I lose everything

‘Why Do I Constantly Lose All My Stuff?’

How to actually stop doing the things you know aren't exactly good for you.

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The “oh shit, where did I put that?” is a ritual every person about town has probably performed a time or two this spring. Now that we can go outside again, it can feel harder than ever to remember all the things we need to bring with us when we venture out of our homes.

Phone, wallet, mask, headphones, ke—wait, where the hell are my keys? I swear they were in my tote bag two seconds ago… unless I put them on my desk… or maybe they’re in my other tote bag… UGH! Why can’t I remember anything?! It’s a shitty internal monologue that feels worse and worse the more often we perform it. 


If you’re one more pre-Uber scramble away from tattooing reminders like “WALLET IN BLACK DENIM JACKET, DUMBASS” on yourself like the guy in Memento, drop the ink and repeat after me: “I am not the only person who gets frustrated with myself for being a little forgetful. ” Instead, here’s why you might be a little more inattentive than usual, how to search without tearing your hair out, and how to work on building up routines that will keep you from melting down when you misplace your goods. 

You’re running on autopilot

News flash: things are busier right now than they have been in a really long time! For a lot of us, that means we’ve got more on our minds than we did even a couple months ago—something that’s not conducive to focusing in the moment on life’s forgettable little tasks.  “You can forget pretty much anything if you don't have the cue available at the moment,” Daniel Schacter, a psychology professor and author of The Seven Sins of Memory, told VICE. “When you're thinking about what am I going to say to my friend when we meet up? or what am I going to have for a meal at this restaurant? you're just heightening the chances of forgetting something like your phone charger.”

That’s why Schacter recommends making the most of the times when you are keyed into planning and acting immediately. If you know you’ll want a portable battery or a water bottle with you in the park, put them in your bag and put your bag by the door so you don’t find yourself thirsty and pissed halfway to the hangout. “Capitalize on moments where you are aware and that will help you to avoid the problem that arises when you're not thinking about your phone charger at the moment you leave me you close the door and leave.”


You’re beating yourself up over your ‘bad memory’

If you often find yourself making the same mistake over and over again—losing your credit card in a messy bag, forgetting a tampon until you’re on the verge of free-bleeding on the dance floor—it might be hard not to get angry at yourself. But it turns out, telling yourself you’re a doofus who sucks at making memories doesn’t make it easier to remember things. 

“There's all these negative associations with having a poor memory that just compound the situation,” Susan Krauss Whitbourne, a psychology professor emerita at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, told VICE. “It becomes a very self-perpetuating cycle, where you're now so mad at having forgotten that you're exploding with anger, and that's going to impair your memory even more.” It’s not hard to see how taking the leap from “Oh no, I forgot something, that’s annoying” to “I am a forgetful person who sucks” can take a toll on your self-esteem, so do your best to nip it in the bud. Take a few deep breaths when you find yourself getting steamed, and try to call to mind exactly where you last saw your missing item. 

Not only is this good for you in the long term, but it will be clarifying in the moment when you’re searching for something you misplaced. “You have to peel back all those layers of anger, frustration, poor self-esteem, self-stereotyping, and get down to the real basics of what you're trying to do, which is pay attention to what you're doing,” Whitbourne said. 


In fact, Schacter said features of a so-called bad memory, like absentmindedness, serve other purposes, like allowing us to focus on the bigger picture instead of life’s minutia. “There are benefits to being focused on more important things than our routine,” he said. “That's why a lot of our behavior can be carried out automatically, because it frees us up to deal with more important things.”

Search with purpose, not in a panic

When we do lose something important, especially in a time crunch, it’s easy to give into the impulse to turn our living spaces into a disaster zone in order to find what we’re looking for, Tasmanian-devil style. A more systematic approach, however, is the best policy when it comes to hunting down your headphone or whatever else might have wandered away. 

“The main mistake people make is to become immediately annoyed and begin to search for the missing object in a random and unsystematic fashion. It is only human to do so. But it is a grave mistake—what I call the Basic Blunder,” Michael “Professor” Solomon, author of How to Find Lost Objects, told VICE. “The first of my twelve principles [for finding objects] is ‘Don't Look for It;’ that is to say, don't look for it until you have some idea where to look and are in the proper frame of mind. ” 


If you’re having persistent problems remembering where you left something or whether you’ll need it on a day out, it also might not hurt to make a note for yourself—in writing or verbally. “Just say the words, ‘I put my keys on the right side of my dresser,’ use words to label what you're doing,” Whitbourne said. This might not work all of the time—especially when you live with other people who might be liable to move your goods around—but at least it could provide a roadmap and prevent a frantic search.

