Here’s How To Know If You’re Manifesting Wrong

It’s not just about positive thinking.

by Natalia Lusinski
Photo by Malquerida Studio/Stocksy

When you think of manifesting, what comes to mind? Is it fleetingly wishing for something? Longing for it? Or calling it into being by reciting affirmations each day, hoping they’ll come true? To understand what manifesting truly is, it’s important to get familiar with the common misconceptions surrounding manifesting. “People often think that manifestation is something that happens to us, not through us,” Monica Berg, author of Fear is Not an Option and Rethink Love, tells TZR in an email. “They talk about it as though it’s some external happening, as though something tangible will come into their lives through magical attraction or belief alone.”

For instance, if we meditate on what we want, we will draw it to us. If we wish for something, or if I carry my crystals or my good luck charms with me (not that there’s anything wrong with these or that they don’t have their place), then all my dreams will happen in no time.” She says while it’s easy to buy into these “manifestation-made-easy” promises, it’s also easy to mistake thought for action. “While we know that thought is a powerful element in creating from, thoughts alone — without action and follow-through — won’t achieve much,” she explains. “They make a great first step in manifesting, but from there, it’s up to us to continue the process.” So how do we do that — and not do that? Ahead, Berg and other manifestation experts explain how you may be manifesting incorrectly. But don’t worry — they’ll also help steer you in the right direction.


Misconception #1: It’s Instant Gratification

One thing people may expect from manifesting something — like a new job or partner — is instantaneous results. “Instant gratification is the status quo in our modern culture,” says Berg. “We want everything, and we want it yesterday.” Case in point, she says just walk down the aisle of any grocery store and you’ll find package after package of “instant” this or that. “We pop a frozen meal in the microwave instead of cooking and we send a text instead of taking the time to call,” she says. “This isn’t a judgment — rather, it’s a commentary on where we are as a society today. But manifestation isn’t on the insta-list.” She says it takes time, commitment, effort, and a real desire to step into that space of cocreating with the universe. “Manifesting positive change involves thoughtful preparation and a willingness to watch the pot and stir it every day, like a slow-cooked soup.”

Gabby Bernstein, New York Times best-selling author of nine books and the forthcoming Happy Days: The Guided Path from Trauma to Profound Freedom and Inner Peace, agrees. “We live in a hustle culture — we prize action and hard work,” she tells TZR in an email. “And while there’s nothing inherently wrong with this, true manifestations don’t happen unless we also learn to allow. Manifesting is not getting. Manifesting is not pushing. If you’re manifesting correctly, you’ll feel a sense of peace and calm.” This means that you’ll allow yourself to wait without anxiety, she adds, and you’ll know that the universe truly has your back.

Misconception #2: Trying Too Many Things At Once

Another misconception around manifestation is that people try several methods at once. Perhaps you’ve heard of the 3 6 9 Manifestation Method, wherein you write down the thing you’re manifesting three different times a day: three times, then six, then nine. Or perhaps you’re reciting a certain positive affirmation or intention nonstop. Or you’ve made a vision board with all your wants and desires. But does “the more, the merrier” work when it comes to manifesting? “When we want to create change in our lives, we go into doing mode — I see this all the time,” Bernstein says. “We think that the more action we take, the more quickly our manifestation will come into form. Even the most spiritual people do this! We read spiritual books, we create vision boards, we meditate, pray, we go to therapy — we do, do, do till we’re exhausted!” Don’t get Bernstein wrong: There’s beauty in the doing, “But when we’re exhausted and burned out, we’re not in a receptive state,” she explains. “We’re not an energetic match for what we want to receive.”


Misconception #3: Not Understanding The Reasons Behind Manifestation Practices

Rachel Gibler, manifestation expert and spiritual teacher, just launched a manifestation quiz that can help you find the best manifestation tool for you. And, speaking of which, “the biggest mistake I see people make with manifestation is trying to do all of the ‘spiritual practices’ they see taught by the spiritual community — without actually understanding the true reason for these practices in the first place,” she tells TZR in an email. “I see a lot of people get caught up in the ‘doing’ — meditation, journaling, pulling Tarot cards, reading all the books, saging the house, speaking their desires out loud, and so on — without truly understanding the purpose and then wondering why their manifestations aren’t coming to fruition.”

She says, if done correctly, these things can work when you tune inward and become aware of your thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. But the common mistake is, people try to do the practices, thinking that will get them results, yet they are still thinking the same thoughts and believing the same things. “No amount of meditation is going to deal with the limiting beliefs going on in your mind, though — they repel our manifestations rather than attract them,” she says. “Therefore, these tools end up becoming a Band-Aid and aren’t actually used as they are intended, leaving people feeling burnt out, and like manifestation ‘doesn’t work.’ When really, it’s the approach behind the practices that needs the attention.” But once you can rewire your subconscious mind to be on board with your desires — meaning you truly believe you can be, do, and have anything — only then will you raise your vibration and your desires will manifest, she adds.

