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Story of the Lost Wallet

It’s the story of the lost wallet.

Psychotherapist and author Dr. John Monbourquette once told this story:

     “One beautiful summer evening: a man looked out his window and saw his neighbor on the street, crouched on his hands and knees. He seemed to be looking for something under the street lamp. So the man said to himself, ‘I’m going to help him find whatever he’s lost.’

     He went over to his neighbor and asked him, ‘What did you lose?’ The other replied, ‘I’ve lost my wallet. And what I’m most upset about is not the money in it, but all my identification and credit cards.’

story of the lost wallet

     Our Good Samaritan started searching too around the lamppost, on the sidewalk, on the road, on the adjacent lawns. After much fruitless effort, it occurred to him to ask, ‘Are you sure you lost your wallet around here?’ Naively, his neighbor answered, ‘Oh no, it was not here. I lost it in the field over there.’

     The man could not believe his ears. How could his neighbor expect to find his wallet under the lamppost when he had lost it somewhere else? Intrigued, he asked him to explain why he was looking here. 

     With all sincerity came the reply, ‘Well, it’s quite simple: the light is much better over here.’ “

In psychotherapy as well as the whole of life, the toughest task is looking for solutions to our problems in the right place.

Before we can do that, we need to stop our denial, our avoidance, or self -justification and see and accept what really is.

The right place where you get the solutions demands the ability to notice. That’s the story of the lost wallet.

In the style of Dr. R. D. Laing, a noted Scottish psychiatrist and writer, he described it this way:

“The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.”

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