Research Paper By Ashley Robertson
(Executive Coach, UNITED STATES)
Manifesting has become a popular catchphrase in modern-day culture. Whether you call it manifesting, visualizing, or vividly imagining, manifesting is the act of bringing your goals and desires to life with little more than your thoughts. Assuming your thoughts really can drive your reality and your future, there are staggering statistics available on the amount of negative and toxic thoughts that run through the average human brain daily. According to the National Science Foundation, an average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day. Of those, 80% are negative and 95% are repetitive thoughts. Suddenly, the idea that thoughts become our tangible reality is quite terrifying. Many people are moving around on auto-pilot in their daily lives, being and thinking negatively, while wondering what the disconnect is between themselves, their high aspirations, and the real results they are producing. Manifesting and visualizing play critical roles in the goal setting and accountability process in a coaching session. Besides, they can shift the entire thought process of a client, helping them self-develop and grow into better and more aligned versions of self.
What is Manifesting?
According to the dictionary, manifesting is “to bring something forth into your physical life experience by using your thoughts, feelings, or beliefs”. This act happens when a person thinks something into life. Also known as visualizing, it can be a very valuable tool to assist clients with getting themselves out of a rut and into a new way of thinking that is far beyond a superficial exercise.
Why is Manifesting Important?
The ability to shift thought from negative to positive, non-responsive to active, and disruptive to production is key in the long-term success and goal achievement of any coaching relationship. This is a game-changing strategy in coaching to help clients pivot to a whole new way of thinking and letting go of thoughts, histories, memories, or traumas that no longer serve them in the current state. Without the ability to shift thinking, clients will struggle to let go of their old ways and transition into better, more successful habits as people.
Study: Manifesting vs Practicing with Kelly & O’Connor
In a study by Kelly and O’Connor, tennis players who wanted to improve their swing from an amateur level to that of a professional tennis player had been practicing countless hours on a tennis court. Through this study, they were instructed to stop playing the physical game of tennis and begin visualizing what a perfect match would look like in intense detail. They thought of how they would feel, how they would articulate their hands and arms to release the perfect swing, and how the ball would land in its exact intended place. Results from the study showed that they were able to improve their game more through visualizing than through the act of physical practice. This study is an amazing example that shows the value of being able to manifest and visualize a successful outcome and then, from that vision, create it. Though this is coaching as it relates to physical sports, the idea likely translated to forms of growth and executive coaching. This powerful example indicates that our minds have limitless power over every other part of our body, even in times when a physical skill has to be developed.
Study: Self Image Study by Dr. Maltz
Long before the word manifesting or visualizing was popular, a doctor by the name of Maxwell Maltz wrote a book, Psycho-Cybernetics, about the idea of self-concept and how people can create their own self-concept and actually do this automatically and without much thought. According to his work, after meeting with several patients as their plastic surgeon, he noticed that some patients have life-altering self-image after their procedures while some were still crippled by their features and unable to move forward and have fulfilling lives. How was it possible that the same surgery could be a game-changing event for half of the clients while the other half were still depressed, distraught, or otherwise afflicted in debilitating ways? This prompted him to begin studying and interviewing his clients before he would perform surgeries on them. He would ask them a series of questions, almost similar to a typical therapy session, and would use the information he learned in these sessions to make assessments on whether or not he thought the candidates needed the procedure versus a mental shift of how they were viewing themselves. One client had what she believed to be a large protruding nose that was keeping her restricted from several promotions and abilities to advance as well as her ability to find a husband and grow a family. Dr. Maltz noted that she had little more than an average nose and was able to see almost no deformity whatsoever. This type of self-hypnotizing was something he was astounded by as there was no logical explanation for why people felt the way they did. He was startled to find that some patients were essentially self-hypnotized and believed things about themselves that were simply not true. In summary, it didn’t matter what Dr. Maltz did for his patients, they truly believed an alternate truth about themselves that could not be reverted. Based on Dr. Maltz’s work, it’s incredible to see how these findings can easily translate to that of a coaching and client relationship. Oftentimes, clients come in and are sure of the way they feel or think about themselves and others and believe their thoughts to be wholeheartedly true. However, once the coaching relationship has been established and the coach can ask deeper questions, it is often found that the issue is in the perception of the coachee versus the actual reality of the situation at hand.
