Manifestation: Myth or merit?

Members of the West community discuss their experiences with manifestation culture.


Defne Bayman

Crystals are a common form of manifestation among West High students.

Crystals, angel numbers, vision boards and tarot cards — one may wonder what these seemingly separate things have in common. The answer lies in the manifestation culture recently gaining popularity on TikTok.

Manifestation is a practice used to claim a future reality, whether it’s fortune, love, good grades or anything else one desires. One theory of how it works is through a process called neuroplasticity, which is the ability of the nervous system to grow and adapt in response to stimuli. For instance, repeating positive phrases aloud triggers the brain, leading to changes in one’s thoughts and actions. For those who frequently practice, manifestation can strongly impact their emotions and mindsets.

Since everyone who manifests does it in a way that is most effective for them, it can take various forms. Popular methods include repeatedly writing down affirmations, using the powers of crystals, creating a vision board or interacting with social media posts. These methods of manifestation have increased in popularity in the past few years, especially due to social media platforms like TikTok. 

The idea of manifestation was first popularized by Rhonda Byrne’s 2006 novel, “The Secret,” which discusses how one’s mindset can directly affect their life. Byrne states in the novel that the Law of Attraction is the force responsible for manifesting our beliefs. She suggests that the energy of one’s everyday thoughts influences their life experiences. For instance, if the mind is filled with positive thoughts, it will bring positive results into a person’s life. 

This is where the Placebo Effect comes into play, a phenomenon where the brain is powerful enough to convince the body that it is receiving treatment, which in turn improves a person’s physical condition and mental health. It is traditionally used to understand the effects of newly invented medical drugs and treatments, but it also plays a significant role in manifestation. When applied to manifestation, positive self-talk and affirmations trigger the brain into believing its reality. 

“I think people do it just to put good, positive vibes into the universe, putting good stuff out there. Nothing bad’s going to come out of it, so why not?” Niles Granfield ’24 said.

Manifestation has provided Olivia King ’25 with comfort in their relationship with themself.

“When I decided to make the switch from, ‘Oh, I hate myself’ to ‘Oh, that was funny,’ it was the best thing I could have ever possibly done for my mental health,” King said.

Manifestation has increased in popularity, especially due to social media platforms like TikTok. For example, when Amelia Douglas ’24 was unable to compete in show choir competitions after spraining her ankle during her first performance, she became involved in manifestation through interacting with TikToks. In these videos, creators often instruct viewers to create a particular reality by liking, commenting and sharing the post — this is what got her hooked.

[When] you can manifest that you’re in control, you can manifest that everything will work out.

— Amelia Douglas ’24

“I scrolled through TikTok when I was bored; I saw those videos, and I was like, ‘Okay, so I’m going to interact with this so I don’t get any more bad luck,’” Douglas said. “I like to think it helps because you can’t really control what’s going to happen in the future. [When] you can manifest that you’re in control, you can manifest that everything will work out.”

Along with social media interaction being a means of manifestation, many individuals turn to using crystals. They believe these special rocks give off positive energy, providing them with a sense of personal empowerment and healing powers for the body, mind and soul. Nowadays, having a tangible object that embodies faith, spirituality and security ultimately draws people to crystal manifestation. 

“I believe that they make me happy because they radiate good energy. And once I start thinking it’s not working out, I will switch out my necklace or carry different crystals with me,” Douglas said.

While acknowledging there are many factors outside of people’s control, for many individuals, manifestation creates a greater sense of happiness. Douglas considers belief in the process to be essential to manifestation. 

“I know a lot of people who think it’s just nothing. I think that to an extent, crystals aren’t going to heal a bullet wound or anything, but they can heal your energy,” Douglas said. “A lot of these kinds of energies and manifestations [are things] that you have to believe in before it works, and if you don’t believe in it, you won’t really see results.” 

AP Psychology teacher Camille Crossett believes that people should be cautious about relying too heavily on manifestation.

Maybe it will work out exactly the way you want, but I think it’s an error in judgment to say, ‘If I hope for this, then it’s going to happen.’ I think that is powerful, but you shouldn’t rely on it.

— Camille Crossett, AP Psychology teacher

“If you are hoping that everything’s going to work out for you just simply because you manifested it, that might be problematic because I don’t think that’s accurate,” Crossett said. “Maybe it will work out exactly the way you want, but I think it’s an error in judgment to say, ‘If I hope for this, then it’s going to happen.’ I think that is powerful, but you shouldn’t rely on it.”

Despite manifestation not having substantial scientific claims as to exactly how and why it works, King believes that manifestation is healthy when maintaining a balance between believing and working towards your goals. 

“I think a lot of people see manifestation as just ‘I don’t have to do any work because the universe will make it happen for me,’ and I think some people who manifest think that way,” King said. “I can’t say ‘I will pass my test, but I’m not going to study at all.’ You’ve got to do a little bit of studying and a little bit of manifesting.”