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Chapters of Your Life... Thursday May 8, 2014

All of us at some point, get frustrated about repeating a behaviour which does not serve us well. Such behaviours (or relationships) can lead to disappointment, anger, hurt and even depression.

The fact is - changing habits is tough stuff.

We can even see this challenge from the many comments on the blogs, as we seek our own answers assisted by the many personal writings and growing supportive comments. Many of us feel what others are talking about; we've been down a similar path or sidewalk.

This story is the simplest, clearest metaphor I know, which so clearly demonstrates how tough change can be and also who has to take responsibility for change.

See what you think, or more importantly feel.

Porsha Nelson was given a 5x7 card and asked to write down the 5 Chapters of her life at the end of a seminar and she wrote this.

Chapter 1
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
And it takes me forever to find m way out.

Chapter 2
I walk down the same street
There is 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
And it still takes me a long time to get out.

Chapter 3
I walk down the same street
There is 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
And I get out immediately

Chapter 4
I walk down the same street
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk
I walk around it.

Chapter 5
I walk down another street.

Now as a tool for self awareness - which chapter are you in right now? Have you taken responsibility for the sidewalk you are walking down? How can you move onto the next chapter?

Who can you discuss it with to help you see more clearly? (Your Moodscope buddy?)

If you are at chapter 5 - how can you avoid chapter 1 again and how can you help others to see the sidewalk they are on?

A Moodscope member.

Thoughts on the above? Please feel free to post a comment on our Blogspot:

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Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 7:43am

Thank you for posting this Les. Since I first read it, a few years ago, it has become one of the reference points for a better life. For me, the key to Portia Nelson's poem is about taking responsibility (but not self-blame) for one's actions, freeing us to move forward. I hope it inspires other readers as much as it has me.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 8:39am

What a fantastic post today, I will use this to pass on and as a point of discussion for my Bi Polar support group. Thanks

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 8:42am

Chapter 5 on some things, 3 on others, I am working on defensive behaviour, I am managing to pause and respond rather than react these days which I am proud of, but I still have the stomach churning physical reaction initially and then, I find if challenged by something else there can be a redirection of the emotions. So trying to work out what to do with that currently.

Julia Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 9:13am

I like this and not heard it before. I like chapter 2 where it says "I can't believe I am in the same place'' and reminds me of something I read a while back which is... Where we are now is the future of the past. So I took from where I am now, what I envisaged all those years ago?

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 9:21am

Les,ur messages always have such meaning to my life. Thank you for sharing so much. Ur a star x

G Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 10:34am

I am still between Chapter 3 and 4. Hopefully this "habit" can be overcome soon.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 10:51am

Les, this is a beautiful story, thank you for sharing it with us. I've stumbled upon a few major holes in the last two years of my life, and would say, I'm in chapter 3 with those, perhaps slowly getting towards chapter 4.

What I wanted to add is, that at all stages since I started to even notice there was a hole (emotional abuse from my partner and family), hence, chapter 1, I've also had this feeling of finally growing again, of healing at my own pace. This gives me a pleasure and satisfaction which more than balance my pain over falling into the hole again.

I guess what I really want to say is that happiness can come way before you've reached chapter 5. And I am dead sure that this growth process will keep me from going back to chapter 1 once I'm there.

heather Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:06am

I am still struggling around chapters 3 and 4 to avoid holes in my relationships which I am aware of.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:40am

Thank you for sharing this Les. It is profound.

I have often gone back to Chapter 2, never having learnt from my mistakes. I bump along in life, repeatedly pretending I don't see the holes. And it's worrying how frequently I find myself thinking "I can't believe I am in the same place".

Well, now I have a kind of roadmap. This poem clearly and succinctly sets out the steps I need to take. Perhaps by bearing this journey in mind I can improve my own. Thanks again.


Elizabeth Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:57am

Still caught between chapters 2 and 3; I know where I am, it is a habit, I still cannot get out. And chapter 1 on one thing now. Ouch.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 12:02pm

Dear Les, what a brilliant post! I have read a similar story but it only dealt with the angle of falling into the hole and why we might walk around with our heads down to avoid falling again. This is excellent at giving perspective and inspiration. If I could begin every day with perspective and inspiration I would be brand new!! I'm most definitely in chapter 3 and (being of the 'I need to stick my hand into the flame to know it burns' mentality) I am in no rush to move into chapter 4 until I am sure I have chapter 3 lassoed. This being a battle I will win this time. I will find a way of putting this script somewhere I can see often. I felt very defeated yesterday and today...not. Thanks muchly for it. Happy day everyone, love from the room above the garage.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 12:07pm

Curly you sound like you have had a visit from perspective and inspiration, the two things I also had a visit from after reading the post. Bumping along is no bad thing, you will move forward in your own time but I am pleased you now have a roadmap. There is a path along the cliff after all! Love from the room above the garage.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 12:11pm

Elizabeth, you said "I know where I am" and that is the nugget that will move you forward. I hope you can get some balm for the ouch.Love from the room above the garage.

