How to Manifest Something (Manifest Love, Money, or Anything)
How do you manifest something you want in life? The science suggests manifestation is indeed possible. So we've created this science-based guide to help you manifest love, money, or anything else you want.
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How to Manifest
The idea of ‘manifestation' is actually quite controversial in the field of psychology. The most common approaches to manifestation are the principles taught in "The Secret" and "The Law of Attraction". Simply put, these approaches suggest that we can manifest our thoughts into reality just by focusing on the things we want. They also say that all thoughts turn into things eventually. Unfortunately, these claims are too good to be true and any trained psychologist can tell you that, 'No, all thoughts do not turn into reality.' If you've ever had a hope, dream, or goal that didn't work out, you know this to be true.
The majority of approaches to manifestation are largely based on magical thinking and not on reality. Plus, when they don't work out, the blame is put on you, not those who taught you these misguided principles. 'You must not have believed hard enough, or thought about the right things'. As a psychologist, I know that this is exactly what not to do if you want to help people grow and manifest positive outcomes in their lives.
So let's start over right here. If you haven't yet manifested what you want in your life, it's not your fault. There's lots of faulty information out there about how to manifest your goals, and there are not a lot of psychologists willing to provide better information for fear of being lumped in with other pseudoscientific approaches (or fake scientific claims).
But the truth is that the science has actually shown us how to manifest things. There is research on what leads to success, productivity, healthy relationships, goal achievement, are more. So we do actually know that people can manifest what they want. In this guide, I'll review the science behind manifestation so you can finally learn how to manifest the science-based way.
How to Manifest Something by Changing Your Mindset
Recent research has shown us that our mindset—or our attitudes and beliefs about different aspects of life—crucially affect our thoughts, behaviors, and experiences. Mindset is so important that I start nearly all of my courses and programs with at least a little lesson on mindset. If we want to manifest something, like love, money, or success, mindset is extremely important. So what types of mindsets help us manifest our goals? Here are a few:
1. Growth mindset
A growth mindset is the tendency for people to believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. With a growth mindset you can better manifest things because you believe the efforts you put in are worthwhile. You not only try harder, you aim to learn new strategies and get feedback from others when you are stuck (Dweck, 2015). By developing a growth mindset, you make it easier for yourself to develop the skills you need to manifest whatever it is you desire.
2. Abundance (versus scarcity) mindset
When we don't have enough of what we need (money, love, freedom, etc...) it can lead us to develop a scarcity mindset—or a belief that there will never be enough of something. This is a completely normal reaction, but unfortunately, it leads us to behave in ways that sabotage our success in manifesting what we need.
Researchers suggest that this may be because we are overly focused on what we are lacking and our minds are bogged down by the extra work of worrying about what we do not have (Shah, Mullainathan, & Shafir, 2012). That's why it's so important to cultivate an abundance mindset—or a belief that there will always be enough of something. Of course, this isn't easy when our needs aren't being met and it requires deliberate refocusing of attention on what is, or could be, abundant in our lives.
3. Mindful mindset
A mindful mindset involves being aware of, open to, and accepting of anything that is. This includes accepting our circumstances, experiences, and ourselves (Carson & Langer, 2006). It often requires us to dig deeper and think about how our opinions formed, how our reactions create our experiences, and how we can choose to be the person we want to be and live the life we want to live.
4. Positive mindset
A positive mindset—or an optimistic attitude—is the tendency to focus on the good things in life. A positive mindset may include gratitude, positive reappraisal, savoring, and future-focused positive thinking, which are all mental processes that can be strengthened and help us manifest positive outcomes like happiness, resilience, and well-being (Quoidbach, Mikolajczak, & Gross, 2015). By building a positive mindset, we generate more positive emotions. And the broaden and build theory suggests that positive emotions build on themselves, eventually leading to positive outcomes like professional and relationship success (Fredrickson, 2004). These are the reasons why a positive mindset is so important to cultivate when learning how to manifest.
How to Manifest Something by Getting Clear on Your Goals
When we have the right mindset, the next part of manifesting something you want is about getting clear on exactly what you do want. This can seem easier than it really is. Our goals are often big and diffuse—'I want to be happier', 'I want to make more money', or 'I want to get married by the time I'm 30'. There is nothing wrong with these goals per se, except that they are so big and unclear that you might not know what actions to take to achieve them. This is why successful manifestation requires getting crystal clear on your specific goals, making sure these goals actually matter to you, breaking them down into achievable steps, and tracking your progress so you know if you're on the right track.
