Why I don't believe in vision boards
Vision boards have always been a thing for me. As a bit of a dreamer, they were the perfect fit. When things were feeling stuck or uncertain, I’d visualize how I’d like my life to be and relish in the energy of an exciting new future.
Sometimes it was in the form of workshops where a group of hopeful women would gather together with stacks of old magazines and plenty of glue, anticipating the outcome of a new life envisioned.
Some would be light about it, using it as an opportunity to tune in to the greater desire. A little bit of a giggle and a lot of desire. The outcome, a renewed sense of clarity.
Others, less so.
Years after “The Secret”, the powers of manifesting felt fully entrenched and I could see it in the somewhat desperate attempts to make a new life stick. Literally. With a margarine ad glued to a piece of black cardboard.
My approach was somewhat less determined. I didn’t really buy into the “see it and it will come” thinking, but did believe that in the power of attracting what I desired. Afterall, wasn’t that what all the new-age, spiritual masters had been teaching us for years?
And so, along with many others, I’d visualise how I’d like my life to be and then bring it to life with images. A simple enough concept that changed how I felt in the moment.
For me as an Enneagram Type 7 (Enthusiastic Visionary), the sense of satisfaction it brought isn’t entirely surprising. I love the feeling that comes from anticipating an exciting future. The planning, the hoping, the imagining.
Because it’s not here. It’s there. And that’s where the fun is. That’s where the relief is. As if everything is going to be ok. No, not ok. Amazing. The future is going to be amazing.
And then I discovered Tosha Silver.
Tosha is a California-based writer whose book “Outrageous Openness” completely changed my thinking.
My interpretation is this:
When we create vision boards (or any other tool focused on “manifesting”), we’re essentially deciding what we believe is best for us. We’re suggesting that our choices are right, that our dreams have to come true and that our demands should be met. And all else is disappointment. The universe denying us our wishes.
Hmmm, I feel a bit of a flash-back to the all-punishing God of my Catholic upbringing. No thanks.
But that’s what manifesting is, isn’t it?
It’s saying to the universe: “Look, I know what’s best for me, but I understand that you, all-knowing universe, can’t possibly be clear on what I want you to do for me until I make it really, really obvious for you. So I’m going to put it into pictures so that my order is clear and you can’t mess it up. Ok? Are we clear?”
A bit like drawing a burger for the waitress in case she gets confused about what you want.
Except the universe isn’t a waitress.
And maybe a burger isn’t what you need right now.
And that’s the whole point. Maybe a burger isn’t what you need right now.
When we get caught up in the manifesting machine, we can get obsessed about what it is we think we want and think we need. We end up spending so much time and energy chasing the details that we miss the bigger point.
We aren’t in charge here.
We aren’t even vaguely in charge.
And yet we keep trying to control and guide and force and change, in the hopes that if we’re really, really clear on what we want, the universe will magically make it happen.
But yet, maybe not.
And when it’s the maybe not, we blame ourselves. Because obviously we weren’t manifesting properly. And so we add yet another thing to the list of what we’re doing wrong in our day.
What started out as an attempt to visualise a happy future backfires because we attach ourselves to those dreams.
We start believing that this has to happen, that money will come, that house must be manifested.
And when we operate from a place of attachment, we’re saying 2 things:
1. We’re telling the universe that we know best – so we close ourselves off to broader, richer learnings and opportunities
2. We’re saying that any other outcome is wrong – so our lives become about right and wrong, black and white, this, not that.
There’s more colour to the picture than that. And, thanks to Tosha, I now understand that we’re cutting ourselves off from a greater sense of ease and joy when we try and have it our way.
So here’s what I suggest instead:
1. Yes, visualise your future – the clarity that comes from this is often enough to shift you to a sense of inspiration and optimism
2. Be clear about what you want– but do so in terms of how you want to feel rather than the specific way it shows up
3. Let go of the idea of manifesting– instead of placing an order with the universe, allow yourself to be guided by something greater
4. Forget the details– instead of attaching to what you think is meant for you, allow yourself to be open to unexpected outcomes
5. Don’t take any of it seriously– the intention is to raise your vibration to a place of expansiveness and ease, not fear and grasping.
So does this mean I’ll never create a visionboard again?
No. It’s fun. But maybe I’ll throw it away when I’m done :)