Another tip? Setting up a designated drop zone and sticking to it. “One thing I have found helpful for things like keys and glasses is to try to always put them down in one place in my house,” Schacter said. “That doesn’t eliminate the problem, because part of the issue is that you're unaware that you're putting down the keys or glasses when you do it. But if you try to train yourself to say ‘I'm only going to put my things in one place, I found that really reduces it quite a bit.

This zone can also help hem in your search—something Solomon said is critical to his method of finding. “My most useful single principle is Principle Ten: the Eureka Zone. It's amazing how often the missing object is to be found literally within eighteen inches of where it's supposed to be, or where we last had it, or where it has been found in the past,” Solomon said.


Remember that you’re (probably) normal

All three experts stressed that little lapses in memory happen to everyone, even if they’re frustrating as hell. “It is an ineluctable part of the human condition to lose things,” Solomon said. “That's because: a) we have so many things, and b) the mind can only deal with or remember or process one thing at a time.” 

According to Schacter, unless you’re having so much trouble finding things that it’s actively interfering with your life, you don’t need to start with any kind of self-diagnosis. “Are you actually unable to carry out your job, for example, because of forgetfulness? If the answer to that is yes, it might be something worth following up on,” he said. “But for most of us, the answer to that would be no, it's just an annoyance from time to time that can be dealt with.”

Whether you stashed your Metrocard in the pocket of your shorts just before you spilled a jar of kimchi or you accidentally chucked your keys under your dresser while you were wondering if that cool guy you met at a party thinks you’re weird, distractions happen when life gets busy. That’s inevitable. Giving yourself a hard time isn’t.

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Forever Losing Things? Does that Mean You’re Losing Your Mind?

Are you one of those people who would like to be able to lose weight as easily as you lose everything else in your life? Do you sometimes think you might be an absent-minded professor even though you’ve not stepped foot on a college campus in decades? Do you worry that not only are you forever losing your keys, your glasses, your phone, and your ‘you-name-it,’ but perhaps you’re also losing your mind?

If you’re nodding your head ‘yes,’ keep reading. You’ve got company. Mega-company. And your compadres are not losing their minds. Nope, they’re too busy losing other things to bother with senility.

So, if I’m not losing my mind, then I’ve got ADD, right? Maybe, maybe not. Most of us are super busy today. And we carry around so much stuff. How can we be expected to recall where we put our stuff when our thoughts are a million miles away?

Still, it doesn’t mean there’s nothing you can do to change your pattern. Read on, if you want to become better organized. I’ve got some ideas for you that just might make your life less hassled.

  1. Calm down. Stop panicking. When you’re in an agitated state, you’re not at your best. Then it’s harder for you to find anything. First thing for you to remember is that you probably just misplaced what you’re looking for, rather than losing it for good. Your item will probably show up sooner or later – often, when you least expect it.
  2. Scan your environment before you leave it. Look around you. Look behind you. Items you think you lost might be close by. Perhaps, where you were just sitting. Or, under the cushion. Or, in your pocket, your purse or maybe even in your other hand. Or, on your forehead. Don’t laugh. That’s a favorite place for misplaced glasses.
  3. Start your change program with one item you tend to lose. Let’s say it’s your keys. You could have sworn you put them on the counter but they’re not there. You wish you could remember where they are; but you don’t. What to do? It’s time to make a designated place for your keys; put a basket by the front door. Make it visible. Make it attractive. Make it hard to ignore.
  4. Drop your keys in the basket as soon as you enter your home. Good idea! But, somehow, you keep forgetting to do it. You’re right. It takes time to train your brain to learn a new behavior. Speed up the training process by connecting the action (dropping the keys) with a humorous song. Here’s one, I just made one up that’s yours to appropriate. “My keys are safe; I now have faith; they no longer roam; they’re enjoying their new home. Yippee!” Associate the action with a lighthearted ditty and a new habit is formed. Case closed!
  5. On to the next. What else do you misplace? Perhaps it’s your phone. Here one minute, gone the next. What to do? In this instance, technology might come to the rescue. Attach a Bluetooth tracker to help you locate your phone in seconds. There are several different types on the market. See what works best for you.
  6. Establish new routines, one by one. You don’t have to have everything organized to stop losing things. You just need to develop a few new habits. One of the best techniques is to talk out loud to yourself: “ Yup, I have to remember to drop those keys in the basket.”Now, where do I want to keep these important papers.” “I will make it a point to put these things where they belong so I can find them tomorrow.Talking out loud to yourself doesn’t make you crazy. It makes you smart. It reinforces what you want to accomplish. Good or you!

So, if you are forever losing things, it doesn’t mean you are losing your mind. However, it does mean that you are losing your focus. That’s understandable. Busy people can’t focus on everything. However, if losing stuff is stirring up your anxiety, it’s time to make some changes. I hope this article provided you with the impetus to do so.


