What is manifesting and does it work?

You’ve probably seen that video on your TikTok for you page promoting affirmations, manifestation, or any other form of law attraction. So you may be wondering, does it work? On different social media apps, teenagers share stories about how “scripting,” or repeatedly writing down a wish, caused a crush to text them back finally to manifest your dream future properly eventually. “Manifesting” is the practice of thinking inspirational thoughts to make them real, and this has never been more popular: From late March to mid-July, searches for the term have risen to astronomical numbers. Does this have anything to do with the pandemic? Currently, researchers are unsure because the method has had a gradual rising since 2017 alongside more self-care conversations beginning. 

While manifesting continues to be a popular trend, the popularity of crystals, essential oils, tarot cards, and other spiritual items has been referred to as “angel numbers” sent from the universe. However, the question remains: is there a proper way to manifest to be successful? 

From my personal experience, no. Whether it be scripting or just speaking what I want into existence, I believe any form of manifesting can work. I also think there are limits to manifestation. I don’t think it is possible to become a millionaire by merely writing or stating that you will become a millionaire. 

However, psychologists have their concerns with ideas like manifesting is that it doesn’t take into account people whose thoughts can be inherently negative — those with anxiety, depression, or other mental health diagnoses. 

“[Manifesting] could be very dangerous to people who already have anxiety disorders, but potentially, it might even be enough to start those symptoms happening in someone who originally doesn’t,” said neuroscientist Rhiannon Jones. 

Psychology professor Gabriele Oettingen at New York University feels manifestations can negatively affect teenagers because if what they manifest does not come true, they could feel as if they are failures. Instead, Oettingen recommends a technique she calls mental contrasting, where in addition to focusing on a desire, you focus equally on the obstacles in your way for more achievable goals. 

“Once you understand what the obstacle is, you can then find a way to overcome the obstacle or, if the obstacle is insurmountable, then you can adjust your wish, postpone it, or actively let it go. You’ll have a good conscience because you know it’s just not possible and you can better invest your energy in a different, more promising project,” said Oettingen. 

So contrary to many teenagers belief writing down “I will be accepted into college” will not change the results, nor is it always positive as many would think.