Thanks to the increasing conversation around wellness and self-care, the reawakening of charismatic Christianity and books like “Think and Grow Rich”, “The Secret”, “The Law of Attraction” and “The Power of Positive Thinking”, the idea of “manifesting your dream future” is gaining waves around the world, especially post-COVID-19 lockdown. A practice that’s vaguely Christian at times, pagan other times, what is “manifestation”, does it work and is it the Nigerian secret to success or the bane of our existence?
What does it mean to manifest?
No, it’s not to show signs of demon possession. The basic definition of “manifestation” is using your thoughts, feelings and/or beliefs to bring something to physical reality; the “conscious creation” of circumstances that lead to a fulfilling life. You may think it’s a variation of more common religious practices like praying or meditating. And you would be correct; manifestation goes hand in hand with spirituality after all. However, while it is based on science and inspires most religious beliefs, many approaches have turned manifestation into a pseudoscience.
There are several approaches to manifesting. People use affirmations, chants, prayers, special “angel” numbers, scripts, lightwork or they just daydream for hours. Special objects, associated with ethnic cultures, like crystals, cowries, relics, sigils, rosary, etc. also feature in many manifestation routines, as well as psychedelics. But what was once a way to raise our vibrations and connect to the universe has become a means of escaping work and responsibility.
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It seems all the average citizen can do these days is hope for a better future than their present. So of course, many have turned to “manifesting” as a way to accomplish something they have no control over when they’re powerless to make any real change. All you need are your dreams and a strong creative mind to imagine how nice it would be if, no, when, they come true. Perhaps it is better than the previous generation’s penchant to “settle” and be content.
Great, right? So what’s the downside?
Well, even Christianity says “faith without works is dead”. Manifestation compels you to stay positive and the universe to align with your positivity. But the last, important element most forget is “doing”. When you believe you can get your dream job, for example, instead of worrying about it, or focusing on the many reasons you can’t get it, you work hard to get into a good school, get all the scholarships you need to do that and get an excellent grade to be qualified for the particular job. Then you gain even more positivity to aspire to higher levels. “Where your focus goes, energy flows”, or so Tony Robbins famously said.
When you believe your country will be great again, you work hard to get all the qualifications and exposure you need to navigate politics, engage in community service at the grassroots level, maybe research the demographic so you can make the moves that matter, build a viable political party or get into an existing one, and work your way up. Nigerians, however, do not truly believe Nigeria will be great again, not in their generation anyway. One might say that’s why our prayers and manifestation haven’t worked so far. The Nigerian dream is to successfully leave Nigeria for good.
Final words on manifestation
Some manifestation guides suggest that believing in something creates it. Many religious leaders encourage us to “pray without ceasing” and believe. Not much is said for action. On the other hand, the science-based approach says that if we truly believe we can achieve something, we are willing to put in the work to achieve it. Manifestation takes work. To manifest the dream life, we need to believe we can have it, feel strongly enough to be persistent, and ultimately, do the things and behave in the way that will bring the outcomes we desire.