Carl Jung on synchronicity: How it brings meaning into your life

When something important happens that can’t be explained by science or chance, what is it? Some people have defined these coincidences as extrasensory perception or something that’s paranormal. But, is that the best definition?

Carl Jung, a prominent psychologist, defined meaningful coincidences as something called synchronicity. It’s when something meaningful happens that can reaffirm what you’ve been thinking. Maybe you have a dream about a certain piece of jewelry. Then, the next day, your friend gives you that exact piece of jewelry. Weird, right?

Maybe you’ve had a moment where you bought something you liked. Little did you know that your best friend was at a store across town buying that exact same item. These things happen in sync, and they can even be a message from the “universe.” So, how do you experience this amazing phenomenon?

In this article, we’ll dive into exactly what Carl Jung’s idea of synchronicity is, why he explained it the way he did, and when you may experience synchronicity in your life.

Spoiler alert: It happens more than you think, but you have to be open to experiencing it.

What Carl Jung says about synchronicity

Originally, Carl Jung coined the phrase “synchronicity” to explain the unexplainable. He had a patient that was incredibly smart. In fact, she was so smart that she was unavailable to receive the treatment that she needed to receive. She believed that the rational she experienced on a daily basis was enough to explain her own worries.

However, one day his patient had a dream about a golden scarab piece of jewellery. Then, while she was attending a session with Jung, a bug kept hitting the window. Intrigued, he opened the window and caught the bug in midair. It was a scarab beetle. When handed to his client, she saw past her own rationale.

Jung says that the key to understanding synchronicity is to look past the coincidence of it. Sure, coincidences happen all the time, but it’s when there is a deeper understanding of the coincidence that synchronicity takes place.

In fact, Carl Jung defined synchronicity as: “Synchronicity: A meaningful coincidence of two or more events where something other than the probability of chance is involved.”

It does sound a bit psychic, right? If something cannot be explained, what do we call it?

What is synchronicity?

Synchronicity is when two things occur that are clearly more than a coincidence, but cannot be explained. Some people may think it’s a sign that they are living the right path, that they are making the right choice, or maybe that they are even about to make a wrong choice (depending on the related events). It could be a sign from your god, from the universe, or whatever/whoever you believe in.

People find that when they learn about synchronicity, they seem to find it in their life much more. It’s a case of the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, which is when after learning about something, you suddenly see it everywhere. That’s because synchronicity relies on being found.

Anyone could have a dream about a beetle necklace. A beetle could easily hit the window of a psychologist’s office on a daily basis. But those two events happening to the same person at the same time? That’s where synchronicity comes into play. Because these events cannot be explained, even if they seem like they aren’t related.

Synchronicity examples

Synchronicity often occurs at emotional times in our lives. That means when there is grief, death, love, or any high emotion, there is a greater chance of seeing synchronicity. There was a time in my life where I was hurt by someone I cared deeply about. I was outside, frustrated and sad, wishing that everything would be okay. At that moment, a butterfly flew by and landed on my knee. I watched it for a few seconds before it flew away.

While that may seem like a plain coincidence, a few weeks later, the same thing happened again. In fact, even years later, whenever I am extremely sad or frustrated, I see a butterfly that makes me think everything will be okay. Sometimes it’s outside of my window, other times it’s right beside me. But this coincidence occurs over and over again, no matter what.

Another example of synchronicity is one woman’s watch that had stopped in a seemingly random occurrence. However, she then learned her father had passed away at that time. When she arrived home, all of the clocks in her house had stopped.

For a happier example, there was a time in my life I had been trying to decide which university to attend. There were pros and cons to both, but I simply couldn’t decide. The day I needed to decide, I kept seeing the same color over and over again. In balloons, wrapping paper, flowers, and more, the same color appeared. It was then that I realized it was the color of one of the two universities I was deciding between. So, the signs of synchronicity showed me which university to choose.

How it could explain events in your life

Has there ever been a time in your life where you kept seeing the same signs, colors, or people? Have you ever felt like a coincidence wasn’t merely a coincidence but something more?

If so, that could’ve been synchronicity.

Carl Jung focused on the unconscious and things that couldn’t be explained. Just because you feel that there is a connection when rationale says there isn’t, doesn’t mean that you’re wrong. Perhaps there are meaningful coincidences, and maybe you’re experiencing them.

If there are two events in your life that seem like they go together, it’s synchronicity. It also may be a sign that a big decision is coming up.

How synchronicity manifests

The only problem with synchronicity is that psychologists have a hard time describing it. Carl Jung himself had a hard time describing it because it’s a word to explain the unexplainable. However, there are some ways that synchronicity seems to manifest, including:

  • Two unexplainable coincidences
  • Seeing the same color or sign over and over again
  • Coincidences happening during highly emotional occurrences
  • Events happening frequently over a short or long period of time

Why you haven’t seen synchronicity before

If you don’t think you’ve experienced synchronicity, you may have and just not known it. The thing is that many people have meaningful coincidences. It’s usually at a point in their lives when they’re making a big decision or when something big happens.

