The Difference between the Conscious & Unconscious in the Law of Attraction

Psychospiritual Reflections 23.12.2011


In my blog “Misunderstanding the Law of Attraction” I looked at the statement “you must have attracted that into your life” and I demonstrated the harm that these types of statements can do to people who have experienced trauma or abuse. In that article, I made the distinction between the unconscious process that may be happening in the Law of Attraction, and the conscious emotional self that responds to experience. In this blog I want to look at the unconscious and how the Law of Attraction may work on that level. I also want to look at exactly who or what is “attracting” these experiences into our lives. In other words, at what point we are really able to say that we made a choice to attract in an experience, or that we are responsible for attracting that experience. The terms “choice” and “responsibility” are central to today’s discussion of the Law of Attraction.

The Mysterious Unconscious

The unconscious is a huge reservoir of information and memory that is far more expansive than an individual conscious mind. There are a lot of theories about the unconscious and what it is but in general there are a few common themes. Generally, the unconscious:

  • Is a huge store of information where the conscious mind is very small in comparison. This is much like the conscious mind being the tip of an iceberg compared to the unconsciousness submerged beneath the surface.
  • Exists outside the dimensions of time and space (causality and locality)
  • Contains memory of past, present and future, often including past lives
  • Is without boundaries of the individual person. That is it could be a tribal memory or family memory, or even a cultural or species memory
  • These features make the unconscious very different from the conscious mind.

    The conscious mind on the other hand, consists of our conscious beliefs, values, likes and dislikes, insecurities and worries, feelings, self identity, knowledge, and personality. Basically, anything that we are consciously aware of at any one point in time, is our conscious mind. Consciousness itself is a very interesting phenomenon, however this is outside the scope of this article.

    For today’s purposes, what is important is that the unconscious does not consist of the same psychological qualities that the conscious mind does. The unconscious has no identification with an individual personality. It is not an “I” or a “you”. It is not a “Self” at all.

    All we can really say about the unconscious is that when we hypnotise people we tend to access memories that we were not consciously aware of. Many say these memories are past life memories. We also know that the unconscious processes information at night in our dreams. Some people claim to know the future through their dreams or through a deep inner knowing, which we associate with the unconscious. Eastern traditions are very familiar with understanding unconscious processes in their medicine, including the chakras and meridian systems. While we understand something about the unconscious, it is still very much a mystery.

    What Choice Do I really have?

    There was a funny little story I read in a psychological astrology book on freewill and fate. In this story, there was a man who whole walking in the market place spotted Death. Death tried to talk to him but he quickly fled the market, went home, packed and left town. He finally stopped at an Inn in another town late at night, believing he had escaped Death. A while later that night he heard a knock at the door. Upon opening the door there was Death, who promptly said, “Hi, I was trying to say earlier that I’ll meet you here at this Inn tonight.” [“The Astrology of Fate”, Liz Greene (1984)]

    This great little story captures the quandary between freewill and fate. What is free will and what is predestined or set up by the unconscious? What choices do we really have in life? Freewill and determinism have been debated since the binning of recorded history. Plato and Aristotle approximately 2500 years ago developed their philosophies on this topic and they were not the first. So the question becomes can we unconsciously make choices or are choices by definition conscious? The other part of the question is if experiences ate attracted into my life on an unconscious level, am I responsible for them? So let’s try to make sense of these questions.

    Unconscious Patterns & Conscious Awareness

    In a nut shell, we can not be responsible for things that we are not aware of. You could say when we act out of a lack of awareness, or when we are caught in unconscious patterns, we are not really making choices at all. We are more like an automated robot, repeating and rehashing the same thoughts, feelings and actions.  Yes, we do experience it and we feel the consequences of it. However because we are unconscious as how the events were created, we feel at a loss as to how to change it.

    As I have already stated, the unconscious is far more extensive than a conscious human self. This is where the terms Choice and Responsibility have become really confused in discussions about the Law of Attraction. If the unconscious is NOT a SELF, then how can we possibly be responsible for unconscious attraction patterns? We are not “Making A Choice” when we find ourselves in the midst of a natural disaster or subjected to cruelty and abuse… BECAUSE IT IS NOT A CONSCIOUS PROCESS!!!

