Delusion Weeks: The TikTok Trend That Teaches Us How To Motivate Ourselves

We all have things we'd like to change about our lifestyles. Maybe you want to wake up earlier or have a more organized calendar. But no matter how much we talk about transforming into healthier, more productive versions of ourselves, we rarely put those changes into action.

There's no shortage of strategies and philosophies for achieving your goals, from simple tricks of positive reinforcement to complex theories of manifestation. However, engaging with those strategies usually takes a level of self-motivation that's hard to muster. And when you know you won't succeed, it's all the more tempting to not try making those changes at all.

Luckily, TikTok, the ever-reliable source for lifestyle innovations, has a new idea for becoming the best version of yourself: delusion weeks. This growing trend appears to be the ultimate fake it 'til you make it life hack, but the realities of deluding yourself into success may be more complicated.

What's the delusion week TikTok trend?

The delusion week trend is fairly straightforward, with TikTok users attempting to improve their lifestyles by spending a week living as the people they wish they could be. In other words, "deluding" yourself into thinking you're capable of these big life changes. If the perfect version of yourself would wake up early to make a healthy breakfast, then during your delusion week, that's what you do. The hope is that through having a delusion week, you'll adopt better habits and improve your lifestyle long-term.

The delusion week trend was started by TikTok user Danielle Walter, who shared a video explaining her delusion week goals. In the intro video for her delusion week, Walter credits the creators @kaylinmally and @taycrums for inspiring her to pursue this new lifestyle approach.

Explaining why she chose to only have a week of being delusional, Walter says in the video that "to completely hijack my life without an end date feels too big so I'm just starting with the week." Other TikTok users quickly picked up on the idea to make changes on a smaller, less intimidating scale and started sharing their own seven-day lifestyle makeovers.

How to do a delusion week

If you want to have a delusion week, start by making a list of changes you wish to make. Keep in mind that you'll only be doing this exercise for seven days, so focus on the changes you could implement on a daily or weekly basis, such as household cleaning or a new bedtime routine.

Once you have a list, decide how they would fit into your current lifestyle. You may have to rearrange your usual routine to make time for new tasks or activities. After you finalize your delusion week to-do list, choose when the week will be. For the best results, you should do your delusion week during an ordinary time in your life. You can't make super meaningful changes if you plan a delusion week during a family vacation or major holiday, as these are already disruptions to your normal routine.

During your delusion week, take time at the end of the day to reflect on how it's going. Make note of what new habits help you the most, and if anything surprises or challenges you. Be open to modifying your delusion week as you go — if multiple mornings of waking up early have left you exhausted and irritable, there's no reason to keep doing it. At the end of the delusion week, you can look back on what you enjoyed most about your new routine and make a plan for how you'll stick to those habits going forward.

Does a delusion week actually work?

So, will a delusion week work? As psychologist Amanda Cassil, Ph.D., describes to Elite Daily, delusion weeks follow the same system as behavioral activation therapy, which "can be effective for treating depression and helpful for people who struggle with internal motivation." This works on the basis "that if you do healthy behaviors, regardless of whether you feel motivated to do them, eventually your mood and thoughts will improve."

Behavioral activation is a skill used in cognitive behavioral therapy, usually for treating people with depression. This treatment method is grounded in the idea that people feel better when they change their behavior (via Healthline). That sounds pretty intuitive, but when someone is dealing with depression or low self-esteem, they often don't feel up to doing the things that make them feel better until they already feel better, thus creating the dead end that perpetuates depression. Behavioral activation therapy helps people navigate out of that dead end by guiding them toward performing healthy behaviors even when they don't feel healthy yet.

In light of how difficult it can be to get into the right mindset to improve your lifestyle, it makes sense that a structured behavioral activation exercise could be quite useful. That said, behavioral activation isn't the right fit for everyone, and delusion weeks can easily fall into the trap of perfectionism.

The downside of TikTok's delusion week trend

Delusion weeks are theoretically a great way to jumpstart a new era of personal thriving, but there's no guarantee that the strategy will work for everyone. It's good to make positive life changes, but during a delusion week, you might put too much pressure on yourself to be perfect on the first try. Perfectionism usually ends up being counterproductive to achieving goals. If you become too fixated on being perfect, you may develop such an aversion to failure that you'll give up on trying (via Psychology Today). A delusion week will only have a positive effect on your motivation if you stay flexible and willing to explore new solutions when your first plan doesn't work out.

Depending on the challenges you face, a delusion week might be a bad idea in general. The concept of a delusion week is supported by the effectiveness of behavioral activation therapy to treat depression, but that method is only appropriate for certain people in certain situations. If your lack of motivation is related to trauma or severe emotional dysregulation, "faking it 'til you make it" probably isn't the best solution. For an alternative, you may want to look into dialectical behavior therapy skills, which focus on mindfulness and emotional regulation as a path to behavioral changes, per Cleveland Clinic.

If you or someone you know needs help with mental health, please contact the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741, call the National Alliance on Mental Illness helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), or visit the National Institute of Mental Health website.

How to find sustainable motivation

Part of what makes delusion weeks so appealing is that you only need to stay motivated for seven days. While this is a much more approachable goal than aiming for a permanent change, eventually the delusion week ends. If you want to keep the momentum going, you'll need to find a more sustainable source of motivation.

Motivation can be extrinsic or intrinsic. According to Psychology Today, extrinsic motivators are outside factors, such as money, security, or praise from others, while intrinsic motivators are our internal curiosities and passions. For living your best life beyond one delusional week, try to identify both the extrinsic and intrinsic motivations that compel you. Having a strong understanding of why you want to make changes might make you feel more connected to maintaining healthy habits.

Remember that as cute a phrase as it is, a delusion week is fully grounded in your real actions. If you're able to "pretend" to be your ideal self, there's no reason you can't be that person for much longer than just one week.