Discover more from Hadley’s Substack
Reasons I'm Anti-Manifestation, yet still find myself manifesting.
I think whenever something goes mainstream there become many interpretations of it and it can get warped and do more harm than good-- this article is about discernment.
When I was in college 🎓, I chose to take many religion classes 📚. It was a big surprise to me how much I loved studying religion since I wasn't super religious (this is also when I fell in love with Buddhism 🧘♂️). What I like is that the classes weren't about practicing religion 🙏, but were about learning from it, analyzing it, and reflecting upon it. 🤔
Although I technically graduated with an economics degree, I doubt I was far from being a religion major. 📜 I remember in one class we talked about how religion and the church is human’s interpretation of God. And because of that, the church will never be perfect, but at least we tried. Okay, that’s brutally simplified, but what I like about this is the acknowledgment that religion and the church are not getting everything right and we can just be honest about that because we are human and not God. 🙌
Thanks for reading Hadley’s Substack! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
I bring this up because I believe the same principle applies to the popularity of manifestation in mainstream culture. When you consume content around manifestation, you are consuming other people’s interpretation of how it works. And it’s up to you to determine what truly helps you navigate life authentically. 🌟
So when I say I’m anti-manifestation, I suppose it would be similar to saying I’m spiritual but not religious in that I don’t follow just one set of rules on how to connect with a higher power, but rather I take more of a buffet approach from various schools of thoughts to build my own personal spiritual practice and world view. 🍽️
Just like with some religions, there are popular teachings of manifestation that I believe need more nuance or that I just straight-up disagree with. And just like with some religions, there are practices that I LOVE and help me feel so connected and I still do to this day (like the Lutheran hymns I love singing 🎶).
Additionally, I believe there is a lack of discernment and critical thought in manifestation. It is more popular to say well if manifestation isn’t working for you it’s because you’re not committed enough to the manifestation process, never that some of the manifestation practices aren’t actually wholly effective, accurate, or true. 😕
I’ve sprinkled some of my critiques of manifestation to my pen pals on my email list 💌 and on my Instagram 📷, but I feel called to brain-dump them all into one place. So I started this substack! Also, I have a desire to JUST SPILL my thoughts in messy, long-form writing and this feels like the right fit. We’ll see!
Critique #1: Your thoughts create your reality. 🧠🌟
This statement is FAR too basic. What this often encourages is people to blame themselves for the things they don’t like in their lives, but the truth is there’s no cure for being human. You can’t think your way into perfection and ultimate control of your life. Being human and being alive involves loss and pain and suffering and the idea that if you experience those things is because of your thoughts is ludicrous. You are human, you are here to experience all the layers of being human, and not all of those are what you want. We are not always meant to be thriving and optimizing our lives. It is okay to not always be your best self, to not be okay, to be grieving— humans are seasonal and so there are straight up going to be times when things you don’t like happen and persist, and truly it has nothing to do with your thoughts or beliefs. 🤷♂️
Critique #2: Journal to rewire your beliefs. 🧠🔄
Many manifestation practices will teach you to “rewire” your beliefs by making a list of all your “limiting beliefs” by sitting down and thinking about what they might be in different areas of life like money, relationships, body, and career. So for example you might say you have a limiting belief around believing that you are fat and need to lose weight. The coach might ask to then reframe that thought into a more positive statement like, “I love and accept my body exactly as it is.” Okay, that would be great if you could just stop thinking that you’re fat just by affirming yourself over and over again and that you accept yourself, but as someone who tried this kind of approach for years, I can tell you that it doesn’t work. As an IFS practitioner, I believe that thoughts belong to one part of you, not ALL of you. That’s why we can have thoughts that disagree with each other inside our own heads. So when you start this positive affirmation rewiring, you introduce a new fighter into the ring, your protector part that wants you to heal, love, and accept yourself exactly where you are. So now you have an all-out battle in your mind of your “I accept myself as I am” healer part vs. your “I’m fat I need to lose weight” internalized patriarchy/colonialism/inner critic. And let me tell you I can really imagine that being a contentious fight! Truly trying to rewire a limiting belief by overriding it with a positive one does not heal you, it simply turns up the volume on this inner battle and polarization. Sure, your healer part might start to get your attention more, but more likely you’ll stay trapped in this inner battle and while that might be better than just letting the “I’m fat I need to lose weight” part win all the time, it’s not really what you’re after on your healing path. 🥊
Critique #3: It’s all about you. 🌎💫
We are shaped by our world and the systems we interact with and absorb and internalize what we learn. This can be capitalism, racism, sexism, etc. that have been held in place for longer than you’ve been alive, but are the water you swim in. For example, when you live in a capitalist culture, many people learn from a young age that their value is tied to what they can achieve, produce, and earn driven by the fear of never feeling like you are or have enough so that you keep, keep, keep going to get more, more, more. To then blame yourself for those beliefs around feeling like you’re not enough, is wildly inaccurate. My love, that is a culture that taught you to, be gentle with yourself, you’re doing the best you can with what you internalized at a young age. When you turn the blame inward, you just stay compliant in a system that makes other people (usually white men) very rich and never actually pursue the systemic change that is needed in our world.
