Manifestation is the practice of thinking aspirational thoughts with the purpose of making them real. It works in tandem with the law of attraction which focuses on shifting your thoughts and mindset to the point that the shift ripples out into the life you live. Both manifestation and the law of attraction suggest that we can ‘manifest’ (call in or attract) what we want in life with the right mindset and corresponding action. But can we really change our lives with our thoughts?
For my 40th birthday (more years ago than I care to remember), I received a copy of ‘The Secret’ a self-help book by Rhonda Byrne in which the author purports the law of attraction as a form of mental hygiene whereby a person will attract good things into their life through positive thinking (or conversely, attract bad things through negative thinking). I didn’t make it through the book; it felt insincere and apt to lead the reader down a path of self-criticism. If their life was essentially ‘pants’, it was their own fault. But recently, I have begun to look at manifestation in a different light and wonder if, subconsciously, I have manifested some good stuff without realising it!
"We become what we think about. Energy flows where attention goes." - Rhonda Byrne
I work for an amazing company, CraftCourses! Our entire ethos and raison d'être is to encourage people to reach out and try things they never thought possible; to tap into the creative side of themselves and, in so doing, unlock the potential for a whole new way of looking at themselves, at their lives, their happiness, fulfilment, and ultimately the realisation of their dreams no matter how big or small. Considering manifestation as the possible catalyst for making all of this magic happen is a stretch for me. I have a tendency toward the pragmatic, 'I'm an infinitesimal cog in the wheel of The Universe' approach and less inclined to believe that I have real power of thought and intention. I am, however, open to learning and discovering more about my beliefs and how they sit in the grand scheme of things...and so, onto 'The Secret'.
The Universe is made up of energy and all energy has a frequency (a scientific and proven fact). Rhonda Byrne, unlike other self-help authors who don’t attempt to explain why the law of attraction works, argues that your thoughts also emit a frequency, and like attracts like. Therefore, the frequency of your thoughts, good or bad, will resonate with the frequency of good or bad ‘energies’ in The Universe. For example, if you only worry about not having enough money and repeat endlessly to yourself, “I can’t afford that,” then The Universe will respond in kind, and you will always be poor. If you consistently believe that you are rich and successful, The Universe will respond to these vibrations and soon provide you with the wealth and success you desire.
It's not as woo-woo as it sounds and is, more than likely, a version of a well-researched phenomenon known as confirmation bias: the tendency to process information by looking for, or interpreting information that is consistent with one’s own beliefs. As humans, we are always choosing what we pay attention to, and the confirmation bias is our mind’s tendency to notice and pay more attention to objects and experiences that match our pre-existing thoughts and beliefs for the simple reason that it is biologically economical and efficient. Let’s say that, for the first time in your life, you are considering buying a house. You’ve never paid much attention to what’s on Zoopla or Right Move but suddenly you can’t stop scrolling through what’s on the market; making decisions about the styles and features you like, because for the first time they are relevant to your thoughts and desires.
Or, looking at it from the other direction, you have a massive falling-out with a close friend. Without ever having noticed them, your friend’s ‘faults’ and ‘questionable behaviours’ are suddenly completely apparent, and you can’t believe you never noticed them before; whenever you think of your friend now, it is alongside a trail of previously unknown red flags.
The Secret aims to leverage the confirmation bias to your advantage; the idea being that, if you constantly think positive thoughts about yourself, you will start to notice little things in your experiences that confirm these beliefs, thus helping them to come true. Conversely, if you constantly think negatively about yourself, negativity in your environment will be more apparent, thus making you feel worse. Basically, if you can maintain positivity about yourself for long enough, the confirmation bias will kick in and you will only pay attention to the things in your life that match your new beliefs. This could be potentially beneficial for those people who have a serious and damaging negative view of themselves, but it could also be detrimental. Never allowing yourself to indulge in negative thoughts could result in, for instance, ignoring coercive or controlling behaviours in a romantic partner; denying health issues; avoiding necessary confrontations; or refusing to consider the possibility of failure in decision-making. In the short term this kind of positive thinking may serve you well but in the longer term it could be disastrous.
Moving on a fair few years, after an extremely difficult and painful cancer ‘journey’ (I can only apologise for using the ‘j’ word), subsequent recovery, and then a search for new meaning in life, I joined a local book club and eagerly prepared for my first meeting by purchasing, against my better judgement, the prescribed text: You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. Covid-19 intervened, and book club vanished into the lockdown haze, as did my patience with self-help books in general. The suggestion that my thoughts caused my cancer, and that I could have healed myself by releasing resentment was at best, laughable and, at worst highly insulting. The less said about that the better!
Okay, okay, I am not a complete negative Nelly! After all, here I am now at CraftCourses, with a job that fulfils my creative need, a great team of like-minded people to work with, in a beautiful part of the world and (the cherry on top of the icing on the cake), a short stroll to work! How did that happen? One minute I was twiddling my creative thumbs, needing to find some direction in my life. The next I found myself here and in the most satisfying role of my working life. Surely there's something in that?