Reality is a projection of your thoughts or the things you habitually think about. – Stephen Richards
Manifesting in Coaching Practice
There are critical questions to ask in eh coaching process to assist a client with creating and manifesting a vision that will be achievable and tangible.
- What does life look like in 3 months, 6 months, 1 year from now?
- What does your success feel like?
- Describe your new success in detail?
- How will this goal be different than others you’ve set?
- What dreams do you want to make a reality?
A client I was working with came to me after having challenges with her ability to get promoted. She felt that she was routinely being passed up for opportunity despite being qualified. Through a manifesting process, she was able to change her mindset from one of negativity and lack of enthusiasm to one of promise and positivity.
Tina had worked in her position for over 20 years when she sought out coaching to better understand why she wasn’t getting promoted. She had a grumpy and disengaged temperament with upper leadership, though line employees loved her. Our session began by her talking through that she is passed up for promotions because she isn’t popular or pretty like her colleagues and doesn’t understand what she has to do. She felt that for some reason, nobody liked her or thought she did a good job, despite being a twenty-year employee of the company. Using the TRUE self-model, we began by doing some basic exercises to mentally prepare the space for our coaching session. Next, we moved into the process of reflecting on her session goal, which was to better understand why she wasn’t getting promoted. We talked through critical questions:
- Why is this so important to you now?
- Why do you think you aren’t getting promoted?
- Where do those thoughts come from?
- What if those thoughts weren’t true?
- What could you do if you were able to reframe this problem into an opportunity?
Through our session, it came out that Tina is very insecure working for women because she didn’t have very good histories with female leaders and they just didn’t like her. After asking critical questions, we progressed to the stage of uncovering these limiting beliefs. Tina started to make the shift and realized that she had contributed some of these thoughts that she had been living for the past several years as she had been overlooked for a role. She couldn’t remember the last time someone had given her negative feedback. Besides, she admitted she hasn’t updated her resume in over ten years and just assumed she was next in line for a role and would therefore receive it. Her ability to shift her mentality from what the world had done to her to a state of understanding what she had been doing to contribute to her own lack of success was a turning point for her. Finally, moving on to envisioning her future, she began with setting goals that were critical to her success in her manifested future role and we acted out a scenario in which someone with her desired future role would behave a certain way. This person would have a printed, up to date and clean resume to be shared professionally at any needed opportunity. This person would dress professionally, be punctual, have an organized office, and be a subject matter expert in their field. They would be well respected, be available to their team, be a steward of good company culture and engagement, and be a true leader in the company. Tina spent the remainder of her time in the session visualizing what her future in this ideal state would look like and committed to spending ten minutes per day envisioning what her future role would be. After several months of coaching on various topics, it became very clear that she was making a shift from a negative mindset to one of positivity, empowerment, encouragement, and progressive thinking. She began focusing in many different ways on how she was a participant in many other things in her life rather than how others were constantly affecting her well being and this gave her the perspective of being the driver in her life as opposed to a helpless backseat position that she had been living in. Within five months of coaching sessions, she was recognized in a one on one with her direct leader for her growth and development and was interviewed for a promotion within three weeks. She ended up getting the role and has continued her efforts through coaching sessions in taking the lead position as the driver of her life and creator of her own goals and visions through manifesting.
While mainstream media has made the idea of manifesting into some type of religion at times, it is truly a magnificent way to help clients push their dream and lofty goals into a reality. Using the TRUE self-coaching model that I created as a template, clients can break the cycle of negative self-defeating talk and transition to empowering and productive thought processes. The beauty of manifesting is that it transitions to every facet of life and every type of goal. Whether someone is trying to run their first 5k, get a promotion, become a better leader or spouse, or save money for their first home, the same rules apply. Clients only need to recognize the limiting beliefs they’ve held in the past and how they have contributed to their own current state and then make the shift by envisioning what their ideal state would look like. Once that shift is made, it can be applied over and over again with ease. Clients must understand that this is a journey and an act of habit. This cannot be something that is thought about one time and never again. It must become engrained as a tenet in how issues are thought through and tackled. Mastering this, or even taking an interest in focusing on manifesting is the first step to success.
Kelly. P, Visualization of Tennis Swings for Coaching.
Maltz, M. Psycho-Cybernetics 2015.