    So while we may not be responsible for those choices because they were not choices at all, we can learn how to become responsible for making choices through conscious awareness. Bring the shadow into the light of the conscious mind and you will begin to SEE! The biggest difference between remaining unconscious of psychological patterns is that we tend to stay in a place of suffering and by default affect others in the same way. To increase conscious awareness of what is unconscious leads to self-responsibility and choice, where before there was simply unconscious reaction.

    Ultimately Self-Responsibility is Freedom!

    So today we have explored the differences between the conscious mind and the unconscious and I have suggested that it is the unconscious that is involved in the Law of Attraction and not the conscious mind. Therefore, while we DO have the choice (and are responsible for) healing our psychological wounds which can release the unconscious patterns, we are NOT responsible for unconscious attraction patterns that bring experiences into our lives, whether those experiences are pleasant or unpleasant.

    In my next blog post on psycho-spiritual reflections, I want to take a closer look at unconscious patterns and discuss the different types of patterns including family patterns, tribal patterns and cultural patterns. I also want to show how we can these patterns and in the process increase our conscious awareness which leads to self-responsibility, choice and intention.


    Have your say on the Law of Attraction and contribute to the greater consciousnesses of humanity ….


    4 Responses to “The Difference between the Conscious & Unconscious in the Law of Attraction”

    • Amaliah:

      Interesting and informative blog Vanessa, thank you.

      My thoughts however, that maybe we are responsible for everything even the unconscious, because we have gathered them from other lifetimes and they are part of our role to uncover and bring into conscious choice to change them.
      Cheers Amaliah

      • Vanessa Bushell:

        Hi Amaliah, thank you for sharing your ideas on responsibility and the unconscious.

        It is great to have different perspectives shared on this site as we are all finding our way through understanding the many changes in our lives and conscious awareness. It would be great to hear from other people… what is it to be “responsible” for unconscious memories, thoughts and the attraction of experiences into our lives?

        Lots of love

    • Deborah Jackson:

      Hi Vanessa,

      I absolutely loved these last two posts. As a psych also I deal with people coming in whipping themselves due to what they have ‘attracted’ into their lives. I also witness much grace and opening when the in accurate understandings around this law are dismantled and the person is then able to contact and work through the truth of their experience.

      I’m also aware of subtle judgement in new age communities around this and believe it is sometimes used to turn away from compassion and contact with the raw pain of the human experience – eg. “I don’t need to help you or get too involved because you brought this on yourself at some level”.

      I like the clarity of the distinction between the conscious and unconscious that you have brought into bear here. I guess I’m still a little unresolved around the notion expression in books such as ‘Conversations with God’ and touching on the law of karma where a soul decides before an incarnation the experiences they want or need to have for their own growth – eg. “I want to experience being abused so I can learn forgiveness”.

      Mind you, if a soul has that level of maturity to choose such an experience, haven’t they already got the lesson? Or are we surrendering to the pre-birth wisdom of a spiritual guide who knows what’s for our higher good? To what degree does what we call ‘choice’ exist at that level? And already I am caught in the mechanics and left brain antics of something I have no actual recollection of…

      I often find myself saying that we do not know what level of self/Self the experiences in our life create from – the concept of an individual soul, group oversoul or simply universal intelligence looking for the next vehicle in which to experience an aspect of itself. I wonder if we sometimes become arrogant thinking we understand the mechanism and path through which the source and outcome of all our experiences are related and even to think in such a linear, causal, ‘independent unit self’ way about it.

      I agree with you about commitment to personal healing, doing the work to evolve the difficult feelings, inaccurate thoughts and stored trauma, developing a sensitivity to the subtle and a relationship with our authentic self, thereby creating the ground and receptiveness for truth and beauty to emerge. I also find myself maintaining a degree of humility around this process of emergence, an honouring of the beauty in the mystery and respect for the felt sense present moment experiencing.

      I look forward to reading future posts,



      • Vanessa Bushell:

        Hi Deborah, thank you for your wonderful comment.

        You have had similar experiences with clients who have taken on unhelpful messages from the Law of Attraction. That is not surprising, I wonder how many other therapists share this experience? I believe opening up public discussion about this topic is important so people begin to question what beliefs they are taking on.

        You asked some great questions about the psychospiritual in general. I agree, the egoic mind loves to think it’s got it all figured out… but there is so much we simply do not know! I would love to talk more about these topics and would love to see more comments from you on my psychospiritual blogs.

        Have a fantastic day