How coincidence can show you the way

By Martin Thoolen,
Published at 12 August 2019.
Read 5 minutes.

I’m shivering on the platform of Utrecht Central Station. I can’t wait to dive into the warm train. As soon as I get in I notice that the heating is not working. Damn. I am surrounded by miserable faces. At that moment a lively voice booms over the PA:”Holder de Bolder, we will shortly be arriving at the little station in Den Dolder”.

People around me start to smile and talk to each other. It suddenly seems as if the train has become much warmer.

The same thing occurs when you allow synchronicity to happen.

What is synchronicity?

You think about a friend from high school. You have not seen them for 15 years. And they call one hour later. For no reason, out of the blue.

According to the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, synchronicity is the simultaneous occurrence of two or more different events that have meaning for those involved. You can also say useful coincidence. However, what is meaningful for one person does not necessarily have to be so for someone else.

In 2013, Diana participated in one of our retreats in the Ardennes. She is 31, has a loud voice and thinks that she is 20 kilograms overweight. She works 55 hours per week as a hospital manager. This enables her to pay the mortgage on her new home. She is known as powerhouse. She is result-oriented, but her colleagues call her bitch behind her back. In the evening she sits on the couch, zapping and snacking.

On the second day of the retreat she had a dream. Pink flower petals were floating down onto her. She had absolutely no idea what it was about. On the following day she did a visualisation exercise. Once again she saw the pink petals. It meant nothing to her and she was just happy that she did not have to be thinking about the retreat for a while. She and several other participants went to the caves of Han. Just in front of the entrance she walked across a square full of fruit trees. There was a sudden gust of wind, and Diana was covered in pink petals.

Coincidental events reveal invisible connections. Connections that we cannot grasp intellectually. They give you a feeling of connection or unity that supports you. For example, when you sit in a restaurant and think about your deceased mother for a while. It is precisely at that moment that you hear her favourite music coming out of the speakers.

If you allow yourself to be touched by coincidences they can also be signposts for your personal or professional development. They ask that you acknowledge something that you have skimmed over until that time. Or they tell you to tackle an issue in your life, as happened to Diana.

Diana sees what her dream, the visualisation exercise and the walk does to her feelings. She feels emotional and sad. She lets these feelings simmer for hours and examines at them occasionally. ‘What is this sadness about?’ she asks herself. In a flash she realises how she was bullied about her appearance at primary school. She suddenly understands that she had been protecting herself. Convenient, because this meant that she no longer had to feel the pain of rejection. Until now, she has been a powerhouse who buried her vulnerability.

‘What in heaven’s name are the pink petals about?’ The answer emerges from the caverns of her psyche: “It is the softness of the hidden, sensitive girl in me who longs for new contact”. As if she had abandoned that girl many years ago. She now realises in her heart of hearts that she no longer wants this and decides to make more room for her vulnerability as well as her strength. She is unhappy with her body and permits herself to feel sadness again for the first time. She decides to eat more healthily and loses 15 kilograms in 5 weeks. She works less hard and snaps less at her colleagues and patients, but she lets her heart speak.

But coincidence doesn’t exist?

It just depends on how you look and what you accept as reality. What you see is what you believe. If you accept that things just happen to you or that something is ridiculous, then that is what you will believe. Then you will not notice the miraculous fact that everything is connected to everything and that synchronicity offers opportunities for your development. Is synchronicity nonsense? Try the following tips and discover whether the kite can still fly.

5 tips to experience synchronicity

1. It starts with looking, looking, looking
Look at your dream images, at something that you have really experienced or something that has coincidentally crossed your path. Or look at something that you think or feel, like Simon, a HRM manager who drew the same card three times in succession during our Personal Empowerment course – a card with the word power.

2. However ridiculous they are, make connections
Do you dare to compare a card from a game to one of your basic attitudes? At first, our HRM manager did not know how power related to him. He could not figure it out. When he continued searching he suddenly realised that all of his employment conflicts originated in a power struggle. He had heard that he frequently had a superior attitude. And that is pouring oil onto fire in his interaction with his employers.

3. Open your heart
It is easy to ridicule synchronicity, to minimise or even deny it – coincidence does not exist. coincidence does not exist. Zeker als je het louter vanuit je hoofd probeert te verklaren. Dat gaat je niet lukken. Synchroniciteit laat je zien en vooral voelen dat alles met alles verbonden is. Om het te ervaren moet je naast een gezonde dosis denken ook je hart openzetten en je gevoelens toelaten. Of het nu gaat over schuld, opluchting, schaamte, kwaadheid, verdriet of blijheid.

Simon was confronted by the power card three times, which made him curious. Initially, he did not want to face it, but after a short while he put his ego aside and opened his heart. He asked the group for feedback, and the participants said that he did often come across as somewhat arrogant. This made him feel frustrated and sad.

4. Allow your feelings simmer and see what comes up 
We prefer to avoid unpleasant feelings, while it is precisely there that we find keys for new development. Simon’s sadness took him to his loneliness. He considered the issue for several days and then realised that his arrogance was pushing him back into loneliness. It is a selffulfilling prophecy. Now he really wants to adopt a different attitude.

5. Take action
You can call insights generated by experiences that are felt in true depth transparent insights. They are not intellectual or smart insights provided by books or authorities. No – they are crystal clear insights emerging from a personal process. A process of thoroughly feeling what has already been simmering for some time.

From now on, make choices that involve transparent insights. Like Simon: ‘from now on I will not always talk and interrupt other people. I am going to listen more often, even though I do not always agree with others’.

In short

Synchronicity is: useful coincidence. It can give you support and can also give you new experiences, insights and signposts for your personal or professional development.

Allow synchronicity to enrich your life

In the next week check at least three times whether you are experiencing synchronicity in your life, and apply the 5 tips:
1. It starts with looking, looking, looking
2. However ridiculous they are, make connections
3. Open your heart
4. Allow your feelings simmer and see what comes up
5. Take action

© 2015 Martin Thoolen & Wendy Hobbelink

Martin Thoolen

My 30 years of professional experience as an awareness coach, clinical and organisational psychologist has enabled me to help thousands of clients in Personal or Collective Leadership. Both groups and individuals, in coaching sessions, training courses, leadership development and organisation development programs, retreats and seminars.
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