How manifestation ruined my life

Manifestation is a term that’s become a buzzword, particularly due to its surge in popularity on platforms like TikTok. At its core, manifestation is about shaping your reality by aligning your thoughts, emotions and actions with your desires.

Annika Morris | Senior Graphic Artist

I was first introduced to it back in fourth grade when my dad showed me the movie “The Secret.” For those unfamiliar, “The Secret” is a documentary-style film where individuals, including doctors, physicists and successful manifesters share their stories.

Growing up in a deeply spiritual household, I practiced Buddhism with my family, and the religion featured a lot of the same ideals when it came to alignment. Manifestation always seemed to work in my favor. However, it wasn’t until college that my perspective began to shift.

With the rise of influencers and spiritual guides on TikTok, the message became clear: Manifestation could grant you anything you desired, provided you followed these influences and guides’ prescribed methods or bought into their programs. Something that I held so close to my spiritual heart was now becoming monetized.

The methods ranged from writing your desires repeatedly on a piece of paper, making “moon water” or even burning written manifestations. It made me curious, so I tried it. Unfortunately, they never tell you that it may almost burn down your entire apartment if you’re not careful. I learned that the hard way.

The prevailing narrative of this newfound digital manifestation was how these influencers always got what they wanted — whether it was a dream job, an ideal relationship or material possessions. They preached that since we are one with the universe, everything should naturally align in our favor.

I dove headfirst into this mindset, but as time passed, I began to see the cracks in the facade.

For three years, I meticulously followed manifestation techniques. I poured my heart and soul into goals. I journaled, prayed nightly and networked relentlessly — all in pursuit of my elusive dreams.

I came agonizingly close to some of them, but the opportunity still slipped through my fingers and left my world shattered. I was left to pick up the fragments of my broken expectations, which is a process that continues to this day.

I think that one of the main tenets of manifestation is an unwavering belief. I convinced myself that opportunities were mine and the universe was going to simply align them with my desires. I was content in this state of supposed fulfillment — until the reality came crashing down.

What could’ve gone wrong? To find my answer, I scoured TikTok, revisited books by manifestation gurus like Joe Dispenza and Eckhart Tolle and furiously searched for answers.

I felt like a failure as I reached countless dead ends. It was as if the universe had betrayed me, which was a complete 180 turn from where I started. I started asking myself if I had missed a step. After all, everything had been going my way until now.

Manifestation can foster a dangerous mindset — one that you’re entitled to everything you desire. This entitlement can breed toxic disappointment when reality falls even an inch short of what you’re manifesting.

I witnessed individuals spiraling into despair because manifestation didn’t deliver as promised, yet I still went for it myself. Let this be your final warning: Manifesting too much is a risky notion that can lead to a profound disillusionment.

However, it isn’t solely about material gain. A theme that the shortcomings of manifestation give is about gratitude and appreciating what we have, rather than fixating on what we lack.

My problem lies in the obsessive pursuit of my desires. I spent countless hours visualizing my dream life, only to realize it was all an illusion. Looking back, I should’ve been appreciating what I have and finding great comfort in my ability to create hard work, rather than just speaking it into the world, hoping it would come true.

While manifestation has worked for me in the past, I think it’s crucial to maintain a realistic perspective. Life is unpredictable and nothing is guaranteed. Placing too much emphasis on manifestation sets us up for inevitable disappointment.

Yes, it’s okay to have desires, but we can’t allow ourselves to become enslaved to them. As you may have heard before, life’s beauty lies in the journey, not the destination.

From now on, look to manifestation as a tool and not a remedy for everything. Like any tool, it must be used wisely and with caution. I’ve used it as a tool to understand that being grounded in reality is far more valuable than chasing far fetched dreams.

So, while I’m no expert in manifestation, my experience has taught me one thing: It’s okay to dream, but it’s essential to stay rooted in reality.

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