Learning how to manifest begins with understanding what manifestation is – and what it is not. Here’s how to use this exercise, according to therapists.
Is manifestation real?
It depends who you ask. The practice of manifestation involves bringing something into your life through deliberate action and belief. Some people consider it a strategy to help you get what you want. Others consider it just another word for wishful thinking.
So the “realness” of manifestation depends on how you define it and how you work to implement it.
“Since manifestation is basically the idea that our intentions, thoughts, and emotions lead us to materialize certain things in our lives, it is certainly possible to manifest,” says licensed mental health consultant Denise Fournier, PhD, an adjunct professor of psychology. at Nova Southeastern University in Florida. On the other hand, she adds, manifestation is sometimes seen as a form of magic used by people who think positively. “Seen in this reductive way, no one should take the concept very seriously.”
However, with the right understanding and strategy, it’s possible to manifest, says Paul Hokemeyer, PhD, a clinical and counseling psychotherapist in New York and author of Fragile power: why having everything is never enough.
“This is because manifestation allows us to articulate our goals and devise a strategy for achieving them,” he says. But “to be successful, the goals to be manifested must be clear, authentic, and focused on the betterment of the self and humanity.” (Here are some tips for goal setting.)
Here’s what therapists want you to know about how to manifest.
The benefits of manifestation
Manifestation emphasizes the importance of thinking patterns, which are fundamental to any mental health conversation, Fournier says. Thoughts are important. And they can shape your feelings, actions, and experiences. (Here’s how reframing your thoughts can change your life.)
Another benefit of believing in manifestation: it can motivate you to achieve your goals. The combination of intention, attention, and excitement about the future — the key components of manifestation — can positively impact mental health, Fournier says.
In fact, parts of manifestation already exist in therapy. Most therapists help people examine their thoughts and understand the connection between those thoughts and their emotions and experiences, she adds. Successful therapy has clear goals – as does manifestation.
People who benefit most from manifestation practices
People with discipline, self-motivation and a healthy sense of self are the best candidates to apply manifestation in their lives, according to Hokemeyer.
You’re a good candidate for manifestation, as long as you approach manifestation in a grounded way, Fournier says. Once you have your thoughts, emotions, and beliefs set, focused, and attuned to what you desire, you should be ready to take action, make choices, and even make sacrifices to fully manifest your desires, she says. People who understand that will see the most success in manifestation.
People who benefit from manifestation also realize that there are limitations to the concept and that there are real societal factors that can hinder success.
“We have to be very careful about how we think and talk about manifestation,” she says. Otherwise, “we run the risk of assuming that people living in circumstances less fortunate than ours manifest their circumstances because they don’t think positively.”
While our focus, feelings, thoughts, and beliefs can create our experience, not every life experience is subject to this formula, Fournier adds. People who understand all of the above will see the most success with manifestation.
People who may not benefit from manifestation practices
While some people may see positive changes with manifestation, that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone, especially those with mental health issues like anxiety or depression, Hokemeyer says.
Having these issues may mean you are more likely to have negative thoughts. If people with these conditions believe in manifestation as a form of wishful thinking, they may mistakenly believe that only negative thoughts will bring them to life. That’s why it’s essential not to teach manifestation simplistically, Fournier says. “We need to ground the conversation and think about it in balanced terms. Otherwise, the logic of it is quite toxic.”
Other people who should avoid manifestation, according to Fournier, include those with psychopathy, sociopathy, or antisocial behavior who may want to use the practice to exploit or harm other people.
Even if you do not suffer from a mental illness, the manifestation of misunderstandings can lead to problems. The only way to benefit from manifestation is to understand its limits and how it works. So if you think manifestation is all about hope, optimism, or magical thinking, it won’t be a useful exercise. (What is toxic positivity?)
Remember, good thoughts alone don’t necessarily lead to good things or events in our lives, says Caroline Hexdall, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Center For Mindful Development in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. “There will always be circumstances in our lives that are out of our control – with or without the practice of manifestation.”
