How to manifest: your simple 9-step guide, plus whether manifestation could benefit you

Manifestation is currently booming across social media - but to what avail?

A woman learning how to manifest
(Image credit: Getty Images)

If you've seen the Lucky Girl trend dominating your timeline, you might be wondering how to manifest or what it actually is

Fun fact: there are over 5.3 million posts tagged #manifestation on Instagram and, last year, Google searches for "how to manifest" rose by 105%. On TikTok alone, there have been 8.7 billion views for videos tagged #manifestation, 4.1 billion views for videos tagged #manifest, and 37.6 million views for videos tagged #howtomanifest.

According to mindset experts Pam Lidford and Sandra Stocks, authors of 16 Seconds – Debunking The Myths Surrounding Manifestation, thanks to platforms like TikTok, false information regarding how to manifest is spreading - and fast.

"Lots of the TikTok content says that visualisation is enough, for example - yet Gabriele Oettingen, an academic and psychologist who has spent her career researching positive thinking, maintains that the more people fantasise or dream about their success, the less well they do if there’s no plan of action to make it happen," explains Lidford.

That's just one of the many incorrect claims being made by manifestation bloggers at current. Keen to find out how to - properly - manifest, or what the spiritual practice actually entails? Then keep reading. We've picked the expert's brains about how to manifest properly, to arm you with the simplest day-to-day manifesting techniques.

How to manifest: so, what is manifestation?

In its simplest form, manifestation is a way of bringing goal setting to life - some may call it the practice of thinking aspirational thoughts with the purpose of making them real, or so shares Stocks.

Lidford and Stocks' problem with the form of manifestation trending on TikTok is that it focused largely on spiritual manifestation.

"One blogger expressed it as the theory that through regular meditation and positive thoughts, you can make your dreams and desires become reality. Spiritual manifestation holds that if you really want something and truly believe it's possible, it will happen," shares Lidford.

But Stocks argues that while this spreads the word about the concept of manifesting, it doesn't teach users the more practical and actionable side of manifesting that is so essential for making sure what you're manifesting comes true.

How to manifest: Midsection of businesswoman writing on diary in train

Why is manifesting so popular right now?

Interestingly, the initial spike in interest coincides with the UK lockdowns and global coronavirus outbreaks. From late March to mid-July, Google searches for the term skyrocketed 669%, share the experts.

But why? Well, research has found that during periods of high or chronic stress, communities lean towards a reliance on "magical thinking" compared to periods of low stress. "People are looking for the something that's missing in their life at that time," explains Lidford.

Take the cost of living crisis - people understandably felt out of control and so may be looking for alternative ways to make sense of things.

How to manifest: your simple guide to manifestation techniques

According to Lidford and Stocks, the following is a tried and tested way to get what you want.

"Our concern is if there are too many Covid era manifestation myths put out into the world that don’t work, manifestation will get a bad name, lose its appeal and leave a lot of good people feeling disappointed, becoming disbelievers and with their fingers burnt, never knowing or feeling the joy of creating their own reality," they share. Ready?

1. Know what you want

Then visualise and feel it, shares Stocks.

2. Know why you want it

This will correspond with your values and beliefs, explains Lidford.

3. Feel good about what you want

Don’t allow the brain to immediately kick in with negative, limiting thoughts as to why you can’t have it, they share.

4. Set a goal

Simple, but important. "It’s tangible and involves a plan," shares Lidford. "Make sure you break that goal down into bite-sized pieces," says Stocks. "This makes it realistic and will build your confidence, too."

5. Feel good about the goal

Feeling good matches how you will feel when you achieve what you want and so you are more of a vibrational match to it, explain the pair.

"Feeling good also creates a positive mental attitude towards the goal and supports you to handle any challenges or uphill struggles along the way, building both your strength and resilience," Stocks shares.

Our self care ideas round up and guide to the meaning of self love may help here.

6. Be flexible

In life, things change, right? The better you arm yourself to handle that fact, the easier the movement towards your goal will be, explains Lidford.

7. Challenge limiting beliefs

You know that pesky negative internal chatter you sometimes notice? Well, it can interfere with your goals, so try and identify them when they arise and stay focused on thoughts that support and serve you.

8. Take action

One of the most important aspects of manifesting. "Do proactive things that feel good and take inspired action," shares Lidford.

9. Have fun

Last but by no means least - remember to enjoy the journey.

How to manifest: Low section of woman writing diary while sitting on bed

TikTok manifestation: is the app spreading myths?

Good question. Both experts share that, by oversimplifying and over-focusing on the spiritual side of manifestation - aka, by saying something repeatedly to the universe, you make it happen - you miss the whole practical side of manifesting which can truly make the practice work.

"Just because you visualise you won’t get Covid, doesn’t mean you won’t get - and spread - it," explains Stocks. "Just like visualising and affirming losing weight won't happen if you continue to practise unhealthy habits," she continues.

There are a whole load of methods bouncing around on the social media app that Lidford and Stocks don't necessary endorse. Take the 33 method, for example. "Bloggers say that al you have to do is write down what you want 33 times a day," explains Lidford. "There's even the three, six, nine method of writing down what you want three times in the morning, six times in the afternoon and nine times in the evening," she shares.

While these can offer short term feel good benefits, they can actually be harmful in the long term, they warn. "They don't take into account the realities and challenges you may face along the way," both experts share.

Plus, manifesting is about much more than wanting something and actioning it - it's about the alignment of your desire, emotions, and beliefs around the desire, they share.

How to manifest: a woman looking at the sky

Common manifestation myths

1. It’s a sign

"I keep seeing this topic pop up," shares Stocks. "No, it’s not a sign. Tik Tok and the Internet are doing the maths, and by engaging with particular videos, you’re telling the app you want to see more of this!," she explains.

2. Think positively, and that'll be enough

"This often translates negatively - people think they don't need to study for exams or exercise to be healthy, for example. Positive thinking is a good thing, but not if it becomes delusional or isn’t followed up by action," Lidford shares.

Ally Head
Senior Health, Sustainability and Relationships Editor

Ally Head is Marie Claire UK's Senior Health, Sustainability, and Relationships Editor, nine-time marathoner, and Boston Qualifying runner. Day-to-day, she works across site strategy, features, and e-commerce, reporting on the latest health updates, writing the must-read health and wellness content, and rounding up the genuinely sustainable and squat-proof gym leggings worth *adding to basket*. She's won a BSME for her sustainability work, regularly hosts panels and presents for events like the Sustainability Awards, and is a stickler for a strong stat, too, seeing over nine million total impressions on the January 2023 Wellness Issue she oversaw. Follow Ally on Instagram for more or get in touch.