Jungian Psychology Series: Understanding Synchronicities

Synchronicity is a concept developed by the Swiss psychiatrist, Carl Jung. It refers to a meaningful connection between events that are not causally related. More exactly, it describes a meaningful co-occurrence between an inner psychological state or process, and an outer event which parallels or reflects it. For example, if I am experiencing an inner conflict over a decision I must make and at the same time an argument breaks out between my neighbors in the apartment next door, that is a synchronicity. My inner conflict is symbolically reflected in the outer world, though the two events are not causally connected.

If your psychological process involves the development of a new role or orientation to life, and around the same time you also happen to lose your wallet, this is a synchronicity. Your wallet is where you keep your driver’s license and other cards that identify yourself to the rest of society. The loss of your wallet symbolically reflects your inner process of letting go of (or the need to let go of) an outmoded identity in favor of a new one.

Now let’s say you are resisting this change process; you don’t want to change or take on a different role in your life. The result is that you are likely to experience decreased energy. Conflicts between what our ego wants and what our soul intends binds up and blocks the flow of our life energy. We feel more tired, fatigued. We may then experience a synchronicity if we go to start our car but cannot because the battery is dead. The dead battery is an outer life reflection of our own lack of life energy. Additionally, the situation parallels the fact that life is not supporting or complying with the ego’s goals. The inner conflict is manifesting in outer conflict. The car “refuses” to start.

Synchronistic events may also take the form of an answer to an inner dilemma. For example, if I am going through a time of trial or worry and I see a rainbow, this may be a synchronistic response to my inner question, “Will I get through this; will things turn out ok?” As it was for Noah in the bible, the rainbow is often a symbol of reassurance or of a promise fulfilled. If I am driving down the road deliberating how I should approach a difficult conversation with a friend and a car with the license plate “BHONEST” passes me, this may well be a synchronicity. It is a meaningful, non-causal connection between an inner event (my question) and an outer event (the universe’s answer).

The idea of synchronicity has its antecedents in the philosophies of the alchemists. In their efforts to transform base metals into gold, and their own lives into instruments of God, they developed the precept, “as above, so below.” Basically, they were saying that the outer world reflects the inner world, or unconscious. They intuited a fundamental symbolic union between the psychic and physical realms. Carl Jung, through his in-depth study of the psyche, arrived at the same conclusion: there is a non-causal substrate to the universe with both psychic and material properties. Modern physics, specifically the field of quantum mechanics, upholds these ideas and supports the premise of a synchronistic dimension to the universe. [For more information, see: http://www.integralscience.org/psyche-physis.html by Thomas J. McFarlane.]

Synchronicities are a very important part of God’s language. They offer valuable and exciting insight into our psychological process and give us guidance on which direction we are meant to move. Life has very dreamlike qualities in which your inner world and the outer world are mysteriously and meaningfully connected. Pay attention to what is going on inside you and how it may be mirrored in you outer life and relationships. Or, consider how certain outer events might offer insight into your inner life and attitudes, perhaps even answering a question in the background of your mind or heart. Understand the reality of this very important psychological phenomenon and allow life’s synchronicities to guide you on your path.

Copyright © Andy Drymalski, Ed.D.
Excerpts may be used provided full and clear credit is given author with link to original article.

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