with me as I move to connect more with them. It’s a lot of fun to watch these changes unfold and to see that other people relate to us very much as we relate to them. If you’re willing to approach strangers to start a conversation, you’ll find that other people will approach you more frequently as well.

When you weight train certain muscles, there’s a local effect but also a systemic effect. The specific muscles you train get stronger (local), but your whole body gets stronger too, even the parts you didn’t specifically train (systemic). Courage training works much the same way. When you train to overcome a specific fear, you also benefit from a systemic boost in confidence. You’ll become less afraid in general, and other fears will diminish in intensity.

The Vibration of Courage

Courage is a very powerful vibration. When you act with courage and confidence, your goals and intentions will manifest much more readily because you’re actively moving toward them instead of hoping they’ll magically appear at your door. Hope is a very weak vibration — it doesn’t manifest squat!

If you shrink from your fears, you’re going to have little success with the LoA. Fear serves as a counter-intention to all of your positive intentions. Trying to manifest without courage is like going to the gym to do a workout, then returning home to smoke a cigarette and chow down on junk food. Now go ahead and complain that exercise has no effect. 🙂

Some people might be turned off by this, but I have to say it. The people I know who are most convinced the LoA doesn’t work are invariably the biggest cowards I’ve ever met. They’ve given up so much ground to their fears and retreated so far into their heads that their goals are buried beneath a weighty tome of excuses and rationalizations. When I talk to such people for even a few minutes, it’s crystal clear that fear and worry are their dominant vibrations. Courage is like a totally alien concept to them and has very little place in their lives. The closest thing to courage they can muster is to complain about what they don’t want.

For example, I know someone who hates her job and has enough money saved up to last a year, but she can’t bring herself to quit. So she keeps doing heartless, soulless work year after year. She’s good at what she does, but she knows it’s a dead end. She lacks the courage to go after her dreams, so she plays it safe instead. I can ask her what she wants, and she’ll tell me her goals, but there’s no passion or enthusiasm behind her words. The goals are nothing but emotionless content — there’s no energy behind them at all.

When she asks me for advice on how to create a better life for herself, I tell her, “Go to your boss and say, ‘I quit.’ It will take about one second.” It’s a very straightforward, simple, concrete step to take. I can see that she’ll be utterly relieved, but also excited and terrified, when she lets that job go. It will allow her to embark on an adventurous new chapter of her life. But will she do it? I doubt it will happen anytime soon. She doesn’t see the value of courage. She thinks she can get by without it. And yet she remains a woman whose life is tediously the same year after year.

At the same time, she wonders why she can’t seem to attract the man of her dreams, no matter how much time she invests in clarifying what she wants and (feebly) moving toward her goal. Of course she can’t succeed with this approach. Such a man only exists on the other side of her fear. The man of her dreams, should he ever appear in her life, could never find such a disconnected, cowardly woman attractive. Until she musters the courage to step outside her comfort zone, she’ll remain perpetually alone.

Fortunately I know that life will eventually force the issue. With each passing year as she ages, she has to watch her dreams fading faster and faster. I expect that will eventually stir something in her, especially since she wants to have a family of her own.

If you want to grow consciously, don’t wait for life to force the issue. Build your courage consciously. Apply it consciously. Push yourself to grow instead of being shoved around or beaten down.

Don’t wait for life to magically bring you what you want. Go out and hunt it down. Be bold, brave, and proactive. Activate the Law of Attraction at full intensity. Speed toward your desires just as they speed toward you. Let them attract you just as you attract them.

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