Updated: Nov 27, 2019
For a conservatively-raised, good Christian, hard-working Millennial, the idea of Manifestation is as risque and taboo as they come. I can just hear my Boston-bred, Scotch-English, one-of-nine mama now...What do you mean “you send energy into the world to get your heart’s desires? You can’t just wish your dreams int existence. That is a load of poop. And honestly, I’m wondering how she’ll take her little girl writing about something that seems so “whoo” and “new agey.” There are even certain practices and beliefs within the system I have discovered some people follow that I do not subscribe to, but overall I think at the core, Manifestation’s true principles are extremely relatable. So relatable, you have probably heard others espouse these teachings, even if they didn’t know that was what they were doing at the time… I’m looking at you, mama.
Even though I have a certain level of anxiety covering this topic as a total Manifestation newbie and a human who believes actions, not dreams, get you what you want, I know dipping my toe into these proverbial waters has altered my resolve, my ambition, and kept a certain level of calm this year that I haven’t had in other years. I’m writing this as someone who believes in the tenants of Manifestation and also the Bible (whoa, did I just really put those two in a sentence together? Seriously?), but still holds Western Medicine as the best medical care in the world. I’m writing this as someone who does not put money on the healing power of crystals or metaphorically shoving energy away from your body in the physical, geographical direction of your heart’s desire. I am a mind-over-matter person. I’m someone who thinks you can brain your way out of just about any sticky situation just like you can brain your way into your ideal lifestyle. If you can think it, you can create it. I’m nervous, but I’ve got my big girl pants on today, so here we go.
If you follow the personal growth and development gurus, you have probably heard the term Manifestation about twenty gazillion times. It is a hot topic right now and I think it gets a bad rap in certain circles, especially in the good, hard-working blue-collar communities where they are much more practical. I have noticed that the more I study manifestation, the more misconceptions I personally had about the practice. I used to think it was willing something to happen. Just meditate on your dream, say over and over, think about it all day, create a vision board with it smack-dab in the center and look at it while your brushing your teeth, sing about it in traffic and after all that energy you sent out, it will come into your world. It will just show up with the power of thought. Boy, was I wrong about this one. Just a quick YouTube search put this misconception to bed. That was likely the largest barrier to entry I had with this ideology. I’m glad I figured out that “thinking it into existence” was one-hundred percent wrong. I was wrong about it all, in fact.
Here is what I know now to be true about it:
Manifestation, also known as The Law of Attraction, is the alignment of your mind, spirit, and actions.
That’s it. It is alignment. You can’t grasp what you’re fighting. You can step into a world you feel you don’t belong to. You can’t ask for more if you feel undeserving. But don’t worry, Cinderella. I got you.
If you are anything like I was, you might not be totally sold yet, holding this practice as a completely foreign idea. But you may actually be more familiar with this concept than you realize. Let’s do a GUT CHECK, shall we?
Have you ever heard any of these phrases?
Mind over matter.
Whether you think you can or cannot, you are right.
You get out what you put in.
Good things come to those who wait.
Trust that good things are on their way to you.
I am affirmations, such as I am generous. I am high vibe.
Work smarter, not harder.
Even if these inspirational tidbits do not originate from the teachings of Manifestation necessarily, (you can find them in Christianity, Buddhism, a Jim Rohn quote on the first page of a Google search, or your Grandma Addy’s conversations from the kitchen sink), I would wager there are nuggets of Manifestation principles that have surfaced all over your life. Up, down, sideways, and in the crannies. You’ve likely heard one or more of the above motivational quotes. You can probably think of even more. So, this concept isn’t as foreign as you thought. In my still-figuring-this-out stage, I have developed the belief that The Law of Attraction is really about dreaming big and creating actionable steps and mindset shifts in your day to day life to bring it closer to you.