Synchronicity doesn’t abandon you. It’s not as if some people get to experience it and others don’t. However, it can be hard to put the pieces together if you’re not looking for it. For example, with my synchronicity butterfly experience, I could’ve thought it was just a butterfly. Every time it happened after that, I could’ve chocked it up to the time of year, the area I was in, or just random chance.

Instead, I made the deeper connections that allowed me to see it for what it really was: synchronicity.

How to see synchronicity in your own life

The more you look for connections in coincidences, the more you see synchronicity happening. And the key to this is actually pretty simple. All it requires is mindfulness. So many times, we’re stuck in our phones or rushing around in life. When we slow down and take time to really live in the moment, that’s when synchronicity occurs. Here are a few ways to practice mindfulness to see synchronicity:

  • Spend time meditating
  • When walking or driving, put your phone away and live presently
  • Look for connections in the events that happen to you
  • Process your emotions and see what’s happening around you when upset or excited
  • Don’t be so quick to brush off something random

10 synchronicity signs you may have experienced

The truth is, we’ve all experienced synchronicity at one point or another. Though we may not have recognized it at the time, it’s actually quite common. Need a little reminder of a time synchronicity happened in your life? I’ve got it for you! These 10 ways are times you may have experienced synchronicity.

  1. Repeated numbers

Have you ever looked up at a clock and seen 11:11? Why is it that when we glance at clocks, we tend to see these repeated numbers more often? It’s because of synchronicity. One way synchronicity manifests itself is in repeated numbers.

  1. Perfect timing

It’s like when you hit that red light and barely miss an accident. Or maybe you’re running late and seem to catch every green light to make it on time. Whether you’re getting somewhere right on time or everything happens right when it’s supposed to, having perfect timing is synchronicity.

  1. Uplifting messages

Have you ever felt down on yourself and someone comes in and says something to make you smile? Those uplifting messages are a sign of synchronicity. It was the reassurance you needed at a time that was most important.

  1. Exactly what you wanted

You know when you want something badly but you don’t tell anyone? Then, someone gets that for you? If someone gets you exactly what you wanted without you telling them, it’s synchronicity.

  1. Stranger conversations

When you’re thinking about something important in your life, it’s pretty weird to overhear strangers talking about that same thing. And yet, it happens all the time. When it does, it’s a sign of synchronicity and a message for you.

  1. Your life in front of you

Movies and TV shows can even be signs of synchronicity. Have you been watching a show lately that looks a lot like your life? If so, that could be a sign of synchronicity.

  1. Find what you’re looking for

We all have problems, but when something reaches out to us to solve our problem, it’s synchronicity. Maybe you were looking for something to help you do a simple task, like clean your bathroom better. Then, while you’re browsing on social media, you come across the exact thing you need.

  1. A helping hand

Have you ever felt completely overwhelmed and right when you’re about to give up, a stranger helps you? Those helping hands that reach out and do what you need is one of the best forms of synchronicity. There was no way they had known you needed them at that exact moment, and yet, they were there.

  1. Seeing someone you were thinking about

Ever sit and think about your friend? Of course, you do. However, have you ever thought about them and then seen them a few minutes later? These coincidences show that there is a meaningful connection. It’s as if they appeared before your very eyes, and that’s synchronicity.

  1. Songs

Songs can be a big sign of synchronicity. Do you ever hum a song and then turn on the radio to find it playing the same tune? Or maybe you turn on the TV and the song is on a show you’re watching. Either way, this can be a very positive sign of synchronicity.

Synchronicity quotes

“I do believe in an everyday sort of magic — the inexplicable connectedness we sometimes experience with places, people, works of art and the like; the eerie appropriateness of moments of synchronicity; the whispered voice, the hidden presence, when we think we’re alone.” – Charles de Lint

“You encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.” – Deepak Chopra

“We do not create our destiny; we participate in its unfolding. Synchronicity works as a catalyst toward the working out of that destiny.” – David Richo

“We often dream about people from whom we receive a letter by the next post. I have ascertained on several occasions that at the moment when the dream occurred the letter was already lying in the post-office of the addressee.” – Carl Jung

“Synchronicity is an ever present reality for those who have eyes to see.” – Carl Jung

“I am open to the guidance of synchronicity and do not let expectations hinder my path.” – Dalai Lama

“This is called synchronicity – a state in which you almost feel as if you are in a collaborative arrangement with fate.” – Wayne Dyer

“There are no accidents or coincidences in life – everything is synchronicity – because everything has a frequency. It’s simply the physics of life and the universe in action.” – Rhonda Byrne

Carl Jung’s synchronicity is a gift

Synchronicity may be hard to define, but it’s in the direct way that it explains the unexplainable that creates such a difference in our lives. Even simple things can be a message to you and in your life. As Jung said, you just have to have the eyes to see it.

Picture of Jess Carpenter

Jess Carpenter

I studied at The University of Utah where I earned both my B.S. and M.S. and am a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES certified). My favorite spot to write is wherever I can see my toddlers to ensure they aren’t jumping from the second story or coloring on the walls.

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