The acronym SMART (Lawlor, 2012) can help you set better goals. Make sure each goal you want to manifest is SMART, or the things below:
S - Specific
M - Meaningful
A - Achievable
R - Realistic
T - Trackable
When setting goals, it can be helpful to use tools to help you stay on track. Goal journaling can be one of these tools. Getting a goal journal can be one such strategy. In your goal journal, you can write about your goals to gain clarity on exactly what you want, explore different strategies you might take to get what you want, and track how well you are manifesting what you want.
Your 10 year plan
When setting goals to manifest, it can be helpful to create a 10 year plan. You can't control everything that happens to you, but if you have a detailed 10 year plan and break your goals down into much smaller goals to work on over this time, you'll know if your goal is realistic and therefore achievable.
For example, if your goal is to get married in 5 years and have your first kid in 10 years, you can not control when you'll meet the person you want to marry. You can, however, plan to go on a date once per week and spend an hour improving your communication and relationship skills so that if you meet someone you like, you'll have a greater likelihood of manifesting a partnership that actually leads to the life you want. So thinking through what you want now can help you take the right steps to get where you want to be in 10 years.
The likelihood of reaching your goals depends on your values
It's important to think through some of the characteristics of your goal itself and how you feel about it as your feelings about the goal affect how likely it is that you'll reach the goal. First, reflect on how important the goal is to you. Would it just be a nice-to-have or is it a must-have?
Next ask yourself, what is the intrinsic value of the goal, if any? Or, more specifically, why do you want to reach the goal, why is important to you, and how does it make you feel about yourself or your life?
Then explore what achieving this goal will do for you in the longer-term. Will it help you achieve other goals, have other experiences, or live in a certain way that is meaningful to you?
And lastly, what are the costs of working towards and achieving this goal? How much time and effort will it take? What other things or experiences will you have to sacrifice to do it? Knowing in advance what the downsides of working towards and achieving this goal are can help you understand where you might struggle. Or, if the goal has too many downsides, you can modify the goal or choose a goal that is a better fit for you (Wigfield et al., 2007).
How to Manifest Something by Believing You Can
This is the part of manifestation that is probably most similar to The Law of Attraction because believing in something actually does make it more likely to come true. But there are some important caveats. First, as far as the science is concerned, this has nothing to do with energy or magic. It has to do with psychology and how our beliefs influence our attitudes, thoughts, and actions. Second, believing in something will NOT make it happen 100% of the time, or even most of the time. It's just that what we believe in is more likely to happen.
As a realist myself, I prefer this truth to a made-up fantasy. It helps us understand why The Law of Attraction does sometimes work, but even better than that, it helps us understand why and when it works so that we successfully manifest something we want. So here is what the science says about beliefs:
Expectations affect outcomes
Research shows that by simply expecting that things will end up well, they are more likely to. Positive expectations—also sometimes referred to as optimism—have wide-ranging impacts on both our mental and physical health (Rasmussen, Scheier, & Greenhouse, 2009). Even though some of us prefer to be realists or brainstorm all the ways things could go wrong to be prepared for them, this actually hurts our chances of things turning out well. That's because negative expectations also can contribute to negative outcomes (Benson, & Friedman, 1996). So when learning how to manifest, we'll be more successful if we expect that we will be more successful.
The placebo effect is a powerful manifestation tool
The placebo effect is the finding that a non-active intervention generally results in positive change even though it’s not supposed to (Moerman & Jonas, 2002). The placebo effect is thought to require specific beliefs or expectations that the actions we are taking will result in the outcomes we think they will. It can come from a pill we're taking, a treatment we're undergoing, a program we're doing, or anything else we're doing to achieve some type of outcome.
The placebo effect is a powerful manifestation tool. And it may also help explain the benefits of The Law of Attraction. Basically, if you are told something works, you're more likely to believe that it works and experience its benefits. For example, if I tell you that a blue pill will make you calm and a red pill will give you energy (but neither pill actually does anything), you’re more likely to experience calm when you take a blue pill and energy when you take a red pill (Moerman & Jonas, 2002). By simply believing what you're doing is effective, it makes it more effective. So make an effort to believe in what you're doing while manifesting. It'll pay dividends.
A self-fulfilling prophecy is a prediction that causes itself to be true due to the behavior of the believer. Self-fulfilling prophecies are often used to explain how our false beliefs can affect others' experiences (Madon, Jussim, & Eccles, 1997). For example, if we think that someone is smart or dumb, we treat them in ways that actually make them more likely to act dumb or smart. In essence, our beliefs set in motion changes in others' thoughts and behaviors that manifest new realities.
Given that our beliefs affect others' beliefs, we can use self-fulfilling prophecies to influence others' beliefs. By believing we are smart, capable, and destined for success, we actually are more likely to convince others of these things. As a result, they are more likely to support and help us manifest something we desire.