Lostinspace Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 4:01pm

I like this post although I feel I have been in a big hole for a long, long time and am unable to get out of it - however I find ways to live down that hole which make life more bearable and the mistakes I make at the bottom of the hole are what I deal with. Quite some time ago I think it was Jon who wrote a post on it taking 10 days to change a habit (you see I am into the small stuff!) and that's what I am into and can manage at this moment in time.

heather Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 4:05pm

Oh dear, just fallen down the hole again ! I was daydreaming and not prepared. It really huuuurts. I have blamed the hole for being there and blamed others for putting it there and blamed myself for not avoiding it. But hey ho, it doesn't seem quite so deep this time and I think I can get out of it quicker and not so bruised !!

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 4:36pm

I wish I could find the hole, fall in, lie down and never get up again.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 4:42pm

I've been there and felt what you're feeling. Please seek someone that you trust to talk to. Thanks. Heartfelt best wishes to you and hopes for better things.

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 5:02pm

talking makes the waiting almost too much to bear. I just keep busy until my Grandmother and my late partner's mother have passed. Then I'll be able to die without the guilt of bringing them pain.

Richard Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 5:43pm

Thankyou, Heather.
You made me laugh.

Thankyou, Les.
This, as pointed out earlier, is profound.

Love, Richard.

Lex McKee Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 6:07pm

Dear Anonymous, you are not alone in these feelings. Portia Nelson's poem is one of my all-time favourite stories but, for me, it lacks one vital element - someone else's help to get out of the hole. We've been sold a lie: that we're all supposed to be brave and 'adult' and do it all ourselves. This is not the truth. The truth is that we all need each other, and sometimes the bravest act is to admit we need someone else to help carry our burden for a while.

Lex McKee Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 6:30pm

Hi Les, thanks for the reminder of a great favourite. Having loved this for years, I now realise that I am in all of the Chapters. A very few aspects of my life are actually 'sorted' - and so are in the Chapter 5 state. The vast majority are spread over the states of the other chapters. It's situational for me. So it's useful to examine a specific situation in my life and ask what would move me forward to the next chapter. It's also clear that people can hold onto chapters when it is time to close them and choose another street.

Julia Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 6:55pm

Hi Lex. Thank you for this as I missed Chapter 5 when first reading the poem. I couldn't quite understand how walking round a problem would help (I thought 4 was the final solution),. I think I am with you and Lostinspace on this. I do see light at the top of the hole quite often though and I also think we do need help from others to stop repeating time and time again, destructive behaviour. So I was happy to read the poem for the first time and now even happier having read your comments and realising the answer lies in chapter 5 which I missed ( but with a little help from friends, such as you and lostinspace).

Anonymous Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 10:31pm

Lovely words Lex. I agree.

avagemini Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 10:36pm

I believe we keep falling into the hole becaus? we like how it feels down there. we know the good in the pit is only temporary and won't do us any good but the strength to not want to fall into the hole is the issue, the real issue.

DawnC.Ritchie Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:11pm

Absolutely Brilliant Les!
I'm at chapter 3 and determined to go into stage 4, or rather, after reading the last two again, I choose chapter 5!
Good night all, sleep well x

Les Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:38pm

Hi G

Careful with your language.....'hopefully' ....take the word 'hopefully' out and then read it back to does that feel?

Even better - change can to 'will'......

Has to feel right for you tho.......words are very important tho ;-)

Les Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:40pm

Hi Heather

'Awareness' is the start of all change - from that - everything can change.

Good luck

Les Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:42pm

Hi Elizabeth

'room above the garage' is spot on - as with my comment above - 'self awareness' is the start of all change - in the story's case that is Chapter 3.

Good luck and move that 'ouch' to an oooohh ;-)

Les Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:47pm

Hi 'room a t g'

Look how much you are serving others with your comments as well...

Loved the language - 'this is a battle I will win this time' - and you will.

Really like this switch in language ' 'I'll see it when I believe it.' - rather than the old 'I'll believe it when I see it'

Keep giving out the balm....

Les Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:50pm

Hi Heather

Totally agree with Richard - laugh I certainly did - even read it out to someone......

Walk round it tomorrow / this week / this month..??

Les Thu, May 8th 2014 @ 11:52pm

Hi Anonymous

Keep walking..............

Anonymous Fri, May 9th 2014 @ 8:18am

I repeat this but times I don't I need to focus more and not let my mind fool me

Anonymous Fri, May 9th 2014 @ 11:26am

Room a t g...a new hat! I will wear that and join the bunny ear clan!

Anonymous Fri, May 9th 2014 @ 12:24pm

Thanks for the response. :) Yes, I suppose inspiration is one of the things I gained from this post. Perspective, undoubtedly. Good observations. Glad you feel similarly. This post is one of those that made me feel like it was written especially for me! Curly

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