Manifestation: is this wellness trend worth it... or not?

Is manifesting – the current trend of visualising your goals – really the best way to attract good things into our lives, or total BS?
Rachel Bailey

Manifesting – also known as the law of attraction or cosmic ordering – is, in a nutshell, the practice of thinking about/visualising what you want in life, with the purpose of attracting it to you. In recent times, the manifestation fire has been lit by books such as The Law of Attraction and The Secret (now a film with Katie Holmes), though many believe it’s a method steeped in ancient practices and Eastern teachings. Historical credibility or not, it has become the Marmite of the wellness world, with as many people eating it up and loving it as gagging at the very idea. And of course, there’s a captive audience on social media, where it’s clearly having a (large) moment. At the time of writing, there’d been nearly half a billion Google searches for manifestation, with the hashtagged version garnering over 6 billion views on TikTok. So is it a dreams-come-true scenario, or a Nightmare on Wellness Street? We asked two writers to give us both sides of the story, so you can make up your own mind.

The case for…

Giselle La Pompe-Moore, spiritual guide and writer

‘The manifesting I believe in is not the kind created on social media, nor is it about visualising for hours and waiting for things to happen. It’s a spiritual practice that has been in existence for thousands of years. I’ve manifested an incredible life by working on myself via self-care, self-development and spirituality.

Like all things to do with the mind, it requires belief. Cynics of manifesting tend to be proven right. They believe it doesn’t work, so it doesn’t. It also may not work as you’d hoped, based on what you actually think it is.

It’s not a “lazy” person’s approach to goal-setting. (Though what’s wrong with that? Why do we derive so much satisfaction from working hard and diminishing those seeking a different approach?) Manifesting does require work, however: introspection, plus physical, mental, emotional and spiritual action. Because, trust me, just sitting at home and repeating that you’ll be a millionaire does not a millionaire make.

My mum and I became homeless when I was young, so using manifesting to become debt-free was no easy feat. My story shaped my manifesting practice, because as a Black woman growing up in east London, the impact of systemic racism and poverty had to be taken into consideration when I questioned why I couldn’t just close my eyes and believe that I could be – or do – anything. I had to go inwards. From grim nights exploring all the reasons why I didn’t believe I deserved money, to learning how to save and handle it, I did it all. Then the opportunities, which never came up until I believed in both myself and limitless possibilities, flooded in. I still had to do the physical work, but it was filled with purpose and joy. So, when naysayers argue that you should do things for yourself, what would you call this?

My advice is to research, read books, ask questions and find a process that works for you, based on your background, life experiences, ethnicity, beliefs, doubts and fears. Explore it and create your own practice.

It doesn’t have to be just about material things:  you can manifest the confidence to start your own business, or the self-love required for a good relationship, for example. For those who want more, who want different, who want better, manifesting is worth trying. In the face of a pretty awful time, where we haven’t been able to control anything but ourselves, there’s much to be said for being able to reclaim your power, autonomy and the agency you have over your life. That’s what manifesting is really about. Surely, no-one can have a problem with that?’

The case against…

Rebecca Manning Reid, journalist and author

‘I totally understand the appeal of manifesting. Who wouldn’t want to believe that you can make all your dreams come true just by thinking about them hard enough? But sadly, I’m pretty certain that no matter how hard you wish, or how many ‘manifestation journals’ you buy, just wanting something to happen doesn’t make it possible.

Itemising your career and life goals, or your romantic hopes, isn’t a problem per se. But it’s a fundamentally passive practice, so it’s not taking actual steps to get you there. The only real way to get a work promotion is by working hard and asking for it. The only way that you find a relationship is by putting yourself out there and meeting people.

Ultimately, manifesting is all about focusing on what you think you want, or need. But I feel this can lead to obsessing about all the stuff that you don’t have in your life, rather than concentrating on what you do have.

Like all spiritual practices, there are people who’ve taken the idea and bastardised it for profit. These days, it’s more often appropriated by online influencers in expensive athleisure who want to charge their followers – often vulnerable, unhappy people – big bucks for “manifestation workshops”, which usually lack substance.

Early last year, I found myself at my lowest ebb, losing my job and suffering from PTSD following a miscarriage. I was exactly the kind of person who would spend their money on these workshops. But what I needed was therapy, medication and time. Not a pink bullet journal and a branded workshop from an Instagrammer.

I know plenty of people who believe that the practice of manifesting has changed their lives, and I’m not one to disparage the beliefs of others. But it makes me sad to hear those I love giving credit to their manifestation, rather than their own hard work. It makes me even sadder when I hear friends discussing manifestation as if it’s just a matter of waiting for their hopes and dreams to fall, neatly packaged, into their laps.

In my experience, the things and situations that really make us happy often aren’t the ones we planned for or dreamed of. All the best happenings throughout my life – my friendships, relationship and my home – have come as a complete surprise. Of course, it’s good to have hopes and dreams, but it’s all too easy to focus on what you want in the future and forget to enjoy the right here and the right now.

As the old saying goes, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans”.’

To learn more about manifesting, go to: thelawofattraction.com