What To Do When You're Feeling Stuck In the Same Patterns

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This rich and metaphorical poem is one of my favorites over the years. Take a peek and let me know what you think!

Autobiography in 5 Chapters, A Poem by Portia Nelson

Chapter One.

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


Chapter Two.

I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I’m in the same place! But it isn’t my fault and it still takes a long time to get out.

Chapter Three.


I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I see it 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 Four.

I walk down the same street. There’s a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter Five.

I walk down a different street.

There was an interesting commentary on Elephant Journal by Barbara Becker where she states that her Meditation Teacher explains to her that there is a Chapter 6. 

I find this to be really interesting because it has been almost 8 years since I originally read this poem.  

After my own personal journey and witnessing it among clients, this sixth chapter, according to Becker and her teacher, is that once we head down the new road, there is another hole, and we fall in again. 

I have to admit at first glance reading this I didn't really want to hear it. I mean, who wants to keep falling into holes? It's exhausting right? 

I want to get to the road where there are no holes. Where the streets are paved with gold like my Uncle would say. 

And yet, as I continue on my own path I keep seeing that yes, there are always some more holes. 

It doesn't mean I don't get better at climbing out .And I find that there happens to be a lot more time spent on certain roads now without the holes. 

But inevitably, there will be ups and downs. It's not about having those downs that means we have done something wrong. 

It's how can we be more compassionate to ourselves, more curious and get more information about what's happened and how we can apply it (gently) to what comes next. 

Image by Sherry Riter of www.theredheadriter.com

Image by Sherry Riter of www.theredheadriter.com


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