Personal Growth

Book Review “The Secret” – Secret Unmasked

You can not avoid it. “The Secret” book  is everywhere. In magazines, on the radio and on television. Friends, acquaintances & family are talking about it. The secret is hot. The secret is special. In The Secret, the author Rhonda Byrne promises that you can achieve everything when you understand the secret. It is an all-encompassing recipe for happiness, wealth and health. And it is sold by thousands. All in all, sufficient reason for me to take a closer look at this book. The Secret looks beautiful indeed. The design is sublime, the typography very attractive. The cover invites you to read. The expectations are high…

What is The Secret?

The secret is a central law of nature as Byrne calls it. According to her, thoughts are the primary cause of everything. “Everything else you see and experience in this world, including your feelings, is followed. The cause always lies with your thoughts. “(P.30). So your thoughts create everything. Because you as a human being can create your own thoughts you can also create the world around you in this way. Without any restriction.

According to Byrne, the law of attraction follows from the above law. This law means that everything you encounter on your path has created you yourself. Literally, Byrne says “Nothing can come into your life that is not evoked by persistent thoughts.” (P.43)

According to Byrne, according to the above laws, you can achieve your own happiness by creating in three simple steps what you want. As a first step, you have to ask the universe what you want. As a second step you must actually start believing that you will also get it by acting, speaking and thinking as if you have already received what you have requested. The third and final step has been received. This means feeling as you will feel when your wish has manifested itself.

Do not think about things that you do not want to happen to you. According to Byrne, our consciousness can not distinguish between what we do not want and what we do want. So only think about what you want to have.

If your wish has not materialized after these three steps, Byrne says that you do not yet have enough faith that your wish will actually come true. This is the secret for a happy, healthy and prosperous life.

Is “The Secret” a secret?

According to the back flap of The Secret, the secret is only known to a handful of people. Only a small circle of initiates such as Plato, Galileo and Einstein knew the secret. In the book The Secret, this is shared for the first time with others.

It could well be that Plato, Galileo, and Einstein were familiar with the above theory. However, it is difficult to maintain that the above theory is only known to a limited audience. In recent years several inspiring books have appeared that describe the same principles. For example, the books of Deepak Chopra.

One of the first bestsellers in the field of personal development was published in 1937 and is written by Napoleon Hill. This book, entitled ‘think and grow rich’, was an unprecedented success and has sold more than 30 million times since its publication.

When you read this book again, the similarities with The Secret are striking. Hill also talks about being a reader in ‘The Secret’, which is only known to a select group of people. Hill also talks about the power of (positive) thinking and the importance of truly believing in the outcome. Quotes from Hill’s book would not be out of place in Byrne’s book and vice versa. The only difference between Hill’s book and The Secret is that the first one is more about financial success while The Secret is more about successful life.

Back to the question. Is a well-kept secret revealed in the book The Secret? No, it is rather old wine in nice new bags.

Is the secret true?

What does it matter if something has been written in books a dozen times before. If only it is true and just works! Positive thinking, focusing on positive feelings indeed turns out to be good for people. The positive psychology that has been on the rise since the beginning of this century has been extensively researched. Optimists live longer, are more effective, become ill less quickly, etc. It helps to focus on your own qualities and those of others. All true. It also appears that thinking about something does not mean that you are actually working on it. Try not to think of pink elephants. Absolutely not think of pink elephants. With most readers, the small pink thick skins will now be able to bounce around the room. Is all right up to now. Nice to use and apply.

What is not true is the premise of The Secret that “your thoughts are the primary cause of everything” (30) and “Everything else you see and experience in this world, including your feelings, is followed” (30). Research from the past years shows that the relationship is the other way around. Thoughts seem to be the result of feelings. Brain research shows that people first feel something and only then form a thought about it.

The premise that thoughts are decisive is expanded in The Secret to such an extent that the book even gets a dangerous tail.

Is the secret “dangerous”?

In The Secret Byrne goes very far with her statement that thoughts are all decisive. In Byrne’s view, people grow fat because of thick thoughts and not because they eat too much:

“Eating is not responsible for weight gain. Thoughts are the primary cause of everything, everything else is the result. Think perfect thoughts and the result must be a perfect weight. “(P. 59).

A little further, Byrne writes that aging and illness are only the consequences of imperfect thoughts. She gives an example of a woman who is cured of breast cancer without chemotherapy or other medical treatment. According to Byrne, this proves that you can think of perfect health, the perfect body, the ideal weight and eternal youth.

“If you think consistently perfect thoughts. “(P.131)

As far as I am concerned, Byrne goes too far with these kinds of statements.
The consequence of her statements is that people who are ill, old or disabled (consciously or unconsciously) are guilty of their own suffering.

In addition, the emphasis on thinking ‘consistently perfect’ thoughts creates an extra fear for people to do wrong. It increases the feeling of insecurity and creates extra negative stress if you are not careful. And that is precisely something that people can really get sick of. The method used by Byrne is not only factually incorrect but also creates extra stress with a bit of bad luck, so that the opposite result is achieved.

Are there alternatives to the secret?

No, in the sense that there is no simple strategy that, when you apply it correctly, always works and yields everything your heart desires (that’s what The Secret promises).

There are five instruments that are proven to be effective and that can help you in different areas:

  • When you suffer from negative or pessimistic thoughts, the Rationally Emotional Training or Therapy (RET) is a wonderful tool to get started.
  • When you suffer from negative emotions and stress, Heart Math can actually help you a lot further to deal more effectively with stressful situations and to perform better.
  • If you find yourself wanting to be happier in your work, coaching or training in this area may help you further.
  • If you suffer from negative events from the past that still have a negative effect on your present, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) can be a godsend for you.


The Byrne booklet is beautifully designed and looks very attractive. The texts are easy to read. By keeping the texts short and using many examples, it remains airy and entertaining. In terms of content, The Secret ties in with previous books who point at the importance of positive thinking, the power of beliefs & visualization.

The knowledge about the functioning of the nervous system and the brain is unfortunately outdated. There are currently much more effective methodologies to influence yourself. Byrne absolutizes the premise that thoughts are decisive and makes himself ridiculous. Worse is that this puts the reader on the wrong track. Chances are that he or she starts full of enthusiasm and soon finds that the mysterious recipe does not work or even counter-productive.

It’s good that Byrne manages to seduce the reader into action. The writer of this review also considers buying a lot again. According to The Secret, it is more likely that I win when I can really imagine myself and feel what it is like to win that 14.2 million. I will keep you informed of my experiences. Who knows…

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