“Thoughts don’t become things; thoughts ARE things.”― Eric Micha’el Leventhal
The concept of manifestation has been around ever since humans have “wanted stuff.” Often associated with the Laws of Attraction, a popular New Age and New Thought idea, manifestation posits to never dwell on the negative and the belief that thoughts determine one’s destiny. Louise Hay (the “Queen of Affirmations”), believes that “our thinking creates our reality.” In a sort of alchemy-meets-Jung, all of creation becomes a resource from which we can get whatever we want, and the fruits of our “magical thinking” enter our lives in the form of synchronicity.
Over the years, there have been many popular self-help and power-of-positive-thinking guides written by Jerry and Esther Hicks, Norman Vincent Peale and Napoleon Hill, to name a few, but nothing has gotten people as excited as “The Secret” (I recommend watching the 2007 film if you haven’t seen it). “The Secret” describes the laws of attraction and the idea that if you really want something and truly believe it is possible, it will happen. They explain that this hidden secret is the most powerful law in the universe.
In these past few weeks, humanity has seen a shift in our priorities. We used to have “wants” for nice cars, big homes, and fancy vacations. Now, many of us are focused on keeping food on the table, our health, and the state of our families. World leaders are actively planning how citizens will reenter society, and it is inevitable that this chapter of coronavirus will end, but where will our priorities lie?
People are also struggling with their mental health. Families with one child or a toddler and a baby, grandparents who are accustomed to seeing their grandchildren, some living completely alone, and those parenting on their own, in fear, while their spouses work in clinics and hospitals are just some of the groups of people facing serious daily challenges.
Manifestation (aka making things happen) is a tool we can use to guide us back into our busy lives and help us strike the work/life balance we all long for. What I have discovered in my coaching practice, is that when manifestation meets business planning and inner alignment, the sky is the limit. Over the past two decades, I have developed my own perfect recipe for successful manifestation. In fact, this led to trademarking my Neuro Emotional Coaching® approach, as well as my vision of training others.
We have all heard the saying, “Fake it till you make it,” but did you know there is actual science behind it? In a 2012 TED Talk by Amy Cuddy, ‘Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are’ she delves into how body language affects how we perceive ourselves. Cuddy’s research was motivated by the proposition that when you pretend to be powerful, you are more likely to actually feel powerful. We know that our minds change our bodies, but is it also true that our bodies change our minds?
Effectively, if you play the part, particularly through body language, of a ‘powerful’ or successful person it is possible to actually influence the body’s physiological processes to line up with this.
The fine art of ‘manifesting” is fun and rewarding to learn and implement. Once you master it, you’ll be able to create the outcome you desire. Those who work with the idea say that we are all manifesting at any given moment, whether or not we are aware of it. We are attracting people, situations, jobs and much more into our life. Here is how it works:
- Clarify Your Goals
We need to be very clear about what we want. Perhaps this is easier said than done; we are usually more aware of things we don’t want. As soon as we think about what we actually do want, we begin to compromise, bargain or consider the obstacles. Become ruthless with yourself and think about the positives.
Part of clarifying what we want includes being clear on our values, as well as our goals and intentions. We all have our own set of values, that set of rules that determine the way we live and work. Consciously — or subconsciously — values govern our priorities and are the measure we use to figure out if our life is turning out the way we wanted it to.
Why do we need to set goals? To be able to accomplish things in the future. We take steps to achieve those goals even if we don’t experience the full outcome immediately. What is the difference between intentions and goals? Intentions are qualities or states of consciousness in the present moment, while goals are a destination or specific achievement that can be measured. The ideal is to have our intentions align with our goals. If we want to manifest, we need to have goals. Ideally, it will happen when values, intentions, and goals are all in alignment.
- Visualize Your Wants
We need to start by visualizing the outcome of what we ‘want.’ Then we need to visualize ourselves achieving that want. Lastly, we need to act and steer every fiber in our body towards that goal. Creating a collage or hanging up a picture of our goals can actually work as a powerful tool for this exercise.
Much has been written about visualization and it is probably the most accepted step of the process. We all know that professional athletes have used imaginative exercise to win gold medals and beat world records. There are countless studies that have validated this notion. One better-known study was performed by Neuroscientist Alvaro Pascual-Leone at Harvard Medical School in which one group of participants was tasked with playing specific exercises on the piano for two hours every day for five days, and a second group of volunteers were instructed to merely think about practicing the piano exercise. They played the simple piece of music in their head, holding their hands still while imagining how they would move their fingers. He then measured the extent of brain activity in their motor cortex using a “transcranial-magnetic-stimulation” (TMS) test . His results were remarkable.
When the scientists compared the data on the two groups–those who played the piano and those who only imagined doing so, the region of motor cortex that controls the piano-playing fingers expanded in the brains of volunteers who imagined playing the music–just as it had in those who actually played it.
Other studies show that people who imagine themselves moving a muscle will improve their actual physical strength.
