Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

I am not at all poetic and I don’t necessarily read poems. This particular poem however has showed up in the past two books I have read. Coincidence or not it really spoke to me and I have been thinking about it quite a bit. 

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters 

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.

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.

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.

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

I walk down another street.

Portia Nelson

I am fascinated by this poem because it captures exactly how we continue to have self sabotaging behaviors. We start with not believing it is our fault when we fall. We get frustrated because the same thing keeps happening and we keep finding ourselves at the bottom of a hole. It then becomes a habit and finally we realize it is our fault that we keep finding ourselves in the same place. If you are like me you do everything you can to patch up the hole in the sidewalk. But you keep falling in. 

I consider myself a fighter. That also means that sometimes very stubborn. I believe that I can overcome any road block or in this poems case “hole” in my way. I try to control the bump in my road as much as possible. I obsess over the fact that there is a giant hole in the sidewalk. I had never thought about the idea just walking around the hole rather than “fight back” and use my strength to cover the stupid hole. 

Is it giving up to decide to just completely avoid something that continues to make you fall, to walk around the hole? No.

What if we just chose to go down a different street? I think that would be better! 

We have all dealt with those nagging inner battles and self sabotaging behaviors:

  • Committing to healthy eating and then making excuses for why you can’t stick to it on the weekend.
  • Longing for self love and constantly being critical of yourself. 
  • Saying you want to lay off on alcohol but giving into the “social pressure” and meeting up with some friends for a drink.
  • Knowing that sleep makes you better at everything you do but staying up late to watch TV or browse the web. 
  • Never saying “no”. 
  • Knowing your body needs rest and continuing to train, workout, go go go. 
  • Procrastinating: knowing what you need to do and putting it off. 

So how can you walk around these holes and whats the new road you can walk down?

  • Planning to succeed. Check out restaurant menu’s before hand and make a plan on what to order. Walk down the road where your health comes first and know that your friends, family and even restaurants will respect that! Avoid trigger foods and situations. If you know certain foods or situations send you off the deep end, stop eating them and avoid those situations. 
  • Play “good cop” with your critical thoughts. Write them down and then be rational. Is what your thinking really the truth? Is that what your Mom, spouse or someone who loves your dearly would think?
  • Let your friends know where you are coming from. Plan something else to do that doesn’t involve alcohol or meet up and choose a non-alcoholic drink. If you feel like you HAVE to drink to enjoy yourself with certain people you probably need to find new people to hang out with.
  • Set a bedtime for yourself and respect it. 
  • Again, prioritize your own well being. Stop putting yourself in the hole where you are doing too much because you say yes to everything. Walk down the road where you are selective about what you do. That the things you say “yes” to align with your core values. 
  • Figure out why your really afraid of resting. Follow the advice you would give other people. 

self destructive behavior

I’ve had all sorts of holes in my life. From my approach to training, certain foods, people and jobs. The only way things ever got better was when I decided to change my route. To make things different you must do something different. 

Walking around the hole isn’t giving up. Successful people don’t give up, they find new ways to do things. They decide to completely avoid the situations, people and things in their life that are bringing them down. Sometimes that hole in the sidewalk just ain’t going anywhere. So walk around it and turn down another street. 

Healthy Regards,


Have you seen this poem before? Thoughts? 

Can you identify any holes in your sidewalk? What can you do to walk around and down another street?


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