Uses and Misuses of Coincidences: Dr. Beitman Discusses
CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.—For some people, coincidences are like sign posts in life. They think coincidences show they’re “on the right path,” or “it’s meant to be,” or they take coincidences as “a sign.”
Dr. Bernard Beitman, who has developed Coincidence Studies, agrees that coincidences can sometimes help people reflect on the decisions in their lives, but he warns against following them without enough consideration.
“Some people over-emphasize the value of coincidences. … As wonderful and interesting as they are, they can mess you up too,” Beitman said. He gave an example of two people deciding to keep a relationship going or to get married because there are coincidences that seem to be “signs” of their compatibility. Maybe they both have the same birthday, or the radio started playing “their song” when they talked about getting married. But, Beitman asked, “Can you get along with each other?”
He knew of a man who was interested in a woman with a Honda Pilot car. Every time he saw a Honda Pilot, that confirmed for him that she cared about him. Another man, a dean at a university, hired an interviewee because of a coincidence—they had the same favorite spiritual book—but it turned out he was a poor fit for the job.
While coincidences are open to misuse if their importance is over-emphasized, they do have great potential for helping people.
In the article, “Why Study Coincidences?” we further explored some uses of coincidences: “Psychotherapists can use them to treat patients; they can help people become self-aware and introspective, leading to positive changes. Coincidences have proven useful in professional development. People often ‘coincidentally’ find exactly what they need when they need it. Coincidences have helped scientists make great discoveries. They have the power to comfort people, to aid healing from traumatic experiences. Through them, people can build stronger relationships.”
This is the sixth part in a series of videos with Dr. Beitman. Check here for all parts in the series: Coincidences Video Series
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