I would argue that the law of attraction does actually exist, and that is empirically verifiable, but that it is something more akin to the Eastern concept of karma. We do generally get what we deserve based on our conduct, not only based on what we think or what we desire. Happiness must be earned through proper conduct, personal integrity and adherence to ethics, not just through imagining and desiring success. Success takes work. There is no easy way out.
Yet the New Age movement and some other self help philosophies are obsessed with focusing on the positive, and not looking at negative aspects of the self. Without applying the rational mind to your own inner motivations, you will never gain appropriate self knowledge and you will unconsciously create consequences that you don't want, through behaviors that belie your finer instincts and conscious wishes. Every effect has its cause.
This is what Socrates meant by the admonishment “Know Thyself!” You can build your character by taking a hard, rational look at yourself, really understanding what caused you to act in an unethical way, and then choosing consciously to correct your behavior through personal responsibility and self discipline.
You Get What You Deserve Based on Personal Conduct
Common sense dictates that if you want to manifest happiness and success, yet you treat people rudely, it will be harder for you to attain happiness and success. If you are rude, many people will treat you rudely as well. You will likely experience more hassles and ill will than you would have experienced if you were kind to others. There is a lot of truth to the old adage that you reap what you sow.
Unfortunately, even one unethical act has a ripple effect on the attitudes of people around you, and it detracts from your character and your reputation, even if you act with integrity most of the time. We would all do well to remember that actions have moral consequences, and sometimes ones that we don't want!
When your thoughts, desires and actions are unified, you are much more likely to attain your goals in life. Conversely, if what you think and how you act are not in accord, you will certainly not create what you want in your life.
Here is an example. Say your goal is to be successful and well liked at work, and to receive a promotion. You visualize receiving a promotion, hoping to attract one into your life. However, one day you were in a bad mood, and you argued with someone at work, which damaged your working relationship. Others overheard the argument, and they may think less of you professionally now. You yourself set this event in motion with your actions, which have belied your desire to be liked at work, even if your desire was sincere. Now you have to live with bad feelings, guilt and embarrassment for having lost your temper at work, which has damaged your chances of being promoted, regardless of how much you may want to manifest a promotion using the law of attraction.
Or, say for example that you have a strong desire to manifest peace in your life. Yet sometimes when you are under stress, you fail to control your temper and you take your stress out on those around you. Do you really think that if you go around being grouchy and causing arguments and discord, even a minority of the time, that you will ultimately manifest peace in your life? Not if your actions contradict your goals and desires.
When your intentions and actions are not in accord, you will not get what you want.
How can this be? Well, law of attraction philosophies are the instant gratification version of legitimate character development. Law of attraction philosophies seem to teach that you can be successful without putting the hard work into building a strong character and becoming a person of integrity.
Sometimes it is possible to want what you should not have, what you are not moral or responsible enough to have yet in your life. While you may get it, you can still cause great harm to others without personality integrity and the practice of ethics. Say that you want to be wealthy and powerful at all costs. You become wealthy and powerful through sheer force of will, despite that fact that you are unethical and you have no problem defrauding people since you think that you won't get caught. A person of poor character in a position of power can cause a lot of harm to themselves and to others because their decisions and conduct effect many people.
I would argue that most people, even those who are moral relativists by default, have a general sense that they have done something unethical when they receive negative reactions from others.
What is the Root Cause of Unethical Personal Conduct?
Integrity is the result of understanding your own negative aspects and transcending them. Learning the truth about yourself isn't always fun. That is why so few people want to do the hard word of taking a look at the negative aspects of themselves, what Karl Jung called the shadow self. The shadow self is the dark teacher. It is the best part of yourself in that if you are not afraid to look at it, it can teach you lessons that have to be learned. As Kierkegaard famously said, “There are two ways to be fooled. One is to believe what is not true; the other is to refuse to accept what is true.”
Not to say that everyone lies to themselves or that everyone has a lot of internal contradictions, but a good way to gauge your level of internal conflicts is to assess the number of interpersonal problems that you have had in your life. Obviously the goal is not to blame yourself for everything, but to think rationally about your actions an apply blame when it is actually deserved, with the intent to improve your conduct next time around. Psychology is essentially just an attempt to rationalize the problems of daily life.
Either psychological extreme, of what psychology calls neurosis, or self hate, on one end, or narcissism, inflated ego driven self love, at the other end of the spectrum, constitute a condition of internal division which makes it harder to build a good character because the rational mind is clouded when it comes to doing introspective work. These types of internal imbalances need to examined and fixed.
A person of integrity is not afraid to examine their worst acts, or to look at any negative qualities in themselves with the intent to correct any character flaws. Accepting responsibility for your actions and character flaws means that you can fix them.
Building a good character through introspection and the practice of ethics takes work. Good character is the result of choosing to look at your actions rationally, and then choosing to behave in an ethical way. Living with integrity means that you will create less unpleasant experiences for yourself because you get along with those around you.
When you are satisfied with yourself and your character, you will begin setting good feelings and events into motion. Negative effects can not follow if you transmute the old causes of poor conduct, once you have solved problems within yourself. Change yourself, change your destiny.