How to Manifest Something by Believing in Yourself
Another important part of manifesting what you want is believing in yourself. A number of theories and research articles show us exactly why this is and offer insights into how we can shift our self-beliefs in ways that help us discover how to manifest more effectively. Here's what we know:
Self-efficacy aids manifestation
Self-efficacy refers to our belief in our own abilities. If we have self-efficacy—or we believe in our own ability to do or achieve what we set our mind to—we work harder, persist longer, and achieve more (Schunk & Pajares, 2009). So if our goal is to manifest something, we can benefit by boosting our self-efficacy.
We can boost self-efficacy by setting small goals that help us to experience small wins. The small successes help us believe in our abilities to achieve even greater successes. It can also be helpful to solicit support from friends and put ourselves around role models who are doing what we aspire to do. These things all give us the confidence we need to succeed in manifesting our desires.
Our self-esteem matters too
Self-esteem has to do with how we feel about ourselves as people—whether we think of ourselves as a good or bad person (Tafarodi & Swann Jr, 2001). The reason why self-esteem helps us manifest something is because it influences whether or not we are even willing to try to manifest something.
Understanding our current level of self-esteem involves asking questions like: Are we even deserving of the things we desire? If we don’t believe we are deserving of the outcomes we want, we can unconsciously sabotage ourselves in ways that prevent us from reaching the outcomes we want. Improving our self-esteem is probably the most beneficial thing we can do, not simply because it helps us manifest things, but because it helps us be happier overall with whatever we have.
Self-verification can block manifestation
Self-verification theory refers to how human beings want others to see them as they see themselves (Swann Jr, 2011). Basically, we behave in ways that help others see us as we see ourselves. Some of this is obvious. For example, if we are vegetarian because we want to be healthy, we eat a lot of veggies. Others see this and assume we are healthy. Our behavior has just communicated something about us to others.
But, self-verification also works in unconscious ways. We also behave in ways that communicate the unconscious beliefs we have about ourselves to others. For example, if deep down I think I'm stupid, I can end up acting in ways that lead others to believe this too. If I think I'm worthless, I'll let other people treat me like I am. Or if I think I'm unlovable, I might not accept love, thus proving that I am indeed unlovable. Basically, our beliefs about ourselves result in self-fulfilling prophecies about ourselves.
Staying Motivated While Manifesting Something
Now that we have a pretty good idea of how to manifest something we need to know how to stick to it. Motivation—or the process that initiates, guides, and maintains goal-oriented behaviors—is needed if we are to dream bigger and turn our goals and dreams into reality. There has been a lot of research on what motivates people to do the things they do and what leads to persistence and effort. If the things we want to manifest are big things, which they usually are, then we benefit from looking to the motivation research and learning how to stick to our goals long enough to achieve them.
Some people suggest that motivation can be determined with a formula where 'intention to try' is determined from a cost-benefit analysis. When the benefits outweigh the costs (e.g., effort, difficulty, challenges) the potential outcome is worth the effort and therefore we are motivated to do it. As soon as this scale tips, the outcome is no longer worth the effort, and motivation goes down (Brehm & Self, 1989). So it behooves us to create our own cost-benefit analysis and make sure that our goals are not too costly or difficult to achieve. If they are, we can modify our goals, break them into smaller pieces, or give ourselves more time for each smaller goal.
Anyone who's ever been on a diet can attest to this strategy. Having a cookie every now and then or exercising a little less can really help keep motivation up. So be sure to be realistic with yourself. It's okay to set goals slightly out of reach if that motivates you. Just be sure not to set unrealistic goals where the costs outweigh the benefits.
Motivation equation + beliefs
Another perspective on motivation combines many of the things we've already discussed and shows how they contribute to successful manifestation. More specifically, it combines 1.) how bad it is not achieving the goal, 2.) how good it would be to achieve the goal, and 3.) the perceived probability that our actions will affect 1 and 2 (Brehm & Self, 1989). This is similar to the cost-benefit analysis except it takes into consideration our mindset and beliefs and how they crucially affect how likely we are to manifest what we set out to manifest.
Creating a clear plan
Creating plans for how to manifest something makes it more likely that you will. For example, mentally elaborating on a desired goal, specifying where, when, and how to go about the goal pursuit, and creating if-then plans all facilitate action (Oettingen, Hönig, & Gollwitzer, 2000). This shows that making a clear plan greatly aids motivation.
Examples of How to Manifest Something
Here are some examples of how people might manifest their goals:
When it comes to manifesting something, there are lots of things you can do to be more successful. The tips we provided here are science-based and can help more quickly manifest the things you want.