“Delulu is the solulu”, is the new mantra that Generation Z embraces, an idea that could be translated as “self-illusion is the solution” and that is gaining ground by leaps and bounds among the youngest as a way to feel better, gain self-confidence and achieve their dreams.
Don’t you like the real world? Make up another one. Don’t you like yourself just the way you are? Imagine that you are someone else. Is your ex not returning your calls? Get excited thinking that at some point he will do it. And if it seems to you that this propensity to deceive oneself is delusional, that’s because it is.
What is delulu? Meaning and origin of a concept that is causing a sensation among young people
Delulu is a term that comes from the English word delusion. Curiously, it originated around 2014 to refer to the K-pop fan community, specifically, to describe the delusional behavior of some who are firmly convinced that they will end up having a relationship with their idol.
However, over time its meaning has transformed to become a way of facing life, a mentality that thousands of young people are identifying with and that encourages them to explore the potential of developing a delusional degree of confidence on themselves while they build castles in the air and believe they can do anything.
The delulu era: fantasize about your life, recreate your world…
Magical thinking has always existed. And it will continue to exist. Delusions have always existed. And they will continue to exist. Every time things look bad, we are tempted to invent an alternative reality in which everything is better. Delulu is nothing new under the sun.
The problem is that this trend is now going viral among Generation Z and among younger millennials as a “coping” mentality and strategy – although it would be more correct to call it avoidance – that can generate positive results. The term, which has already become an attitude, refers to the process of making the seemingly impossible possible, or at least trying to do it – because we already know that there is usually a long way between saying and doing something.
A young TikTok user commented: “I think that being deluded is one of the key factors to being happy in this generation. Remember that staying delulu is the solulu (solution). Think positive.” Therefore, we could be entering a “delulu era” – with all that that entails, for better or worse. Just think that delulu videos have more than 4.8 billion views on TikTok.
Is living in Delululand the solution?
Immersing yourself in the delulu mentality to change our thoughts, break down the internal barriers that hinder us and dare to pursue our dreams is positive. In a way, embracing that playful and daring concept can give us a dose of self-confidence. And sometimes, that’s the push we need to get out of the comfort zone and make what we thought was impossible a reality.
In fact, research carried out at the Milan-Bicocca University found that, indeed, the most optimistic people show more significant progress in their personal goals compared to those who are more pessimistic. This is generally because optimism fuels hope, which often prompts us to accept challenges that would otherwise have intimidated us.
However, another study conducted at Southern Illinois University Carbondale found that the most effective students were not only those who challenged themselves and aspired to good grades, but also those able to control their impulses, regulate their behaviors, and persist facing challenges. This means that it is not enough to imagine castles in the air, you have to roll up your sleeves and build solid foundations.
This is demonstrated by another series of experiments carried out at New York University. These psychologists analyzed how we deal with different life challenges, from getting a job to finding a partner or passing an exam. After two years, they found that participants who spent more time recreating positive fantasies had worse results. People who dreamed of achieving their ideal job had actually applied to fewer companies, received fewer offers, and were offered lower salaries.
The answer comes from another experiment carried out at the University of California. In that case, psychologists found that students who visualized their ultimate goal: obtaining good grades, had worse results than those who imagined taking the necessary steps to achieve that goal.
Curiously, the key did not lie in the time dedicated to studying. Researchers believe that visualizing the process, rather than the results, helps us plan each of the necessary steps and gives us the peace of mind and confidence that we need.
The problem with high fantasy and escaping reality is that it allows us to anticipate success “here and now,” but it does not prepare us to face challenges. Without a doubt, being more optimistic and nurturing higher expectations can encourage greater commitment and, therefore, help us progress. But there is a big difference between nurturing a positive attitude in the face of challenges and deceiving ourselves or being delusional.
Feeding illusions is not so harmless, it also carries risks
It is important to be clear that no matter how cool, light and fun the word delulu sounds, at its base is illusion, which implies the loss of contact with reality since it refers to a fixed and false belief despite the evidence indicating the opposite.
Our ability to differentiate fact from fantasy is essential to moving in the world and responding adaptively. We have to take note of what is happening to establish a consistent action plan that allows us to achieve our objectives.
Disconnecting from reality, imagining a better one, is not always the solution, but can often create more problems than it solves. It is true that the delulu mentality can relieve tension and anguish for a time, but in the long term, it is likely that the problems we tried to escape from are still there or have even grown under the shadow of our denial.
In fact, another TikToker commented in a video that was later deleted: “I choose to live like this because it is much easier to live without stress.” At its core, the popularity of the delulu “philosophy of life” speaks of a deep dissatisfaction, either with oneself or with the world around them.
This mentality can offer an escape from reality, but deceiving ourselves daily about our chances of achieving certain goals will not help us learn to deal with frustration, pivot, and be more flexible. This way, when we encounter harsh reality, it will seem even harsher.
Therefore, you have to be careful how you use that mentality. “Delulu is NOT the solulu”, or at least not for everything. We can use it to increase our self-esteem and self-confidence or even to encourage ourselves along the way, but without losing sight of reality. To paraphrase Henry David Thoreau, if you have built castles in the air, do not give up your work; but you will have to lay the foundations under them if you want to build something durable and solid over time.
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