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CBT, The Italian Job, and That Thing We Call Manifestation

Updated: Jul 4, 2023

This coffee-shop stranger confirmed what I'd suspected all along about manifestation. Here's to you for inspiring me to write it down.

by K.T. Anglehart

Something is happening to me. Everything is suddenly, dare I say, in sync.

I went to bed last night knowing I had to get the hell out of the house. I needed to be by myself and concentrate hard on finishing the draft of the second installment of my book series. It’s due to my editor in a week from now, so I need to kick myself in the ass.

This morning I wasted no time. I got dressed, looked somewhat presentable—you never know who you’ll run unto (this literally crossed my mind)—and had Andy, my husband, drop me off. It’s five minutes from my place, but I hadn’t been there in about a year because I can’t drive Andy’s standard car, so I spend most of my time at home.

The café a five-minute drive away sprung to mind last night. A voice inside of me told me to just go, get your work done there.

Low and behold, this very morning, after a few hours of productive writing time, I overheard two people throwing around words like “TV”, “Screenwriter” and “CBC.”

Being an author and aspiring television writer, my eyes lit up. My hearing became bionic. My body bent conspicuously in their direction to try to catch the context.

It sounded like he was in town from L.A., writing for a TV show here in Toronto.

They were at it for over an hour, and all I could think was, “I need to talk to this guy.” And I could not believe my timing, coming to this particular café. It felt random, but also not. I always believed in the power of the universe, but I never believed it was working for me. At that moment, I did.

I’ve only ever heard about this sort of thing on those incessant, annoying social media ads. The ones where some rich coach tells you their lives have changed and they’ve manifested everything they’ve ever wanted. Funny, I’d think, it seems everyone is able to do that except me.

And if you’re a target of these trendy ads, you know what they all say. The way to manifest is to write down exactly what you want and routinely visualize yourself attaining these goals. Feel like you’ve got it…bask in it...soak in the feeling…expect it to come. They make them all sound so freakin’ easy. “It’s like magic!”

First, you need to know something about me: I’m a believer in magic, the universe, all that New Age stuff. I love it. In fact, I consciously weave these concepts into my urban fantasy book series.

Wait. Don’t discredit me yet. I know most of you believe in this stuff too. How else did The Secret become such a success?

As much as I’m a dreamer, I’m also a skeptic. I recognize that things don’t come easy. That one doesn’t just plaster a MINI Cooper on a mood board and get it. I’ve been a fan of MINIs since The Italian Job—and tiny spoiler: I just bought one…as my first car.

Did I manifest it? I’m now convinced that I did. But not in the traditional way people claim. See, before the magic came the science.

Let me explain.

My MINI wasn’t thanks to a mood board. Back in August, I made the decision to step away from my marketing job. I’d been neglecting my writing—the second book in my series—and it was making me spiral downwards. Also, very honestly, as perfectly nice as my team members were, I felt I lacked a connection with most of them that I couldn't quite pinpoint. There was nothing keeping me there, except the (pretty good) money.

I took a break. For mental health, definitely, but also for the dreamer in me, if there was any such part of me left. I knew that if I never finished my book series, I’d always feel terrible about myself. I’d always feel like I failed as a storyteller. Because in the end, that’s all I am. In my core, bones, blood, brain, soul, I am someone who needs to tell stories. Hopefully inspiring ones, or else I have no idea what the hell I’m doing on this planet.

Where was I?

Right. Something is happening to me.

And I’m excited, a sensation I haven’t felt in a while. I’ve read and learned a lot about synchronicities—when beautiful things happen that seem like coincidences but, really, it’s the universe at work. That metaphysical tap on the shoulder. A divine nudge, if you will.

I love me a good divine nudge.

Winter hit (still jobless). I’d almost finished my book two draft, with a looming manuscript deadline to my brilliant editor. I was writing full time, with zero obligations other than feeding my two new bunnies and entertaining my dog. Sounds perfect, right? It’s every writer’s dream, working all day on their creative pursuits.

I’d never felt so miserable.

I was putting so much pressure on Andy and on my art that it began to crush me, and as a new author, it would be a while before I could live entirely off of book royalties. I knew it would be time soon to find a new job. And I wasn’t going back to the old one.

No regrets about my much-needed break, though. I’d finished my draft, sought therapy—there’s the real magic—and discovered I had persistent depressive disorder. It’s a “lighter” form of depression, wherein my mood basically plunges into darkness on most days for around two years, at least. Which made sense because the pandemic really messed me up. As it did most people.

