When I scrolled through my TikTok feed at the start of 2021, it was mostly filled with videos that either help you manifest or tell you that they’re manifesting financial success or romantic relationships for you.
This isn’t something new: Over the past year, manifestation has been used as a way to hope for a better future than the one we’re living in. People have even turned to manifestation, instead of resolutions, as a way to set the tone for 2021.
And in a world where the future seems bleak and there’s more bad news, it’s certainly giving people something positive to look forward to. I mean, you’re telling me all I have to do is think of how nice it would be to make my dreams come true? Who wouldn’t want that?
What does it mean to manifest something?
Manifestation is defined in a number of ways, depending on who you ask, but it all boils down to this one thing: If you think it, you can have it.
The idea is that you can call something into your physical reality through your thoughts and beliefs. By putting your intentions towards something you want to happen in real life, you can manifest seemingly anything: a new job, a romantic partner, a house or a car.
People can also look at manifestation as a way to make your life the way you want it to be, even subconsciously. Women’s empowerment coach and astrologer Natalia Benson notes that manifestation comes in as soon as we recognize what we want our lives to be.
“It’s really powerful when we become aware enough to say: this is something I’d really like to experience in my life,” Benson explained in an interview with InStyle. “Manifestation is really about understanding what it is that you want for your own life experience, and then creating those outcomes.”
If this sounds familiar to you, it’s because manifestation is based on the “law of attraction” theory which suggests that positive thoughts bring positive experiences, while negative thoughts bring negative experiences.
Is it really limitless?
Experts have also weighed in on the pros and cons of manifestation, and they do acknowledge that there’s a value in emphasizing positive thinking. It’s good to be aware of how our thoughts and beliefs influence our experience, and there is a body of evidence that shows all the benefits it has for our physical and mental health.
It does, however, pay to be mindful when we’re taking things too far. Cognitive neuroscientist Rhiannon Jones notes that overestimating the power of one’s thoughts can be damaging for people. “It would definitely be very dangerous to people who already have anxiety disorders, but potentially, it might even be enough to start those symptoms happening in someone who originally doesn’t,” she adds.
Catherine Sanderson, chair of psychology at Amherst College, notes that the placebo effect is something we should also be wary of when manifesting. “In that sense, these techniques are an elaborate exercise in the power of perception—and they may ‘work’ because people think they work,” she explains.
So, how do you do it?
The first step towards manifesting is identifying what you want. One thing that can help is writing down a list of things you want to manifest on your journal or a notebook you use often and focusing on the positive aspects. Identify the feelings and goals behind your manifestation, and be clear with yourself about what you want.
Don’t be afraid to get specific, either: Don’t just say “I want a house,” say “I want a house with five bedrooms and a balcony.”
Once you’ve identified what you want to have in your life, identify the things that are stopping you from getting what you want: like negative self-talk or toxic relationships. To help you let go of negative thoughts, astrologers recommend taking time to meditate and take care of yourself.
Manifesting something doesn’t just stop at pinpointing what you want and don’t want in your life—you have to act on it, too. The most important, yet somehow least talked about, step in manifesting involves actively working towards the things you want.
Want to start being healthy? Start making changes to your diet or make time for a workout session. Manifesting a new job? You’ll have to actually send in applications and go to interviews.
When all that’s said and done, practice gratitude. One way to achieve this is by starting a gratitude journal, where you write down things you’re grateful for every day. Once you’ve got your hands on the things you’ve been manifesting, acknowledge everything you’ve done to attract that in your life and be grateful.