It’s Just Coincidence? Pay Attention

May 2, 2017

Categories: Unconscious

We all have things that happen in our lives that we chalk up to coincidence. It might be something odd, unusual, or different from our normal routine. But we usually don’t think too much about it, and we go on about our day.

I’m not one for over-analyzing the random things that happen each day, but I do think it can be helpful to pause for a moment and consider whether there might be something happening underneath the surface. If we have an unconscious part of ourselves—in other words, if there are things about ourselves that we are not aware of—thinking about coincidences is one way to peer into our unconscious.

I’ll give you an example from my own life. I remember one day, I missed the first half of my counseling session. I’m living out of town this semester on sabbatical, so I have been doing my counseling by phone. My counselor calls me at the same time, and we talk for 50 minutes.

For some reason, that day, I got caught up in my work and forgot about my counseling appointment. My phone was on “Do Not Disturb,” so I missed the phone call. It wasn’t until I received an email from my counselor 20 minutes into the session that I remembered my appointment.

At first, I chalked up what happened to a coincidence. After all, it made sense that I could get distracted with my work. Getting in the zone with my writing certainly has happened before. And I often put my phone on “Do Not Disturb” because I don’t like to get distracted with phone calls and texts, especially when I am working. So it would have been easy to stop there and move on with my life.

My counselor asked me to consider, however, whether missing the first half of the appointment might have a deeper meaning. It was out of character for me. I had been going to counseling for a few years, and I could count on one hand the number of times I had missed or been late for a session. I am very conscientious about my appointments. Why had that day been different?

One hypothesis was that we were dealing with some difficult things in counseling. It was possible there was a part of me that was resisting this work, but the resistance was unconscious. I may not have been aware of it, but it came out in me forgetting about my appointment.

It’s hard to know for sure whether this interpretation is correct, or whether it was just a coincidence. But I do think there is a part of me that was resisting the direction we were going in counseling. By at least thinking about whether the coincidence had something to do with resistance, I could think about that part of myself. I made the unconscious conscious. I could move forward, honoring more parts of myself than I was aware of previously.

The next time something happens in your life that is strange, odd, or out of character, don’t move too quickly to chalk it up as a coincidence. Pause for a moment and consider what happened. Might there be a deeper meaning underlying what happened? Notice what comes up for you. See if the coincidence might reflect part of your unconscious that you aren’t aware of. Knowing that part, how could you move forward, honoring that part of yourself?


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