This is a SIGN from the universe! Don’t be surprised if this comes true… You are about to live the life of your dreams… Your seven-figure-salary, successful, and ridiculously attractive twin flame is on their way… Expect your crippling student loan debt, gastrointestinal issues, and family trauma to be cleared instantaneously… Trust the process and raise your vibrations to the highest frequency… But don’t forget to comment YES to claim!
Amongst the many internet rabbit holes I’ve fallen into, I’ve got to say that manifestation TikTok is on a whole new level of unhinged. It’s one of those niches that people either absolutely swear by and centre their entire personality around, or jump at any chance to unapologetically shit on. On one side, you’ve got the life coaches offering courses costing thousands of dollars that promise to “heal” people and celebrities like Megan Fox who claim they manifested their problematic Rodrick Heffley wannabe significant other when they were four years old. On the other side, you’ve got the sceptics who think manifesting is just another laughable money-grabbing scam devised by green-smoothie-drinking hippies.
As someone that throws the phrases “manifesting it” and “positive vibes only” around both ironically and unironically, I fall somewhere in the middle of these two polarising groups.
Let’s jump back in time to the year that frankly nobody wants to relive or reminisce—2020. With the world’s seemingly never ending doom and gloom, it’s no surprise that manifestation TikTok creators popped off, reeling in all the views and bank from the app’s Creator Fund. Personally, I’m not exaggerating when I say that my For You page was swamped with content stating in pink sparkly letters “1111, your angels are sending you a miracle within 24 hours, save this sound to claim” or some tarot card reader promising that a mysterious tall, dark, and handsome man was going to find me. Whether the algorithm was rigged because of manifestation TikTok’s sheer popularity, or from me religiously commenting “claiming with positive energy” underneath these videos, this internet movement had me and many others in a chokehold back in 2020.
19-year-old me fully embraced manifestation. I was all about the law of attraction, raising your vibration, angel numbers, vision boards, and cleansing your energy with crystals. I had my lock screen set to a random affirmation wallpaper I found on Pinterest. I had a special little manifesting journal for my “scripting”, a.k.a. the practice of writing down your affirmations over and over again, which oddly reminded me of when I used to copy lines on why it’s bad to be late during high school detention. As cringe as this is to my current self, my short time dabbling in this side of spiritual TikTok did enlighten me on the many valid merits of manifestation.
Firstly, it’s not all bogus made up by crystal-necklace-wearing influencers looking to make a quick buck. Manifestation discourse draws largely from the law of attraction, which loosely defined is the belief that like attracts like. This principle has been around for centuries, with its roots tracing back to the New Thought movement of the 19th century. It also has great influence outside the social media circle. Best selling self-help books like You are a Badass by Jen Sincero and The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, all propagate ideas that positive or negative thoughts attract positive or negative experiences in a person’s life. Even our self-improvement queen Oprah is a firm endorser of the law of attraction, teaching master classes on using vision boards for manifestation.
There’s also a great deal to be gained in re-framing our cognitive patterns with manifestation to replace and challenge the limiting beliefs many of us hold. The implementation of regular repetition of positive affirmations can break these unhelpful cognitive patterns. Growing up in an Asian household, I was not only constantly compared to other kids but humility was upheld as the most important virtue. Over time, this definitely contributed to my low self esteem and catastrophic thinking tendencies. However, the practice of catching a negative thought and actively substituting it with a positive affirmation slowly but surely shifted my thinking patterns. At first it did feel kinda dumb forcing myself to think certain statements over and over again but hey, if I could trick myself into thinking I’m the worst human on planet earth, I could equally convince myself into believing I’m the hottest bitch alive.
Here’s where I’m going to pull a Hannah Montana transformation moment and jump on the manifestation hater bandwagon. Not just because I’m pressed that my promised six-figure-salary has not materialised into my current reality, but also because the online movement of manifestation should be criticised. As it’s gained increasing influence amongst the predominantly young demographic of TikTok and Instagram, the core message of manifestation has been diluted and misconstrued. Those twinkling videos with its grainy graphics make bold and universally applicable claims—that are vaguer than the messages you get in fortune cookies—are purposely designed to keep you watching or interacting with the account. When you boil it down, this content is no more than an easy and cheap strategy for generating coin.
Also notice how many of these creators rarely encourage their audience to take practical action when it comes to achieving their desires? Positive thinking alone cannot change your material circumstances, no matter how many rose quartzes you own or manifesting journals you fill. Sitting around waiting for things to fall into our laps can make us more complacent. Wishful thinking not only makes us less likely to achieve our goals, but also places too much emphasis on the power of our thoughts. This can be especially harmful for people who struggle with certain mental disorders like anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder where recurring, intrusive, and all-consuming thoughts already cause difficulties in their everyday life.
But hands down my biggest bone to pick with manifestation is its financial content. We’ve all seen those videos of privileged LA influencers who buy $30 Erewhon salads condescendingly proclaiming that “being rich is a mindset!”. Babes, I’ll start believing money comes easy to me in my next life where, fingers crossed, I’m reincarnated into a nepotism baby with daddy’s credit card to help me live my best! dream! life! Clearly, manifestation TikTok is pretty tone deaf when it comes to systemic classism.
To conclude, I think Facebook’s relationship status option of “it’s complicated” sums up my relationship with manifestation. However, instead of taking a side or remaining neutral, perhaps the best approach to this subject is to just take it less seriously. With the online movement of manifestation becoming increasingly more self-aware, we’re now seeing the concept portrayed ironically through Instagram meme accounts like @afffirmations and the local fave @aucklandaffirmations. And in my unqualified opinion, that is arguably one of the greatest niches of the internet.
But, if you ever catch me chanting to myself in the mirror “I do not regret my entire existence”, I am 1000%, absolutely, and most definitely saying that for the lols.