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Do certain numbers keep popping up in your life, and if so, what does it mean?
Sophie Goddard investigates
Heard of ‘angel numbers’? Chances are, you’ve experienced them, even if you haven’t realised. Ever glanced at your watch, only to see 10:10 appear, just as you did yesterday? Or perhaps your lucky dip lottery numbers last weekend included the exact same numbers as the phone number that just called you? Or maybe you just picked up your phone to see the digits staring back resembled a very special person’s anniversary?
It might all sound a little far-fetched – woo-woo, even – but the idea behind angel numbers (when you see a pattern of numbers appearing to you repeatedly over time) is said to be incredibly meaningful, with many believing the numbers to be symbolic and purposeful, giving us clues and insight about the world around us, and even ourselves, too.
So what are angel numbers?
Typically, angel numbers are said to be either patterns (like 7889 for example) or repetitions (like 22:22) and we tend to notice them as we go about our ordinary daily lives, since they often show up in the most mundane of places (think clocks, emails, timestamps, receipts or even the order number on your last Deliveroo). In fact, this is what believers say is the beauty of angel numbers – spotting them in unexpected places as we go about our day provides an opportunity to take note of subtle clues or reminders sent to us by, yup, you guessed it, angels (or at least some kind of spiritual guide or force, depending on your personal beliefs).
It’s all part of numerology, which is the belief that numbers and events often have some kind of magical or mystical relationship, with believers drawing great meaning from numbers (sometimes letters and symbols too). The idea is that each number in numerology has its own energy vibration and if you see that number repeatedly – or in a sequence – the vibration becomes stronger, which is a sign the universe is trying to pass on a message, or some kind of guidance directly to you as you notice it.
“Angel numbers help guide me daily” – How do they show up?
Life and mindset coach, Betty Andrews @universeofbetty is a big believer in angel numbers. “I’ve followed the idea of angel numbers for a few years now, and most recently began noticing the numbers 4:44 recurring almost daily (I’d see them on my phone and computer clocks mainly). When I looked into the meaning behind these numbers, I discovered it meant I’m ‘on the right path’ which felt really reassuring (I’d recently made some pretty major life changes, so the confirmation things were going to plan was a helpful one). Personally, I believe angel numbers are a great way for people to connect with their spirit guides – I think it helps knowing we’re somehow being supported in a world that can seem ever-changing and increasingly uncertain.”
Similarly, PR manager Jennifer Jordan noticed angel numbers appearing regularly throughout her life, too. “The number ‘8’ follows me around so much that it’s hard not to notice it,” she says. “I started noticing it in my early twenties – everything from the number of letters in my name to the month I was born (August) and every house and university building I lived in contained the number 8 in some way. Even my NHS number and unique college and university numbers. I find seeing the number 8 comforting – when I was assigned ‘Flat 8’ in my first year at university, I remember thinking, ‘Yep, this is a good sign’, like I was exactly where I should be.”
But do they really mean anything?
The idea of angel numbers – and spotting links between numbers we see and life events – ties into the idea of ‘synchronicity’, a theory coined by psychologist Carl Jung to describe events we might describe as ‘coincidental’, but actually do hold meaning (‘meaningful coincidences’, basically). Like that thing when you think of somebody, only for them to phone you seconds later. Or perhaps you’ve had a vivid dream about somebody, and bump into them the very next day. Spooky, right? On one hand, it’s easy to believe the two things are connected, which is what Jung believed. But there could be another cause – something called ‘confirmation bias’ (where our brains remember the ‘hits’ and conveniently forget the ‘misses’). Meaning we tend to only notice things (numbers in this case) that confirm our beliefs.
“There is a part of the brain called the ‘Reticular Activating System’ (or RAS) – a bundle of nerves at the brain stem,” explains clinical psychotherapist Dipti Tait “It’s basically a filter set to notice patterns. So if, for example, we attribute a certain sequence of numbers with good luck, like 555, our RAS flags our conscious mind to pay attention. Or say for example, your partner desperately wants a Tesla, and you both keep seeing them everywhere. It’s not because there are suddenly more of them on the roads – it’s because your RAS is subconsciously set to notice them.”
Helpful or harmful – A psychologist’s verdict
While spotting links and drawing comfort from angel numbers appears to be harmless enough, it’s worth considering how much doing so impacts our daily lives, says psychologist Mairead Molloy [maireadmolloy.com]. “Many people find themselves enchanted by the concept of angel numbers because of their symbolism, believing the numbers to be messages from the spiritual universe,” she explains. “But it’s a little like fate – people high in what we call ‘fate control’ tend to believe that life events are ‘predetermined’ by something or someone, and that our behaviour plays no role in determining certain outcomes. Similarly, over-reliance on numbers or patterns can lead to ‘learned helplessness’, where we find ourselves taking little to no responsibility for certain situations or outcomes.”
“Some people, for example, may think, ‘If I see the numbers 333, this means XYZ’, or ‘If I spot this pattern recurring, this means XYZ’. But the fact is, there are certain things in life we are responsible for – and many we are not. The secret lies in discovering that delicate balance between fate and responsibility without relinquishing our freedom and control over events. If it brings you comfort to note certain numbers or patterns playing out, that’s no bad thing, but – in my opinion – relying on numbers or numerology alone to help us make big life decisions or to steer us in certain directions probably isn’t the best way to go about life.”
You may also like… How to use numerology to find your lucky number
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