The Law of Attracting Trojan Horses

People talk about “the Law of Attraction” as a way to hook Hollywood headlines, Washington power, and Wall Street wealth. I believe in the Law of Attraction, but I don’t think it’s that simple. In fact, I direct a slightly bitter laugh at the whole concept of thinking ourselves to success. Haha.

Here’s the sobering truth: We don’t attract what our minds want. We attract what our souls want. The mind, despite its amazing abilities, is powerless to do miracles unless it’s in cahoots with the soul. And what do our souls want? Not the cabana on the beach, not the well-oiled, nubile partner, not our names in lights.

Our souls want us to wake up.


Because of this, we draw into our lives—inexorably, unintentionally, with maddening repetitiveness—exactly the things that lead most directly to awakening. In many cases, that’s our deepest suffering.

You know how the road to hell is paved with good intentions? Well, the road to heaven is paved with apparently horrible mistakes. In order to wake up, we must not only observe people who bring up the most unenlightened parts of our egos—not even merely encounter them. We must give birth to them, move in with them, invite them into the bathtub and the bed right along with us.

So many of the things that transfix us, the things that make us fall madly in love, are Trojan horses. We think they’re a gift that will make us happy, and for a while they do. But then our time to awaken arrives. The new baby who’s slept angelically for two weeks develops colic. The perfect lover quits antidepressants, cold turkey. The friendly new coworker smilingly throws us under the bus in a meeting.

The soldiers are out of the horse.

There’s an awful period of resistance when this first happens. We go through all the stages of grieving our own deaths, because part of us is dying: the ego’s attachment to the story of the thing that’s going to make us happy forever.

So, here we go. You know the steps to this dance:

This isn’t happening. At worst, it’s just a blip. Everything will go back to normal soon.

If I try harder, if I do a better job and really make them happy, everything will go back to normal.


Nothing’s ever going back to normal. I want to die. I can’t get out of bed.

Maybe I can find a new normal. True, Troy is now being run by the damn Greeks. But on the other hand, we’ve got a really nice big wooden horse.

This sequence happens when we fail to get an expected email or our favorite sitcom gets cancelled, let alone when we lose a job, a love, or a lifestyle. I’ve been through it several times lately, on a moderate scale. And here’s what I’ve seen, every time:

I’ve seen that what we’re most afraid to lose is never a thing, person, or situation, but our story about how that thing will make us happy, conform to our ego’s desires, and remain forever unchanging. This is true even when the thing is our own body.

I’ve seen that when we relinquish our stories—when the truth of our soul kills the narrative we’re spinning out to impress ourselves and others—we reach acceptance and suffering ends.

I’ve seen that on the other side of death lies peace. Not the peace of the unsuspecting Trojans before they got that awesome horse, but the peace braided through their epic poetry and psychologically compelling myths.

This is what our souls attract. This joy, this disappointment, this euphoria, this depression. This death after death after death. Ultimately, I believe that we can let all our stories die. Then we’ll accept every Trojan Horse, every betrayal, as precisely the gift we most needed in order to awaken.

The meta-learning I take from all this is simple: know that your story is your own invention, and that it will die. Hold it lightly. Enjoy your gift-horse. And when the Greek soldiers pour out of it, offer them your sword.

20 replies
  1. Camille Jones
    Camille Jones says:

    I loved this article because it is exactly what I am going through. I have multiple stories playing in my mind that I believe keep me on track… but what they actually do is trap me in my own 'monkey mind'. This fool chatters away and gives me a 'play by play'. The commentary of 'my life' validates my illusion of control. The universe does not play along to our story and it will ultimately fail.. Let it come and release… release all expectation and suffering ends beautifully.

  2. Sage
    Sage says:

    Martha, this about knocked me over: ". . the truth of our soul kills the narrative. . . ." I pulled that piece of the sentence to have a reminder of the whole article, which I will read like ten times!

  3. Susan
    Susan says:

    This is really an interesting way to look at this idea. It is the synchronicity to what I have just been reading in Wayne Dyer's book "Wishes Fulfilled". He says basically, in the beginning, that the stories are a part of the external self but not part of the internal higher self. The internal self is looking for the divine. I thought I was having a hard time understanding what he was saying until I read your post. Thank you for the reminder that the goal in life is not things but rather a return to being awake.

  4. Christina
    Christina says:

    Beautifully written and brutally displayed at the same time, just like the Trojan horse. Yet it is funny and true.

  5. Christella
    Christella says:

    This is what my life has been like for the past year! I'm entering the "acceptance" stage and grief wasn't an easy stage to leave!!!
    Thank you for enlightening my soul…
    I will stop beating up myself and just release all those destructive beautiful illusive stories that have been holding me back for nothing…

    Thank you!!