Let’s get personal, chica. I will tell you about what I was doing at this time last year. I had just taken a new job, leaving the field I’d been working in for almost a decade. I was totally excited to do something new, something creative. However, the more I showed up at the office, the more I realized that this was probably not a love-match. Elements of the job were amazing and exactly where I wanted to be. Other parts, that we ride-or-die requirements, just weren’t my cup of tea. I wanted to make an impact in the world, to share what I know with others. Hopefully help someone see beyond the narratives written across their foreheads by others and begin to create a new, inspiring story that rings true from the depths of their soul. I was going to have to follow my own star to make that happen. So, I went back to my original industry and focused my energy on what I desired in my off-time. After a lot of soul searching, journaling, reading, and YouTube binges, I figured out becoming an entrepreneur and building a brand around my idea was the way to go. It was the only thing that made any sense.
I had to do some serious inner work to get to this realization. It did not happen overnight. It was messy and scattered and from the outside, I’m sure I looked like a cross between a mad scientist and a hermit novelist with a dash of Jameela Jamil. And when I tell you that it didn’t happen overnight, it took a year. Three hundred and sixty some-odd days to be real and raw with myself. Ask questions that I feared the answers, that I knew the answers to. Develop worst-case scenario stories and shift years of toxic inner dialogue. Anyone reading this that knows me might find that last sentence strange. I’ve been told I’m the calmest, most level-headed, and joyful person they’ve ever met. But sometimes the outside is doing the best it can while the inside is still rifling through conflicting and dangerous messages, just trying to keep the outside’s presence pulled together enough to function in society. And other times you think you have things completely sorted, but you find out you don’t. And that okay. I totally embrace the messy year I’ve had because it has lead to new circle of friends who vibrate on a higher wave-length than I knew possible. I have gained clients, and have taken courses to develop my technical skills, read books that made me sob at the raw truth of their words, and gone through probably three iterations of my brand, every time thinking this new one is definitely it for sure, no doubt, no doubt, no doubt. Boy, I hope I didn’t give the gracious handful of followers I lead branding whiplash.
This breakout year of discovery and dreaming started with a belief: the belief that I am divinely created and was gifted with passions for a purpose. Wrapping my head around the freeing notion that it’s okay to actually lean into my passions as a way of honoring the woman that God had created me to be was humbling and empowering and completely terrifying all at the same time. Once I understood this, I was able to bring other things into alignment with that core belief. I was able to “future pace” as Amy Porterfield puts it. This is a practice where you imagine yourself in the future and, in that state, think back to the decisions you made that brought you to your desired outcome. It’s actually a way of reverse-engineering your desired result. You start to think about how that leveled-up, future version of yourself acts, thinks, behaves, reacts, engages, makes decisions, eats, works out, spends her time, what she finds valuable, what is non-negotiable, what is over-the-line, and so on. I started small. I asked myself what could I do now, within my current means, to make me into this person.
As soon as I started seeking out the things I dreamed Future Me would value, things started shifting. I found meaningful connections in circles I was only wished to be, I had aligned opportunities arise that I accepted because I knew it was a fit. What seems possible is a lightyear and a half from 2018 Rowan. Now here is the important part. This is the part most people who haven’t bought into this whole Manifesting thing yet don’t understand. Belief and vision casting and meditating only is half the picture. This is the part where the community I was raised in: the middle American, Christian, blue-collar community misses about this practice. The other part: Action. You have to follow up your mental work with real-world grit and determination. Action is the phase of The Law of Attraction where the ethereal plan and terra collide. Although I am in no way down-playing how much energy it takes to do the mental heavy lifting, without action, all we gain is insight. But we won’t get closer to our goals with insight alone. Asking myself what that Future Me would be up to, allowed me to reverse-engineer the goal into smaller projects then to break those down further into manageable tasks and sometimes still I get even more granular and break the tasks down into no-brainer, do-over-my morning-cafe-americano type of activities.
So something huge and time-consuming like “Rework UX on my Website” becomes research other inspiringly website layouts > list what you love > map your main page > decide on menu tabs > write copy for components > select artwork > import copy > import artwork > write or copy/paste metatags for social media. You get the idea, right? One giant project that would take me the span of three months (or a quarter to those in biz) is broken down into projects I can tackle over the course of a week. But I don’t stop there. Because the one about the metatags had me stumped to the point of volcanic frustration, I had to get very detailed and break it down into teeny tiny jobs I could wrap my tech-challenged brain around it. The week with the metatags looks like this: research metatags requirements for Pinterest > research my web host’s requirements for embedding the metatags > YouTube a tutorial > Search web host to find metatag code area > time to play with the site and metatag area > drop in metatags > request Pinterest perform the site check. Done! Watching a tutorial seems way less daunting than needing to figure all of that at once. One tiny task at a time. Doable! So my goal of communicating to the masses is that much closer to realization. Belief then action.
