Being 'delulu' in work and relationships is all the rage. A therapist explains when the mindset can help or hurt you.


The recent rise of the word "delulu" on TikTok has caught the attention of many users. Originally coined by Korean pop fans in 2014, "delulu" is a playful term used to describe wishful thinking and extravagant fantasies. It has since evolved into a catch-all term on the internet, representing behaviors and attitudes ranging from endorsement to disapproval. While online, "delulu" should not be confused with the clinical term "delusional", which refers to a belief in something not rooted in reality.

The hashtag #delulu on TikTok has gained significant popularity, with 3.2 billion views. Users often create videos and comments emphasizing the power of "delulu" as a solution to different situations. Although it is mostly used light-heartedly, applying a "delulu" mindset to personal goals, relationships, or career aspirations can have both positive and negative consequences.

In an interview with therapist Amelia Kelley, she shared insights on how being "delulu" can be beneficial in certain scenarios. For instance, daydreaming about a crush can be enjoyable and may even help build the confidence needed to express one's feelings and ask them out. By being "delulu," individuals can overcome self-criticism and approach their crush with more self-assurance. However, this mindset can backfire if it is continued despite discovering that the crush is unavailable or not interested, leading to disappointment and frustration.

Similarly, being "delulu" about career goals or personal aspirations can be motivating. Setting ambitious goals, even if they seem implausible, can push individuals to strive for excellence. Kelley shared her own experience as a therapist, where she initially felt inexperienced working with people with drug addiction. Despite some delusion in thinking she could handle the job immediately, the "delulu" mindset propelled her career forward. Nonetheless, she emphasized the importance of backing up this mindset with action, such as attending training sessions to gain necessary skills.

When it comes to big personal goals, like buying a home or moving to a dream city, being "delulu" can also be helpful. However, this requires creating smaller achievable goals and taking action toward them, such as creating a savings plan or researching opportunities in the desired location. Merely fantasizing without any corresponding action may lead to stagnation or feelings of dissatisfaction.

Contrary to its positive applications, Kelley advises against being "delulu" in relationships. Being overly optimistic and ignoring red flags or suppressing one's feelings can undermine authenticity and intimacy. While giving a partner another chance after a mistake can be healthy, it should not compromise one's standards or evade honest communication.

Overall, Kelley suggests that the best way to approach being "delulu" is to be honest with oneself. Before embracing a delusional mindset, it is crucial to ask whether it aligns with one's true desires or if it is driven by the fear of others' opinions. Being "delulu" can be beneficial when combined with authenticity and a genuine understanding of one's own aspirations and motivations.  

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