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The Science (or Lack Thereof) Behind Manifestation

Believing that you can think things into existence, more commonly known as manifestation, has become increasingly popular nowadays through social media, and specifically TikTok. Videos face eerily lit ceilings and the text on the screen says things like, “this sound is 528hz” (which attracts love) and the caption covers all the bases with, #manifestation #ursign #august27 #1111 #2222 #thisisiursign #528hz.

This idea of manifestation isn’t new. Its origins trace back to the New Thought movement from the 19th century. Created by Phinneas P Quimby, Its general belief is that everything—including sickness, wealth, and love–comes from the mind. Meaning, the right mindset can affect those things. It was later popularized by Rhonda Byrne’s self-help book and documentary, “The Secret” where, amongst other things, a woman claims she thought her cancer away. And now teenagers on TikTok create vision boards, listen to certain frequencies and repeat sentences a certain amount of times at specific points in the day to manifest their ideal life.

This all seems mostly harmless, possibly prompting many to wonder why I’m making such a big deal of it. It’s basically just a way to feel a little bit in control. However, it has a dangerous side. There are two main problems, one more nefarious than the other. Researchers explain that this can be particularly harmful for those with anxiety, or specifically suffer from intrusive thoughts. When thoughts of a family member dying invade your brain and you believe that those thoughts can affect reality, that can be an incredibly frightening experience. But on a more basic level, studies show that not only does manifestation not work, it is also counterproductive. By only thinking of the end goal, and not of the process of getting there, people are less motivated to actually work towards that outcome they set for themselves, rendering the technique moot. When you just dream about the perfect future, you disregard any possible problems that may arise and work less to actually get there, because you almost believe it is already there. Instead, if you think of the future as a whole process, then you can take into account possible obstacles and work to overcome them. Obviously, dreaming about the future, creating vision boards, or writing out your goals can be motivating and ultimately rewarding, but only if it is followed by action. Thinking doesn’t create reality, rather thinking plus acting upon those dreams is what gets you there.

Source: The Washington Post

-Etta Feuer

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