A Therapist Unpacks TikTok's 'Delulu' Phenomenon

Gen Z is intertwining fantasy with ambition, using 'delulu' as a tool to navigate their uncertainties and fears.

By Jourdan Travers, LCSW | October 3, 2023

"Delulu is the solulu": that's Gen Z for "delusion is the solution." Is the newest TikTok trend, a grandchild of the manifestation movement, worth taking seriously?

Originating within the sphere of social media, specifically TikTok, the buzzword "delulu" initially centered around dating—a strong belief that someone could be interested in you, even when all signs pointed elsewhere.

Over time, it has evolved into a versatile mindset, with people applying it to various domains of life. It's about faking confidence so convincingly that you can turn your aspirations into reality, even when the odds seem stacked against you.

In many ways, "delulu" is an offshoot of the manifestation craze that has swept through social media in recent years. However, "delulu" takes the concept a step further by translating these manifestations into real-life actions, based on no real evidence whatsoever.

Here are two hidden aspects of "delulu" that might help you use this knowledge to your advantage.

1. Confidence And Self-Belief Pave The Path To Success

The "delulu" trend emphasizes the importance of confidence and self-belief to achieve success in all areas of life. Believing in oneself and one's abilities can be a powerful psychological tool to overcome challenges such as imposter syndrome, and allow you to seize opportunities.

Psychologically, self-belief is closely tied to self-efficacy—the belief in your capability to accomplish tasks and goals. Research has consistently shown that individuals with higher self-efficacy tend to set higher goals, persevere in the face of adversity and ultimately achieve more.

For instance, a study published in Learning and Individual Differences found that students with high self-efficacy pursued mastery goals, aiming to challenge themselves and gain new knowledge, as well as performance goals, seeking good grades and outperforming others. Further analysis revealed that they are successful because they can control their impulses, self-regulate their actions and persist even when faced with challenges.

Here's how a "delulu" mindset might actually end up boosting your self-belief:

  • It can push you out of your comfort zone. Being delusionally hopeful might nudge you to say "yes" to challenges you wouldn't normally dream of accepting. Realizing that you are capable of far more than you thought can fuel your self-belief like little else.
  • It's a great replacement for negative self-talk. Replacing the voice of the inner critic with the voice of a delusional fan helps you see opportunities in the bleakest of scenarios. But be careful not to overuse this tactic, lest you completely lose sight of your weaknesses.

2. Manifestation And Positive Thinking Fuels Your Journey To Growth

Since this trend is also seen as an extension of the manifestation craze, you can focus on the psychological principle of positive thinking in envisioning success to gain actual achievements.

Positive thinking is not just hollow wishfulness. It's a compass that guides us toward our goals. Research indicates that maintaining an optimistic mindset plays a crucial role in maintaining confidence in your abilities, thus propelling you toward effective goal pursuit.

For instance, a study published in Personality and Individual Differences exploring the role of optimism in pursuing goals and well-being found that optimism significantly enhances perceived progress toward goals and commitment. Specifically, participants with optimistic personalities reported more significant advancements in their personal goals compared to pessimists. This suggests that optimists tend to have higher expectations of achieving their goals, which, in turn, fuels their commitment and progress.

The "delulu" mindset, therefore, has the potential to turn your dreams into reality. Here's where you can begin:

  • Visualize success. Spend time each day visualizing your career goals and envisioning yourself achieving them. Your thoughts act as blueprints for your actions. When you vividly imagine your career goals and believe in your ability to achieve them, you set the stage for making those visions a reality. The more detailed and realistic your mental images, the more compelling they become.
  • Practice gratitude. Cultivating gratitude is about acknowledging and appreciating your current opportunities and achievements. This not only fosters a positive outlook but also acts as a magnet for more positivity in your life.
  • Affirmations and journaling. Create a daily practice of positive affirmations that reinforce your self-belief. It could be something as simple as, "I am confident and capable of achieving my dreams." Journaling can also be a powerful tool for tracking your progress and identifying specific areas where positive thinking is making a meaningful impact.


The "delulu" mindset reinforces once again the power of belief and self-talk in turning ideas into action with success. As with any social media trend, the deluge of "delulu" needs to be taken with a grain of salt. However, writing it off as just another gen Z whim might come at a cost. It's not a coincidence that most successful people, when looking back at their younger selves, cite the delusional hope they had back then as the fuel that propelled them through the toughest parts of their lives and careers.