The Unbothered Mind

Be delusional

Updated May 18, 2022
Yellow background with smiling pink and blue flower

This weekend, I decided to exercise the confidence of a mediocre white man and do something pretty ludicrous: I put a page up on my website letting folks know that I am available for speaking engagements.

But one thing isn’t ludicrous: I know I can do it.

Now, if you, like me, have tended to be part of the “act only if you have great certainty,” or the “maintain an iron grip so you can soothe yourself with the illusion of control” crowd, then acting on sheer chutzpah might seem a little scary. Needing to line things up so that they’re perfect before taking action is territory I know many of us tread in.

But I also know that waiting around for perfection has rarely ever served me. And so I decided—as the TikTok trend says—to be delusional. [Ed. note: Kierra Lewis‘ original “Be delusional, forget being realistic” video is down now, but all credit to her for starting this trend!]

The thing that’s great about being delusional is that by making outrageous choices without artificial limits on yourself, you can just have lots of fun. It’s actually a little bit Zen: if it’s about fun with no attachment to the outcome, you really can just live in the present moment.

Plus here’s the wildest bit: adopting a hefty obliviousness to reality can actually shift reality itself. Once you decide that you can actually make choices that are far beyond the field of what you thought as acceptable to you, things open up to you.

For a lot of people healing their body image, there’s a certain “fake it till you make it” stage involved. When you are changing the entire paradigm of how you have talked to yourself for much of your life, you need some scaffolding. But going from berating yourself for how ugly you are on a daily basis to saying “I’m beautiful!” in front of the mirror really just doesn’t work for most people.

One tool that helps is to preface phrases like “I’m beautiful,” with things like “I am open to the possibility that…” or “I know one day I’ll believe that…” Actually, my kid taught me this weekend that, when they are picking out an intentionally positive thought about themselves, they use the extraordinarily powerful preamble “I acknowledge that…”  When you shift those thoughts in your mind, people can see it radiating through you—you really do become more beautiful. 

Because of the body image work I’ve done over the years, I’m pretty sure I operate at a certain level of delusion every time I go out in public. In my mind, I look just as cute and sassy as I did when I was half the age that I am now. But my belief that I’m a cute and sassy young babe is a thought that just serves me so much better than “godDAMN why I do look like such a frumpy-ass MOM all the time?!” 

To me, the secret of living a good life comes down to this: you don’t have to believe your thoughts. That’s really it. When I have a mean thought about my appearance, or I find my anxiety kicking into gear, I try to remind myself that that thought is just that—a sentence that is running through my mind, and not “proof” of anything. It is a finger pointing at the sky, as Geneen Roth says, not the sky itself.