As we go about everyday living, there’s a deluge of advice about how to make it in life - “Seize the day!” “Only you can make it happen!” “No guts, no glory!” “Don’t take no for an answer!”. We’re taught that the power to make things happen is all in our hands, despite factors beyond our control that could get in the way of our goals. Does life happen to us or do we make our lives what they are?
There are cases to be made that the answer is somewhere in between. We know all too well that stressful situations affect us but also, that our own actions can turn our lives around even as difficult circumstances surrounding life persist. Lifestyle blogger and podcast host Monica Beatrice shares her own experience, “In my teens and then again in my early twenties I experienced adrenal burnout. I didn't know it then, but on reflection, all of the symptoms were there.” As she prioritized her health, she also realized, “If something makes you feel anxious, less-than, or unwell, it’s time to rethink its position in life.”
A fervent resolve, self-awareness, and hard work can lead to good things, as they have done for Monica. So where does mindset fit in? Can we also will our hopes and dreams into life?
Manifestation is all over the internet, but what is it?
Manifestation is the act of bringing intangible goals into tangible realities. It can be done through spoken or written words and has a lot to do with desire and attraction. Affirmations and self-help mantras are a form of manifestation. Motivational speaker and self-help guru Tony Robbins seems to get behind this practice, citing that “as human beings, we operate using up to 95% of our subconscious brains. It’s where our intuition, emotions, values, beliefs, and long-term memories are stored. We need to learn to trust our subconscious brain - it’s the supercomputer.” Manifestation puts this supercomputer to work.
It began in the New Thought Movement of the 19th century, More recently, it has re-entered our consciousness filling up our TikTok For You Pages and being touted by celebrities as a practice they’ve adopted (Ariana Grande, Lady Gaga, Tom Holland, and Oprah are just a few who have publicly shared their personal stories about manifesting). The search interest in manifesting peaked in July of 2020, a period wrought with anxiety and uncertainty, but has continued to be relevant in our search engines since then. In one week alone in 2021, videos with the word ‘manifestation’ in them were watched ten billion times.
Manifestation and affirmations align themselves with self-care practices including meditation and Reiki, specifically with the seven main chakras (energy centers in our body). At the core of all of these practices is the activation of inner healing to find benefits that manifest outwardly, not just physically in ourselves but also the world around us. We all have chakras, with each one corresponding to a location on the body that supposedly influences different characteristics and qualities of everyday life. At its core, aligning our inner energy centers to achieve an external outcome seems to be the very essence of manifesting.
Manifesting is as real as we allow ourselves to have a growth mindset
Imagine that you’re trying to learn a new technical skill such as, say, gourmet cooking to become a chef. Do you think such a goal is achievable without adopting a mindset that says it can be done? In fact, can any goal be achieved if your mind doesn’t allow you to believe it’s possible?
As we grow and mature, our minds grow with us, ultimately what one may call a growth mindset. Manifestation takes advantage of this. A study done by renowned American psychologist and Stanford University psychology professor Dr. Carol Dweck, who specializes in human motivation and motivation, states that “The hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” She emphasizes that we can unlock success and fulfillment by unlearning the limiting belief that our qualities stop at what we currently have, so we can work on getting new ones.
Science lends us further proof that manifesting is real: neuroplasticity refers to your brain’s ability to grow and adapt. As such, when we manifest new goals, our brains allow us to adapt to these new limits and grow to reach them. It’s adjacent to the Law of Attraction, which states that positive thoughts and ideas reap positive results and actions, suggesting that a lot of power is held in our subconscious mind that can be enlivened by manifestation.
While it can lead us onto a positive action path, manifesting is not “magical thinking”
To reduce manifestation to simply willing our most fervent hopes and dreams into existence is to rob it of its virtues. Psychology Today analyzes the possibility of overestimating the ability to control uncontrollable world happenings when manifesting. In our desire for quick-fix solutions to serious problems, we’d be remiss to think that manifesting alone can completely shape how the world works, or that those who suffer from tragedy or failures are just not manifesting enough.
The most virtuous gift of manifesting is when purposeful thought is combined with deliberate action. Monica tells us, “It took me learning to prioritize my health first to understand the foundational impact health plays in our overall experience of life.” She adds, “It was this experience which inspired my mantra and now podcast - Health Home Hustle - health first, always. Since making my health my top priority I've been on a non-stop learning mission, speaking to experts, working with practitioners…as I come to find habits and routines which work for me.”
To do manifesting right, do it in earnest thought and action
#1: Be specific and affirm your goal in the present. The more specific you are about your goals, the better manifesting can create an impact. Don’t just write out your goal to, say, succeed at work, write out how you can achieve that goal. Certified Reiki Master and wellness maven Jean Bromage emphasizes, “There’s energy in claiming a goal to be already present in your life instead of just an aspiration. For example, don’t just say `I’m no longer tired or intimidated`, say `I have all the energy and inspiration to accomplish what I want.`”
#2: Be consistent. Consistency is best achieved in a way that complements your lifestyle. In manifesting that goal, do it in writing, as you think the thoughts that start your day, and as you do your self-talk before a big meeting. There are many (even tiny) changes you can make to your everyday habits to manifest your goals. Monica wanted to prioritize her health so she implemented a morning walk as part of her routine: “Taking a morning walk has been one of the best habits I've ever incorporated into my life. It helps to set my Circadian rhythm up for the day… acts as a meditation, provides me with gentle exercise . . . I am a morning walk's biggest fan!”
#3: Leave your limiting beliefs behind you. With years of doubts and fears seeping into our everyday lives, this might be the hardest guideline to follow. But skipping this is essentially self-sabotage, and it’s a stubborn voice that should have no place in your mind. Certified Reiki Master and holistic beauty maven Lily Agosto notes that this doubt can be a result of an imbalance in the Solar Plexus chakra located in our upper abdominals. To achieve the confidence that balance in this chakra brings, Dr. Margie Warrell, a global authority on living and leading well with courage, says it best in a Forbes piece: “Doubt your doubts”. If you can doubt your beliefs, why not doubt your doubts too? It’s a type of backward thinking that may yield surprisingly positive results.
Whether manifesting is a novel concept or a long-time curiosity, understanding that its essence is in allowing ourselves more self-belief is a powerful starting point. To truly manifest our aspirations is to couple that affirmation with deliberate, intentional action. While manifesting may never give us the guarantees we humans crave from the universe, the practice of beating self-doubt and letting ourselves imagine the possibilities of fulfilled dreams may be a valuable enough gift on their own.