How To Make Sense of Déjà Vu In 3 Steps

So you’ve seen something you think you’ve seen before, somewhere.

They call the phenomena déjà vu. Time is supposed to be linear where one thing happens after another in a logical sequence. Every occasion is supposed to be all-new and never-before-seen. When your experience of time doesn’t match that it can be jarring.

Here are some ideas on how to cope with and understand the feeling.

1. Realize déjà vu is common

Interestingly, there’s a whole, separate word dedicated to it, borrowed from French. In that language, it means “already seen.” English-speakers adopted this term into their language. This means there are a lot of people who have had the experience.

There’s no need to feel “weird.”

If you’re trying to get to the truth of your déjà vu feeling, first and foremost, you’ve got to keep an open mind.

2. Write the features of both memories down.

When you do, pay attention to the 5Ws (who, what, when, where, why. Also, how much? and how many? if they apply). When you write the features of the memories down, you can easily compare them. Look for both similarities and differences.

If you’ve had a number of these experiences, you can compare them. Are they related in a certain way? Or do they seem to be random?

If you have a number of these experiences, write them all down or ponder them, comparing them in your mind.

3. Come up with a hypothesis as to what the experience means

This might not be readily apparent to you. It’s okay to skip this step for later.

A hypothesis is a term that means “educated guess” or “theory.” Either entirely or partially, you can be wrong, but following this process is a great way to get at the truth. When you follow this format, you’re objectively getting at a subjective truth. It’s an opportunity to put the scientific method in your life.

Déjà vu doesn’t have to be concept-of-reality shattering. It can be as simple as an incident where you remember getting into a particular cab that you’ve never gotten into before. What triggers the feeling is, perhaps, the cab’s color, the angle you’re approaching it, and the make of the car. Yet, you’re doing it in a place that you haven’t done it before. That helps you realize that it’s a new experience, and, oddly enough, you have a preexisting memory of it.

For further reading:

How time might work

How to unlock health warnings in your dreams

5 keys to understanding the meaning of your sex dream

Should Ann Faraday be called the fairy godmother of do-it-yourself dream interpretation?


James Cobb, RN, MSN, is an emergency department nurse and the founder of the Dream Recovery System. His goal is to provide his readers with simple, actionable ways to improve their health and maximize their quality of life. 


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