Strange Attractors

Strange Attractors

Creative visualisation means using the imagination to picture events that one wants to experience in reality. Repeatedly bringing this imagery to mind produces increasing expectation: a well-known phenomenon in sports psychology. The same effect can be produced by affirmations, meaning simply repeating to yourself the description of the event or situation. The greater the expectation, the more likely it is that confirmation bias will happen. This is all straightforward standard psychology. It is the implications in the personal indeterminate world that are so extraordinary.  Technically, the result is a ‘strange attractor‘.


In physics, the term attractor means a state towards which a system tends to gravitate. Gravity itself is a simple example. A ball dropped on a slope tends to roll towards the bottom. In relation to gravity, the bottom of the hill is an attractor. Another simple example of an attractor is the way a cup of tea cools to room temperature. The temperature of the environment is an attractor for the temperature of any object in the environment because all objects tend to cool down or warm up to the temperature of the surroundings.
In both these examples, the attractor is obvious in the way it works; and the end result is a specific condition: the ball at the bottom of the slope, the cup of tea at room temperature. There is also a rather different sort of attractor that is often found in complex systems, a strange attractor. This sort of attractor does not give rise to a simple, specific outcome, but a loosely defined tendency in the system. Rather than one specific outcome, a strange attractor gives rise to a particular pattern or type of behaviour in the system. The image below shows the Lorenz attractor in action, a 3D example from mathematics. It can be seen in action on Wikimedia. This is a pattern traced out by a mathematical formula in a program on a computer. The program traces out a shape that always gravitates towards this distinctive pattern. The shape of the pattern is a strange attractor.

A phenomenon of this nature operates in the reality of the individual, in that the system tends to gravitate towards expectations being fulfilled. In effect, expectations act as strange attractors in the system. The effect occurs because expectation gives rise to biased observations, and each biased observation defines the outcome of the expectation as more likely than before. As a result, whatever one strongly expects becomes more and more likely to be experienced, as biased observations are added to the definition of the personal world. This is not just because one behaves in such a way as to fulfil the expectation, though of course that may be a contributing factor. The point here is that the biased observations in and of themselves alter the probabilities, so that the expected outcomes are more likely to be experienced.

The Law of Attraction

There is a popular idea called the law of attraction which holds that creative visualisation alters reality. Obviously, just having a thought does not alter the physical reality of the world one jot. You would have to ignore the most fundamental principles of physics to believe in that. It has been said that this does alter physical reality through ‘quantum non-locality’. It does not. Quantum entanglement and non-locality mean that two seemingly separate quantum particles can be strangely connected, but as has been repeatedly demonstrated there cannot be any causal influence. There is absolutely no way this can account for anything going on in the mind affecting the physical reality.

However, in a personal world it is exactly as if this does happen. But it is not that thinking about something ‘in here’ in any way affects the physical reality ‘out there’. That is completely impossible. In the light of the physics this is ludicrous. But expectation, and the resulting confirmation bias, do alter the path you follow through the infinite possibilities of the universe, by altering which steps you take into the future. This is why destiny is not fixed in this kind of world, but interactive. So life really is a game. You are constantly directing what is likely to be experienced in the world, very slightly, all the time. And the phenomenon is cumulative.

The Rules of Play

There are two different kinds of rules, those that make visualisations effective, and those that make them safe. To make them work requires repetition, intensity and above all no negation. It is absolutely vital to address what you want in positive terms, meaning it must be literally what you want, and not the avoidance of what you don’t want. The reason is simple. The unconscious mind does not recognise or acknowledge negation. So what you are actually affirming is the thing you don’t want. An affirmation containing the words Stop Smoking draws attention to smoking, which is counterproductive. Phrasing the desired outcome in positive terms is essential.

Repetition is important because the thought will become a habit of mind. Then the unconscious goes on repeating it for you, and thus it acquires increasing influence. Intensity is as important as repetition, but this is more a matter of practice and skill. The more vivid you can make your visualisations, and your responses to your affirmations, the more effective they become in this regard because the unconscious takes them as more real.

In order to make visualisations safe it is vital to make sure the visualised circumstances do no harm to anybody. The key point here is that the effect of visualisations is holistic. They work in a bizarrely global way, simply because your world is defined solely by your record of observations.  So the effect of a visualisation tends to affect everything everywhere, including you. When it comes to visualisations, love thy neighbour as thyself!