Saturday, August 15th, 2020

R Relationships by Dr. Bill Austin
Unclaimed Property


You may have heard that each state has a division called "Unclaimed Property."  For example, the "Unclaimed Property" website for the State of Tennessee reads:

Tennessee may be holding unclaimed property, which belongs to you. Millions of dollars are turned over annually to the State of Tennessee by U.S. Companies who cannot locate the owners.  This intangible property is in the form of bank accounts, stock, certificates, checks, unclaimed wages, refunds, gift certificates, and other sources. It is not land or vehicles.

Each year millions of dollars in dormant or lost accounts go unclaimed. There is no statute of limitations.  Anyone has the right to claim property, at no cost to him or her, at any time, regardless of the amount or the length of time lapsed.

Since most of my family lived in Tennessee, Karen and I went to the State of Tennessee's web site with the hope that the Austins left us some treasure! We fantasized about what we might find. It was fun until we discovered that the Austins did not leave anything.

When we apply this concept of untapped resources to ourselves, some of us may have an "unclaimed division" within us. There may be intangible items such as gifts, talents, possibilities, and potentials stored in the basement of our lives. At any time, they can be claimed by any of us when we decide to claim them.

Why don't we claim this unclaimed property?  They would bring joy and pleasure to our lives, so why do we let them lie dormant and unclaimed?

Perhaps we do not claim our gifts because we are not aware that they are there. Maybe some of us would never imagine that such potentials and gifts are available to us because we have such a negative image of who we are.

The unclaimed property reminds me of the following illustration. A veterinarian was traveling in the country when he came across a chicken farm. He noticed in the hen yard, among the chickens was an eagle. The eagle was living like the chickens - pecking around for food, etc. The man asked the farmer how this happened. The farmer said that one day he found the baby eagle and brought him home. He grew up with the chickens. He tried to get him to fly but with no success. The veterinarian took the eagle to a high hill and as he lifted the bird, he said, "Fly! You are a magnificent bird. You were meant to soar among the clouds. Fly!" Finally, after several tries the eagle flies away.

Wouldn't it be sad that we were meant to soar but chose to stay in the chicken coop because we did not claim the treasures and potentials that lie within us? It would be like having the winning lottery number but never cashing it in.

Dr. William E. Austin is a licensed psychotherapist and holds a Doctor of Divinity degree. He is a therapist with Tidewater Pastoral Counseling Services . He is well known for his warmth and sense of humor. His book, Creating Our Safe Place - Articles on Healthy Relationships, can be purchased through

Tidewater Pastoral Counseling: 623-2700