How to manifest, according to therapists
Formulate a goal
Take the time to center yourself so you’re really listening to yourself to consider what you want, Hexdall says. Be specific and simple. Write down what that goal would look like once you reach it, Hokemeyer advises. Make clear what your intentions and desires are.
Become aware of your thoughts and shift them to be consistent with having or experiencing what you intend and desire, Fournier says. “Take advantage of the emotional state that is consistent with receiving what you intend and desire,” she says.
Ask what you want
Then ask for what you want through meditation, prayer or visualization. To get your visions out of your head and out into the open, try a vision board, poster with photos, and statements about how you want to experience life, suggests Hexdall. “This step is similar to disclosing a goal to friends and family,” she says. “It usually increases the commitment we have to achieve our goals.”
Come up with an action-oriented plan
Step back and figure out what needs to be before your goal manifests, Hokemeyer says. “Make up a one-, three-, and five-year plan.” Then break it down and ask yourself what the very first step is to achieve this goal.
“It could be starting a specific savings account, updating your resume, pursuing an area of interest you want to learn more about, or learning a skill you need to build,” Hexdall says.
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Take actions consistent with receiving what you intend and desire. The best way to manifest positive results in your life is through small and consistent actions.
“For example, if you want to lose 10 pounds, focus on the incremental pounds you want to lose rather than the ultimate goal,” Hokemeyer says. “If you want to manifest a healthy planet, keep an eye on your single-use plastic consumption and pick up the litter along your path.” (Demo practices can be a good addition to your self-care plan.)
Remind yourself along the way that you are worthy of achieving this goal or that this desire is being fulfilled in your life. And accept that it may not manifest in the exact way you desire, notes Hexdall. (These are the benefits of being kind to yourself.)
Look for signs of small shifts in your life that are moving you closer to the goal. These can be subtle, but need appreciation and attention, according to Hexdall. “Some signs may be less resistance to the actions you are taking or more willingness to try new steps,” she says.
Remember to be patient and stay on track. Charting a new path requires awareness, resistance to habit, as well as effort and dedication to rebuild the new path, Hexdall says.
Therapist-approved tips for manifesting
Start with awareness
“The most important part of manifestation that I would like people to take away more than anything is that what you focus on expands,” Fournier says. “Instead of looking at manifestation as a specific practice, think of it as an exercise of being intentional, noticing where your attention is going, noticing the nature and quality of your thoughts, and recognizing the power you have over your own internal experience. .”
Ask yourself questions
If you engage in all of those things, Fournier says you will experience meaningful and beneficial changes in your life.
“Sometimes manifestation is too focused on the ‘what’—in other words, the material things you want to receive,” Fournier says. “When it comes to mental health, we need to focus more on the ‘how’. ”
She suggests asking yourself: How do I imagine I will feel if I create or receive what I desire? Why is it important that I experience those feelings? How can I set myself up today to generate that experience for myself? These questions, according to Fournier, can be a valuable way to break the attachment to specific material things and expand your ability to change your experience in this moment.
Manifestation loves company
Make sure you don’t manifest yourself in isolation. Join someone else who shares your goal. Make sure the purpose you want to manifest is healing, your own or others. “Remember, good things come to those who wait and work,” Hokemeyer says. The key word here is ‘work’.
Hexdall agrees, adding that manifestation is a process that can yield the best results if practiced with someone else. It doesn’t necessarily have to be with a therapist or some guide, but maybe with a trusted friend.
“Encouragement and accountability from partners generally helps achieve goals more effectively,” Hexdall says. “This is the action part of manifestation.” (Here’s how to find a therapist.)
What it comes down to:
The key to healthy manifestation is understanding what manifestation is, consistency in your approach to it, and a willingness to do whatever it takes to experience what you desire, according to Fournier. “Closing your eyes and longing for it isn’t enough,” she says.
If you act – ask for what you want, change your mind and work towards what you want – you are on the right path to manifestation. Remember to actively value yourself in your work to achieve your goals, regardless of the outcome.