Manifesting without Attachment

I wrote several different possible introductions and titles for this essay, I’m still not entirely settled that I’ve found a succinct way to say it. Because maybe I’m not really talking about “manifesting” at all, but more of an alternative to the concept. In my experience it is clear that to a certain extent, manifesting is absolutely possible. “To a certain extent” has a big asterisk, largely relating to actual material limitations that apply to everyone and especially to those with identities historically made marginal. If I were still on Instagram I would try to link to the first time I saw someone write “is it manifesting or is it white privilege?” This is the issue I take with The Secret or even those who speak of financial difficulties arising primarily from energetic blocks. Sometimes that’s true and sometimes it’s not.

But there’s another aspect of manifesting or “positive thinking” that I would like to challenge. Much of the premise behind this concept is using our conscious awareness, thoughts, and behaviors to support the development of desired outcomes. Our conscious desires and beliefs are often underwritten by unconscious emotions, wounds, traumas, and societal programming that define what we think constitutes a good life or success. Milton Erickson, founder of Ericksonian hypnosis famously said “your conscious mind is very intelligent, but your unconscious is a lot smarter.” I interpret that in two ways: sometimes our unconscious holds more meaningful answers and resources than our conscious mind, and also our unconscious is often running the show outside of our awareness and in spite of our intentions. It begs the question, how do we know that we’re manifesting what we actually need, rather than what we think we want?

Last summer, after quite a lot of successful manifesting intention work in the more traditional sense over the last 5 years, I found myself exploring a different approach. This was a natural extension of my psychic development, which frequently demonstrated in myself and others that our capacity to dream is often limited by our conscious beliefs of what is possible. It’s also shaped by what we believe others expect of us. So I started focusing more on living an intuitively driven life through clarifying my ability to see and feel things clearly. And my goal was centered on staying connected to inner and energetic resources that would support making the next right choice. Instead of seeing what I wanted and trying to bring it to fruition, I worked with the more abstract intuitions of which direction to move, and how to be in the best mental and physical condition to respond with curious awareness.

This started to change my life quite dramatically, and I did notice at the time but it’s especially noticeable reflecting back. Some of the new opportunities, fortunate developments, and not so pleasant clearings of problematic situations and people in my life were completely unexpected and beyond anything I could have imagined. If I had limited my focus to “manifesting” what I thought I needed at the time, it would’ve been so much harder. It would have been much more a continuation of what was already happening instead of a clear pivot. Because that’s a big part of my unconscious belief system, that good things need to be hard. That my life needed to be hard to be valuable. Instead, things evolved and transformed what I could only describe as divine timing.

Another way of putting it is that to avoid our intentions coalescing around hardwired patterns from our past, we need to move towards deeper layers of the unconscious. In the aspects of our core self that predate all that conditioning and experience we find our true potential, all those individual aspects that could manifest into endless variations of future selves. Focusing attention here allows for manifesting to be more about returning to our most innate capacities and purpose, the unique qualities and potential that we cultivate into a more meaningful life that benefits those around us and ourselves.

I’d like present a technique for drilling down into the core, unconscious needs.

Begin with what you think you want or need. Think about what you would like to change, or wish was different.

Now ask yourself how you imagine you would feel if that were true, what are the emotional roots of that desire?

What are the core needs that define those feelings? For example, if you desire romantic companionship, the core needs could be feeling loved, connected, supported and cared for.

Then reorient your desire towards those core needs. Instead of “I want to meet a romantic partner” you might affirm “I want to feel loved and connected, I want to feel partnership and intimacy, I’m open to anything that might satisfy those needs.” 

And then taking it a step deeper would be to acknowledge that some obstacles are unavoidable- there can be learning involved in difficult times or times of loneliness- but also it’s the nature of life that we have ups and downs and sometimes we experience bad luck with no secret meaning. (“Pain is not a punishment and pleasure is not a reward”) 

Connect to some acceptance that perhaps there’s nothing you’re doing wrong in this moment and if so, then so it is. Indeed, feeling different can sometimes come even without material changes.

Consider the action that would support that feeling developing, focus on those behaviors as your collaboration with your intuition.

Frequently we arrive at a few core themes underlying our desires: safety, security, love, satisfaction or purpose, pleasure, and connection (of course there are more). And when we focus on supporting these things into fruition, we open the possibility to dream bigger. Maybe you can even imagine or visualize if there could be other ways you could arrive with the same feelings, other ways you could feel satisfied. Sometimes just this slight opening of willingness can help us to see where we jump to preconditioned ideas of what we need or what will make us happy, when actually there are many more routes to get there. Or even ways that we already have more than we thought.

How can you be more open to imagining futures beyond your current awareness?

What would that look like feel like?

Can you give yourself permission to dream?

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