The Dark Side Of Manifestation

The New Age practice isn’t all rainbows, glitter, and never-ending source of prosperity.

Before we begin, let’s all get on the same page. Manifestation is the concept that a person can “call” something into existence through thought, prayer, or intention.

If you were to do a quick little Google search, the results might feel overwhelming. Is everyone now a manifestation expert? Or is everyone manifesting without me?

The concept of manifesting can stir some controversial feelings. Are we able to turn our thoughts into physical manifestations? Are all these people selling me snake oil or are we able to exert some control over our destiny? Is this a new version of the prosperity gospel (currently preached by Joel Osteen, brought into the mainstream by Tammy Faye and Jim Bakker) divorced from Christianity?

As you read and research for yourself, you might find yourself thinking there’s some truth to the concept that what we focus on becomes our reality.

You can find people talking about manifestation and the law of attraction on every corner of the internet. As someone who’s been keeping tabs on the industry for more than a decade, I’ve got a few thoughts on what it means to manifest.

Let’s start with the good: We take time to figure out our values and goals.

If you’re working on manifesting, then you are getting clear on what you want in your life. Finding clarity is one of the most important gifts we can give ourselves.

We spend so much time on autopilot and living inside of societal programming. Taking the time to examine our lives is a worthy pursuit.

Ask yourself why you have your goals and dreams. Turn them over, seek where they came from. Understand if they are yours or if someone placed them there for you. It’s valuable to our overall daily and life satisfaction to align our goals with our hearts.

If you’re manifesting (or manifestation-curious) you’re setting off on your own path of self-discovery.

Determining our own value system is crucial to our happiness. If that process starts through manifestation, that’s a great channel to dive into your own value system. A popular manifestation process of making a list and becoming open to good things can be a great way to practice choosing gratitude.

Where things start to get hairy for me are some of the implicit messages floating around in traditional manifestation literature, like the idea that we’re rewarded for our spiritual practice through material gain.

It Encourages You To Follow The Money

There’s a bit of a capitalistic dark side to popular manifestation processes: Permission for an unbridled pursuit of excess materialism in the name of spiritual perfection and performance.

Popular manifestation teachers encourage and give permission to you to dream your most materialistic dreams and pursue them with your full extent of your resources, encouraging students to get to the next level by spending loads of money on programs and coaching to achieve the material success they are peddling.

This is just rebranding on prosperity gospel. Who’s actually getting richer?

Our lives are not an upward trend chart if we’re living that manifestation dream. It is not our birthright to validate our self-worth through material gain. We don’t ‘deserve’ a bounty of material goods from the universe. Spiritual people aren’t rewarded for being more worthy than others.

In fact, if you dig into any of these people peddling to you, their manifestations of wealth pretty much guarantee there’s something behind the curtain. They are trading on their looks, they hail from wealth, or they are just straight up faking it.

Beware Of Programs That Claim They Will ‘Help You Find Love’

People who profit from your participation in their courses can do it by preying on our deepest fears and insecurities. The reason we haven’t called in the right person? We haven’t done ‘the work.’

The implicit message can be that we’re broken or lost, and can’t get what they have unless we follow their program. All the while, these people are tying your success to adhering to their programs.

What am I doing wrong that I can’t find love? Am I unlovable? I wondered that for years. We all have the same fears—that we’re unlovable and that no one will love us for who we really are. I am in a partnership now. I’ve got a wonderful husband, but I don’t believe we met because I am more deserving than someone else. Here is a truth, though: Everyone is deserving of love, and you can absolutely be loved for being who you authentically are.

To Get People Hooked Onto Their Brand, They Will Get Them With The Shiny And Vulnerable Stuff

This house? Manifested it. This perfect life? Manifestation. Want to know how? Buy this program to learn my ways. Do you feel me on this? Related side note, I love nice things. I have spent a lot of time and energy on love. So, this all comes from a place of I’ve been there and I feel like I’ve done and seen it all.

After reading the Law of Attraction and related books, I spent hours puzzling (crying) over my skin and my autoimmune issues, feeling trapped that it is my own mental patterns creating my acne and my lack of perfect health. There are messages out there that acne and other physical issues and illnesses are just mental patterns being played out on the physical plane.

Is there some truth to it? Maybe. Is it the only truth? I don’t think so. You know what finally cleared my skin after I tried essentially everything for 10 years? Hardcore medicine. You know what’s helped with my autoimmune issues? Nothing. That’s okay. We are powerful, but we’re not God (if you believe in one).

Our lives are full of ups and downs. We can choose our beliefs, we can choose to see the joy, and we can choose to learn lessons, but I hope you don’t choose to pin your worth to these programs.

Our lives are successful,l and our manifestation practice can be successful even if our life isn’t one giant upward trend graph like we’re taught to believe it will be.

All I’m saying is that I’m seeing so much faux-spirituality being tied up in consumerism, and I don’t think you need to spend a dollar to manifest or develop intuition or to get healthy. Can you spend money on these things? Of course, and honey, I DO. These are my hobbies and passions. But to have a healthy inner life and spiritual practice is reward in itself, people just can’t figure out how to capitalize on that. TC mark

About the author
I once sat behind Vicki Gunvalson on a flight. We were both in coach. Follow Jennifer on Instagram or read more articles from Jennifer on Thought Catalog.

Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.

Related