It’s No ‘Secret’

Rhonda Byrne was on the Oprah show with her book and DVD. I didn’t see all of it, but I did buy the book and read it all–including inconsistencies, bad science, poor transitions, lots of repetitions,  graphic mess, topic-hopping to the point of confusion and some excellent ideas poorly described and almost lost by all the weaknesses of the book.cover of The Secret

To be clear– I think Rhonda Byrne did a lot of work on her book. She put effort into it, kept her focus on creating what she wanted and was successful. If only she had used herself as an example, the book would have made a lot of sense. Had she said, “To get what you want from life, work really hard, focus on the goal, try different approaches and be polite to everyone who helps you. Say ‘thank-you,’ and stay positive,” she would have had the main point of the book in a way everyone could agree with.

But that’s not the lesson from the book. Byrne starts by saying “You contain a magnetic power within you that is more powerful than anything in this world. . .” and continues that “the law of attraction says like attracts like.” [p.7.] But that is not at all what science says. Magnetism is a physical law, and in magnetism it is opposites that attract. The continual repetition that our magnetic forces attract like thoughts and results is simply bad science. Which casts other things she says into doubt, including, “You are the most powerful magnet in the Universe!” [p.7.] and comparing the universe to a genie who is at your command to bring you everything you want [p.46.]

Byrne also talks about ‘frequencies,’ and how bad thoughts are on the frequency to attract bad things [p.31] Another logic pitfall. Yes, thoughts do have frequencies. At best, thoughts attract other thoughts, and not money, disease, or objects, which are on different frequencies.

Which leads me to another Byrne confusion. She says that we must concentrate on good thoughts. Good thoughts attract good things, so Byrne encourages us to choose good thoughts. [p.32] Not to pick nits, but let’s be logical. In order to choose, there must be choices in existence. Which means, if we want to choose a good thought, there must be a bad thought to distinguish among. Uh-oh, now there is a bad thought, which, according to Byrne, will attract bad things into our life. But she has an answer for that. She says we have some time to turn back the bad thoughts. [p.33] But by p. 160-161, she tosses in more confusion by telling us that the Universe has no time or space restrictions–it is all one time, everywhere and covers everything.

The biggest problem I had with the book is “Nothing can come into your experience unless you summon it through persistent thoughts.” She stresses that everything in your life–illness, car accidents, come to you because you thought them into being. Really? Did the children in Darfur bring their horror on themselves? Do orphans choose to kill off their parents? No one chooses cancer, AIDS, or, for that matter, migraines. And the universe is not your personal wish-o-mat. I find it the ultimate of self-centered behavior to think, “Your are the Master of the Universe, and the Genie is there to serve you.” [p.46] And, “This is really fun. It’s like having the Universe as your catalogue. You flip through it and say, ‘I’d like to have this experience and I’d like to have that product. . .It is You, placing your order with the Universe.”

Now for the good news. Byrne encourages meditation, visualization, gratitude and the Alcoholics Anonymous exercise of “act as if.” None of these are new. None of these are startling. All of them work, not because of magnetism, but because they help you focus on the goal and work toward achieving it. Bryne explains in the book that she contacted other people to help her with this book. (Another disappointment–she has well-known and well-respected people helping her write this book.) She flew to the US where they lived to work with them. Was that all really necessary? Why not just call it up from the Universe? Because that doesn’t work.

Hard work does. Accepting that you can’t have everything you want will make it easier to live a realistic life. I can put the thought that I am a prima ballerina out to the universe all I want. When the universe stops laughing, it may remind me that I quit taking ballet 50 years ago, am generously proportioned and have arthritis. Ballet isn’t in my future. But other things can be. If I work on them regularly.

–Quinn McDonald is a certified creativity coach who believes in working to get what you want and understands that not everything is possible to everyone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t overcome difficulties and live a juicy, enjoyable life. See her work at