Why am I losing everything or how to deal with absent-mindedness

We all remember from childhood the rhyme about the absent-minded who, in an attempt to leave the glorious city of Leningrad, every time found himself on the same ill-fated platform due to his own inattention. Alas, absent-mindedness is good only in jokes and children's fairy tales. In real life, it can cause a lot of trouble.

Without plane tickets or a passport, you can't fly away on vacation, the lack of a driver's license threatens with a serious fine, and losing the keys to an apartment is completely unpleasant. Just imagine how many unforeseen expenses you now have: buy a new lock, call a locksmith, distribute new keys to all relatives. Moroka! And all due to the fact that you, as always, were somewhere in the clouds. It turns out that despite the widespread belief that forgetfulness is a consequence of monstrous disorganization and indifference to real life, a serious psychological problem can be hidden behind it. nine0003

I don't want responsibility

Laughter with laughter, but Sigmund Freud spoke about the unconscious intent that accompanies certain losses. He assured that they can often be seen as a symptom that reveals our internal conflict. And this lost thing, most likely, will be connected with that area of ​​life, whether it be work or relationships with loved ones, where we feel insecure, where something does not satisfy us.

Often we come across the thought, lurking in our own subconscious, that any responsibility is an unbearable burden. We are afraid of getting a leadership position, although we constantly say that we want a promotion ( see also : "14 career goals for 2019 that will increase your efficiency at work"). We do not have children because we are afraid of the upcoming responsibilities: after them, our own life may sink into oblivion.

It would seem, what does our forgetfulness have to do with this? The most immediate. The fact is that easily forgetting important documents on the table, losing the keys to offices, safes, leaving the children of girlfriends unattended, our subconscious seems to be screaming: I don’t want responsibility. And since it would be indecent to say it out loud, we express our desire, or rather our unwillingness, to perform too many duties in action. nine0003

Too much information

It just so happens that our everyday life is overflowing with information: news, important events, work, study - all this must be kept in memory, and it, meanwhile, is not rubber. Due to the threat of oversaturation, our memory almost according to the laws of physics pushes out unnecessary information, and, believe me, it’s not the latest news that is superfluous, but something really necessary - an important meeting or work that requires immediate execution.

It is precisely because of the constant influx of various kinds of information that we begin to do many things mechanically. And it's good if you unconsciously put the keys to the car in your pocket, much worse if you automatically put them in the refrigerator - when the mind returns to you, it will be very difficult to find the necessary item. nine0003

Subconscious desire

Loss of things can reveal our inner conflict, which we ourselves are not fully aware of. So, for example, keys, as a rule, are lost by those who do not want to return home, plane tickets - by those who do not want to fly on vacation or on a business trip. It is not uncommon for many of us to forget or lose our belongings in a stressful situation or when we are preoccupied with something that excites us.

But as soon as we begin to realize what exactly worries us, then absent-mindedness disappears. Remember how you run around the apartment in search of the most necessary things, whether it's mascara that you bought just yesterday, or a watch. You can turn the whole house over, throw out all the little things from the bags, go through things in the closet with shaking hands, you can even cry, but there is no such necessary thing. In a completely broken state, you will go to work or a meeting an hour late, and upon returning home, the first thing you will see is your unfortunate loss. nine0003

Why is this happening? This is because in a stressful, excited state, we lose vigilance, but in a calm state, on the contrary, our vision even improves.

What to do?
  • Make friends with things. To be more attentive to things, a lot of skill is not needed: put your emotions into them. Attach the keychain that your mother gave you to the keys - it will be a pity to lose such a valuable gift. Buy yourself a beautiful wallet - parting with a pleasant thing is much harder than parting with one that does not arouse any feelings in you at all. And, besides, it doesn’t hurt to think about how much money you spend every month going nowhere, restoring credit cards, phone or documents: take pity on yourself and spend your salary on something worthwhile. nine0003

  • Ask yourself what the lost item meant to you. Perhaps you really wanted to get rid of it (or get rid of those memories that are associated with this item). Listen to your true emotions: it is likely that now, having parted with an unnecessary load, you are relieved ( read also : "How and why to deal with heightened emotionality").

  • And if you discard all the lyrics and turn to self-control, try to learn the simplest things : always put money in deep pockets, hang keys on a hook near the door or leave them in the keyhole, do not remove jewelry when you are not at home.

  • Develop the habit of being attentive : 21 days in a row do the same actions, bring the process of putting things in order to automatism, and you will become a completely different person.

Photo: Getty Images

Sasha Barinova

Blaise Pascal quote: If there is no God, and I believe in Him, I am nothing .


— Blaise Pascal

Taken from Wikiquote. The latest update on November 18, 2022


Blaz Pascal
110 French mathematician, physicist, writer and philosopher - 1662

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