What is Manifesting and How Does it Work?

By Kristin Hickey

It’s likely you might have heard about the concept of manifestation which has become increasingly popular recently, but maybe you’re not entirely sure what it means, or how exactly to do it. Spoiler: it’s not just about thinking positive thoughts to will something into existence. We’re here to break it down for you, so read on to learn more!

What exactly is manifesting?

At a high level, manifesting is about bringing something tangible into your life through attraction. Gabrielle Bernstein, who is a motivational speaker, author, and expert on the subject of manifesting, writes that you can “practice manifesting to attract whatever you want, whether that’s a successful business, good health, a relationship, or even a material object.” She adds that it’s about “cultivating the experience of what it is that you want to feel and then living and believing in that experience so that you can allow it to come into form.”

How does it work?

Before we talk about how exactly manifestation works, let’s address one of the biggest misconceptions around. “There’s this idea that all you have to do is make a vision board and write a thousand affirmations in your journal—and then the exact thing you desire will magically appear,” notes Bernstein. She goes onto explain that while vision boards and affirmations are great because they offer clarity, we can get caught up and attached to a specific outcome—and timeline—which can throw off guidance from the Universe. That being said, here are four insightful steps we compiled from Bernstein behind the process of manifestation: 

  1. Get clear about what you want and why: The first step is to think about what it is you want, whether that might be a promotion, career change, feeling healthier, new friendships, etc. Bernstein adds that when clarifying what it is that you’re trying to manifest, it’s important to focus primarily on how it will feel to have it (more on that a bit further down.) 

  2. Release your limiting beliefs: Now that you’re clear on what it is you’re after and why, you’ll need to get clear about all your limiting beliefs and then release them. For example, maybe a new role opened up at your company that you really want to land, but you have a limiting belief like you don’t deserve it or aren’t qualified enough. Bernstein notes that it takes courage to recognize our limiting beliefs and adds that healing a limiting belief can simply be “witnessing that it’s not working and that it’s holding you back.”

  3. Do everything you can to support the feeling you want: Next up is to turn what you’re trying to manifest over to the Universe and do everything you can to support the feeling you want. For example, if you wish to feel abundant and earn more cash, Bernstein says to be sure you’re respecting and enjoying your money. “Pay your bills, save what you can and indulge mindfully on experiences and things that bring you joy,” she explains. Or perhaps you’re looking to manifest romance, and if that’s the case, it’s important to love yourself and appreciate the love you’re already receiving from the non-romantic relationships in your life.

Bernstein also points out that it’s necessary to give yourself permission to feel good throughout the process instead of withholding happiness from yourself until you achieve what you want. If you’re thinking, “I’ll be happy once I’m in a relationship,” you’re putting the outcome before the feeling. “We think that by living in fear, we’ll attract joy, but the truth is that by living in joy, we become a magnet for more joy!” she says.

Have patience: This step is easier said than done, but it’s important to be patient with the process, especially if it feels like you’ve done everything right and it’s frankly not working. “When you’re not patient, you’re controlling, you’re grasping and you’re manipulating,” writes Bernstein. “In short, you’re blocking the natural order—you’re blocking the positive energy that is flowing toward you, because you are vibrating a frequency of negative energy.” Bernstein states that patience is the most critical step of the equation and to try and release all the timeline pressure you might be placing on what you’re trying to manifest—it’s important to trust that the Universe has your back.

Other handy manifestation tips

Finally, we wanted to share some of Bernstein’s other valuable manifestation tips to help you along the way. One that really resonated is to make sure you’re not saving your manifestation practices for one certain time and place. It’s easy to get caught up thinking you can only manifest with a bunch of crystals lined up in a Zen den, however, Bernstein explains that compartmentalizing your spiritual practices like this can cut off the flow of inspiration and we do ourselves a disservice by putting it in a box and keeping it separate from the rest of our life.

Another tip is to trust that the Universe might have a better plan than yours. “You will have experiences in which you’ll attract exactly what you want, but controlling outcomes to get just what you want isn’t the goal—remember, your plan isn’t always the best plan,” notes Bernstein. For example, if all your manifestations are tied to a promotion at work, you may end up blocking a great opportunity at another company.

We hope this might have given you a clearer picture of what manifestation is all about and that you attract wonderful experiences and good fortune into your life!