I came across this poem from Portia Nelson and wanted to share it with you today. It’s a perfect example of how we deal with challenges as we go through life… and how conditioned we are.

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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.

It takes us so long to change our thinking and break our conditioning and habits. The ego-mind always wants to be right about the way it sees life.

Portia Nelson wrote this about the relationships in her life. How she kept falling for the same kind of man. Perhaps you can see a parallel in your life? I certainly can.

The shift happens we take responsibility and can see that our actions or conditioned beliefs no longer support our well being.

We can also look at other aspects of our life, and how we relate to changes and challenges. For example: the jobs we take, the food we eat, the friends we choose, the places we go, relationships with family, the party we vote for etc.

Taking this to a macro level, we can begin to see why society takes so long to change… and why our planet is in such jeopardy.

It begins with awareness, shifting perspectives, letting go of the old and choosing a new way.

May we learn from our mistakes and start down a different road together.


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47 comments on “Stages of Life

  1. I remember reading this poem years ago. It’s such a strong reminder that failure is part of our journey. Thanks for sharing, Val.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I have always appreciated this story. Failure isn’t the issue. Repeating it is.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. what a great poem; I hope our country is at least up to Chapter 3.

    By the way, my son said yesterday that he hopes our country finds its middle ground ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A beautiful poetic parable of wisdom, Val.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Don. I’ve been thinking about parables and parallels in life – between what happens on a personal/micro level and what happens in societal/macro level. Glad you enjoyed it. ๐Ÿ’›

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a powerful poem. Shared with me years ago by a very trusted mentor, it is a story of my journey with depression. Thank you for sharing it here. It makes sense for our collective and our choices.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Thank you Carrie โฃ๏ธ when I first came across it, it was such a personal message. Now it resonates with the past and in a broader sense to embrace all in society. ๐Ÿ’•๐Ÿ™๐Ÿ’•

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Amen to that, Val. โค

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I too have a great appreciation for this poem. It is one I have used in my writing circles. It inspires reflection. Thank you Val for sharing it again here with your words of wisdom.
    Be well.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you Ali ๐Ÿ’• I have shared this with clients over the years and it takes in a slightly different meaning depending on their experiences in life. Itโ€™s good to come back to it.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I now know that sitting on the couch eating chips is NOT the best way for me to lose weight. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Well if that just doesn’t explain a WHOLE lot ! Thank you Val. I, unfortunately, resembled that poem.

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I so so loved this.We all can relate in one or the other way .Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a simple impactful tale to show how we keeping falling down the same holes – unless we take ownership of our choices, become conscious of our patterns we keep suffering.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Wonderful. โค

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Val, I can see myself in this story, too. We fall and fall and fall in that same whole–until perhaps one day we walk around it. Wanting to walking around it with my whole heart. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A wonderful reminder that if we continue to do the same thing in the same way, the results will be the same. Love this poem, Val, thanks for sharing. Take care, Lauren

    Liked by 2 people

  15. thank you for sharing this, Val. i am intrigued.

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Thanks. I needed this. ๐Ÿ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  17. May we, indeed. Glad you attributed the poem, which I have read more than once in my life. Never quite knew where it came from. ๐Ÿ™๐Ÿฝ

    Liked by 2 people

  18. For me, this work puts me in mind of self-actualization.
    We are born walking down streets with holes in them. Many feel as if life and time are rivers on which they helplessly are carried.
    Actualization is that time when we begin to see things as they are.
    We learn not only to not fall in holes or walk down streets with holes in them, but to determine for ourselves at the outset “Where do I want to go?”



    Liked by 2 people

  19. Love this.๐ŸŒป๐Ÿ’›

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Thank you for sharing this, learning from your mistakes and stopping repeating them is a vital life lesson

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Mistakes are steps to becoming better.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes they are. Although some feel painful at the time๐Ÿ’›

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is the pain that makes you grow.
        Then you feel bliss.
        Just like for childbirth: during it, there is an excruciating pain, as the baby comes out, there is bliss. The pain disappears.
        Cry if it makes you feel better. Don’t cry if you condemn yourself for the mistake.
        Take good care of yourself.


  22. Thank you for sharing enjoyed this ๐Ÿค—

    Liked by 1 person

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