SEEING YOUR DREAM AS REAL
Here is the deal. You can’t just think I want to have a sprawling beach house in Hawaii and then all of a sudden, you are gifted a gorgeous beach house in Hawaii by magic. It doesn’t work like that. A huge piece of The Law of Attraction is ACTION. You have to come into alignment with your mind and your actions. The last piece is seeing your dream as real. Here is why seeing your belief as real is so vital to your success. Even if you dream, even if you do the work, you will self-sabotage and explain your way out and hold back from taking the necessary steps in the right direction. You may not even notice you’re doing it. It may cause you to delay the fruits of your labor indefinitely. If you go about half-heartedly doing the things, you are going to get half-hearted results. Sometimes seeing your dream as a reality is also phrased as “your desires are already on their way to you” or some variant of the kind.
I can tell you another story, and I promise this one is shorter. Way before I knew Manifesting was a thing, before I was exposed to university dorm life and beyond, I had a belief I saw as real. I had just broken up with my high school boyfriend. Everyone thought we’d get married. In fact, the awkward question about if we picked a date yet happened constantly. Anyway, after that chapter came to a close, I had a total calm. The reason I wasn’t freaking out like every TV show, movie, and high school classmate swore happens when you go through a breakup, was because I had prayed about it. I had prayed about it a lot. When the time came to do the thing and end it, I knew it was the right thing to do. I wasn’t worried about my future. I just knew the right man would find me and the right time. I wasn’t searching. I just believed in the reality that it would all shake out and love was still in my future. And yes, I did meet the man I’d fall in love with at college. He totally wasn’t on my radar. In fact, we were forbidden, yes you read that right, forbidden to date due to some bylaw in our drama club handbook. It took all of four months and we were Facebook official. I guess you can imagine how seriously we listened to that rule. We’ve been together now for eleven years, married eight, have two kiddos, and one overly hyper Schnoodle. The perfect man for me and I wasn’t even looking, I was just available and believing. He proposed by a waterfall. It was super romantic. Okay, I just needed to throw that in their real quick.
Belief, Action, and Seeing Your Dream as a Reality is at the core of Manifestation. It comes down to that. That’s how you make it work. It’s equal parts mental and physical. I found it especially reassuring when I found out there is a biological process in our brains called the Reticular Activating System (RAS) that bolsters all of this very “whoo” ideology. Your RAS is a network of nerves in the brain that has the sole purpose of locating what you want. It filters out the unimportant information so you can pinpoint the information that you want and need in the moment. You may be familiar with the phenomenon where you buy a new green Fiat then you start seeing green Fiats everywhere. Or you notice the time at exactly 2:22 pm every day. That is your RAS sussing out the important information to you. During manifesting practices, people often journal and write down what they want. Just the simple act of writing your dream on paper, it going from the mental recesses of your mind to the physical plane is powerful. You just told your RAS there is something important you desire. Now it going to work on making you aware of things that can accomplish the goal.
I’m wrapping all of this up with a bow now. The Law of Attraction is a world I am subscribing to for sure. I don’t believe it conflicts with my Christian ideals. I do think that I will get strange patronizing looks from people I care about. I do believe people will call my belief in the practice names. I think I’ll also find others that subscribe to this too; people who have learned to put language and practices around this “mind over matter” thing and get stuff accomplished. I know because the evidence is already there. I’m allowing people into my circle who will challenge me and support me and offer leveled-up wisdom. I’m following my divine passions and allowing creativity to impact my work. I’m focusing less and less on the comparison game. I am showing up for people in a way and at a level I’ve never done before. I’m intentional, loving, gracious, and will call out your BS because I care about you. That’s what this year of learning and practicing The Law of Attraction has brought me, so look out 2020. I’m showing up.