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  • Writer's pictureBrandy Howell

When Manifestation Breeds Toxic Positivity

Updated: Oct 17, 2022

First and foremost, I want to say that I think the ideology behind manifestation is, at its core, quite lovely. It breeds hope and endurance. It helps those struggling to march on. In and of itself, manifestation is a tool to help overcome and achieve. There is no world where I am going to think that is a bad thing.


There is a darker side to nearly all ideologies, and this is no exception. It hides behind good intentions and gritted teeth, and it is called TOXIC POSITIVITY—and it is very real.

Now, these two things are in no way mutually exclusive. Manifestation does not always breed toxic positivity. Toxic positivity does not always grow from a seed of manifestation. They can thrive happily without the other—each an independent catalyst to help or hinder respectively.

BUT in my own world, within the social groups I’ve found myself in, I have noticed more often than not that they tend to skip hand in hand when others pay little heed. Additionally, removing the consequences of manifestation’s more extreme ideology—I have always found the idea of manifesting to be...dangerous for some.

Dangerous to be positive?

Look, even I know how ridiculous that sounds.

But hear me out.

Manifestation puts you at the center of everything—the little battery that could—powerful enough to run your own universe and then some. Yet, no matter how determined or strong your power...some situations are completely out of our control. This is not an opinion.

This is a fact.

As a society, we have developed this idea of creationthat what we put into the universe WILL surely come back—that manifesting and believing with all that you are will give fruit to a dream or goal.

But when the outcome is poor or downright abysmal, who or what is to blame?

This is where it can get dangerous if you are not careful.

Suddenly it is as if YOU have somehow become responsible for the outcome of things.

The wheels begin spinning, chugging out thoughts of

“Maybe I did not want it enough”

“Maybe I did not truly BELIEVE”

When in reality, your lack of success is oftentimes completely out of your control.

I feel like this is ESPECIALLY true in the arts. You can have all the talent and drive in the world and die underfed and unknown. On the flipside, someone with only an ounce of talent and half the heart may skyrocket to best seller in a matter of months. (This is not to discredit them or their work. I wish all writers and artists grew in success with ease.)

But now ON TOP OF not achieving your goal, you must fight thoughts that this outcome is somehow your fault AND you must deal with the toxic positivity taking root beside it.

Now, I am going to be honest here... I am somewhat of a conditioned pessimist. I try and I fail, and I do it over and over again out of sheer will and nothing else. I tend to expect the worst and hope for the best, and I cling to my own tenacity like it is a shield against the world.

As an adolescent, I had to fight to withstand a cruel world, and let me tell you...hope does not win wars when you are running on fear. No one is BORN a pessimist. We are conditioned into it. I became a ward of the state after my single parent died unexpectedly, and at that point, there was no amount of manifestation that was going to keep my head above water.

Instead, I became good at other things—at surviving and evolving, at persevering and dreaming quietly. Failure and disappointment became my bread and butter quick, but I was just happy not to starve—so I ate it up and kept going, and I don’t think I have stopped since.

And while the idea of manifestation may be alien to someone like me, I respect it for what it wants to be.

What I do NOT respect is the toxic positivity that tends to nip at its heels.

But what is toxic positivity?

It is the “Good Vibes Only” mentality

“Just Stay Positive”

“Think Happy Thoughts”

“Find the Good”

“Negativity Attracts Negativity”

“Happiness is a Choice”

“It Could Always Be Worse”

These are just a few very common examples, but each one is aimed to do the same thing: DISCREDIT HEALTHY EMOTIONAL RESPONSES.

This is where positivity turns TOXIC.

Failure is normal. It is expected to a degree. It should be used as an opportunity to grow internally and externally. Having OPEN discourse about fears and failures is arguably just as important as manifesting success.

YET negative discourse is oftentimes discouraged within certain social circles.

I have found this especially true within my own social circles.

I was on submission this entire last year. At the beginning of the process, I was convinced my manuscript would sell. Six months in and I became TERRIFIED it would not. When I reached out to my circle, I was almost shamed for speaking those concerns out loud—as if breathing my fears into the universe was going to give them POWER.

But I just wanted to talk.

I wanted to make a plan—to move forward and try again. Like I said, I may be a conditioned pessimist, for better or worse, but I never quite figured out how to just fucking give up.

I was never going to stop trying. I simply needed to cry it out and move on.

Toxic positivity birthed from the ideologies of manifestation discourages HEALTHY emotional responses. It does not allow for fear or negativity. It only allows for thoughts that will manifest the desired outcome.

Then, it burdens you with the blame once you fail.

Not only have you failed to achieve a goal, but you are also forced to struggle in silence—which in some ways is almost worse. Manifestation should be used like any other tool at our disposal, but it should not be used to hinder growth or healthy emotional responses.

One should be able to seek out reassurance and voice their fears WITHOUT being shamed into silence.

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but... there are COUNTLESS success stories from pessimists worldwide bitching from their little hovels of gloom. Success has a way of lifting up rocks and bringing light to the dark, just as much as it has a way of lifting up those already floating on clouds.

Manifestation is a beautiful way to live your life. Most of the people I know who truly live by it, do so in a loving and supportive way. However, anything can breed extremists. Positive vibes only may not seem dangerous, but to someone truly struggling it can feel like a blade to the throat.

Do not allow it to hold you or your loved one hostage.

Love the pessimist, the realist, the optimist all the same. Allow for fear and doubt to live in your heart alongside everything else. Feelings should be embraced, loved, and utilized. They should be encouraged so that we can get to the root of them and go from there.

If you completely disagree with me...that is okay too. I tell my big sister all the time that she is gonna have to manifest my dreams for me because I’m out for the count—to which she eagerly tells me she is already working on it! (Honestly, a large part of me thinks she is the battery that runs the universe, so I rest easy knowing my dreams are in the best hands.)

But no matter what, allow others to consider you a safe harbor.

Never discourage someone else from putting into words their fears.

Ask yourself:

Am I being helpful?

Am I being kind and supportive?

Am I truly listening?

If the answer is no, take time to reflect and decide if the person you’ve become is who you actually want to be.

And for hell’s unholy sake...if you need to quit something that has only ever caused you pain--DO IT. Nothing is permanent. You can step away and come back stronger. You can find a new passion, something that lights your soul on fire and never stops burning. This journey does not have to be your first and only.

...Unless you are like me and you never quite figured out just how to give up...In which case, I hope you have a sister or friend capable of holding the world in their hands--who supports your dreams as if they are their own.

And if not, may you find them.

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