  6. Carlin
    Carlin says:

    I love this article, but what does it mean to a awaken? To except life as it is in it's ever-changing, temporary form? Is that what you mean?

  7. Suzyn
    Suzyn says:

    I've been thinking a LOT about stories, especially since reading Sapiens recently. He makes the case that all culture is story – religion, law, corporations, money… Since then, my husband and I call it out almost daily – democratic "norms" are a story! Funerals are a story! The idea that I need to have a "thing I want to do when I grow up" is a story!

    I don't think we can live entirely outside of story. But we can influence the direction of the collective story by how we create our own. I find that terrifying – my husband finds it electrifying! Lately I've been toying with the idea that I'm an artist, creating something called "me," using nature and nurture as my palette.

  8. Madena
    Madena says:

    I am staring in awe at the "death death death" part of if all at the moment. It is so WEIRD to realize that when you are growing up you are taught that there are these things you strive to, you have to reach stability and okay-ness….and holy crap, there is no okay-ness out THERE in any of those things….holy crappity crap….are you telling me that this WHOLE time I was it??? Some magic person/job/dress won't come along and make me magical??? what.. WHAT? Okaaay, I guess it is just me and my raggedy soul then….Is anyone else as freaked out by this as me?

  9. Karla
    Karla says:

    Your article made me laugh out loud – when "our favorite sitcom gets cancelled." So funny! You reminded me of my reaction recently when Sense8 was cancelled by Netflix – that lovely show that promotes a worldview of love and understanding of all cultures. My reaction to the show being cancelled wasn't full of love and understanding. Nope! Not so enlightened as I'd like to think, still triggered by small things daily. Thanks for the reminder that my life's seemingly painful lessons are merely a call to wake up and the faster I can get to acceptance, the faster I can grow spiritually.

  10. Gina
    Gina says:

    since I was in high school (15+ years ago!) you have been a source of love and wisdom for me. I have sought your words in so many mediums, and they always bring me comfort, maybe because they ring true for me. Thank you for making your voice accessible. I don't have as much support or close ones who want to wax poetic about pain and loss and hope and everything else. You have been that for me, and I am SO so grateful.

  11. Nara
    Nara says:

    Thank you Martha, for writing and sharing this beautiful article. After a near death experience, I then began to experience awakening of all my energy centers, as in, they actually activate and vibrate on their own…started at the base chakra…then solar plexus…then heart…now head…Now i can use all of them…but…in all of this i began to channel, and experience a different reality. I can´t stop the flow of creativity, writing, inspiration, and all the magic…with all this, i didn´t know how to live with myself…i had a real estate job which expected me to show up a certain way…a way i no longer was…but how would i live and make a living?…My old career no longer fit, but I was trying to push to do it, because i didnt know how to explain myself…inside i felt dead to the old measures of success…not motivated by money, but by service and contribution….and between my creative moments and spiritual highs, the last thing i wanted to be doing was to keep chasing a deal or work in real estate…i could barely get out of bed for that….when the energy comes, i have to write…i cant be at that time pushing to do something that doesn´t mean anything to me and that will not bring transformation to another..but i suffered because i felt like i had to be that person, but that was the false self, not the true me…i went through ALL of the stages you mention, and am still digesting it all, now into the acceptance stage…I am finally realising that my life will never go back to what it was…but I have been given a much greater and more beautiful gift…and that in the end, we must surrender to our Life Purpose, and the callings of our Soul. My guides told me "you only suffer for you resist your purpose"…I was in heavy resistance…all those stages…are true…You article is 100% spot on, and correct…Thank You soo much for writting it! I feel less weird now and less alone lol 🙂 Thank You!

  12. Julie Coulter
    Julie Coulter says:

    Oh Martha. You are such a gift. When I read what you've offered I end up crying and laughing all at once. I decided to call it craphing which, yes, sounds a lot like crapping but far more jubilant. I am now going to read more and craph out loud.

  13. JW
    JW says:

    "The perfect lover quits antidepressants, cold turkey." Sleeping with the enemy! Ha! Humor that just performed some psychic surgery. Bless you!

  14. Nataly
    Nataly says:

    Dear Martha,first of all,many thanks for all your work,it did sober me up at some point of my life.From that moment onwards all I do is clean the “interior”but its more fun living it must be said.
    Thank you now again,for the Trojan horse.
    Been looking for more facts about this Law for years,always smthng missing..until today.
    As Jackie Brown says…hooyaa,got it…
    Lots of love and light to you!

  15. Milena
    Milena says:

    SO true… I've also heard it expressed this way "we attract not what we want but who we are". Martha, you are a genius.


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