‘Growth’ vs ‘Fixed’ mindsets – and why it’s important to have a ‘growth’ mindset

Anyone interested in personal development will have come across the Henry Ford quote “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t, you’re right.” This quote is so often repeated because it encapsulates an essential truth – that self-belief…

The Law of Attraction, Belief Systems and Waking Trances

Just in case you’ve never encountered the ‘Law of Attraction’ before, it’s a “New Thought” or (as the mainstream would think of it) new agey viewpoint popularised by the book and movie ‘The Secret’ which says that “people’s thoughts (both conscious and unconscious) dictate the reality of their lives, whether or not they’re aware of it. Essentially “if you really want something and truly believe it’s possible, you’ll get it“, but putting a lot of attention and thought onto something you don’t want means you’ll probably get that too.” (quote from the Wikipedia entry on “Law of Attraction“.

First, a bit of psychological context.

The therapist Stephen Wolinsky defines trance as being characterised by, among other things, a narrowed down or fixated focus of attention (you’re more aware of some things and less aware of others), and the spontaneous occurence of one or more trance phenomena (the kind of things you would see demonstrated in a stage hypnosis show such as amnesia, hallucination and so on). In his excellent book Trances People Live he suggests that we are in one kind of trance or another most if not all of the time.

This means that if someone has a strong belief, they will tend to ignore evidence to the contrary – or even blank it out altogether through the hypnotic phenomenon known as ‘negative hallucination’ (they don’t see things that are there). They will also tend to find evidence or see patterns that aren’t there (‘positive hallucination’).

Psychology terms this tendency ‘confirmation bias’ – although I think Wolinsky’s trance argument adds an extra level of explanation.