When the Ego’s Belief Mistook the Wrong Thief, It Caused Such Grief!

By Jeff Copper, MBA, PCC, PCAC, CPCC, ACG – April 18, 2022

Idea ThiefThe common theme to all of my newsletters is how paying attention to the wrong belief leads us to the wrong solution, and how being stuck is a symptom of paying attention to an inaccurate belief. As an attention coach, I find that, for most of my clients, the hardest part is not paying attention to the right things, but rather unlearning, letting go, or not paying attention to what the Ego believes it should pay attention to.

Today, I want to share a poem that I feel highlights this theme. I do have some things I’d like you to pay attention to as you read. Notice how the Ego believes (assumes) it is not the thief. Also, check your reaction at the end (the “Aha Moment”) when the incorrect belief is revealed, pointing to the real thief and the realization that the Ego had been paying attention to the wrong THIEF!

The Cookie Thief
by Valerie Cox

A woman was waiting at an airport one night,
With several long hours before her flight.
She hunted for a book in the airport shops.
Bought a bag of cookies and found a place to drop.

She was engrossed in her book but happened to see,
That the man sitting beside her, as bold as can be.
Grabbed a cookie or two from the bag in-between,
Which she tried to ignore to avoid a scene.

So she munched the cookies and watched the clock,
As the gutsy cookie thief diminished her stock.
She was getting more irritated as the minutes ticked by,
Thinking, “If I wasn’t so nice, I would blacken his eye.”

With each cookie she took, he took one too.
When only one was left, she wondered what he would do.
With a smile on his face and a nervous laugh,
He took the last cookie and broke it in half.

He offered her half, as he ate the other.
She snatched it from him and thought…oh, brother.
This guy has some nerve and he’s also rude.
Why he didn’t even show any gratitude!

She had never known when she had been so galled
And sighed with relief when her flight was called.
She gathered her belongings and headed to the gate,
Refusing to look back at that thieving ingrate.

She boarded the plane and sank in her seat,
Then she sought her book, which was almost complete.
As she reached in her bag, she gasped with surprise,
There was her bag of cookies in front of her eyes.

If mine are here, she moaned in despair,
The others were his and he tried to share.
Too late to apologize, she realized with grief,
That she was the rude one, the ingrate, the thief.

[Valerie Cox, “The Cookie Thief,” from A Third Serving of Chicken Soup for the Soul, edited by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen. Copyright 1995 by Valerie Cox. Used by permission of Health Communications, Inc., www.hcibooks.com.]

How many times in your life has your Ego been certain it understands how something works only to find it is stuck? How many times has your Ego been resistant to accepting that the situation isn’t working because it is paying attention to the wrong thing or the wrong obvious solution?What role do poems (such as “The Cookie Thief”), parables, metaphors, and analogies have in our society?

Is it possible they are designed to redirect what you pay attention to by slipping past the protective watch of the Ego? To get the Ego to pay attention to what is real in place of what the Ego believes to be real? Think of an area in your life or business where you are stuck and ask: “What is my Ego paying attention to?” Then question your Ego’s belief, so you can nab the real thief and breathe a sigh of relief.