It was during the first few weeks of the pandemic that an unusual video popped up on my For You Page: a woman with a serene voice, set against a fake backdrop of clouds and blue skies, encouraging her fellow TikTok users to write a letter as your future self expressing gratitude for “all of the wonderful things that you have attracted into your life”. The concept here was that you would write about the things you wanted to happen to you in the past tense, as though they had already happened. The woman promised that this was the best way to “align your desires with the energy of the universe and manifest whatever you want”.
Normally, I would have rolled my eyes and kept on scrolling, but I happened to come across this TikTok during a time in my life when everything had not gone according to plan. I, like everyone else, was experiencing a global pandemic for the first time, so my perspective on life was not as rigid as it used to be. Furthermore, I was raised Catholic, so frankly, concepts like “the energy of the universe” don’t sound totally outlandish to me. I found an old journal and did as instructed, patting future Me on the back for things like “landing that co-op job” and “buying that new car”. Even if I didn’t think it would all come true the next day, I thought it was a neat way of keeping track of my goals.
I read that letter again a few days ago and can’t believe how much of the things I’d listed have actually come into fruition. Needless to say, I’m a believer.
The concept of “manifestation” is hard to explain because it requires a very open mind. Although I come from a religious upbringing, in my experience, both religious and non-religious people have similar reactions to manifestation: hesitancy and dismissal. I get it – most videos about it tend to make it sound like Fairly Odd Parents: you get whatever you ask for, just because you asked for it. A Vox article about manifestation defines it as “the practice of thinking aspirational thoughts with the purpose of making them real”. But it’s more structured and nuanced than that. Though there are different definitions of manifestation, my concept is that manifestation is the process of attracting what you are, not just simply what you want.
It’s not as black-and-white as saying, “I want a designer purse”, and then BAM, you wake up to find a Lady Dior in your closet. It involves more effort on our part than what most TikToks will have you believe. What most “gurus” online don’t tell you is that manifestation is deeply rooted in self-worth; when we have a strong sense of self-worth, the universe (or whatever you want to call it) tends to give us what we want. It’s not enough to ask for something, you really have to believe that you deserve whatever it is you want to call into your life. And to do so, you have to break down whatever emotional barriers might be in your subconscious, whether it’s through therapy, journalling, meditation, etc.
This plays into another aspect of manifestation: you have to feel good to get what you want. It’s not as simple as repeating positive affirmations to yourself (although if that makes you feel good, then keep it going!). Your “point of attraction” is strengthened when you let go of desperately trying to achieve or attract your desires and instead trust that you will receive what you deserve. That might sound a little woo-woo, but think about it: when has getting yourself all worked up ever helped you? The best things in my life came to me when I actually stopped trying so hard to make it happen and instead trusted in something bigger than myself. I believe that this is because sometimes we don’t actually want what we think we want. To quote Gabrielle Bernstein, author of Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life Beyond Your Wildest Dreams, “When joy becomes your default, you become certain that everything will work out, even if the end result is different from what you planned.”
The final key aspect to manifestation is gratitude. Gratitude, gratitude, gratitude. It’s my favourite word – I literally have it tattooed on my chest. When you are thankful for what you already have, you make space for more abundance to enter your life. If your mindset is always “tuned” into lack, then you are only going to focus on what you don’t have – making it even harder to attract new things into your life! While it’s easy to be grateful for the good things, it’s even more important to practice gratitude for the things that were not pleasant or easy, too. As difficult as it can be, acceptance is the first step to rewiring your subconscious and letting yourself believe that you deserve what you want. Instead of asking the universe why something happened to you, ask yourself: “What did that situation teach me?” It makes all the difference.
There’s so much more to manifestation that my word count won’t allow for, but I hope that this piques your curiosity even just a little bit. While we should all be wary of what we see trending online, I am forever grateful that I came across manifestation. While reading my “future self” letter and seeing how many things I actually manifested (as well as what I thought I wanted but am thankful didn’t come into fruition) was a cool experience, I realize now that the practice doesn’t require any material at all. After a while, you start to manifest without having to think about it. It changed me from being someone who desperately waited for life to happen to me into someone who trusted that whatever was meant for me will come to me.