“Manifest this lifestyle,” exclaims a Twitter user, followed by several photos of luxury vacations and designer goods. You may even have seen the words “claimed” in the comments section on Instagram. Meanwhile, a short video on TikTok with over 2 million views went viral explaining how to “manifest everything in 24 hours”. While this seems like another social media trend, the practice of manifestation is nothing new.
Manifestation is one of the key principles of the Law of Attraction, which in New Thought philosophy is the belief that positive or negative thoughts bring positive or negative experiences into a person̵
“You are the master of your destiny,” wrote Napoleon Hill in his bestseller. Think rich and get rich, which was first published during the Great Depression in 1937 and has since been sold over 100 million times worldwide. “You can influence, direct and control your own environment. You can make your life the way you want. “
Fast forward to the 21stst Century, the age of social media glory and sideline where manifestation still thrives. Through various creative media, content creators are curating their digital spaces to teach the art of manifesting and getting anything you want. Regardless of whether it is consumed through image, sound, or text, the concept of manifestation remains the same. All thoughts become tangible possibilities.
Although TikTok may be the center of controversy in the US right now, the video sharing app also dominated social media in 2020. From pandemic related information to dancing, the platform offers a range of positive content with a great focus on manifestation. This hashtag currently contains over 4 billion videos.
Zozo Shumba, a content creator at TikTok, has garnered more than 83,000 followers on the platform. She credits manifestation for her achievements, including her creative projects like Our Sunday Series, a five-star comedy wellness podcast from Apple. In another video posted on her YouTube channel, Shumba explains how she manifested her move to New York City using the 5 × 55 manifestation method, which involves writing down a particular wish 55 times for 5 days in a row.
“I unwittingly manifested that [TikTok] for a while and I felt like it was time for me to start teaching. At first I was like ‘TikTok – really? Of all people … ‘but I trusted my intuition,’ Shumba tells Greatist.
Shumba joined TikTok in early March this year and was drawn to the platform to share her teachings on manifestation through prompts, guides, and self-help book recommendations.
“Imagine walking back into your apartment with your umbrella,” says the overlay text in one of Shumba’s videos to visualize the manifestation. Viewers watch a New York City clip in the rain followed by Billie Eilish’s “When the Party Is Over”. “Do it again, but this time close your eyes”, reads the following text.
The 10-second video, which was released in July, has over 700,000 views and thousands of comments from users who say they made this claim.
Shumba says of her impressive growth rate and dedicated following: “So many souls were simultaneously seeking guidance of all kinds, and many manifestation content writers were drawn to share their thoughts and ideas to meet the growing need for guidance. It’s a kind of energetic exchange. “
Manifestation is an industry full of success stories, often attributed by celebrities like Jim Carrey, who credited Manifestation for his career in an interview with Oprah after writing himself a check and using visualization techniques to raise $ 10 million.
Deep in the social media world, manifestation influencers are also a thing. Social media personality Gabi Abrao has reached a 100,000 fan base on the verified Instagram account @sighswoon where she publishes fun wellness posts ranging from heartfelt poems to memes with Angelina Jolie – Abrao’s posts.
Building on your Instagram account, Abraos Shop contains PDF instructions to improve your future. In a 28-page manual, readers learn how to write and perform their own spells and rituals. Their merch, which launched on August 31, also timed out on the shop’s website.
For professionals in the wellness industry, manifestation techniques and life counseling go hand in hand. Dr. Rakish Rana has seen a surge in demand for his Executive Life Coaching business from individuals trying to advance their careers.
“I’ve gained new customers and more coaching requests than ever before during the pandemic,” he says. “They are people who want to reevaluate what they want to do with their lives and want to be more focused.” One of Rana’s clients had coaching sessions over a period of 6 months. During this time she built her self-confidence and became more centered and present, which enabled her to advance her work as a PR professional.
However, living by the idea that all thoughts lead to consequences can also prove detrimental.
Exposure to manifestations and the law of attraction can be extremely harmful to the 40 million+ adults in the United States struggling with their mental health.
The law of attraction is the belief that “like becomes like” and states that we are responsible for bringing both positive and negative influences into our lives. This idea that we need to think positive all the time can lead to the anxiety and hopelessness that occur with mood disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and bipolar disorder.
Dr. Caitlin Hitchcock is a clinical psychologist and manager of the Cambridge Clinical Research Center for Mood Disorders. While there is plenty of research showing that positive mental imagery and positive self-talk can help improve a bad mood, Hitchcok says that believing that thoughts turn into opportunities can be detrimental when thoughts turn to negative events fix. For example, for people with obsessive-compulsive disorder, the practice of manifestation may contradict the recovery plans.
“People with obsessive-compulsive disorder can trigger repetitive behaviors in response to a negative thought in an attempt to stop the feared event,” she explains. “Challenging the belief that thinking something means it will come true is a key trait of obsessive-compulsive disorder treatment.”
One of the central tenets of manifestation is the idea of choice. Motivational speaker and bestselling author Esther Hicks, known for her teachings on manifestation, says in her book: Ask and it will be given: Learn to manifest your desires“Because you are the creator of your own experience – you just have to decide it and allow it to be.” But someone with mental illness cannot always decide what happens. People with depression don’t choose to be depressed, like someone with fear doesn’t wake up one day and choose to enjoy the feeling of existential fear.
Sarie Taylor, psychotherapist and anxiety coach, says that forcing us to only think positively and then assume that everything will work out isn’t realistic.
“When we’re anxious or in a bad state of mind, our thinking becomes more contaminated,” she told Greatist. “We often feel helpless and this can create a vicious cycle when we believe we are manifesting negativity in our lives as it is more of a normal response to poor mental health.”
Taylor adds that in times of mental health problems, we should show more love and compassion for each other rather than being ashamed of circumstances beyond our control.
“We can feel a lot stronger when we take responsibility for our own inner life experience,” she says. “It doesn’t hurt to be optimistic, but we need to remember that as humans we naturally experience a range of emotions, including the negative.”
Meditation is a technique that is often used alongside manifestation. With a great focus on calming the mind through deep breathing and entering a zen-like state, meditation helps people achieve clear and calm minds. For people with mental disorders, practicing how to achieve this calm can be a relief.
Many people choose to teach high frequency music, while another technique is to do a guided meditation in which positive affirmations are read to the listener.
Meg Josephson, a YouTuber who started sharing spirituality and wellness videos after dealing with fear in 2019, sees meditation as a way to give each other meaning and connection – and it’s a connection many others felt through its meditation content to have. Since then, it has quickly gained over 18,000 subscribers.
“I definitely think there is a great awakening going on and people are becoming more aware of the corruption in the system,” she says. “The 9 out of 5 world has been turned upside down and people are spending more time at home with their thoughts and emotions.”
And the downloads support that. Since the pandemic began, the leading app, Calm, saw its downloads increase 31 percent between January and April. In July, app downloads rose 94 percent during the week that Harry Styles’ “Sleep Story” was introduced. So it’s easy to see why manifestation – and meditation – are on the rise. Especially in our current climate.
Manifestation offers a glimmer of comfort and hope in uncertain times, realistic expectations must be met. It encourages creativity (vision boards are another visualization tool) and regardless of whether you are a believer or not, it has provided plenty of people with a dose of optimism and opportunity. But while imagining a better future, it’s also important to remember that, besides setting positive intentions, only you can take action and turn them into reality.
Emma Kershaw is a freelance journalist who writes on health, pop culture, travel, and more. Stay up to date with her latest work on Twitter.