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lucky girl syndrome
via TikTok

Is it ‘lucky girl syndrome’ or is it just privilege?

Hmm, I wonder

“I’m so lucky and everything goes my way”. You’ve probably heard this several times on your TikTok FYP page or maybe tried it out yourself. Even I repeated the phrase to myself when I pitched this story.

The term ‘lucky girl syndrome’ first began to gain traction on TikTok back in December, when creator Laura Galebe shared a video about lucky girl syndrome. She explained how she believes she gets “the most insane opportunities” as a result of simply “expecting great things” to happen. A few weeks later, a TikTok video of two girls eating noodles and explaining their experience of lucky girl syndrome went viral. In the clip, which has amassed almost five million views, the pair explain how they passed their exams, got their preferred bedrooms in their house share, and more. Apparently, by repeating the phrase “I’m so lucky, everything just works out for me”, the pair found that more things seemed to work out in their favour.

Now, from Taylor Swift Eras Tour tickets to new job opportunities, other TikTokers have followed suit and are claiming that their wins in life are down to them being “lucky girls” and repeating the affirmation “everything works out for me”. At present, #LuckyGirlSyndrome on TikTok has amassed over 130 million views.

But despite the frilly name, it’s nothing particularly new. This tantalising idea that you can get something, anything, by simply thinking happy thoughts is based on the law of assumption, an idea popularised by New Thought author Neville Goddard. In short, the law of assumption says that you can bring your wildest dreams into reality by assuming that they’re already yours. By removing limiting beliefs and shifting your consciousness, you are able to control the course of your life.

“It’s not just woo-woo shit,” Kaitlin Villatorro, another believer in ‘lucky girl syndrome’, says in a TikTok video. “This is a mindset tool to bring awareness to and catch how often you’re telling yourself the opposite thing; that things are not going to work out, that things never work out for you […] think about what that does to us […] you’ve discouraged yourself before you’ve even gotten started.”

Natasha Ibrahim is a popular creator who shares travel and lifestyle content. She discovered the law of assumption during high school and now aims to “inspire women and people in general to live life on their own terms.” I asked her what is the best thing that she has manifested thanks to lucky girl syndrome. “The life I am living now,” she says, speaking of her brand partnerships, travel opportunities, and frequent first-class flight upgrades. “I am in love with my life. I feel so in alignment with my career and lifestyle.”

Ibrahim explains that this way of thinking has impacted her day-to-day, allowing her to bring in opportunities that may not have come into fruition had she been in a negative frame of mind. “I am able to be present, and I don’t worry about the past or future as much because I know what is meant for me will come easily if I focus on what is happening in this moment,” she says. “It’s also brought me so many opportunities – like this – and I’m surrounded by people that inspire me and think big.”

“When used as a coping mechanism for dealing with unpleasant emotions or the harsh realities of life, positive thinking can become toxic” – Abdullah Boulad

“We are capable and worthy of our dream life and there shouldn’t be friction in getting there,” she adds. “I had to work to develop this mindset over the years but the shifts in my life and who I’ve become are so profound that I want to inspire others to do the same.”

Creators like Natasha are clearly trying to help other people achieve their dreams, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that everyone is totally uncritical of this type of thinking. Just look at one of the many Reddit threads that bash the law of attraction and, in particular, pseudoscience self-help book The Secret, which has had believers mesmerised by its sickly sweet positivity since 2006. And, now, backlash to the lucky girl syndrome trend has kicked off on TikTok. “This trend is so toxic,” says one user, Allie, in a recent TikTok video. “Of course it was started by two white girls.”

“This is ableism. You’re going to tell people with mental and physical disabilities that absolutely cannot be changed by the power of thought that ‘you just have to think positive’? Or people that have [experienced] systemic oppression?” she explains. “Thinking positive, having hope for the future, believing that things will work out in your favour – that’s a great thing. But when we take it too far into toxic spirituality, you hurt people.”

It’s certainly true that majority of the women filming these videos have one thing in common. Ultimately, as most of the things do in this inherently unfair world, so-called lucky girl syndrome boils down to privilege: whether as a result of a woman’s skin colour, race, income or ’attractiveness’. There’s no skirting around the fact that things will come easier for you if you’re not from a marginalised group. And when it comes to the “problems” that the “universe” is solving, it’s usually first-world problems anyway: like wanting a promotion at work or aspiring to travel more.

From a mental health professional’s perspective, the lucky girl syndrome trend has both its good and its bad points. While the trend has similar traits to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, positive thinking to the point where it becomes delusional can do more harm than good. Abdullah Boulad is behavioural specialist and founder of The Balance. “It has been demonstrated that positive thinking stimulates brain areas related to pleasure, social connection, and self-control. Additionally, it can lessen the amygdala’s activity, which is what causes stress and worry,” he explains. “But when used as a coping mechanism for dealing with unpleasant emotions or the harsh realities of life, positive thinking can become toxic.”

“This may result in a lack of self-awareness, unreasonable expectations, and disillusionment,” he continues. “It is crucial to recognise and deal with unpleasant feelings and circumstances while also looking for and concentrating on the positives in order to strike a balance between applying the law of assumption and avoiding ‘poisonous positivity’.” Boulad adds that it’s important to remember that the law of assumption is not a universally applicable answer, and that positive thinking has its limitations. “You need to be open to various approaches to problems. Lucky girl syndrome may result in a failure to take responsibility for one’s actions and a propensity to downplay or avoid unfavourable facts.”

Whether you’re a believer or a sceptic, it’s clear that affirmations can make people feel better about the things they can’t control, just as Anna Paul’s viral “jelly” video made people feel better about aeroplane turbulence. But, in the end, lucky girl syndrome is a trend created by privileged people, for privileged people. As with all trends, it is something that needs to be approached with caution – and common sense.