Misconception #4: It Is About The Final Destination

Liza Colpa, 500-RYT meditation and yoga teacher with several manifesting meditations on Insight Timer, thinks wellness manifestation leaders need to stop treating manifestation as a one-way ticket to getting everything you want. “Rather, it’s a journey that can show you that you are worthy, and help you embody and attain anything and everything you will ever need,” she tells TZR in an email. “Trust that when you say, ‘I want to manifest a higher income,’ know that it will come via a journey — not just a destination.”

Misconception #5: It Is The Same As Accomplishing A Goal

Berg also says it’s important to remember that manifestation is not the same as the completion of a goal or the winning of external prizes or accolades. “Manifestation is an internal, delicate, and often slow-moving process — it’s not a one-upping of any kind,” she says. “In fact, it has nothing to do with competitions or comparisons. It is not control-based or fear-based (at least, not the positive kind of manifestation).” She adds that it’s also not a goal in and of itself. “It may involve a vision or an aspiration we imagine for ourselves, but the idea of manifestation has no inherent finished product — because, in truth, there never is a finished product. We are never complete; we are always and ever becoming.”

Misconception #6: Getting Attached To A Certain Outcome

Maria Concha, manifestation coach, speaker, and founder of lifestyle brand Manifesting Ninja, says a common mistake people make is getting attached to a specific outcome. “Yes, getting clear on what you desire to manifest is important, but just as important is being flexible with the outcome knowing that it could be ‘this or something better,’” she tells TZR in an email. “When you are so rigid and linear, you miss out on creative possibilities for things to manifest because you are too fixated on only seeing it your way. And most of the time, the universe has a way better plan than we could’ve ever imagined — if you are open to it.”


Misconception #7: Manifestation Is Just ‘Ask And You Shall Receive’

Let’s say your friend just got a new job and she says she “manifested it.” As nice a thought as that is, it’s just not that simple. “Manifestation is not just asking for something and then having it manifest out of thin air,” says Concha. “Your beliefs, emotions, and thoughts affect how you show up in life and how you show up affects your results. So, yes, it begins in the mind, but it takes more than just thinking your way to it, especially if your thoughts and actions are out of alignment with what you wish to see manifest.” Your friend likely put a lot of energy into applying for a very specific position at many companies — and the universe listened. Perhaps other companies, too, reached out to her. It seemed like magic and to happen overnight, but in actuality, it happened over time.

“I think what most people miss is that manifesting begins from within,” Concha explains. “It is the result of what you create with your beliefs, it begins there. What you see in your reality now are the seeds (thoughts and emotions) you planted at a certain point in your life and if you pay close attention, you will see the correlation between your thoughts and what you have in your life. Your emotions are your guidance system.” She says the key is to pay attention to the way you are feeling when you are thinking about something — it’s an indication if you are in the process of attracting something you want or something you don’t want. “You get what you think about whether you want it or not,” she adds. “Ultimately, you always have the option to choose better thoughts, ones that serve you and the outcomes you desire. We’re manifesting all day long because we’re thinking and feeling all day long. But whether it’s intentional or by default is up to you.”

How To Manifest The ‘Right’ Way

Similarly, Berg says manifestation is all about process — it’s about bringing potential into being. “Manifestation works through the micro-currents of our lives,” she says. “It’s small change after small change that accumulate to manifest the big changes. Think of it like the seed of a beautiful fruit tree. If you set it on the table and hope or wish or imagine that it will become a tree, you won’t be very successful. But if you do nurture it, it can become a towering fruit tree that bears fruit for generations to come. The same is true for our soul and for the things we want to manifest in our lives.” She says that the key is to understand that the process of manifesting anything in our lives is a multi-step pursuit. In brief, she says it involves a) committing to our own personal evolution; b) tuning into our deepest passions, desires, and hopes; and c) engaging in incremental, steady, and constant action toward our dreams. “In other words, it’s change. It’s growth. It’s creation,” she adds. “And there’s always another level of wisdom to find, another layer in ourselves to shed, and more light to reveal in ourselves and others.”

Another way to look at it is to envision a slab of clay, she says: It is pure, unmet potential. “Nothing happens to it until a sculptor creates a vision and molds it into a form,” she explains. “We, too, are sculptors of our soul. So everything matters… everything we think, say, do, or desire. All of these manifest into our potential. We are solely responsible for the outcomes of our lives.” Berg says this is empowering because if we are willing to act — to change, transform, and improve each day — that’s the way we become master sculptures.