In life, sometimes we find ourselves exactly where we need to be, even though we do not always plan on being there. These are the magical moments when we get the guidance that we need, despite all types of logic or rational thinking. In these moments, with wonderment in our eyes, we shrug our shoulders and chalk it up to fantastic coincidences or lucky chances. But, is it really?
As a young child, my father took me to pick out a kitten. I chose one kitten and then another only to be informed that they were both already spoken for. My father impatiently asked which kittens were still available and we were directed to a small cage of gray kittens. None of the kittens particularly stuck out, except for one who was hanging on the side of the cage, sticking his little paw out with fierce determination to play with my father’s finger. The one who stuck out from the rest of the nondescript pack was later named Mittens and gave my family 19 years of pure, unadulterated joy. We often talked about how lucky we were that Mittens was hanging off the side of the cage that day or what an amazing coincidence it was that the first two kittens were already taken. However, were these merely coincidences or evidence of something more meaningful?
Carl Jung would have called it a syncronicity, or a “meaningful coincidence.” Jung introduced the concept of syncronicities in the 1920’s and described them as meaningful events that occur together without any type of causal relationship. Jung believed that meaningful coincidences were comprised of two or more seemingly types of random events that were connected by some type of meaning. Jung believed that the meaning resulted from emotions, thoughts, and behaviors rather than on intellect. Jung described meaningful coincidences as moments where an external event matches up with a meaningful inner psychological experience. Jung explained that syncroniciities begin in the human psyche and offer one guidance through intuition and emotion, helping to coax a person onto a certain path.
Jung used the syncronicity principle to support his archetype and collective unconscious theories in addition to arguing for the existence of the paranormal. Jung felt that life was not a collective series of random events but rather, a series of meaningful episodes.
Jung believed that synchronicity shifts conscious thinking, reflects psychological processes, and delivers symbolic messages in a similar way that dreams do. Jung believed that syncronicitiies provide an individual with guidance through special, symbolic meanings. Jung ascertained that synchronicities are emotional rather than intellectual and could not be explained by probabilities or mechanisms of chance.
Science contradicts Jung’s theory about synchronicity by explaining that things occur in correlation, randomly, or through false patterns. Jung reported that synchronicity could only be understood and absorbed by one with an open mind. Jung believed that synchronicities could present themselves in many different forms if one was open to receiving them.
Synchronicity is when the same types of coincidences occur numerous times before finally taking on an important meaning. It is when a chain of events occur serendipitously at just the right moment. I like to think that Mittens was a perfect example of synchronicity at work. Through a series of events, we were led to Mittens. We picked not one kitten first, but two kittens, before being directed to the cage of nondescript gray kittens. Maybe we were not aware of it at the time, but Mittens was meant to become a part of our family and shaped our lives in the best way possible for the next 19 years. In that moment, we were all exactly where we needed to be.
Tracy is a Licensed Professional Counselor and is a clinical supervisor for the Community YMCA, Counseling & Social Services branch. Tracy has over 12 years of experience working in many settings including partial care hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs, community agencies, group practice, and school-based programs. Tracy works with clients of all ages, but especially enjoys working with the adolescents. Tracy facilitates groups using art therapy, sand play and psychodrama.