My point being that this diagnosis really was magic for me. I was relieved that there was a name for this horrible state I’d been in for the past couple of years. That it wasn’t just because I was not (yet) a bestselling author, or a TV series writer.

Mindful of my negative thought patterns, my therapist and I worked on cognitive behavioural therapy, or CBT.

Once again, magic.

Truly. Like, I could not say enough about it. It’s changed the way I look at literally everything. Suddenly, I don’t just think of the worst possible scenario. I don’t attach any outcome to anything at all, actually.

Which brings me back to manifestation, and to all of these weird synchronicities that are happening to me as I write this story. People are under the impression, no thanks to these “life coaches”, that you need to expect to be able to receive, whereas I’m learning every day that it’s not about expecting.

It’s about accepting.

Because what’s the point of wanting something so badly but not knowing why you want it, or why you’ve been keeping yourself from having it in the first place? It’s skipping a whole, kind of huge, important step.

What I’m trying to say is: The digging into your psyche part is the first step to manifesting. It’s far from sexy, but that’s the truth of it.

Understanding how your mind works, why it’s thinking a certain way, what has been holding you back all this time, that’s both the barrier and springboard. That’s what’s keeping you from getting what you want, and what’ll launch you towards the path that will get you there.

If you neglect the part of you that’s essentially shaped all of your present-day desires and disregard the fears that have kept you stagnant, then simply try to materialize a car out of thin air, guess what’ll happen?

Your fears will find you, and they’ll stop you. That is why you are having trouble manifesting.

That cycle of “I want this.” > “How can I manifest this?” > “Why haven’t I got this yet?” will continue to be just that. A cycle.

A cycle of “I want.” And “How?” “Why?” “I want…"

“I want. I want. I want.”

So, what am I saying? I’m saying to stop the stupid shortcuts. Stop thinking the next manifestation coach to target your profile is the Holy Grail to all of your problems. Dig deeper. Get into it. Get messy, as Ms. Frizzle would say. Pinpoint what thought patterns are keeping you from getting your proverbial MINI Cooper. Are these thoughts serving you? What would happen if you changed your thoughts and behaviour towards certain events in your life?

Disclaimer: There’s tons more to CBT than this, so if you’re intrigued, start delving into it and if you can, seek a certified cognitive behavioural therapist.

Because now, after being in a deep dark pit for a while, I suddenly have an income, the car of my dreams, a book draft that I’m not ashamed to show my editor (it was a shit show for the longest time, I promise), and hope to still someday write for television.

The latter is thanks to this café stranger.

Right! The event that made me HALT WRITING MY BOOK and write this story. (I’m sorry, Rachel, I’ll get you these pages on time, I swear.)

They’d been chatting for over an hour. Finally, the CBC woman had to leave, and I heard the writer say he was hanging around; he had another meeting nearby shortly.

Boy, did I ever swoop.

“’Scuse me,” I began, after not-so-casually approaching his table. He turned around looking a little perplexed, but curious. “I’m an author who wants to get into TV writing. I couldn’t help but overhear a little bit, and I was wondering if I could email you sometime to ask about your journey. Sorry if this is weird,” I added shamelessly.

That was it. My big pitch.

To my relief, he smiled. “Absolutely! Well, I’ve got time right now.”

If this wasn’t a synchronicity, I didn’t know what was. What is happening was all I could think over and over again.

Our chat was natural. Effortless. And he almost immediately made a Harry Potter reference, so I knew he was good people. This person came into my life for a reason, I knew he had. In that short, strange encounter, he—as a relatively new screenwriter—reassured me that the path I’d chosen as an author and a working professional was not a false one. I’m not a corporate sellout, and by not chasing the TV dream every day, I was not leaving it entirely behind. It could just as easily find me through my books someday, which could someday be converted into a series (yes, please). And with little pressure on my art, I could always submit pilots to development executives. “Ya never know.”

“Oh, I first wrote my book as a series actually,” I said.

“Well, feel free to send it to me!”

I’m not saying this is my in. That’s not the point of this story. Even if we were never in touch again, I consider today a divine nudge. A not-so-subtle whisper from the universe that I’m more than okay where I am.

See, just a few months ago, I’d wished for an answer to why I was so down. Why I couldn’t get what I wanted. I’d wished for freedom. For money. And for hope in my long-awaited dream of someday having my own TV series.

I didn’t get all of those things in one fell swoop, like so many manifestation coaches promise. It was more of a snowball effect, growing from a single snowflake that I took the time to inspect, analyze, and appreciate before rolling it slowly but surely uphill.

Once I pick up my new car, I plan to come back to this café on some days. On other days, I’ll see where the road takes me.

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