Cedar Ridge Academy Residential Treatment Center
How the Fears Chart operates on the principle of the “Law of Attraction” to help troubled teens
By Rob Nielson, Clinical Director
Since initial publication, The Secret has consistently received media attention, including being featured on Oprah. The ‘Law of Attraction’ has great potential to help the people who follow its suggestions. Its value for a person’s mental health is far more potent than any material gains this principle might facilitate. Although many other books address this concept, The Secret delivers the message with great impact.
Through my background as a hypnotherapist, I have long been familiar with the ‘law of attraction’ and strongly believe that people attract to themselves that which they hold in their minds and to which they give their mental energy. Our treatment interventions center around what I term the ‘Fears Chart,’ and I have emphatically stressed the message, “When you avoid something (an emotion or a behavior), you attract that which you fear.” Conversely, when a student ‘approaches’ that emotion or uncomfortable situation, they attract to themselves that which they desire.
Avoiding behaviors are strategies that these teens apply in order to seek relief from uncomfortable situations – situations that, through conditioning, result in triggering the ‘fight or flight’ response. Unlike a rational concern for situations that might represent a legitimate threat to health or safety, these avoiding behaviors are based more on psychological perceptions of threat due to previous sensitizing events that threaten how a person is accepted by others. Students identify these “fears” as 1) fear of rejection, 2) fear of abandonment, 3) fear of failure, 4) fear of not being good enough, 5) fear of not being in control, 6) fear of looking like a fool, etc.
These situations could possibly result in a threat to one’s physical self. For example, a rejecting parent could withdraw resources or nurturance from a young person not capable of taking care of themselves. Dissatisfied peers could react with physical aggression. However, the real threat of harm is usually low enough that the act of avoiding is not warranted as it only makes matters worse in the long run.
“Change is much easier to manage based on what one is for rather than what one is against, and I could simply call the “Fears Chart” the “Courage Chart.”
Viewing change in this way would acknowledge that ‘approaching’ behaviors, the kind of responses that serve to desensitize one’s fears, are responses that trigger the aforementioned latent fears. Approaching takes courage, since ‘approaching’ triggers the associated fear(s). Helping students adopt a proactive stance toward approaching requires that they first understand how their attempts to gain an immediate sense of relief actually made their situation worse. Life became worse in the way these persons felt about themselves, worse in how other people related to them, and worse in the way they were creating a reality that could be described as being caught in quicksand. Because these students were seeking immediate relief from their fears, every response the students used to try to feel better resulted in them feeling like they were just sinking deeper.
Utilizing the Fears Chart we have been able to tie almost all maladaptive behavior to patterns of “avoiding” situations that students feel insecure about being able to handle appropriately.
In order for a person to attract into their life the circumstances that they want, they must “approach.” The concept that “thoughts are things” which then create reality, applies directly to this process. Regardless of whether or not thoughts have a magical quality that helps create reality or whether thoughts as well as actions simply affect the decisions we make in bringing to reality the focus of our thoughts, acting on the principles of the Law of Attraction is a useful discipline to bring about the changes someone wants in their life. Explaining the “Law of Attraction” in this way doesn’t require any magical or metaphysical components. In addition, The Secret emphasizes forgiveness and gratitude. Certainly these are powerful therapeutic principles that we all can benefit greatly from practicing.