Critique #4: Release the outcome so you can get what you want. 🎯
So you’re telling me, I have to write down a long list of exactly what I want, do consistent journaling and visualization every day to rewire my beliefs so I can become a vibrational match to get it, BUT then after all that you tell me that I have to release the outcome of ever getting what I want while simultaneously acting as if I already have it. HAHAH omg I’m laughing while even writing that. I mean I’m not sure there’s anything that sounds more impossible than that lol. Okay, can we just rephrase this as the Buddhist principle of “non-attachment” instead of spinning getting what you want into this twisted mental gymnastics? The Buddhist principle of non-attachment teaches that suffering and dissatisfaction in life are primarily caused by our attachment to desires, material possessions, and the transient nature of the world. So the similarities here are releasing the attachment to the outcome, the difference is that manifestation is still so focused on getting what you want and non-attachment is focused on liberating ourselves from suffering by loosening our grip on getting things we desire. I know it’s nuanced, but the difference is profound to me because manifestation teachings seem like if you do x (release the outcome) then you will get y (the thing you want), but non-attachment is more about do x (release the outcome) and release y (the thing you want). Where I disagree with the Buddhist approach is that Buddhism can be very focused on not having desires, I don’t love that because I like to see our desires differently. I like to see desires as our motivation to step more fully into our worth and truth. As humans we choose this human, physical experience, and material, status, and achievements are clearly a part of this experience, but I see them as a dangling carrot to give us a reason to become the person that we need to be to receive that thing. As for me clearly, I have a desire to have a thriving life coaching business, but do I think I NEED that? I used to, but then I realized that I don’t because it is motivating me to become more fully me, and it’s working. Honestly, I feel more me by going through the process of building my skills as a coach and showing up marketing my business than I ever have. I’m like OH the thriving coaching biz is the CARROT. It really doesn’t matter if it all works out like “I want it to” because it is already paying me dividends in how I feel in my life. Like of course I want to have tons of happy clients lining up to do IFS coaching with me when I re-open 1:1 coaching in early 2024, but I don’t need it because I’m already feeling more me just immersed in the process. AKA I’m doing this for as long as I can no matter how the world receives it because it’s 2023 and we don’t need permission to put our body of work out into the world 🥕💼
Critique #5: Write a list of what you want and don’t settle 📋
There is so much focus in manifestation around creating a list of exactly what you want and then filtering life through how many boxes things check. This is super popular when it comes to manifesting a partner. Women will have these long lists with about every desirable characteristic ever and judge men based on how many boxes they check. This is SO idealistic and honestly doesn’t set you up for a very healthy, long-lasting relationship either. If you pick a partner through judging, you will continue to judge how they do or don’t measure up to the perfect image of a partner you have in your head. This approach encourages living in this fairytale land that is so encouraged by popular culture and the movies about what love is. This approach also means women miss out on so many great men because they don’t even spend time getting to know the person that they could actually vibe with on a deeper level. A lot of these list items come from a part of you that is programmed with societal expectations of who a perfect partner should be and isn’t actually coming from your wisest self. I’m not saying intentionally reflecting on what you desire and writing it down is a bad thing, but I think doing that and being unwilling to question it or modify it is actually just a form of perfectionism and control and is probably what’s keeping you out of a relationship in the first place. And this works not only in love but in other areas of life too. I remember I got my brain SO twisted in that if I didn’t find a place to live in Bali that checked every box I wasn’t being abundant and I was choosing low self-worth behaviors and that if I was settling in where I was living well THAT was exactly the reason that I wasn’t making as much money as I wanted and not living in a place as nice as I wanted to. Truly for a minute, I believed that if I chose a place way outside my budget to live in then I would magically become more abundant. This truly stressed me out. And I almost moved out of the place I was living because the bathroom wasn’t perfect. And let me tell you besides the bathroom not being luxurious, the place was AMAZING. It was a little hotel room on the cliff overlooking the ocean and my friend lived there we grew to be such good friends and it was where I started working on the beginnings of my coaching business. If I had moved out of that hotel because it didn’t check the box on having a beautiful bathroom, I would’ve missed out on SO MUCH FUN. If I had moved into a place that was luxurious and cost $4,000 a month, I probably would’ve felt so much less abundant because my money would’ve gone into one area of life that wasn’t actually my top value at the time. Gosh, this way of obsessing over a list and if you don’t get everything on it is you settling and having low self-worth and you should not accept anything that isn’t exactly what you wrote down is such a mindfuck. I’m so glad I’m not twisted in that way of thinking anymore. It might sound crazy to hear me write this, but there are a lot of people in Bali that think this way so if you get immersed in it enough it gets hard to find your footing. 🏝️
All of these critiques, and yet I say I still find myself using some manifestation practices in my life. I indeed do. And I want to tell you exactly how I use manifestation in a way that incorporates these critiques. But I feel like I just wrote a 20-page paper in college and I need a break. So stay tuned for what my solutions are in part 2! 📝🔍
Thanks for reading Hadley’s Substack! Subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.