“The Secret” and the Magical World of Woo-craft

Why does “The Secret” work so well for white people?

If you follow me on social media long enough, you’ll learn that I’m no fan of “The Secret”. I have some serious problems with the idea that everyone creates their reality based on their level of resonant vibration.

If that is true, then the Jews manifested the holocaust. Children in Asia, the Americas, Africa, and Europe, all manifest various forms of slavery. If it is true then some of the most beautiful souls I have met in India, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and even Detroit, resonate and vibrate with poverty and extreme hardship.

If we create our own reality, then why is it that upper middle class white people, and their children, seem to be best at manifesting financial security and luxury.

And why is it that “other than white” people in the Global South seem to consistently manifest a lower standard of living compared to the Eurocentric North?

Maybe they’re just not into material wealth? It might not be their focus? Comfort might be defined differently by them?

BS – I’ve been to these places. Different cultures do have different value systems. But nobody values civil war, working for poverty wages in mines and sweatshops, not having access to quality healthcare, never being able to retire because people in your situation die of starvation and exposure if they stop working.

The thing I’ve noticed about people who “successfully” manifest well with the secret – they are almost always white, upper middle class, and bursting at the seems with what Social Justice Warriors call “privilege”

There are always exceptions of course. I did work with a black guy guy as a model scout that went from being homeless to having an apartment and driving a SAAB 9-3 turbo in just two months scouting – he completely attributed his success to a shift in mindset. I think about that guy a lot when I hit hard times.

Is “The Secret” amoral?

It’s strange to me that their would be a universal law of harmony and vibration that allows people to become higher vibrational beings that resonate with financial success by hustling young ladies from the club into paying for portfolio pics at a modeling agency. And I’m not judging the man for doing the work. Some people did get work from our agency. And I was right there with him, though I quit as soon as I realized being disingenuous was required to fill the bank while being a model scout.

Was his success really “The Secret” – “The Law of Manifestation” at work?

And what about the sweatshop owners, the slumlords, the – no doubt – wealthy decision makers at pharmaceutical companies that use publication bias to hide the studies that show a drug is dangerous or only marginally effective? Is their wealth the result of “The Secret”? Is this law of high vibration completely amoral?

More consistently, the people who “manifest” success that I’ve met, are the people who find a way to get shit done by leveraging their situation, or the “privilege” they already have to obtain even more and better. That seems to be the magic formula for success with “The Secret”. It’s almost always old fashioned hard work that seems to actually make things happen. Even when luck and privilege is involved.

This makes it easy to dismiss “The Secret” as so much hooey from the New Age World of Woo-craft.

But…. that would be a mistake. Because there actually is something to the idea that your resonance determines your reality. It’s just not the simplified magical formula of saying happy things to yourself in the mirror, or raising your “vibes” through magical incantations.

There is some actual science to the way this shit works.

Polyvagal Theory and “The Secret”

You and I are social creatures. Biologically we developed and evolved as the most advanced social primate on planet earth. We’re so good at being social, that if you like this article, you are going to share it with others on social networking and media sites that exist to do nothing but allow people to interact across distance, with stock market valuations higher than the worlds largest grocery and home goods stores.

We’re so social, we have a special division of the autonomic nerve system for managing our social interactions for us.

The autonomic nerve system in humans, and other mammals, is a triune system. It has three divisions. One, the unmyelinated vagus, was inherited from reptiles and causes us to freeze and dissociate in overwhelmingly stressful situations. Another is the sympathetic system which mobilizes energy to respond to the environment. The third is the newest from a developmental perspective – the social engagement system (SES).

This new system emerged when mammals came on the scene. The way you can tell if a skull is from a mammal is to look at the inner ear bones. If they are separate from the jaw, the skull is from a mammal. This allows mammals to hear sounds with a higher pitch vs the low bass rumbles that reptiles are best at detecting.

Human vocalization, and most mammalian vocalization in general is in a higher register, so mammals can communicate with each other about the presence of dangerous reptiles without alerting the reptiles of their location.

As such, this new division of the autonomic system developed to interact with social cues. It controls the heart, lungs, muscles of the face and vocalization. Because of it, we can detect safety cues in the facial expression, breathing, and voice of another human being.

We can also detect danger cues in the face of another human being.

Humans have all three divisions of the Autonomic system. In the face of normal stressors we detect cues of danger, mobilize energy with the fight and flight system to respond, and switch energy back towards relaxation and repair with the SES system as soon as we detect a social cue that we are safe once again.

But often we cannot escape the stressor, and in the face of inescapable stressors we tend to use the oldest division of the autonomic system, the one that causes us to shut down, immobilize, drop our energy level to conserve energy as long as possible, because we don’t know when we will be safe again. The tone of the social engagement system drops and we start to suck at detecting the nuance in the voices and facial expressions around us.

