Subscriber OnlyOpinion

‘Money and I are best friends’: The influencers promising that manifesting will make you rich

Delulu, the latest TikTok take on positive thinking, has a familiar whiff of late-stage capitalism meets luxury mindfulness

Here is a video of a young woman with blonde highlights and a smattering of chin acne. She smiles serenely for the camera, patting her temples like a woman applying an expensive eye cream. “I am so incredibly abundant,” she says, in time with this rhythm. “Money flows to me like water. Every single day money arrives to me. It is not hard for me to make money. In fact, it’s easy.”

“Money and I are best friends,” she intones, “We love each other. I love money and money loves me. Money is constantly seeking me.”

“Delulu”, a nomenclature for “wilfully delusional”, is the internet’s latest take on positivity thinking. The term originally comes from K-pop where it described a fan’s over-zealous infatuation with a crush. You can be delulu about a potential romantic partner – they haven’t called you because their feelings are too intense / they’re just really busy/ have been eaten by witches – insert as appropriate. You can be delulu about your career prospects. And today, if TikTok trends like money manifesting, wealth mindset, the law of assumption and the #777 method are indicative, the biggest delusion involves a girl’s love affair with her bank balance. If she can’t afford a down payment or to pay off her student loans, then why not light a candle and engage in some visualisation?

Delulu may be the solulu but it’s not particularly…new. It’s close to bootstrapping – that neoliberal love story that anybody can “make it” if they simply work hard enough and believe in themselves (and that failure is a personal blight for not doing so). It’s arm in arm on a hot girl walk with the messaging of daytime and reality TV shows like the X-Factor and Oprah, preaching self-belief and manifestation. It’s bed rotting with The Secret, a 2006 bestseller on the Law of Attraction, in turn influenced by Wallace D Wattles’s 1910 classic, The Science of Getting Rich. Made over on TikTok, they distill to the same idea: you can remake your economic circumstances if you only will it hard enough.


Start with a clear vision. If it’s a house you want, most guides have you visualising the property in minute detail, furnishing it on Pinterest and living in it rent-free in your own head until it takes form around you. Alongside the vision, comes the crucial delusion: “an invincible and unwavering FAITH” as Wattles puts it “that the thing is already yours; that it is ‘at hand’ and you have only to take possession of it…”

If it’s money, TikTok tutorials suggest you write the amount on a piece of paper. “If you believe you’re going to get paid to exist, you will,” says @Romaneexvirgara, a TikTok business influencer with 100k+ followers. “Think about a certain amount of money you wish to call in.” Virgara instructs “Do NOT worry about the how. That’s not up to you to decide. That’s up to the universe.” If you don’t manage to delude yourself into better material circumstances, the reason is not systemic inequality – it’s not even a lack of hard work – but spiritual karma, that your goals and the frequency of your thoughts and beliefs are fatally misaligned.

Delulu is not to be confused with Lululemon, the expensive activewear brand with €90 leggings and a Namaste insignia, but there’s the same whiff of late-stage capitalism meets luxury mindfulness. I watch TikToks of money baths with milk and honey (to attract abundance) and money spells using kitchen spices and bay leaves that are guaranteed to inflate your bank balance.

Don’t blame the universe; be angry with the economic system. Get mad that you can’t afford that house or healthcare or an education

Who said that “anything we can do, we can afford”? Money is a magical object and TikTok knows it. I watch influencer Kathrin Zenkina (aka @manifestationbabe) explain that money isn’t real. Don’t we get it yet? Money, she says, is energy, and energy is infinite, limitless, boundless. All we need to learn is how to transfer the energy of the universe into tangible cash by creating value. It’s really that simple..

But why is delulu having a moment now? Well, without a clear pathway to anything resembling financial security, why not hope that the universe might manifest some certainty? In 2010, philosopher Lauren Berlant called this outlook Cruel Optimism, putting a name to the comforting stories we tell ourselves despite all evidence to the contrary, tales of hard work rewarded, upward mobility, happily ever after or romantic love come good. But positive thinking can be harmful if the system is broken. Sometimes what we really need is a reality check.

Berlant wrote Cruel Optimism in the aftermath of the financial crash when, despite some fairly dense academic language, it had a mainstream appeal. She wrote about economic precarity, something that was felt by families struggling to hold onto their houses and people facing into retirement with massively diminished savings and those graduating into the recession. Now we’re watching a new generation staring down the barrel of economic and climate catastrophe. Their future looks grim. Here in Ireland, the possibilities for home ownership or financial security for younger people are as spare as in the years following the financial crash. Mass emigration is once more the norm. (Maybe that’s the real delulu). Is there anything wrong with being a little delusional in the face of economic meltdown, with trying to wish yourself into a better material reality? Or is this energy wasted? Don’t blame the universe; be angry with the economic system. Get mad that you can’t afford that house or healthcare or an education. Maybe these are the feelings that we should be manifesting.