In this article, I’m going to tell you how to manifest something, but not in the way you might think.
This isn’t going to be an article about manifesting a Lamborghini using The Secret. I’m not going to pitch you some energy crystals and tarot readings by the end of this post.
Instead, I’m going to talk about a scientific approach to manifesting the results you want in life. I’m also going to make some phenomenological observations, which is a fancy way of saying the way things seem to work.
In a sense, taking a goal or a dream you have in mind and making it real is manifesting. I’m not going to tell you that wishing for what you want to happen will work. Instead, I’ll tell you how to harness the power of visualization and effort to get what you want.
Let’s start with a little story.
Seven years ago, I started writing. Early on in my writing career, I took it seriously. I wrote every day, studied tips and tricks became obsessed with both learning and sharing my thoughts.
All of a sudden, opportunities started to fall in my lap. I started writing articles for a friend’s website. It was a small blog that nobody really knew about and doesn’t even exist today.
A month or so in, I was browsing Facebook one day and saw an acquaintance of mine post about this website she wrote for. One of her articles went viral. I decided that I’d give that website a shot myself, so I submitted a post to the site, got accepted, and eventually worked with one of the editors for the website directly.
I wrote there for about a year, and then I spotted another opportunity. One day, I was scrolling Twitter and saw another acquaintance post about this website called Medium. I decided to publish an article there and that led to becoming one of the top writers on the site and earning a six-figure income from publishing my work there.
I could’ve missed both opportunities had I not been on social media on those days and exact times. Coincidence? Or did I figure out how to manifest something?
The moment I got serious about writing, I started to notice these opportunities. Some spiritual gurus might call it manifesting, but I look at what happened through an easy-to-explain lens.
There’s a saying:
What you focus on expands.
Some might say that you get what you want because the universe delivers it to you through manifesting, but focusing on what you want helps you get it because of selective attention.
Selective attention refers to the processes that allow an individual to select and focus on particular input for further processing while simultaneously suppressing irrelevant or distracting information.
When I was dead broke and my priorities were drinking booze and smoking weed, there were no opportunities to be found. But the minute I found something worth focusing on, I primed my brain to spot opportunities.
I see manifesting as the process of putting your selective attention to work. Whatever you focus on captures most of your attention and when you’re not focused on a goal, a skill, or an outcome, massive opportunities will be in your blind spot.
I’m reminded of an experiment where people were asked to watch a video of two teams playing basketball. One team wore red, another wore white. They were asked to count the number of passes each team made and provide the total at the end of the video.
After watching the video, they asked the participants:
Did you see the gorilla?
During the video, a man with a gorilla suit on made his way through the court. More than half the students didn’t notice. What you focus on expands and everything else fades into the background.
If you want to learn how to ‘manifest something,’ start focusing your attention on what you want.
Your reticular activating system is a combination of neural circuits located between the brain stem and the cortex
The Reticular Activating System is responsible for our wakefulness, our ability to focus, our fight-flight response, and how we ultimately perceive the world. It can control what we perceive in our consciousness, essentially a gatekeeper of information.
Take a look at your surroundings. Notice everything with the color blue. Isn’t it weird how all of a sudden every blue item near you seems to be more blue than usual? That’s your reticular activating system at work. Once you prime your brain to spot something, it’ll do a damn good job of spotting it.
If you’re looking for a certain outcome, train your brain to help you get it.
Meditation helps clear the clutter in your brain and enhances your ability to focus. If you add time spent visualizing what you want, you have the combined power of a more focused brain and a target you’ve primed it for.
There are examples that speak to the power of visualization like basketball players making more free throws by picturing themselves making free throws over and over again.
Some people who are really into manifesting use techniques like affirmations. When you say affirmations, you’re trying to manifest a result by repeating a mantra over and over again about how you’ll get it? This doesn’t cause anything to happen, but it can be helpful in priming your brain.
I don’t literally believe in the secret. But I do believe in manifesting when it’s defined as priming your brain to help you get what you want.
Training your brain alone isn’t enough. Once you have an outcome in mind, you have to become the type of person who gets that outcome. This is where feedback loops come in.
Your thoughts and beliefs guide your behavior and your behavior sends a signal out to the world that pings back onto you, further reinforcing your thoughts.
Take someone who struggles with confidence. Since they think lowly of themselves, they have the behaviors of someone with low self-esteem — slouched posture, meek voice, inability to make eye contact, etc. Others subconsciously notice these traits and respond accordingly, which makes that person go ‘see, people don’t like me’ and further fall into a hole.
The opposite is true, too. Invert that process and you become more confident. In my life, as soon as I started to believe I was capable of living a better life, I started working on myself. Working on myself changed the way I carried myself. People would tell me things like “You’re going places,” which made me feel like I was going places, so I worked even harder.
Focus on the outcomes you want, but focus on working on yourself so you can become the type of person who gets those results instead of directly aiming at them.
Don’t just think about making more money. Start studying finance and learning about business. Don’t just think about the goal itself, but create systems in your life to help you achieve those goals. Create an upward spiral.
How can you figure out how to manifest something if you’ve been struggling and feel stuck?
Some will say fake it until you make it. I prefer using the phrase ‘believe it until you become it.’
You don’t have to fake anything. Why does changing your behavior to achieve a certain outcome make you fake? You are, after all, really exhibiting those behaviors. Those behaviors aren’t fake. They’re just unnatural to you because you’re not used to doing them yet. That’s all.
You have to start this process by doing something I can’t exactly show you how to do. You have to believe in yourself. Just have conversations with yourself about how you know you can do better.
For me, the conversation went something like this:
“Dude, you know you’re better than this. You’re way too smart to be living under your potential. You can change. You just gotta do it, man.”
Sometimes, often, that little pep talk doesn’t work. So, keep doing it until it does. You just have to do it enough to create a spark that provides this wave of motivation.
You’ve felt the wave before. It’s that time in your life when you just feel unusually inspired to do something. You can’t predict when that feeling will come, but you can try to conjure it over and over again until it does.
Once you feel the wave, do this next.
You learn how to manifest something by slowly rebuilding your sense of reality.
You keep doing things that create a positive effect and tap into the things I’ve mentioned like selective focus, RAS, and feedback loops. Figure out how to give your brain ‘proof’ that your new beliefs are real.
Say you’ve been lazy for years and you’re now trying to believe you’re motivated. Do one teeny tiny thing a motivated person would do to give your brain a dose of proof. Could be something as simple as cleaning your room.
When you’re looking to manifest a certain outcome, do one teeny tiny thing that a person who gets that outcome would do. I wanted to be a writer, so I wrote something. As time goes on, you start to convince your brain more and more.
The more you convince your brain through these baby steps, the more your overall demeanor changes. Also, your actions make you think more highly of yourself which makes you spot opportunities because you finally feel like you deserve them.
Lower the bar for success as low as it needs to be for you to make progress.
See how all of this works?
I’ve layered these concepts on top of each other to show you how simple manifesting something is.
It’s not magic. There are real scientific reasons why focus and small behavior changes lead to good outcomes.
But it feels like magic.
Once you change your focus and behavior in a real way, it really does feel like the universe is gifting you these opportunities. Hell, it’s not a bad thing to literally believe in the secret as long as you’re putting in the work.
Beliefs are powerful.
Perception is everything.
For all we know, manifestation might be some deep metaphysical process that is real, but we just don’t fully understand.
Trust, faith, and action are tools that have been used over and over again by normal human beings to create extraordinary results.
Screw it, believe you can manifest whatever you want. You probably can.