First it was “stan”, then “chugi”, and now Gen Z is blabbering about another term that might confuse older generations: “manifestation.”
Derived from the word “manifestation”, “manifestation” is the theory that we can all bring tangible change to our lives through positive thoughts, beliefs, and emotions.
Business and life coach Caroline Castrillon explained that if, for example, “your dream job is to become a professional writer, imagine how you will feel when you finish that initial manuscript, sign your first book contract, or get on the list. New York Times Bestsellers.
“These positive thoughts will help you create your future instead of getting stuck in the present,” she wrote in an article for Forbes.
As BBC religious reporter Sophia Smith Galer explained last year after the manifestation first went viral on TikTok, the concept “comes from the philosophy of New Thought, a 19th-century spiritual movement from the United States that emphasized spiritual healing.” and metaphysics.”
At the core of New Thought philosophy, she wrote, is the theory of the Law of Attraction “that positive or negative thoughts can bring positive or negative realities into a person’s life.”
The popularity of the demonstrations skyrocketed in 2006 after the publication Secret, Australian author Rhonda Byrne’s best-selling self-help book based on the theory of the Law of Attraction. And now, more than a decade later, manifestation has become a buzzword among Generation Z, especially among TikTok users.
This week, a video with the hashtag “manifestation” has been viewed “a whopping ten billion times” on social media, writes Helen Rumbelow in The Times. The term “started popping up out of nowhere on Google Trends in 2018, and Gen Z sped it up through TikTok throughout 2020,” she continued.
Google searches for the term rose 66% between March and July last year, “reflecting a peak in global collapse worries” as Covid-19 spreads around the world.
The manifestation resurgence has spawned a new generation of specialist manifestation trainers, “many without traditional financial experience or certifications,” wrote Amelia Harnish in Cosmopolitan magazine. Manifestation courses for teaching “meditation and visualization” techniques are also big business, she says.
“The perception is that sometimes you have to spend — sometimes a lot — to demonstrate financial security,” Harnish added.
But while the manifestation is becoming more popular, some experts believe the practice does more harm than good. Psychologists argue that there is a fine line between positive thinking and delusion, and that people who rely on spiritual practice may not take concrete steps to achieve their goals as a result.
In a 2016 article in Psychology Today, titled “The Truth About the Law of Attraction: It Doesn’t Exist,” psychology professor Neil Farber also warned that the theory can impose “blame the victim” beliefs.
The “basic, fundamental” premise of the Law of Attraction is that “the only reason bad things can happen to you is because you were thinking bad thoughts,” he wrote. “If someone hits you from behind in a car, it’s 100% your fault. If you have breast cancer – 100% your fault (not genetics).”
While “deep inside we all know it’s ridiculous to even propose,” he continued, the Law of Attraction states that “you NEVER attract what you don’t think about.”
California psychology professor Inna Kanevskaya shares these concerns about the manifestation, so she was “shocked” when her daughter showed her how such “pseudo-scientific myths” are being propagated on TikTok, Rumbelow wrote in The Times.
“Life in constant crisis makes people look for any way to control at least something in their lives,” said Kanevsky, who grew up in Russia. “This is very similar to the era of the collapse of the USSR in the early nineties, which I experienced in my youth, when people believed in supernatural healing.”
Despite the many fears of experts, supporters of the manifestation continue to tell stories about how this practice allegedly helped them realize their ambitions. And while Gen Z is driving this trend, people of all ages have been turning to manifestation in recent years.
Lucia Craddock, a 39-year-old business consultant from Rayleigh in Essex, told the Daily Mail she’s managed to bring “the man of her dreams” to life.
“I wrote down my intentions in July 2015 and three weeks later I met my current husband Mark at an art festival,” she explained. “Three months later he moved to Ibiza to live with me.
“I can only think that it was because I put so much into those words that the universe was waiting for it, ready on standby to magic Mark.”
Such “positivity is contagious,” wrote Marianne Eloise in Stylist magazine, but “does manifestation work on a scientific level?”
“There is absolutely no hard evidence,” Eloise concluded.
However, she added, “While it’s important not to rely on it completely and give away your savings to any potential genie in a bottle, in these troubled times it might be worth trying something.
“Getting in touch with what you want and believing you can achieve it is basically just an exercise in optimism and believing in yourself, and who doesn’t need it right now?”