Reasons We Lose Things

The list of possible causes for misplacing things might be endless.  As with life, there are many variables and complicating factors.  It’s probably not as simple as “here it is, the sole cause for why I can’t find my things” and rather a combination of different reasons.  Therefore, considering the common causes can help us identify our own triggers, which is the first step toward limiting how much we lose things.  Here I’m talking about emotions – their tremendous impact in both organizing and locating our things.

  • When we’re distracted, tired/exhausted, angry, hurried/impatient we are exponentially more likely to forget where we put things.  We’re also not being thoughtful about what we are actually doing.  This is not a good time to make decisions about how to set things up for future use – wait until you can focus on the process.
    • I’m a big fan of being mindful, being in the moment as much as you can.  And if we could will ourselves to be in that state all the time we could eliminate this as a challenge.  Yet we all know that it’s not that simple.
    • Sometimes we can catch ourselves and control the distraction or whatever – “now is the time to focus on this.”
    • Other times it means recognizing that you are not in the best mindset for dealing with your stuff – do it later when you can be mindful.  If there is some urgent need to get things elsewhere, get like items grouped roughly together and find a place you can get them out of your way – rather than attempt to actually organize anything.
    • There are times when you need to take a few seconds to get things into their home; if you frequently misplace necessary things like your keys, cell phone, wallet/checkbook, etc. – take the seconds it will take to make sure you put them into their home – however frustrated or impatient you might feel.


  • Likewise, when we’re in the middle of strong emotions like any of the above – it becomes extraordinarily easy to become blind to that thing we are looking for.  This is turn can exacerbate our feelings – the frustration of panicked searching – the idea that we’ve lost something again and then when we found it and it was “right there all along” (if it was).  For some people, the mere suggestion something has been misplaced will send them into this state of stress.
    •  We can become frazzled when we can’t find that thing we need – whether it’s our keys and we need to leave the house or if it’s some paper we need in the next week.  This state – the adrenaline pulsing means we’re reacting emotionally rather than logically – and therefore our ability think clearly is compromised.  No wonder it’s harder when we feel stressed about losing the thing to then find it.
    • If you can recognize when your mind is racing, practicing stepping back – find a way to relax and calm your mind.  This is easy to say and can be excruciating to try to apply!
    • When you become aware of how your emotions are dictating, consider the true urgency of finding that lost thing – is it something that can wait, even for an hour or more?  If finding the item can wait, then distract yourself with something else – something that will take your attention for a while.  Then you might find when you revisit the search that you can be calm and methodical and it’s found quickly.
    • If you need the item urgently, it’s likely your reactions are going to be that much stronger and you’re going to be more emotional too.  Ideally you can take a minute or two to calm yourself.  This can be anything that helps the anxiety subside – in order for you to think and process more clearly.
    • This is not the time to problem solve what contributes to your misplacing things.  The stress of dealing with this frequently is often a motivator for finding solutions.

For some people, losing things is virtually a catastrophe.  While for other people, it might be uncomfortable; it is something they largely accept as part of life.  Both sets of people as well as everyone in-between still have to deal with strong emotions around misplaced items – no one is exempt.  It’s amazing and sometimes disturbing how our emotions can distort our thinking and perceptions as well as how challenging it can be to keep them in check.  And not just in one-way, but both sides – trying to organize or finding our things.  This doesn’t mean avoid your feelings, rather when we can see their impact, we can make smarter choices – which sometimes means simply (or not so simply) waiting for a better time and state of mind.

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