There was a time when I'd lose something or something would get lost, like a house key or my glasses. I'd worry about memory loss, wrack my brains trying to find whatever I lost and usually never could.
A causal search would swiftly turn into a frantic search. I'd get others involved in my quest, like my partner, and spread my frustration and panic onto them. And yes, I may have even gone a little berserk.
Slowly but surely this has changed over the years.
It's not that I don't still lose things, it's that I'm more likely to let things be, which is different from letting things go.
Letting things be means I'm more likely to notice my frustration and anxiousness about losing something, pay attention to how that frustration feels in my body and let those feelings and sensations be in the background, bubbling away on their own time.
Trying to let go of those feelings of frustration and anxiousness isn't realistic, you can't easily control your emotions, what you can do is recognize them, ideally during the moments they arise and learn to become more accepting of them. Trust me, this takes skill and training, to work with your emotions and get comfortable with them; it's a life time of work.
When I lose something today, one of the first things I do, is intentionally say to myself, "It will show up, I know it will."
And you know what? It almost always does.
Before you think I'm off my rocker, or I'm offering up some kind of mystical woo-woo, let me give you some real-life examples to explain what I'm talking about.
When we let things be, things take care of themselves.
Lonely sock seeks sole mate.
Do you have any lost or mismatched socks in your house? I'm guessing you do. We've always got odd socks in our house. They used to drive me crazy. But welcoming those orphaned socks has become a bit of a ritual for me now. When I come across an odd sock, I put it in the drawer and leave it there. I don't ruminate or get frustrated. I don't throw out the odd sock. I don't get bothered by the fact that it might be adding clutter and I don't feel compelled to do the 'self-help' thing and clean out or organize the drawer. Eventually, the other sock shows up in the laundry or washing machine. It finds its way back to its partner and I put them together again. I know and trust that the sock will find its mate.
When we get out of our own way, the way is revealed.
My mug really gets me.
My friend's coffee mug went missing the other week. She wanted to make a warm drink, but couldn't find her favourite mug. Are you attached to one particular mug? According to a survey done by Heinz Company, 60% of us have an emotional attachment to our mugs. Anyway, my friend went all over the office looking for her missing mug, as you can imagine, she was stressed about it. She probably spent about 45 minutes searching or worrying about it. She thought maybe one of her colleagues had taken it. She searched in the dishwasher, at her desk and all the other obvious places. Finally, she gave up and stopped looking. Then, around noon, she went to make some lunch, opened the microwave to warm her food and guess what? She discovered her mug. She'd filled it with milk and put it in the microwave to warm it, but forgot about it. I can't tell you how many times I've lost something and something else completely unrelated has guided me back to that missing item.
Try to notice the instinct to blame.
The agony of a missing toy.
My youngest son couldn't find his new favourite rock for love or money and had made up his mind that mommy must have tidied it away. Quick backstory: I'm a tidier, I like a tidy house. So when my kids can't find something, they naturally assume it's been "tidied" by mom, in this particular instance however, it wasn't me. Have you noticed when you lose something how quickly and easy it is to blame someone else? I notice it sometimes in myself. In this example it was my son who wanted to blame me, as adults we sometimes succumb to the same thing. What I've found helpful, is being given permission to just notice the instinct in myself to want to blame someone else, then asking myself, are my thoughts 100% true, or can I see them in a different light. As for the missing rock (which as it happens was actually a piece of coal) it was discovered later that day in the washing machine. So, despite some mis-coloured laundry, the 'rock' found its way back to it's owner.
While frustration may show up, you'll bounce back quicker.
There's still times when I get frustrated when things get lost, especially my kids' baseball caps and water bottles, which happens on a daily basis.
But you know what?
Those baseball caps and bottles almost always show up too. And while frustration may show up, I'm far more likely to recover from it quicker and bounce back.
Now, I know there are plenty of things that we can lose which may be far more difficult to deal with, like losing your luggage at the airport in the middle of nowhere, or losing your phone, your house key or your wallet.
But I assure you, these lessons apply to anything we might lose. In fact, I want to share ten lessons I've learned from losing things and invite you to try them out for yourself.
1. When we let things be, things take care of themselves.
2. When we get out of our own way, often the way is revealed.
3. If you find yourself blaming others, bring a gentle curiosity.
4. If you find yourself worrying, notice how that feels in your body.
5. Be wary of your problem-solving mind, it may lead you down a rabbit hole.
6. The less you worry, the more likely you'll see clearly.
7. Try to accept there may be very little you can do to change things.
8. Say to yourself: I know it will show up eventually. This really helps!!
9. Notice if your mind starts catastrophizing and come back to the present.
10. Stay with any feelings of frustration and know that these are clouds which will pass.
Now I'd love to hear from you.
What have you lost in the past, or recently that drove you a little nuts? Of all these lessons that have been shared here, which one surprises you the most? Which one do you think you might try? Share a few comments below, it's not just me that appreciates your insights, many many others do too.
ps. If you're interested in working with your emotions, developing self awareness and building emotional intelligence, check out my live 8-week course starting October 10th (in the GTA area).