Essentially, manifestation is bringing something tangible into your life through attraction and belief, i.e. if you think it, and it will come. Via your thoughts, actions, beliefs, and emotions.
Manifestation was popularized by pop-psychology books like “The Secret” and “The Law of Attraction”. Usually, when people refer to manifestation, they are talking about the ideas presented in books like these.
This is unfortunate because psychological scientists will tell you that these books are pseudoscience – which means something that claims to be scientific and factual but is not actually based on the scientific method. Indeed, there is not really scientific evidence behind this approach to manifestation, and caution is warranted if you use these approaches.
However, manifestation as an idea is very real. So I believe it’s worth exploring what actually does help people get the lives they desire – to manifest the lives they desire. In this article, we’ll explore both the scientific and spiritual tools that may help you learn how to manifest what you want.
Here’s a pretty good video defining manifestation (Note. This is a more spiritual definition):
What is the science behind manifestation?
There actually is a fair amount of science behind the idea of manifestation. For example, the research on growth mindset driven by Dr. Carol Dweck clearly shows that believing you can do something makes it more likely that you actually will do that thing. An example might be that you really believe you can get your dream job of being a therapist. So you work hard to get into a good school, work hard while in school, and create a successful therapy practice that brings you a lot of joy.
It’s important to note, though, that this is different from the popular manifesting guides that suggest that believing in something creates it. This science-based approach instead shows us that if we truly believe we can achieve something, we are willing to put in the work to achieve it. And that is key: manifestation takes work. To manifest what we want, we need to believe we can do it, feel strongly enough about it to be persistent, and ultimately engage in the behaviors that bring about the outcomes we desire.
More science explaining how manifestation works
There is also research showing that whatever our expectations are, they tend to be confirmed. This is what is known as a self-fulfilling prophecy.
For example, if you wake up “on the wrong side of the bed” and you expect your day will be terrible, you’re actually more likely to do things that make your day terrible. You’re more likely to see neutral things as terrible. And you’re likely to feed a cycle of negative emotions that can manifest the exact negative day you expected.
Indeed, research shows that if we’re already feeling bad (if we’re anxious for example), we’re more likely to interpret neutral circumstances in an anxiety-provoking way. We literally see bad things when they don’t exist.
Research has also shown that a negative mood or attitude puts others off, hurting our relationships. This is how our pessimistic attitude actually leads to the exact outcomes we expect. In contrast, people who are generally happy and positive attract more opportunities, have better relationships, and are usually more successful.
It kinda makes sense when you think about it, right? We prefer to be around and help positive, optimistic people. So how do we use the science behind manifestation to create a manifestation plan that really works?