You do have these meaningful or hard to explain coincidences. Jung coined them synchronicities in his theory about why coincidences with meaning happen. But what other theories exist on synchronicity. From skeptics to believers, let’s take a dive to see if they help us find meaning in this uncanny realm.
Synchronicity: Carl G. Jung (1875–1961) introduced the term to describe what he saw in his profession…”to describe circumstances that appear meaningfully related yet lack a causal connection.”
As I wrote in Signs of Synchronicity: Examples in Life, synchronicities are a thing for me. Often, their meaning is obscure. So why does it happen?
Where is science today on this subject? What theories explain synchronicity?
Here’s a list of 15 reasons used by people to justify intriguing coincidences of the unexplainable type…
1. Jung: Unconscious mind connections
Jung published proof supporting his concept of synchronicity in a book, co-authored with theoretical physicist and Nobel laureate W. Pauli.
In it, he recounts the story of the Golden scarab beetle (a piece of jewellery) and the coincidence of a scarab beetle appearing at the window.
He proposed the account, and others like it, are due to a mysterious connection between the person’s psyche and the world of matter.
2. Confirmation bias
Scientists (those who study psychological, cognitive, emotional, cultural and social effects) theorise that synchronicity rests on confirmation bias.1 What this means is that our brains are wired in a way that we lean towards noticing or believing something that confirms our ideas and we ignore those that don’t.
Another way of putting it is that you are motivated by wishful thinking.
For example, your new boyfriend has a yellow Toyota and suddenly you start seeing yellow Toyotas everywhere whereas before you considered them fairly rare.
3. Many worlds or multiverse
Quantum physics ignites this theory that “many worlds” or a “multiverse” exists to explain meaningful coincidences.2 The numerous possible universes occur parallel. And, somehow they can mesh? Or you may come to a crossroads of possible future scenarios.
A sci-fi depiction: In the 2015 Synchronicity the parallel universes and time dimensions that collide result in uncanny experiences, or synchronicities.
4. Spiritual signs
These are signs confirming you are on the right spiritual path.
Could it be The Universe, Angels, or God reaching out to us?
This theory is based on a spiritual connection with a higher power giving you a lesson or a blessing.
An example: In Eat Pray Love, author Elizabeth Gilbert petitions God to resolve her agonizing, drawn-out wait on her husband signing her divorce papers. Within hours, she receives a call from her lawyer to say that it was done. Kind of freaky, eh. But, can be seen as a blessing from God.
5. X-file theories
It’s ghouls, ghosts or spirits playing tricks on you. Omens are at it, either helping or interfering. (I’m not a believer in this, by the way).
6. Loved one who has passed over
A loved one is sending you messages from the other side. They are acting in your interest to try and tell you something
7. An invisible energy force
Hindus consider synchronicities manifest from Brahman or the energy that connects everything in the universe.
Energy comes from tiny atoms vibrating. One idea is that synchronicities occur when energy forces are in harmony or in sync with each other.
8. You’re going crazy
You’re probably not.
“The primary reality of synchronicities is emotional, not intellectual,” says Mark Holland, co-author of Synchronicity.
9. We’re living in a matrix
The simulation hypothesis explains synchronicity as part of a larger orchestration of our lives, not unlike the Truman Show.
The Matrix movies hold resemblance to this concept.
10. Fate or destiny
It’s just meant to happen. It’s your fate or destiny.
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.C. G. Jung
11. Psychic abilities
Your intuitive power manifests synchronicities.
12. Law of attraction
Law of attraction explains synchronicity as a “like attracts like”. Your projected thoughts and feelings bring forth either good or bad experiences.
13. Alien contact
Is life from another part of the universe speaking to us?
14. Living in the flow
Living in the flow attracts synchronicities.
This is the concept of seeing connections and patterns in unrelated matter where the mind interprets (supposedly in error) something meaningful in random or meaningless data. For example, seeing a face in the wallpaper pattern.
Confirmation bias is a form of this phenomenon.
16. Waking dreams
Psychoanalyst, Gibbs A. Williams PhD believes we unconsciously create synchronicities as a way of solving our problems.3
He considers them waking dreams.
Here’s a (not so) weird theory
As Google and Facebook work on technology to read minds, watch for intentional synchronicities in a future techno world. These corporations already use AI to show consumers ‘relevant’ information.
In case you thought it was synchronicity, the mystery of seeing something you had searched for or mentioned earlier, suddenly appearing everywhere you go in the digital sphere has long been exposed as technology and algorithms at work to show you more of the same in the hope of you buying more of the same (just one example).
- Psychology Today: What is confirmation bias?
- BERNARD BEITMAN, MD Connecting with Coincidence
- Williams, Gibbs A. 2010. Demystifying Meaningful Coincidences (Synchronicities): The Evolving Self, the Personal Unconscious, and the Creative Process. Lanham, Md. : Jason Aronson.