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August Newsletter: "Lost and Found "

If someone asked you to list, in the last twelve months, anything important that you lost or misplaced, anything valuable that you invariably destroyed, the number of traffic tickets you’ve gotten, or accidents you’ve had, what would your list look like? How long would it be?

I came across a questionnaire the other day that had this question in it. I thought it was a pretty good question, so I set about seriously answering it. For reasons I will reveal to you later, I was a little nervous as I got my pen ready and pulled out a fresh white sheet of paper from the printer. Tongue out in concentration, I compiled my list:

(Summer 2007) mobile phone -DROP KICKED
(Fall 2007) house keys -LOST
(Fall 2007) diamond earrings -MISPLACED
(February 2008) diamond earring -LOST
(February 2008) cute earring from Japan -LOST
(June 2008) new relatively-expensive sunglasses -SCRATCHED
(July 2008) house keys -LOST
(July 2008) house & car keys -MISPLACED
(August 2008) (new) mobile phone -MISPLACED (shh! Don't tell the husband)
(August 2008) car -FRONT FENDER DAMAGED
(August 2008) dog -MISPLACED

Petey. FOUND!

Luckily, the question only asks for things in the past twelve months, so it doesn’t include the summer of 2005 when I left my other mobile phone on the roof of my car, drove away only to almost run over it upon my return. Or, the real kicker; the Fall of 2006 when I lost my wedding ring. Still smarts.

So I found this questionnaire after reading an article from this month’s Omega newsletter. The questionnaire was created by Debbie Ford as an adjunct to her new book, Why Good People Do Bad Things: How to Stop Being Your Own Worst Enemy. This is the reason why I was nervous. Did I really want to find out that I am a good person about to do bad things just because I lose my stuff and repeatedly bang up my front fender?

Not really. But I couldn’t help myself. The reason? I have this quiet addiction to questionnaires. Ever since I was a tween, my favourite part in my monthly Dolly magazine was the questionnaire. Since then, any questionnaire I come across I do. Tickle.com’s IQ test? Taken it. Twice. Atzmi Personality Test? Taken it. And copied out all the pages. Deepak Chopra’s Ayurvedic Dosha Quiz? Taken it. Also twice. Now I can add Debbie Ford’s Self-Sabotage Quiz to my list.

Why are questionnaires so attractive? For some reason, we human beings are always searching for external validation as to who we are (and not). It helps us to see whether how we view ourselves is consistent with how the experts categorize us. As we calculate our scores, we doggedly try to figure out from our answers whether 1 is good and 5 is bad, or is it the other way around? Then, we tally our score not once but twice just to make sure we counted it right and then we anxiously turn the page to read our description to hopefully learn something about ourselves that we don’t already know thereby validating our own self worth or justifying why we don't have any -"I knew I was miserable for a reason"! Sometimes we do learn something new –not because we didn’t know it on some level but because we didn’t consciously allow it. Just as often though, the description doesn’t apply to us at all. How annoying. Overlying disappointment for having wasted our time and feeling gypped for not revealing the mystery of our self, we are slightly placated with the notion that the questionnaire is wrong, the experts don’t know what they’re talking about, and so by extension we are in the right, which makes us feel pretty good about ourselves. Human beings are funny.

Interestingly, how you feel about yourself is the root of this quiz question. Let me give you the question verbatim as it appears in the quiz (even though I didn't get permission), "In the past 12 months, how many times have you misplaced something important, gotten a traffic ticket, had an accident, or destroyed something of value?" A. None. B. Once or Twice. C. More than five times, or D. More than ten times. My answer, obviously, was D which added a whopping 8 points to my score. I would love to read to you what my assessment was but like I said, I haven’t asked permission. However, based on my answer to the question in question, I can say that I learned pretty quickly that I am not in the habit of taking care of my stuff.

What does that mean?

Upon first consideration, I guessed it denotes carelessness; carelessness being a lack of mindfulness – an absence of being fully aware of the moment in the moment. But then I started thinking, maybe it’s bigger than that. Maybe, we don’t take care of our stuff because we don’t value it highly enough. Why don't we value our stuff highly enough? We don’t value our stuff because we don’t value ourselves -we are not good enough for the stuff. The logic being that our attitude towards our stuff is a natural extension of us. If we don’t value ourselves, then how can we value our stuff?!

For all you stuff-over-valuers out there, this doesn't get you off the hook. Just because you value your stuff doesn't mean necessarily that you value yourself highly either. You guys just take it to the other extreme. Just like the stuff-under-valuers, your stuff is an extension of you too. Subconsciously, you think that the bigger, better and more expensive your stuff is, the bigger, better and more valuable you are (to other people). If someone were to take away your stuff; your car, your house, your big screen tv, who does that make you? Basically, it's just a different expression of the same dilemma -a distorted sense of self. (If this makes you indignant, then just pretend I'm not talking about you. I'm talking about the other guy).

