The Creation of Synchronicity
The Swiss psychotherapist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung coined the term synchronicity after an event that happened during a consultation with one of his patients, a young woman. These are Jung’s words to describe the account: “I was sitting opposite her one day with my back to the window, listening to her flow of rhetoric. She had an impressive dream the night before, in which someone had given her a golden scarab—a costly piece of jewellery. While she was still telling me this dream, I heard something behind me gently tapping on the window. I turned around and saw that it was a fairly large flying insect that was knocking against the windowpane from outside in the obvious effort to get into the dark room. This seemed to me very strange. I opened the window immediately and caught the insect in the air as it flew in. It was a scarabaeid beetle, whose gold-green colour most nearly resembles that of a golden scarab. I handed the beetle to my patient with the words, ‘Here is your scarab.’ The experience punctured the desired hole in her rationalism and broke the ice of her intellectual resistance.”
Later, Jung defined synchronicity as ‘a coincidence in time of two or more causally unrelated events which have the same or similar meaning’. He believed that synchronicity is more likely to occur when we are in a highly charged state of emotional and mental awareness when the ‘archetypes’ universal images or themes that underlie human behaviour are activated.
Positive Psychology and Synchronicity
It is difficult to validate something as ethereal as the ‘cosmos conspires to make things happen’ but many people do have this sort of experience and I wonder whether there is perhaps there is a link to Positive Psychology. Barbara Fredrickson’s ‘Broaden and Build’ theory explains that when we raise our ratio of positive emotions to negative emotions to 3:1 and above, we become more creative and open minded. Perhaps it is an increase in awareness, a change in perception, and a sense of curiosity that makes some people more likely to notice these synchronistic events than others. In other words, is life like this always but we usually fail to notice.
Same Day, Different Attitude
For instance, imagine a woman, let’s call her Linda. She was looking for a new job without success but feeling optimistic and cheerful. She went to buy a cup of coffee and joined a long queue. While she waited she started chatting to the man ahead of her and during that conversation he tells her that there is a job about to be advertised in his company and gives her the telephone number. Subsequently she gets the job and later tells everyone about this synchronistic event.
However, had she been feeling depressed and pessimistic she may not have bothered to talk to this man and not responded if he had tried to talk to her. The same synchronistic opportunity would still have existed but never realised because of the difference in the emotional state and behaviour of Linda.
Only Positive Emotions?
Although Jung didn’t specify a particular emotion when he described a highly charged state, it is easy to understand that positive emotions can help to move us forward. However, perhaps a similar outcome could have occurred had Linda been crying? For instance, the man may have asked her what was wrong and she could have explained it was because she needed a job and that conversation could still have occurred.
Everyone Has a Story
It seems that everyone has at least one story about a synchronistic event. This suggests that synchronicity is quite commonplace. Perhaps the world moves in less mysteriously ways than we think?
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