Have you ever thought that there might be something more in life? This may help…

I got the inspiration for today’s blog post by a poem that Portia Nelson has written. This was first published in 1988. It was part of the book called “There’s a Hole in my Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery”.

This poem has got some attention from the self-help readers and writers. I would like to mention this here so that you can either see it for the first time or revisit it. I will write some thoughts on how it is connected to therapy afterwards… So here it goes!

My Autobiography in Five Chapters

Chapter I
I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes me forever to find a way out.

Chapter II
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But it isn’t my fault.
It still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter III
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in … it’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

Chapter IV
I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

I find this poem touching and I suspect it is touching for many people. It is in a way representative of the lives of many of us. It speaks about how we might find ourselves thinking or feeling the same things and wondering if this is all that life is about.

How do I connect this poem with therapy or any other change process?

Usually, when we are in chapter one of our lives, we don’t really think about why we do the things we do. Depending on our sensitivity and circumstances, we might find ourselves falling in the same hole when we are 12 or when we are 20 or when we are 50. It doesn’t matter. The important thing is that we understand we are falling.

Chapter Two says something about denial which is true for any change process. We all would like things to be different. We would like to believe that we are better people than we are, that we don’t make mistakes or that life will be an easy ride. Whatever the case, we don’t really want to accept that we might need to change something, especially in us and how we process things.

However, as chapters one and two so eloquently put it, responsibility is key in finding a way out. As long as I understand that I am not considering how I contribute to something that is part of my life, I might need to think about things again. A mental shift might be required.

We usually go to therapy or counselling when we are somewhere in chapters one or two. If I stay in chapter one, therapy might fail. It is when for whatever reason, someone does not want to get out of the hole (usually because there is some kind of safety there). That’s unfortunate but can happen.

Chapter two might repeat itself for some time. The repetition might alert me to starting therapy or I might find myself in chapter two while in therapy. However, each time I fall in this hole in the sidewalk, things are different. I do accumulate some kind of energy (if I am conscious of falling) that will eventually lead me to chapter three where I will have my eyes open. And that makes all the difference.

Keeping my eyes open, speaks about the light of awareness. I am finally beginning to gain awareness and to wake up to my own mechanical thinking and acting. And I begin to gather energy to make different choices. I become more present in my own life.

Leading a chapter five life…

Chapter five speaks about the power of letting go. Letting go is about living precious patterns that we have nourished for years. We have treasured certain mental and emotional survival patterns that becomes really difficult to see them go and release them. When we do though, we might be freer to taste a new kind of life that is possible. But with being free, a greater sense of responsibility is required. Because we are then accountable for how we will choose to use our precious time here on earth. We can no longer find shelter in making excuses.

And I think that each subchapter of life might have these five chapters in it. A new job might require some adjusting that is depicted in this mental shift…

What chapter of your life are you on? How can you benefit from taking more responsibility or bringing more awareness in your everyday life?

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