- Open Your Mind and Heart and Think Positive
We often sabotage ourselves when we want something. Learning to cooperate with the universe as it brings us what we want is key. Allowing something positive to happen means being open to new and better things in our lives. Be willing to receive and let go of old, restrictive beliefs or painful pasts.
You will easily understand this better when you understand the concept of “loss aversion”. Our reptilian brains are wired to protect us. First from loss, and second, to make gains. In other words the impulse to protect us from losing something is 2.5 stronger than wanting to make gains. While this was incredibly useful for the caveman, it is not so helpful today. When we will change our thinking to positive thoughts aka gains, our feelings, ways of thinking, and behaviors will change.
Couple this with the study of “neuroplasticity,” the ability of the brain to adapt and change and one will quickly understand that the idea that it is impossible to change is not true when looking at neuroplasticity. As a matter of fact, the brain is plastic at all ages and “rewiring” is always an option.
I hate to admit it, but I used to be a much more negative person. This makes sense when you take a look at my upbringing in a culture that is rooted in discipline and excellence. A typical German compliment is: “that’s not bad.” The phrase is translated as “that was actually very good.” For me, negative thoughts were pervasive and the norm.
The more and longer we are thinking negative thoughts the more likely we are to continue to do so. The brain uses less energy and it is more efficient to keep the status quo regardless of the impact the thought has on us. The brain likes to avoid change. It perceives change as a threat and that impacts our ‘executive functions’ in a negative way. Dr. Tara Swift, a neuroscientist and psychiatrist, tells us that every time we have a negative thought a specific neural pathway is being reformed. The more negative pathways we accumulate the more room they take up and the more negative thinking is present. When however, we replace the negative thoughts with positive ones, we have an opportunity to drown out the negative thoughts and become dominant. Positive thoughts will change the way you feel and think about yourself, which will lead to different behaviors rooted in your taking positive action.
- Set Realistic Goals
Make sure your wants are at least 50% believable. Wants that are at least 50% believable have a better chance of happening than those that are unrealistic. If you start a special savings account for a new house or car, you are actively participating in creating what you want. If you want a Lamborghini but you haven’t renewed your drivers’ license since you moved, then maybe this is not the most believable goal for you right now.
There are many very helpful tools out there that will support you in setting goals. I am a big believer in creating S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound) with an emphasis on achievable. We all like to feel good about achieving our goals and confidence builds when we are successfully reaching them.
- Take Inspired Action
Nothing happens in a vacuum. If you want a new car, the universe isn’t going to bring it to you, you will need to go out and look for it yourself. Taking inspired action means letting the universe know that you are serious about your wants and means using your positive emotions and thought to move those goals forward.
Almost nothing happens without taking action. This is an important part of getting what you want. If you have not been able to take action it is most likely that you have conflicting intentions, goals, wants and maybe values. If you find yourself stuck it is time to go back to the drawing board and create alignment. Think about it like vector math. If one vector is longer and more powerful than another, the outcome will be changed.
Many times this can be easily addressed by having a deep internal conversation. If that doesn’t help there are other techniques that will address blocks in consciousness.
- Push Yourself
Evaluate your outcomes and make adjustments as needed. In order to achieve that big goal, you ‘ll first need to tackle smaller, or micro-goals. I encourage you to evaluate constantly in order to stay motivated and engaged. Your brain is wired to protect you and it will tell you that it is dangerous to step outside your comfort zone. After all you may look like a fool or fail. Positive affirmations are hugely effective here as you can tell yourself that it is ok to make a mistake or even better that you can handle all challenges that are being thrown at you because after all you are enough and worthy.
- Acknowledge Your Accomplishments
Celebrate your wins and acknowledge yourself. We tend to treat others better than we treat ourselves. I suggest that you celebrate every little step, much like you would if encouraging a child to take his / her first step. We need to acknowledge, thank, and appreciate ourselves whenever we can. It will keep us motivated because we all like praise and positive feedback, even from ourselves.
- Trust in your Higher Power and Believe that Everything Happens for a Reason (for the Spiritual People)
Have high involvement but low or no attachment to the outcome. This is difficult but important to understand if you want this to work successfully. Let’s say you want to buy a house, and you know how it should look. You are allowing it to happen, you are taking inspired action, and you are doing all the steps to get to your goal then the contract falls through. We need to remain flexible and open and let the universe or God or maybe just our Higher Self decide what’s best for us.
Ask that things be for your highest good, and the highest good of all concerned. Only then can you be sure God (or whatever higher power you believe in) is watching out for you.
- Focus on Positive Vibes
Another major factor behind manifesting is the energy and vibrations that come from our thoughts and feelings. Our thoughts and emotions reverberate throughout the universe (this could also mean a small universe, like your family unit), and will attract the things we focus on. Be it positive or negative, you do not need to know exactly how things will happen, let the universe figure out the method of delivery.
The key is to actively pursue your dreams while maintaining an open heart and mind. If you follow these steps, actively clarify your goals, and pursue your dreams, then you begin to see the good coming into your life. Allow it to happen– and let me know how it goes!