Self Help Hipster, Skepticism And Science.

Verena asked me some questions a little while ago, about the potential issues with my whole spirituality and self help deal and my education and career in psychology. How do I handle the scientific skepticism that is installed in me due to my education? And how do I respond to scientific-minded people who think I’m dealing a bunch of non-proven crap? How do I combine everything and deal with everything?


I experience some inner turmoil over the whole “Universe” and “Energy” stuff that no (psychological) study has proven, but not very much. Since it has always affected my life in such a super-positive way, I personally don’t need any more evidence to keep using it; what can I say? I’m easy like that.

As long as it works for me, I will practice…and preach! I really enjoy writing about it– it forces me to think about how it could work, and more importantly, how it can be put to work. I like practical stuff. If you can’t use an idea to actually help you, it’s no good. So I try to figure out how it is optimally used and put up articles about it.

Because even if it’s not “Universe” and “Energy” and it’s just an elaborate self-created way of thinking, it’s still the most functional way of thinking you can have: Adaptive, flexible, resilient, positive, solution-minded and using your creativity and imagination in a helpful way.

And let’s not forget it totally puts the ‘fun’ in functional. I love little mental tricks, happy thoughts and spotting synchronicity in my life. I entertain myself with gratitude, positivity and manifesting, and I do little experiments for myself to see how it works. It keeps me busy: It was either that or knitting.

That I work with the Law of Attraction and manifesting is my personal choice and so is writing about it. I am who I am and I love what I love and I am one big fluffy ball of self acceptance. Hooray.

Work And Outside of work

Now, I don’t feel like I have to ‘cover up’ anything about myself. Some of my coworkers know about my website (and even read along, hi guys!) I also tell my students when I’m introducing myself. I’m a happy camper and I am a pretty honest nerd.

That being said, I know my audience. Both in the psychology department and out in the open, I use non-threatening terms like ‘positive thinking’ and ‘goal setting’ to explain what I concern myself with.

I always keep it short too. I don’t go into lengthy explanations on how, and why, and ‘oh join the Dark Side we have magical worksheets that will change your life’. It’s not the place nor the time: I’m at work.

Both in and outside of the workplace, I compare it to being a cat person. Unless someone else is also a cat person, you wouldn’t show pictures of Mister Whiskers or talk elaborately about Garfield’s love for tuna cakes, would you? I only explain or elaborate when I am invited to do so. I find that if people are interested in these sort of things, they usually scribble down the url I mention or come talk to me after a meeting.

When it comes to academics and PHd candidates, I don’t really talk about it at all. That’s not really because I’m afraid to talk about my ‘weird stuff’ with them, I’m just afraid to talk them period. I usually find their genius a little terrifying. However, the times I have taken my Valium I’m perfectly comfortable and capable of having a conversation about other topics with them. After all, I totally respect that this is not everyone’s cup of mushroom tea.

Combining it with real life 

I can combine my perspective perfectly fine with reality. I know which roles I play in different areas (teacher, non-crazy friend, sane granddaughter, researcher, etc) and what those roles consist of. I always know the audience I am dealing with, and most importantly, I don’t feel the need to convert everyone I meet into Law of Attraction believers and create my personal army of Manifest Enthusiasts to take over the world*.

I am allowed to think using the Law of Attraction can be beneficial even without scientific evidence to back it up. Someone else is allowed to think that I’m absolutely ‘kookoo for Coco Puffs’, as Sheldon Cooper put it. I very much enjoy being a high-functioning crazy person.

Now I’m off to find my gratitude journal and see an imaginary Universal delivery man about some orders. After all, it’s after office hours. 😉

*Hold on, that sounds pretty cool actually. Anyone got a brainwash-technique I can borrow?

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


  1. I also know some physicists who are deeply religious, whereas in the Netherlands the majority of physicists is rather anti-religious, and they combine religion and science pretty well. One of the professors is actually also a vicker. So I think combining these sorts of things is pretty normal 🙂

  2. Don’t be afraid of the PhD people! I am one of them and really, we are nowhere as scary as you seem to think. 🙂 I for one have been absolutely hooked on your blog ever since I first came across it. I actually really like the way you construct your argumentation for the ideas and techniques you find valuable. You often mention that they might not exactly have been proven scientifically, or do not sound very sciency, but at the same time point out very convincingly that that is not the only possible criterion, and that “does it make me feel good in daily life?” is also a pretty useful one. Anyway, I guess my point is: do not feel limited when talking to them, because I am sure they will find you just as inspiring and convincing as I do. 🙂

  3. I was wondering, when did you start believing the Law of Attraction? When did you first notice that it was working for you? I read about your pennies project but I am assuming there might be more. I want to be converted but at some point (after the proven priming etc. part) my scientific brain starts to pull the brakes. Maybe an idea for a blog post?

  4. Thank you so much for the elaborate answer! To be honest, you actually did more than simply answer my questions. I guess I was trying to find MY way of applying it into my life, since I’ve read so much about it and I’m absolutely convinced of its profits (even without the scientific evidence to back it up). I’m really excited about this, feel that it can help so many people including myself, just BECAUSE it can be that simple. However, I’m in between two extremes (or at least that’s what it feels/felt like), one being the scientific proponents and the other being the overly, radical spiritual ones. I felt like I was constantly going back and forth, not finding some sort of middle ground and constantly trying to justify one or the other (to myself and others). The examples of how to apply LAO/mindfulness/positivethinking/meditating/etc. I’ve read about or witnessed, have always felt very extremist or rather black&white thinking to me and I really struggled with that for a while, because I’m not really a fan of “that way” of thinking (gently said). Like the example in your youtube clip; the kids & people in Africa, bringing it on themselves for starving and not having enough water…. That’s taking it to far in my opinion, almost in a biblical way (applying “the rule” too literally). So for me, applying it in such a radical way (almost like a theory that is not falsifiable, if you know what I mean), it just wouldn’t work..

    My point is; you are the first person I’ve come across where your way of applying it felt like a way I would’ve applied it in my own life (had I not been struggling so much), I just didn’t know it yet :p. I haven’t read your entire blog (yet!) and all your books though ^_^ but its safe to say that I agree with you on, well, basically everything up until now – in an almost scary way ;). And at the same time, it’s okay to NOT agree on something and just find your own way with this (god, I sound like a 13 year old that’s “getting to know the world” for the first time, haha!). Anyway, it’s very inspiring and it feels logical & “healthy” to me, that’s important. I guess I was looking for a way to apply it in a way that would feel right to ME (not anyone else). That’s also one of the things you mentioned in one of your clips; out of all of this info, take with you the stuff that feels logical to you. Finally I feel like I can apply this into my own life, while at the same time staying true to myself (“scientific” and “spiritual” me) without the pressure or urge to constantly justify and question myself on the basis of one or the other. Maybe for some people this is pretty straightforward (hey, what can I say, I’m a slow learner) but I guess I just needed someone to show me this, so big, big thanks!! Seriously!