We’ve been manifesting all wrong

“Nothing will hold you back like the fear of the unknown. Make friends with uncertainty and watch your dream life unfold.” 



As I lie on my unmade bed, scrolling through Instagram for the umpteenth time today, it is this quote – set against a stark white background and positively glittering with promise – that stops me in my tracks. It’s from Insta’s resident manifestation guru, @manifestationbabe, who, with nearly 50,000 followers at her back, is trying to change the world’s mindset one perky post at a time.

Manifestation is not a new concept – the idea that you can bring your dreams to fruition by believing them to already be true has been around for donkeys’ years (even the first Matthew was into it, preaching in the New Testament that “all things, whatsoever ye shall ask for in prayer, believing, ye shall receive” but its recent infiltration back into society is surprising.

photo: ben white @ unsplash

Faced with alarmingly deceitful world leaders and Kim Kardashian’s gravity-defying behind, we have become more hellbent than ever on knowing the facts. Yet, at the same time, our interest in the subliminal – the spiritual – has also grown. Perhaps this can be credited to our growing understanding of the mind and the power that it holds over us. Or perhaps it’s simply because the real world sucks and we need a safe haven to escape to.

Whatever the reason, manifestation is back and bigger than ever. There’s big business to be had in the Law of Attraction and several entrepreneurs – including the Manifestation Babe, sell courses on the subject for thousands of dollars. First released in 2006, Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book, The Secret, was also an instant hit. Simply put, the secret of The Secret is, “ask and you shall receive”; that if you visualise good fortune, lit will come. From Oprah Winfrey to Will Smith, people all over the world raved about its magic and to date the book has sold over 20-million copies.

photo: michael heuss @ unsplash

Of course, being the cynical person that I am, I’ve found it difficult to believe that people are really buying into this stuff. That people will hand over their hard earned cash just to learn the magic that these people are claiming to possess. After all, it’s not like we can just ask to win the lottery and wake up with a few million pounds sitting in our bank accounts, so what do they really believe is going to happen?

Apparently, the idea is that our thoughts are meant to inspire us to act. “Thoughts are the beginning of everything we create and the power to create comes from within us” agrees Kiran Singh, a Lifestyle, Mindfulness and Wellness Coach. This is what The Secret preaches too – that if you can believe you already have what you seek, like a magician producing a bunch of flowers out of mid-air, you can trick the universe into giving it to you (because apparently the universe really is that easy to dupe).

Of course, this all sounds fantastic – never mind putting in the work; if you want something badly enough, it’ll be yours – but this is where the whole concept loses me.

Sure – I get the benefit of positive thinking and even of believing you deserve good fortune, but what really bothers me about this idea is that it kind of diminishes the importance of hard work.

I want nothing more than to write a successful novel – it’s my life’s ambition and I truly believe I could make it happen. If I don’t put in the work, though, it’s not just going to materialise, no matter how much I want it. This is true for every ambition – from wanting to earn more money to wanting to lose weight.

We spend so much time daydreaming about how great life will be when we’ve got these things that we forget the graft that’s needed to achieve them. Instead of thinking about the endorphins we’ll have if we do that exercise, we think about how great we’ll look when the hard work is done. Instead of picturing the moment we hand in a promotion-inspiring piece of work to our boss, we while away the hours thinking about what we’ll do with all that extra money.

At the risk of sounding like a Miley Cyrus song, what if, instead of visualising the end goal, we visualised how great it would feel to work towards it instead? Rather than daydreaming about my book deal, what if I started daydreaming about how much better I’ll feel when I finally get around to writing the damn thing?

Manifestation is all well and good, but like caffeine and sugar, the kick is only going to take you so far. You’ve got to put in the work. Screw it – I’m going all in. As Miley said before the nipple tassels and the twerking, “it’s not about what’s waiting on the other side – it’s the climb.” And you really can’t argue with that.

Main image: maria svecova @unsplash

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