The poem "Autobiography in Five Short Chapters” is something I often refer to in my counselling room. Written by Portia Nelson, it is a beautiful reminder of the patterns we perpetuate in our lives and the stages of transformation we go through. It highlights the need to break free from unhelpful habits and behaviours in order to expect different results. Many people live on autopilot, unaware of their actions and repeating the same mistakes, which hinders their growth. The poem encourages honest self-reflection and a willingness to learn and grow throughout life.
By acknowledging our vulnerability and taking accountability for our actions, we can embark on a journey of self-discovery and personal development. Our experiences play an important role in how we perceive what is difficult, what is blocking us, what is worth stepping around, or when it is worth going in a different direction. It is through vulnerability that we gain clarity, purpose, and a deeper spiritual life.
“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity.
It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.
If we want greater clarity in our purpose or deeper and
more meaningful spiritual lives, vulnerability is the path.”
― Brené Brown
Sometimes, when we find ourselves in unexpected situations or repeatedly making the same mistakes, we may wonder how we got there. It is important to be compassionate with ourselves during these moments and recognize that change takes time. Creating awareness of our actions, reflecting on what we've tried before, and identifying the necessary changes are crucial steps towards growth.
Failure or wrong turns are not the end of the journey but rather opportunities for growth and self-improvement. It requires a commitment to oneself and a desire to become a better, more authentic version of oneself. Remember, transformation is a process, and with self-compassion and a willingness to learn, we can move forward on the path of personal growth.
THERE’S A HOLE IN MY SIDEWALK
Autobiography in Five Short Chapters
By Portia Nelson
Chapter One 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 forever to find a way out.
Chapter Two I walk down the street. There is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I pretend that I don’t see it. I fall in again. I can’t believe I am in this same place. But, it isn’t my fault. It still takes a long time to get out.
Chapter Three 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 … but,
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 is a deep hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.
Chapter Five I walk down another street.
We are reminded that life is a series of experiences, lessons, and choices. It is through acknowledging our mistakes, learning from them, and embracing personal responsibility that we can pave a new path forward.
Each chapter represents a stepping stone towards a greater understanding of ourselves, allowing us to embrace imperfections, celebrate the victories, and ultimately find fulfilment in the path we choose to walk.
May we embrace the challenges, setbacks, and detours we encounter along our own journeys, recognising that they can lead us to profound growth and transformation.
“Believe in your infinite potential. Your only limitations are those
you set upon yourself. Believe in yourself, your abilities and your own potential.
Never let self-doubt hold you captive.
You are worthy of all that you dream of and hope for.”
― Roy T. Bennett