And our own facial expression, and our voice, begins to flatten.

The tone of the social engagement system has a tendency to drop not just in times of prolonged stress, but also in mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia etc. Also, when we are raised by someone with one of these conditions, or when we have experienced trauma or bullying, the tone of the SES begins to drop, and the tone of our muscles of facial expression begins to drop as a result.

Cue up Resting Bitch Face.

The science of Resting Bitch Face

Resting bitch face (RBF) is what low SES tone looks like.

And low SES tone kind of matches the concept of a low vibration person.

If you have a high level of Social Engagement System tone, then you are probably a person people enjoy interacting with socially. They feel comfortable around you. They can read your intentions through your facial expression, tone of voice, calm, relaxed breathing, and it feels good to be around you.

When you have RBF – people don’t know how to respond to you, because you’ve got a poker face. They are less likely to choose to get to know you, spend a great deal of time with you, associate feelings of calm, safety, and happiness with being in your presence.

And that is hardly a way to manifest good things into your life…..

A person with a strong SES system will feel calm and relaxed in a safe environment, they will see opportunity when it is present, and danger as well. They can instantly assess a situation or person as worthy of devoting energy towards, or a drain on their vitality.

And, because they are so much fun to be around, they have ample choices about where to spend that energy. They are likely to find themselves in situations with other highly socially skilled people, successful people, who can present them with opportunities, or are willing to share resources with them. After all, it is hardly a burden to share with someone who makes you feel happy and safe. They are the people you want to buy things from. You have to buy things from somebody. It might as well be someone that makes you feel good about it.

These people with high SES system tone, these “high vibration” individuals are the ones that appear to have figured out how to work “The Secret”.

It turns out that “The Secret” is simply the Social Engagement System operating in an optimized fashion, which allows an individual to capitalize on the position that happen to have found themselves in, been born into, etc. They are achieving the full potential of the situation they were born into.

There is a certain amount of luck in social status. You may be born into privilege. But being born into privilege doesn’t guarantee success. Success still requires being able to see opportunity when it presents itself, and show up in a way that makes the max of the situations you find yourself in.

There are some really happy young men and women living in tent cities in India. The ones with really high SES tone are going to have the best lives out of everyone in that tent city. But unless they find themselves in a situation outside of that tent city, that quality SES tone will never manifest them a BMW, or a house, or even guarantee access to quality medicine in the case of an emergency. Though out of everyone in that tent city, they are most likely to happen across a “miracle” situation where someone helps them out.

“The Secret” is really leveraging your resources through “vibrating” with a healthy level of tone in the SES division of the autonomic nerve system.

And fortunately, for those of us born into families situations that were not safe, or parents with mental illness, or who suffered trauma or bullying, the tone of the SES can be increased over time through training.

Harnessing the “real” Secret

This is where the practical application of “The Secret” and positive psychology “fake it till you make it” comes into play.

What is one of the best ways to train the SES system? To move the face and body through a full range of emotional expression, by singing or taking some acting lessons.

Seriously, that is what some of the experts recommend… acting lessons…. AKA “fake it till you make it”.

The other strategy I would add is chiropractic care. How can you express a full range of emotion if you cannot effortlessly move your body through a fun range of motion? Motion, posture, is how we express emotion. No motion – no emotion.

It’s not a metaphysical concept, “The Secret” is learning to develop a high level of SES system tone so you can show up in a way that results in people liking you and wanting to hire you, do business with you, share things with you, date you, marry you, go out on adventures with you, just be around you in general – because you make them feel good – by being in your presence. That’s about it.

It’s not magic.

It’s not a religion.

If you apply it neurotically, it won’t work.

It doesn’t work by chanting feel goods in front of the bathroom mirror.

It’s supposed to work because it makes you better at being a human being.

This is great, because it means that little kids don’t manifest assault, races don’t manifest genocide, the person who applied for the same job as you isn’t going to get it because of a magic spell they repeated in the bathroom before the interview.

We aren’t responsible for everything good or bad in our lives.

But we are responsible for how we show up, for the opportunities we see or don’t see, the dangers we fall into or avoid, and the hard work we put in to grow as individuals and add value to the world around us.

Even if we do have extra challenges because of situations we have found ourselves in, we can do something to improve our SES tone and become a better social primate. And I prefer a world like that.

Further Resources

The Psychology Of Resting Bitch Face Syndrome And What You Can Do About It

Stephen Porges on Bulletproof Radio with Dave Asprey

The Wild Chiro is Dr. Peter J Fox – Practicing chiropractor and author of the forthcoming book Operating System Nature: The Birth of The Tradition – a first principles look at the how humans have developed systems for healing and generating lives full of vitality and connection. If you want to receive updates on when new material is published and where it is available, feel free to let us know how to reach you through the form below.

Photo via Visual hunt


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