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Is Manifesting Real?

Is Manifesting Real?

by Spencer Lee, LCSWA 

The first time I heard about manifesting I considered it “woo woo”- or “an unconventional belief regarded as having little scientific basis, especially those relating to spirituality, mysticism, or alternative medicine” as the Oxford dictionary likes to put it. The true definition of manifesting- to manifest, is to “display or show by one’s actions or appearance; to demonstrate”. 

I would hear from others how they “manifested” new careers, good news, or that their plan of action for various goals was simply to “manifest”. I found myself jealous of this new method in which people can hope for something and it magically appeared- and even more jealous that I hadn’t mastered the art of this. 

The answer finally hit me that manifesting is very much like a therapeutic intervention called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is an empirically validated intervention meaning that there is a plethora of research out in the world showing it works.

Cognitive behavioral therapy was derived on the principle that all humans develop certain beliefs about themselves, others, and the world around them. Oftentimes, these beliefs are ingrained and subconscious- which can make it hard to change them. These ingrained thoughts tend to determine our overall thinking patterns: optimistic, realistic, anxious, pessimistic, catastrophic, etc. Our thoughts, whether ingrained on in the moment, influence our feelings and actions. The golden ticket of this equation is that our actions result in outcomes which usually reinforce our original thinking patterns, again making it more difficult to change. You may have heard of the law of attraction which is based on CBT- our thoughts attract what we get in life. 

Let’s look at an example. Sally has ingrained beliefs of low self-confidence. Sally was asked to speak at a convention where she will explain her work. Sally immediately starts to think of all the reasons she isn’t cut out for this and starts to visualize all the ways in which she’ll screw it up. These thoughts result in feelings of anxiety and dread. As a result of these emotions, Sally has a hard time sleeping before the convention, she skips breakfast, and she wasn’t able to focus when practicing her speech. The outcome (our golden ticket) of Sally’s actions is that she does not do very well at the convention. Is it because Sally isn’t good enough? No- Sally’s thoughts, feelings, and actions directly influenced the outcome of the convention which then reinforced this false idea that she is not good enough. 

A person who manifests not only knows the power of the CBT triangle, they have mastered the art of changing their thoughts to work toward the outcome they desire. Therapists are specifically trained to help clients learn the art of manifesting through CBT. If Sally practiced manifesting, she would focus on positive thoughts about herself which would result in confidence, improved work performance, and result in doing very well in the convention, reinforcing the idea that Sally is a boss lady! 

But how is Sally doing this? The “point of intervention” as therapists refer to it is our thoughts- if we change the thought, the rest will follow. If we were to turn low self-esteem Sally into the manifest-er she wants to become we would first help her become aware of her ingrained thinking patterns. Once Sally is aware she has a tendency to jump to these assumptions, we can teach her how to “examine the evidence” of her beliefs. Sally thinks that she just isn’t good enough to speak at this convention; however, the facts suggest otherwise. Someone-whether Sally’s boss, coworkers, or hosts of the convection must have asked her to speak proving other people know she is, in fact, good enough. Sally is set to speak about her own work so it is likely the case too that she is the most versed in the subject out of everyone there! 

After Sally spends some time changing her thinking from anxious beliefs to beliefs that are more helpful and better reflect reality, she has already begun manifesting! So the next time you hear this “woo-woo” term you know there is some science behind it!

 

***I do want to provide a disclaimer- Although we discovered that we can demonstrate future outcomes through our thoughts, feelings, and actions to reach our goals, both manifesting and cognitive behavioral therapy come with their limits. The downfall of both manifesting and CBT is that they do not allow us to make change outside of ourselves. With that said, we cannot manifest so hard that we rig the lottery in our favor or convince Ryan Gosling to get a divorce and ask him to marry us. 

With that said, manifesting can be a powerful tool that helps us make positive changes in our lives, just maybe not as positive as the winning Powerball ticket. Check out our website to explore the many therapists who can help you start manifesting!

 

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