Manifestation Madness

We're All Delulu Here

The clinical term turned cutesy catchphrase might actually be the secret to achieving your dreams.

TikTok has a habit of rebranding just about anything. According to the app, you’re not hungover; you’re having a bed rot day. You’re not immature; you’re simply a teenage girl in her 20s. And now, you’re not out of line or daydreaming; you’re just “delulu.” Short for delusional, the clinical term turned cutesy catchphrase may just be a new form of manifestation across the platform and beyond, meaning delulu culture might actually help you live the life of your dreams.

The tag #delulu has more than 2 billion views on TikTok, and after the glamorized rebrands of the past few years, it’s clear that users have no problem leaning into all things unhinged. Under the tag, users are sharing the relatable shared delusions they have — like looking for Taylor Swift Easter eggs in literally anything or making up any excuse for why your ex blocked you. But TikTok also has the reputation of turning legitimate psychological terms into overused Internet lingo (looking at you, toxic and gatekeep) but being “delulu” might not be a bad thing after all.

Some say being “delulu” is a necessary part of their life, the first step toward manifesting their every desire and reaching personal enlightenment. (Manifestation content is a gold mine itself on TikTok, with the hashtag garnering nearly 50 billion views.) And Laura Chung, manifestation expert and author of How to Manifest, thinks TikTok’s latest viral term could really inspire self-actualization.

The expert says that the most important part of manifestation is having the utmost confidence that whatever you want will come to you in some way, and if that’s considered delusional, then that’s just show biz, baby. “I’ve always believed anything is possible, and not knowing how it was going to happen is part of the delusion,” she tells Bustle. “I do believe that the people who are delusional end up making some of the most beautiful things in this world.”

Traditionally, delusions have been known as false beliefs or symptoms of a legitimate mental illness. But according to Chung, this negative connotation with the word “delusion” and its subsequent rebrand into “delulu” online may also be subconsciously gendered. It wouldn’t be the first time in history gender played a role in how beliefs were perceived — in the 19th and 20th centuries, women were diagnosed with “hysteria” in response to symptoms we’d now consider normal: shortness of breath, anxiety, and general stress. Now, instead of being labeled hysterical, women might hear that they’re being delusional when really they’re just confident.

“We live in a patriarchal society where mediocre white men have such a high level of confidence and delusion.”

Chung says, “We live in a patriarchal society where mediocre white men have such a high level of confidence and delusion that literally when they don’t have much going for them, they will put themselves out there. They will ask for the raise, they will ask for the job, and they manifest because they believe [in themselves].”

Women are less likely to do all of those things, but with exposure to what is possible — seeing self-made female millionaires or successful executives, creators, and more online and IRL — it’s easier than ever to believe they can reach those heights. Seeing content from their delulu sisters taking over FYPs surely helps, too. Maybe delusions aren’t really that unbelievable after all.

Of course, some of the delulu content out there is purely for laughs and likes, but according to Chung, there are limits to manifestation. For example, a lot of the content under the tag features users sharing the “delulu” logic they think of to excuse uninterested behavior from potential partners. “[I see people saying,] ‘I’m delusional. They totally like me.’ No, they don’t,” she says. “I think that’s the kind of delusional that gets a little harmful.” Chung says that in order for delusions to work as a manifestation tool, your behavior has to be backed by some self-awareness. Willful ignorance doesn’t do you any favors.

Keep in mind that you can only control yourself, and that manifestation works best when paired with action. If you want love, practice self-care and prepare yourself to receive it. If you want to land that next big gig, update your resume and look at every social engagement as a networking opportunity. But don’t ever think there is a limit to how great you can be and what you can accomplish. After all, everything monumental that’s ever happened has probably started as someone being a little bit delulu.

“At one point, a delusional man was like, ‘I'm going to go on this boat and sail across the world. I don’t know where I’m going. I don’t have a navigation system, but I want to find whatever I’m looking for,’” Chung says. “For better or for worse, it worked out for them. So it’s like, why aren’t you delusional? Why aren’t you more like ‘Yeah, this is possible’?”


Laura Chung, manifestation expert and author of How to Manifest