Task 28 ~ Dealing with Losing Things


Losing things seems to be a part of everyone’s life. People joke about older people being forgetful, but teenagers can be even more so. In any case, it seems to be a human condition. We all have so many things it is really amazing that we can keep track of them. The challenge is learning how to respond when loss happens, so as to keep ourselves from negativity.

THOUGHTS: Notice that the task emphasizes the importance of observing ourselves. To do this we step back somewhat from the drama of what is going on, and just notice what is happening in our thoughts. Patterns I have seen in myself include some very negative thoughts about my own lack of organization. I start thinking about what a messy person I am.

EMOTIONS: On top of these ideas about myself, I find myself in an emotional turmoil. Negative feelings can include impatience (I usually notice that I have mislaid things when I am in a hurry), anger at myself, frustration and fear.

BEHAVIOR: When I look at my actions, I observe fast and furious movements, making things even harder to find. I see myself rushing around wildly, muttering to myself or yelling: “Why can’t I ever find anything in this house?” or some such pointless question.

The things we observe are usually knee-jerk reactions, done automatically. The point of the task is to put ourselves in a position to act differently. By pausing to observe ourselves we change the dynamics, and make it more likely that we can deal with it calmly instead of frantically.

When thinking about assigning this task I asked myself: “Suppose people in the group do not lose anything in the coming week? What then?”

Within minutes of musing about this, I found myself in a negative state because I couldn’t find a piece of paper I had been working on. A quarter of an hour later it happened again, with me trying to find a different piece of paper. Then I realized that it is highly unlikely that a person could go for a week without experiencing the frustration trying to find something.

If, in the unlikely event, that you do not lose something this week, you can use the task to deal with your reactions when you can’t remember something.

Task # 28 Dealing with Losing Things
If you notice yourself becoming upset when you cannot find something, observe your inner reactions.
1. Observe your thoughts
2. Observe your emotions, and notice how they taste 3. Notice your movements, facial expressions, etc.
Break the pattern of mechanical reactions before figuring out how to find what you lost.

This essay written by Frank Rose