Random Thought of the Day: The Doppelgänger Effect

Although the concept of the doppelgänger usually refers to more of the physical attributes of a person, I’ve been thinking a lot about the personalities we come across or invite into our lives. I met someone recently who reminded me a lot of a person from my past. It wasn’t so much the physical similarities but the personality quirks of this person that are similar to a friend from a different lifetime.

It got me thinking about the people that come in to our lives. No matter how much I grow or change, I seem to be drawn to certain personalities. Sometimes, their presence in my life is fleeting – maybe a conversation that lasts as long as it takes for me to drink a pint of beer at the bar. A passing conversation. A person who won’t be a lasting part of my life but that short conversation can awaken a feeling, thought, or untie a knot that’s been tangled up in my mind.

This is why, even as an introvert, I try to make an effort to talk to strangers when the time is right. The other night, I was sitting at the bar and one of the girls ordering a drink was asking for a recommendation. I spoke up with my thoughts and next thing you know, we were talking about road trips for an hour.

Another conversation led me to meet a couple who had just come back from a trip to China and they were both creatives, so we ended up talking about art and writing for two hours on a random Saturday night.

I walk away from most of these conversations inspired.

People can surprise you. Yes, that can be a negative surprise too, but the beauty of these fleeting conversations is the ability to walk away. If you’re feeling more drained than inspired, walk away.

If you meet someone who has the same kind of spark of a friend from the past, embrace it. Maybe it’ll remind you of good memories. Maybe it’ll encourage you to finally send that email you’ve been wanting to send. Maybe it will remind you that there’s a reason the past is the past and you should delete that email that’s been sitting in your outbox and move on.

The world is constantly talking to us but we hardly listen. Once in a while, it takes the Doppelgänger Effect to make us stop and pay attention, even if it’s just for the duration of a short conversation.

It’s easy for me to get lost in my own head, until a conversation with a stranger sparks a thought, debate, or clue to help me find my way back to the right path.

When was the last time you paused long enough to listen to the world around you?


  • Kristin Knudsen

    I have met a few people that fit into the category of “I’ve seen them before” or “…you remind me of someone I know”! It’s been a while since I’ve found any of these ‘types’ of people.

  • Gaamosh

    Out of interest, and to understand your purpose in this piece, what precisely did you take from those conversations other than general, unspecified inspiration?

  • Lamia L

    I always try to listen more and talk less, as that quote says God gave us two ears and one mouth, to listen twice than we speak 🙂

  • Mitzi Fisher

    This is such great advise. I try to sit back and listen and never comment until I know what I have to say would hurt someone else.

  • Kristin Knudsen

    I used to be a big-time extrovert! Able to talk with anyone! Nowadays, I am more of an introvert, with extrovert capabilities!!!

  • Reava Bennett

    I listen to the world by opening my window and turning the TV off. I hear cars whizzing by, music played on stereos, children playing in the park down the street, people arguing in the middle of the road, families coming home from the day’s sojourn (i.e. work, school, etc). I people-watch constantly, as I rarely interact. On the off chance that I do, I feel… liberated in a sense. Like I am trapped in the perpetual shyness that characterized the majority of my childhood and for just a few moments, I am confident enough to break free to engage in a little word-play. After a while, that shy girl reclaims me and I am back to just observing. Never commenting. I keep those to myself.

  • Kristin Knudsen

    I am a people-watcher. I love to sit on my balcony and watch life happen down below. I wonder where people are going, or where they’ve come from. I watch dogs being walked by their owners, or the guy down the hall that walks his cat.

  • Lis

    Thanks for the interesting article. Its also interesting when conversations start with people when they feel I am a Doppelgänger, they are drawn to have a conversation with me based on who they think I am, then I keep talking to them rather than push them off.

  • Mai Tran

    Can’t remember the last time I did that. It must have been ages ago. I cut the conversation instantly when found no interest or intelligence in the respondent. And people are mostly dull nowadays.

  • judi

    I’m pretty sure I’m an introvert but I often strike up conversations with people as I go about my business. I rarely get quiet time though.

  • Kristin Knudsen

    I am an extrovert trapped in an introvert’s body… so I don’t really like speaking to strangers, unless I am saying, “Thank you”, or “Good Morning”, or things like this!

  • Courtney Bella

    I didn’t even know what that word meant till now !:)
    Thanks for teaching me something new!! xoxxoo

  • Anne Itkin

    I remember watching a film about this, I think Drew Barrymore played her character and the doppelgänger.