Agency vs Quick Fix Manifestation Practices on Social Media

By Zamm Zamudio

Individual agency, the ability to make choices and control one’s life, stands in stark contrast to the trend of instant ‘fast and lazy’ manifestation practices popularised on social media. These practices often promise quick results with minimal effort, appealing to those seeking immediate gratification. However, the reliance on such practices can have significant implications for personal agency and daily life.

The Allure of Instant Manifestation Practices

Social media is awash with content advocating manifestation practices that claim positive thinking, repeating affirmations, or commenting ‘amen’ can achieve desired outcomes. These approaches to manifestation cater to the human inclination for quick fixes and the allure of reaching goals with minimal effort. Their ease and accessibility make them especially appealing in a digital age where instant gratification is frequently sought.

Psychological and Societal Factors

1. Desire for Immediate Reward: The human brain is naturally inclined to seek immediate rewards, a phenomenon known as temporal discounting. Immediate rewards are more enticing than future gains because they offer instant pleasure and satisfaction. This is why practices that promise quick results with minimal effort are so appealing.
2. Cognitive Ease: People naturally gravitate towards solutions that require less cognitive effort. The promise of manifesting success through simple affirmations or visualisations is cognitively less demanding compared to the hard work and sustained effort needed for real achievements.
3. Avoidance of Discomfort: Effort and persistence often involve facing challenges, failures, and discomfort. Manifestation practices offer a way to avoid these unpleasant experiences, providing a sense of control without the associated hardships.
4. Consumer Culture: Modern consumer culture promotes the idea that happiness and success can be bought or achieved quickly. This culture reinforces the belief that external solutions and quick fixes are viable paths to fulfilment.
5. Social Media Influence: Social media amplifies the visibility of seemingly effortless success stories, creating unrealistic expectations. Influencers often portray a curated version of reality where success appears easily attainable, encouraging followers to adopt similar, low-effort approaches.
6. Peer Pressure and Social Validation: The desire for social validation drives people to follow trends that are popular or endorsed by their peers. Engaging in manifestation practices can be seen as a way to fit in with social circles that value these approaches.

Impact on Personal Agency

1. Erosion of Personal Responsibility: Instant manifestation practices can undermine the sense of personal agency by promoting the belief that success and fulfilment come without effort. This mindset diminishes the recognition of one’s ability to influence outcomes through deliberate actions and hard work.
2. Passive Dependency: Reliance on these practices fosters a passive approach to life. Instead of taking proactive steps to achieve goals, individuals may become dependent on superficial rituals, expecting external forces to deliver results. This passivity can lead to stagnation and a lack of meaningful progress.
3. Reduced Self-Efficacy: Self-efficacy, the belief in one’s ability to succeed, is crucial for agency. When manifestation practices fail to deliver the promised results, individuals may experience a decline in self-efficacy. This can result in feelings of helplessness, decreased motivation, and an overall reduction in the ability to take control of one’s life.

Personal Agency vs Quick-fix Manifestation on Social Media - Tarot Zamm Tarot Reader

Daily Life Implications

1. Finances
Example: An individual might believe that repeatedly visualising wealth will bring financial prosperity without taking tangible steps such as budgeting, investing, or seeking additional income sources. This reliance on manifestation can lead to poor financial management and missed opportunities for growth. Impact: Without proactive financial planning and management, individuals may find themselves struggling with debt or lacking savings for future needs, perpetuating a cycle of financial instability.
2. Career
Example: A professional might use manifestation practices to wish for a promotion or a dream job, neglecting to enhance their skills, network, or actively pursue new opportunities. Believing that simply visualising success is enough can result in career stagnation. Impact: Lack of effort in skill development and career advancement can lead to missed promotions, job dissatisfaction, and a lack of professional growth, ultimately affecting long-term career prospects.
3. Relationships
Example: Someone might use manifestation techniques to attract a romantic partner or improve a relationship, without addressing underlying issues or making meaningful changes in their behaviour and communication. Impact: Relationships require effort, communication, and compromise. Relying solely on manifestation can lead to unmet expectations and unresolved conflicts, causing strain and potential breakdowns in relationships.
4. Personal Development
Example: An individual might believe that manifesting self-improvement is sufficient, without engaging in activities that promote growth such as learning new skills, practising mindfulness, or setting and working towards personal goals. Impact: Personal development is a continuous process that requires active participation. Without taking concrete steps, individuals may feel unfulfilled and lack progress in their self-improvement journey.

Beliefs and Thought Processes

1. Belief in Magical Thinking: Magical thinking is the belief that one’s thoughts can directly influence the physical world. This type of thinking is reinforced by manifestation practices that claim thoughts and affirmations alone can bring about change, appealing to those who prefer simplicity over complexity.
2. Optimism Bias: Optimism bias is the tendency to believe that one is less likely to experience negative outcomes and more likely to achieve positive results compared to others. This bias makes people more susceptible to believing that manifestation will work for them, even if it seems implausible.
3. Locus of Control: Individuals with an external locus of control feel that their lives are dictated by external forces beyond their influence. Manifestation practices appeal to them as they provide a perceived sense of control without necessitating direct, proactive efforts.

Right and Wrong Beliefs

1. Over-reliance on Positive Thinking: While positive thinking can be beneficial, over-reliance on it without action can lead to passivity and inaction. The belief that thinking positively is sufficient for success is a misconception that undermines the value of effort and perseverance.
2. Misinterpretation of Success Stories: Success stories often highlighted in media and social platforms are typically the result of hard work and dedication, though this effort is not always visible. Believing that these successes were achieved through manifestation alone leads to unrealistic expectations and disappointment.
3. Cultural Myths and Narratives: Cultural narratives that glorify instant success and overnight achievements contribute to the belief that quick, effortless solutions are possible. These myths overlook the incremental progress and setbacks that are part of most success stories.

Reclaiming Agency

To counteract the allure of ‘fast and lazy’ manifestation practices, it is essential to reclaim a sense of agency by:
1. Setting Realistic Goals: Establish clear, attainable goals that require effort and planning. Break down larger objectives into smaller, manageable tasks to maintain motivation and track progress.
Example: Instead of visualising wealth, create a financial plan with specific savings goals, investment strategies, and a budget.
2. Cultivating Self-Efficacy: Engage in activities that build self-confidence and reinforce the belief in one’s abilities. Acknowledge small wins and learn from setbacks to enhance resilience and perseverance.
Example: Take professional development courses or workshops to enhance career skills and actively seek feedback for improvement.
3. Embracing Effort and Persistence: Recognise that meaningful achievements often come through hard work and persistence. See challenges as opportunities for growth and recognise effort as essential to success.
Example: Work on relationship skills by practising effective communication, empathy, and conflict resolution rather than relying on affirmations alone.
4. Mindful Social Media Consumption: Be critical of the content consumed on social media. Seek out sources that promote realistic and actionable advice, and avoid those that promise effortless success.
Example: Follow financial advisors or career coaches who provide practical tips and strategies instead of influencers promoting instant wealth or success.

Final Thoughts

The tendency to sacrifice agency for instant gratification through ‘fast and lazy’ manifestation practices is deeply rooted in human psychology and societal influences. This appeal stems from the desire for immediate rewards, cognitive ease, and avoidance of discomfort, compounded by consumer culture and social media impact. By recognising and addressing the flawed beliefs behind these behaviours, individuals can reclaim their agency, fostering a more proactive and realistic approach to achieving their goals and navigating life’s challenges.

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