"Ask for what you want and be prepared to get it." - Maya Angelou
Moving further into more positive territory and a slightly different spin on the law of attraction, a good friend was retraining as a life coach using the increasingly popular concept of NLP (neuro-linguistic programming). NLP is a way of changing someone’s thoughts and behaviours to help achieve their desired outcomes. Shades of The Secret perhaps? Actually, NLP is far less rigid and prescriptive. It is used as a method of personal development through promoting skills such as self-reflection, confidence, and communication particularly in achieving work-related goals and, more widely as a therapy for psychological disorders such as anxiety and depression.
A lot of the claims of effectiveness in relation to NLP are anecdotal but from a personal perspective, I was able to use the techniques to switch my thinking around in such a way that a previously stressful and ‘triggering’ work situation was turned into a positive experience; a learning experience that left me with feelings of confidence rather than my previous feelings of inadequacy. Likewise, I have also been able to change my thinking in relation to my creative self and my desire to write. Instead of always telling myself "I can't," I am now far more inclined to say "actually, I can."
I feel that I have led you on a slightly cynical, personal journey along the manifestation highway (with some small diversions into positivity pitstops), but good news! Let’s look at manifestation from the viewpoint of someone far more open to the idea (and clearly less jaded than I am). My wonderful colleague here at CraftCourses sees manifestation as the essence of ideas; allowing yourself to dream of a possible reality without pressure or expectation; making space and therefore creating potential for good things to come into your life. Her thoughts in a practical sense are that:
· You don’t have to fear negative thoughts; they are a perfectly natural part of the human psyche.
· You don’t have to constantly wish for or think about the things you want to manifest to make them come true (you won’t kibosh your desires if you allow your thoughts to stray from the path of positivity for a moment).
· You should try and align your energy (think of energy as feelings and/or emotions) with what it would feel like to have the positive things in your life that you are imagining.
· You should create space to allow the positive things into your life, for instance, if you want to manifest a new wardrobe to make yourself feel more confident, clear out half of your existing wardrobe to literally make space.
"Imagination is everything. It is the preview of life's coming attractions." - Albert Einstein
Part of my colleague's role here at CraftCourses is to provide guidance and support to our many makers and students and the concept of aligning your energy with feelings of positivity is on display every day in this office. By always remaining calm, kind and encouraging she is able to 'transmit' that energy to the other person so that they feel more confident, and more able to fulfil their own needs. If they are anxious or irritated, they become more calm and less agitated. It is perhaps, the law of projection rather than the law of attraction but there's no doubt it feels good to make somebody else's day better!
The message is quite clearly to be open; open-minded, open-hearted, open-armed to the possibility of good things coming to you. In body language terms, unfold your arms, relax, and lean in. There are good things and good people in the world, it's knowing how to capture their essence that is part of what is behind the laws of attraction.
"The main event has never been the manifestation; the main event has always been the way you feel moment by moment, because that is what life is." - Abraham Hicks
How then does our creativity sit alongside the law of attraction? Kelly Martin, mental health and wellness blogger, explores this concept in her 2011 article, ‘Creativity & the Law of Attraction.’ Ms. Martin believes that, when we begin to awaken to our creative self, we do art for the experience of doing art rather than to produce something. Many of us may think that ‘getting what we want’ by focusing on the end result: money, relationship, book published for example, is what we must do, but we miss out on the enjoyment to be had in getting there. But, if we see the law of attraction as our creative energy, we become more open to creating for creating’s sake, recognising our commitment not just to the creative process but also to ourselves.
As we make this commitment to our art as an expression of who we are and we fully engage in the creative process, our energy begins to shift, and we become more receptive to other positive energies and inspirations. Suddenly, getting out of bed in the morning is enjoyable and the day ahead seems full of possibilities. As we ‘follow our bliss,’ and do what feels good, life simply becomes more bright, more vibrant. To take this idea back to what we do here at CraftCourses, we aim to help people find new ways of expressing their creativity and what we understand is that those first steps can ignite a spark and a desire to delve further into those good feelings. People feel compelled to continue learning and experiencing more, whether that is one area of art or craft that 'sparks joy' (thank you Marie Kondo), or in a variety of activities. The law of attraction seems to induce a snowball effect. You find what you love and then continue to explore it because it makes you feel so good.
So, rather than understanding the law of attraction as focusing our attention on what we ultimately want, we can, instead, find value in everyday moments, in the present. Instead of being fixated on reaching what we perceive as our desired goals, there is a far greater sense of wellbeing to be had just by shifting that focus to what is there already, in front of us and ready to be picked just like low-hanging fruit.
As Kelly Martin sums up beautifully,
“If your ‘dream’ or ‘desire’ has not manifested, perhaps you might just find in the present moment not what you were looking for, but what was looking for you, your inner value, your inner worth, your inner beauty, your inner wealth. And you may just discover that the answers and solutions to some long sought-after problems or challenges were within you all along, and it was not the money or the fast cars or the holidays that were going to bring the answers to you, but your moment-by-moment awareness.”
“The outer trappings of the material world are what I thought I desired, but deep down I always knew the most primal desire was that of freedom, an inner sense of value and an inner sense of worth. I wasn’t looking for money or stuff, I was looking for ‘me’ all along.”
Manifest your way to a more positive life and explore the range of wonderful courses and craft kits available at CraftCourses. You might just find the one thing that will change your life for the better.