Manifestive spirit

Lockdown blues have inspired a revival of the manifestation movement.  This self help method of tapping into the power of positive thinking found popularity with publishing sensation ‘The Secret’ more than a decade ago.

It’s compelling message was that anyone can use the ‘law of attraction’ to manifest anything they want.  And it made it’s author a fortune.  In effect, it promised a secular version of a free pass to heaven on earth.  Now, the Tik Tok generation of influencers and vloggers has taken up the mantle of manifestation.

There’s a witchy vibe amongst the young manifesters who reference the universe, vibrations, astrology, tarot, spirit guides and all kinds of woo woo to create better grades, attract boys (it’s mostly girls who play the manifestation game), lose weight or make money.  They attract hundreds of thousands of followers (and advertising revenue) by selling the dream that life can be better if you think happy thoughts.

If I’m sounding a bit cynical here, it’s because I am.  But only because of the million different ways manifestation is dressed up to tap into people’s beliefs and then commercially marketed as some kind of special power only available to the enlightened.

Decades ago, American author Louise Hay built a publishing empire on the power of positive thinking.  This ‘queen of affirmations’ took her inspiration from French psychologist Emile Coue who, over a century ago, coined the phrase ‘Every day in every way I’m getting better and better’.

Coue worked with hypnotic autosuggestion techniques and made several academic studies of outcomes.  What he demonstrated in his research is that the practice of thinking aspirational thoughts with the purpose of making them real, or what is now described as manifesting, works.

We can now observe through scanning technology how neurological change is possible by repeatedly focusing on positive intentions.  This, in turn, gives us the cognitive ability and motivation to take action to achieve our goals.  And voila!  Magic happens.

Except it’s not that easy.  Coue also identified what he called the Law of Reversed Effort.  The most obvious example of this is when an insomniac tries to go to sleep and fails because their subconscious focus is on not sleeping.  And a dieter is also prone to obsess about being overweight and that’s how they stay.

As a nation of negative thinkers, we are predisposed to fall foul of the Law of Reversed Effort.  And this is compounded by the perception of the power of positive thinking.  Anyone who has a stressful job knows that thinking happy thoughts doesn’t make it less stressful.  And thinking happy thoughts when you hand your notice in and leave the stress behind makes you broke and unhappy unless you act fast to find a better job.  In other words, positive thinking has to be followed up with positive doing.  Furthermore,

Positivity gurus like Tony Robbins preach how a success mindset can transform us into gorgeous, wealthy, deliriously happy masters of the universe like them.  Years ago when I was still doing a lot of training as I built my hypnotherapy practice, I found a lot of inspiration from these charismatic motivational speakers, of which there are now thousands on Ted Talks.

Back then, talks and training seminars were live rather than online and I got the chance to observe how these skilled communicators could work a room.  And boy could they manifest a lot of cash into their own pockets.  I stopped going when I heard an American in a smart suit exhort a hall of about 3000 people to remortgage their houses to sign up for an eye-wateringly expensive course on how to become a billionaire.

Needless to say, I never made the billionaire grade.  But I have become very skilled at helping people bypass the reverse effort, or self sabotage, caused by their limiting beliefs.  Here is a practical and realistic seven step guide to manifesting life enhancing goals.

If it helps, get out the crystals, tarot cards, horoscope charts, tap into the universe or a higher power, meditate mindfully, bang gongs or whatever rocks your boat, then:

Step one: Be clear and specific about what you want

Make a list of whatever you want to achieve, acquire or become.  A bit like writing a CV or job specification for the best life possible.  You can illustrate it with a ‘vision board’ of images or statements which represent the life you want to live and lay them out like a jigsaw so you can see how they might fit together.

Step two: Get focused

This might not seem particularly productive but, when you put your list or vision board in plain sight, every time you clap eyes on it you’ll be directlng your emotions towards how it would feel to be there, doing or having the life you want to live.  Use your imagination to mentally rehearse those feelings. This increases the desire and motivation to get there.

Step three: Get busy

It’s easy to get stuck on step two unless you take action.  Commit to doing something every day to bring you closer to your goals.  If you’re stuck for ideas, read up  on the subject, do some Google research or sign up for some training.  Contact people who can help you.  Plan a strategy and put a timeline on it.

Step four: Believe in yourself

Every time you get discouraged, frustrated or impatient, play to your strengths and focus on solutions.  Keep a mental inventory of your talents and abilities and apply your best skills to achieving progress.  If you think you can, you’re probably right.  If you think you can’t…..find a different way.  Treat failures or obstacles and challenges and learning opportunities.

Step five: Measure your progress

So many people I see will, at first, not notice how much they’re achieving.  This is often because they’ve felt ‘stuck’ or powerless to change for a long time or don’t believe they deserve success.  Make sure you’re ticking off the victories, big and small and start nurturing an attitude of appreciation for yourself and the results you’re achieving.

Step six:  Stick with it

The commitment you make in step three is maintained when you are enjoying the energy of productivity and progress.  It’s exciting to feel like you’re getting somewhere.  Completing challenging tasks boosts confidence and gives us special powers of determination, tenacity and impulse control.

Step seven:  Clear any resistance

Don’t let past experiences get in the way.  We tend to move away from anything which may have previously caused us emotional pain or stress.  Anxiety is a normal warning system to safeguard us against failure or other threats to our wellbeing.  Most worthwhile achievements require us to risk pushing through anxiety by tackling its cause rather than avoiding it.  Backing off or doing nothing to solve the problem gets you nowhere.

If you follow these seven steps, you’ll avoid the positive thinking pitfall of expecting the woo woo to drop wonderful things into your lap without any effort on your part.  That way lies depression and inertia, the opposite of the fulfilment and joy that comes from investing time and energy into something important and life changing.

Discipline and the ability to anticipate the pleasure of delayed gratification are skills we have to learn.  It helps to have an appetite for whatever you want to achieve.  It’s more rewarding for someone raised in poverty to work hard to earn money than it is for a rich person to count money they didn’t work for.  It helps to be hungry because overnight success takes time and passion.  The seven steps keep you on a path to success and help you to stay focused on your dream destination.

As we put this pandemic stricken year behind us, think about creating your own manifestive manifesto and, by next Christmas, who knows where you’ll be.

Wishing you a merry manifestive Christmas and a successful New Year empowered with positive feelings.