Self

Why You Suddenly Start Seeing Things After You Think About Them

Photo: Getty
woman wondering why she keeps seeing things she thinks about

Have you ever noticed that when you start thinking about something, it starts to pop up everywhere?

Maybe you’re interested in buying a new car and suddenly start seeing that car all over the road. Or maybe someone you used to be close with popped into your head and you randomly see their posts all over social media.

While these may seem like random coincidences, it turns out there’s a reason for suddenly seeing the things you think about called the Baader–Meinhof phenomenon or frequency illusion.

Why do you start seeing things you were just thinking about?

The reason this occurs is due to what's known as the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon is a form of cognitive bias known as frequency bias that causes your brain to notice specific things.

The Baader-Meinhof phenomenon was first named in 1994 when a man named Terry Mullen wrote into a newspaper explaining that he had heard something about the Baader–Meinhof Group for the first time, only to find that he coincidentally saw the term elsewhere soon after.

When the newspaper published his experience, other readers wrote in about their similar experiences, and the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon was born.

RELATED: What Synchronicities Mean (And No, They're Not Just Coincidences)

In 2005, the term frequency illusion was coined by Stanford linguist Arnold Zwicky to better explain the reasoning behind the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon.

Zwicky explained that there are two types of cognitive biases that cause you to start seeing things more after thinking about them once.

1. Selective attention bias

According to Zwicky, the first part of the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon has to do with selective attention, which is when you notice things that are meaningful to you while largely disregarding anything outside of that lens.

So, for example, if you have a specific car in mind, your attention will selectively tune into instances of that car while not paying attention to other cars.

2. Confirmation bias

Confirmation bias is when you look for things that support what you’re thinking about and disregard any information that contradicts that thought.

In the car example, for instance, you focus on all of the times you saw that car while out and about without even thinking of all the times you may have gone out without seeing that car.

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RELATED: How To Notice Synchronicities Or ‘Signs’ Through Life

While there may be some scientific reasoning behind the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon, according to TikTok, you can still use it to your advantage.

A TikToker posted a video explaining that suddenly seeing the things you think about is like breadcrumbs from the universe.

The Law of Attraction and manifestation are based on using your thoughts to create your reality, and the TikTok explains that leaning into the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon can help you create the reality you want.

She uses getting a new job as an example.

“If you don’t know how to get that job, don’t know how to start, just start thinking about it,” she explains. “Your brain will start finding the answers.”

   

   

If you keep thinking about that job (or whatever it is that you want in life), the Baader-Meinhof phenomenon will get to work and you just may find that you fall into it.

RELATED: 15 Spiritual & Psychic Signs Someone Is Thinking About You

Micki Spollen is an editor, writer, and traveler. Follow her on Instagram and keep up with her travels on her website.

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