Déjà senti

Feelings popping up

Everyone seems to know what a déjà vu is. In short the french term meaning „already seen“ is defined in the oxford dictionary as:

‘A feeling of having already experienced the present situation’

The term literally relates to the visual part of that experience and that’s what we have in mind if we think about such situations. It’s a moment we find our selfes that triggers a mental image we seem to know. You get into a conversation, arrive at specific place or have an arrangement of people or actions that you instantly feel familiar with. For a short moment you feel a repetition going on, a weird feeling of „this happened before“ and you sort of see the situation you try to remember before your inner eye, like a picture.

What I sometimes experience is something different. I’m not sure if others are familiar with it and I never read about it. It’s what I would call a déjà senti, literally meaning „already felt“ and I would define it as:

‘A feeling of having already experienced the present state of mind in another situation’

Just to make my self clear I’ll give an example. Let’s say I’m sitting in the train, watching out of the window and have no particular thoughts at the moment. All of a sudden I get a certain feeling coming up. It’s not about feeling happy, or sad, it is more complex, it’s a feeling I know well, but didn’t feel for a long time. After a short while I realise that it’s the feeling I associate with being in a gymnastics camp (I did gymnastics from kindergarden up to around 20). It’s not the remembering of a specific situation or a specific place but a general sense of what feelings the times in those camps involved. It might be some fear because I was away from my parents, mixed with some exitement because I got to know new people, new places and new skills. There are images coming up in my mind, but they are not the focus, they just enhance the feeling of the places and the time I spent there. Sitting in the train it feels as if I can prolong that sense but I get out of it because I get distracted or I’m trying to focus too much. I had that experience multiple times and it always seemed to happen in random moments when I was alone and not doing some specific task. The situations I felt again often took place far in the past and it seems like they were almost always about something new, unknown at the time, like the first days in school, the first girlfriend or similar.

The main difference to the classical déjà vu is that the focus of what’s happening is not the familiarity of the situation, but familiarity of the feeling. There are other differences:

  • I know the feeling and I often know where I felt it in the past.
  • The feeling is less triggered by situations or visual input but more often by smells or sounds.
  • The feeling is not instant, it’s more like a state of mind that can hold on for a while.
  • Sometimes I think I can trigger it consciously.

So if you never experienced what I’m talking about, maybe try to trigger it yourself. Think about a place you have been a lot as a kid and you know the general smell. Your grandmothers house, the playground or your school. Now think about how it smelled. Surely mental images will pop up but try not to focus on them, focus on the smell. At least for me it sometimes works and I get that general feeling about that time or place, I get a déjà senti. If you experienced something similar I’d be interessted how it was for you, how it felt and if you managed to trigger it yourself.

At least for me it is an interesting experience and I’m looking forward to the next time I’m sitting around, doing nothing and all of a sudden feelings are popping up.