Steps to follow and when manifestation helps
While manifesting may not be backed by sound scientific evidence and has drawn numerous critics over the years, the Law of Attraction is very popular and has been around for a long time.
The principle dates back to an ancient Eastern philosophy first mentioned in the West by American spiritualist Andrew Jackson Davis in the 1850s. Manifesting has been praised by everyone from Ralph Waldo Emerson to Oprah Winfrey; with reminders to review one’s vision board or repeat daily affirmations that are shared regularly on social media. But even without such reminders, “we’re constantly manifesting ourselves, consciously or unconsciously,” says Lalah Delia, wellness educator and author of the mindfulness and self-care book Vibrate Higher Daily.
Experts say that understanding what manifesting is and isn’t is crucial to seeing its impact on one’s life and unlocking its potential for more purposeful goal setting.
What is manifesting?
Although manifesting has different meanings for different people, “at its core, manifesting is the belief that we have the power to shape our own reality,” says Amanda Darnley, PsyD, a Philadelphia-based psychologist. Darnley says the steps one takes to manifest “can have a profound impact on your beliefs about yourself, your world, and your future.”
Kim Polinder, MA, a relationship coach in Long Beach, Calif., and host of the Engineering Love podcast, explains that while the process is not religious per se, “manifesting can be considered spiritual because many believe that the Universe or higher forces help to realize the manifested intentions.
“Manifestation is all about taking control of your life, becoming the hero of it, and creating the life you want,” says Delia. “This is important because it puts us at the forefront of our lives and allows us to mindfully create something that is deeply meaningful and fulfilling.”
How to manifest
“Manifestation is a potential that we all have,” says Delia. “However, the key is to manifest consciously and intentionally.” The three-step process to do this involves the following:
- Step 1 is to “clearly define what you want and break it down into small, achievable steps, and then keep those goals in mind,” says Darnley. This is where setting daily intentions, personal affirmations, and vision boards come into play.
- Step 2 is to work on what is under your control. “Creating is recognizing opportunities and taking action to achieve your goals,” says Darnley. Part of that is believing that you even have the power to achieve your goals.
- Step 3 is to mark progress and acknowledge achievements along the way. “When you cultivate gratitude and pay attention to your gains, no matter how small, your perspective essentially shifts to a ‘growth mindset’ where you look for ways to make things go well and setbacks as small challenges or diversions contemplating rather than getting bogged down.” down from them,” says Darnley.
What are the benefits of manifesting?
While such steps under the name “manifest” may not have scientific backing (“There is no empirical evidence or peer-reviewed research to support the idea of manifesting from a scientific perspective,” says Polinder), Polinder says that the power of the process that is in the eye of the beholder and that following such steps has proven to be beneficial for many participants. “There is significant overlap with the core principles of manifestation and the psychology of change,” adds Darnley. For example, she says there’s a lot of research in psychology that “emphasises the importance of setting clear, achievable goals, taking consistent action, and maintaining a growth mindset—all of which are part of the manifestation process.”
In other words, for many people, manifesting is just about setting goals and visualizing what you want to achieve before rolling up your sleeves and working to achieve it. But Darnley says part of this process also means accepting things that are out of your control. “The fact is, sometimes bad things happen to good people… and not everything can be manifested,” she explains. “We are all limited by the systems we live in.”
Polinder agrees, saying that in order to manifest, you also need to have realistic expectations. “Contrary to popular belief, we can’t manifest ‘everything’ we desire,” she explains. “For example, at 51, there’s no way I can prove that I’m a professional basketball player.” Losing that and then failing to accomplish something you had in mind can, she says, create feelings of unworthiness, Empowering shame, self-blame, or even a feeling of being abandoned by God or the universe.
“With the right perspective, however, manifesting can be a helpful tool in helping you focus and clarify your goals,” says Polinder. Of course, “achieving one’s goals still involves investing the effort, time, and effort to achieve one’s desires.”