Writing Your Personal Manifesto

A woman writes in her journal outside at sunseyManifesto: a public declaration of intentions, opinions, objectives, or motives.

As a long-time yogi, I have been setting an intention before my daily practice for more than 10 years. Perhaps it was this habit that prompted me to write my first manifesto in 2004. Gathering healing thoughts and wishes into one short document was enlightening, centering, and deeply positive. Since others have found this process helpful, I wanted to share the method and some suggestions for possible inclusion in your own manifesto.

Guidelines for Writing Your Manifesto

Let it flow. In my opinion, the best thing you can do when you start to write anything is let it flow. As you allow thoughts, feelings, and ideas to take shape on the page, give yourself the gift of writing without interruption. That means both carving out a little time for yourself and not stopping to edit your words. You can revise and rewrite later on.

Brainstorm. Write the word “manifesto” in the middle of a blank page and let your mind wander. When an idea pops into your head write it in a circle around that central word. Then, focus on each word and write what comes to mind in a line branching out from it.  That may be enough for one day. If you feel like continuing, focus on any word or concept that speaks to you, and think of your wish for your own growth, development, or peace as it relates to that idea.

Daydream. Recent studies show that encouraging your mind to wander in what appears to be an aimless manner actually generates creative solutions to problems and is just as valid as any other kind of “work.” If you regularly keep a journal, or a dream journal, you may find rereading entries gives you plenty of fodder for your manifesto.

Let go. If you have a health issue, you might explore ways to be more comfortable with your body. Think of phrases that help you let go of preconceived notions about your health, and accept things as they are because you can be sure they will change. In situations you can’t control, it is often best to find power in letting go, and allowing what is to be exactly as it is.

Build resilience. During a particularly difficult transitioning period, you may want to focus your intentions on building resilience. Certain life events—such as becoming a parent, taking a job, or moving—naturally inspire new thoughts and wishes. Let your mind wander, and imagine ways you would like to be in this stage of your life. If you are working with a therapist, there may be recurring themes you want to address.

Whether you try some of these suggestions, read the examples below, or just start writing, it is best to remember your manifesto is an ever-changing, fluid document meant to support you on your journey to your truest self. It is not a rigid set of rules or “shoulds” to encourage negative self-talk or critical self-evaluations. Let your imagination run wild. Think of how you would like to live your life, and write what comes from that deep, all-knowing place.

Here are some ideas to stoke your creative process:

  • I embrace my humanity and fallibility.
  • I appreciate every goodness and kindness in my life by practicing gratitude.
  • I allow my body, mind, and spirit the time and space to heal.
  • Every day, I make time for self-reflection.
  • I am exactly where I am supposed to be in this moment.
  • I get outside and let nature work its magic.
  • All I seek is already within me.
  • I tenderly acknowledge the small, vulnerable child in myself and others.
  • I surround myself with beauty.
  • I give my body the movement or stillness it seeks.
  • When I feel hopeless, I let myself take another breath until despair departs.
  • I regularly tune in to nourish any areas I have neglected, whether social, creative, physical, spiritual, or intellectual.
  • I acknowledge my losses and grieve, letting go when the time is right.
  • I cultivate patience during the fallow times, for they nourish and prepare me for a bountiful harvest I may not be able to see in those dormant, but fertile, moments.
  • Every day, my heart opens a little more with compassion for myself and others.
  • I allow myself to feel and express all emotions.
  • I carefully and authentically share my truth.
  • When I say or do something insensitive or thoughtless, I apologize.
  • I take all the time I need to be with grief, hurt, and anger, knowing they will pass.
  • Appreciating my unique gifts comes easily and naturally to me.
  • I rise to the joys and challenges of each day, knowing I have made it through every one, so far.
  • I allow life to unfold and surprise me.
  • I welcome the rhythms of my body, mind, and spirit as they continually evolve.

© Copyright 2011 by By Nicole Urdang, MS, NCC, DHM, LMHC. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • JUDY

    June 24th, 2011 at 5:03 PM

    Self-manifesto-sounds like a good idea to take a peek into our inner selves and to better understand ourselves. After all, knowing yourself is the key to achieving anything you desire!

  • MEDA

    June 24th, 2011 at 6:24 PM

    I always start out with the best of intentions but then they never last. How do i get that staying power to continue? I guess it has to become a habit but I am never good with nurturing the good habits, only the bad ones it seems ! lol

  • Nicole

    June 25th, 2011 at 6:04 AM

    Hi Judy,
    You’re right, knowing yourself is they key. Acting on that knowledge is the next step.

    Hi Meda,
    To help your waning resolve, I would use the five minute rule:
    just do the thing you want to persevere with for five minutes. After those pass, see if you can stick with it another five. Pretty soon, you’ll find your inertia keeps carrying your forward. If these are things you really want to do, you will eventually feel so good from doing them that that will increase your motivation, and sticking with them will get easier and easier.

    Thank you both for your comments.

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