Consistent with the message in last month’s newsletter, if we are operating from a place of low self worth, then the universe will match that with situations that reflect it. You create that reality for yourself. On a deeply subconscious level you’re thinking; “You’re not worth those diamond earrings, so let’s lose them.” “You’re not worth the house you live in, so…let's lose the keys.” “You’re not worth that car you drive, so let’s lose those keys too.” “You’re not worth the life you live, so let’s get you into a bunch of accidents to remind you of the fact.”

Where does this low self-worth come from? It appears that a belief that many people shar is, "I am nothing." To our logical minds, it's hard to acknowledge owning such a belief when obviously, I am something. I look in the mirror and I stare back at me. Somebody. Something. Trust me when I say though that "I am nothing" is one of the most common deeply-rooted beliefs that we have. It comes up too frequently to be ignored, so I ask you to play the game with me for a bit and follow along. It goes like this: If you believe you are nothing, then it’s not possible for you to be worth anything. If you're not worth anything, then you have no value, you are worthless, or not good enough. You are not even good enough for stuff, so you may as well destroy it, lose it, damage it, or in some other way sabotage it.

The belief, "I am nothing" is the foundation for which a whole bunch of other beliefs and tendencies exist all of which are knee-jerk reactions to low self-esteem/low self-worth. You may even want to take a minute to contemplate your own beliefs and behaviours. Hint: You know when you're struggling with your self-esteem when you feel defensive, resentful, entitled, blameful, judgemental, guilty and critical. So think about situations that activate those emotions in you. Generally, you'll notice it's when your perceived sense of self is threatened.

Getting back to the question about our stuff, the idea that low self-esteem is the reason why we don't take care of it seems to be consistent with Debbie Ford’s line of thinking too because the final message in her assessment description was, “Ultimately, self-love is the most effective antidote to self-sabotage.” That is, having self-worth, high self-esteem and self-respect you will invariably take care of yourself, be mindful of yourself and by extension, your stuff. This means that ultimately you will be less likely to find yourself looking for lost keys, scrambling for a misplaced wallet and calling your phone to see if you can hear it ring.

Debbie Ford's questionnaire is about self-sabotage. Self-sabotage is the name of the destination where the train wreck ends. Again, think about your own situation for a moment. If you did lose your keys how would that affect your day? Would you be late for work, late for a doctor's appointment you've been waiting three weeks for, miss the job interview you were banking on? Would you now have to waste time and money on getting your locks changed, or dealing with the car dealership? Each time we hand our power over to any belief that doesn't serve us, we tango with self-sabotage.

This leads us to some practical ideas to take home:

When you think you have lost something like your keys, your wallet, your phone, or a ring, the first thing to do is to stop looking for it. Go find a quiet place to sit down. Then, emptying your mind of thought, take three deep breaths. On the fourth breath; ask yourself, “Where did I last see my keys?” Without effort and without emotion, let your mind show you. In this stillness and through your breathe you connect to your Higher self who knows where you put your keys. It works.

Are you taking care of yourself? Do you eat a healthy variety of nutritious, organic foods? Are you keeping yourself well hydrated? Are you exercising regularly? Are you keeping yourself well-groomed? Are you allowing time for yourself to do things that you enjoy? Are you allowing time to commune with nature? Are you having fun? By taking care of your body, your mind and your spirit, you are showing, through action and habit that you are worthy -worthy of everything you value in your life.

Losing or breaking things that are of value to us hurts, and so does crashing our cars or getting a ticket. First, we panic, then we feel sick, then we get mad at ourselves and call ourselves names, and finally, when we realize what we have done can’t be undone, we wallow in regret and wish there was a way to ctrl + z our lives. One of the greatest services that we can give ourselves is mastering the art of detachment. While it’s still important to value our things, it’s equally important to be able to let them go. Remember the old "Sh*t happens" bumper sticker from the 80s? Well, that pretty much sums it up, so instead of going through the whole Oh no! Feel sick! Stupid me! Wish-I’d-never-gotten-up-this-morning routine, we can just say, “Oh well. So be it.” A tall order? Well, let me put it this way, your job is to be nice to yourself even if you lose your wallet, crash the car and/or drop-kick your mobile phone across a busy highway. It's really hard to be nice to yourself when you're mad as hell. Another nice thing to remember is that things don't happen to you, they just happen, so why fight it? Just let it go.

Watch out for miracles! Sometimes, when we least expect it, something we lost reappears. Remember that diamond earring I lost back in February? It suddenly resurfaced in the middle of my driveway earlier this month. I bent down to pat Sophie (my other Boston Terrier) and there it was right next to her front paw. I am still amazed. And, am truly grateful.

Diamond Earring(s) . FOUND!

Now here we are at the end of the line where I leave you with this thought:

"Whenever something is lost, something of greater value can be gained."



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