Do you ever feel like you are stuck in the same loop? Well, you may be experiencing one of the 5 stages of change, without knowing it. That’s why, today, I am going to share an eye-opening poem - "An Autobiography in Five Chapters" by Portia Nelson - revealing the 5 stages of change all of us go through.
This poem will make you aware of what stage of change you are at now. As a result, you’ll be able to move forward and eventually get out of a rut and achieve your goals.
WHO THE HECK IS PORTIA NELSON?
Portia Nelson was not only an American famous singer, songwriter, actress, and author but was a cancer survivor too, having defeated breast cancer after a mastectomy in 1973.
Four years later, her best-known book, “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery”, was published.
Based on her personal experience, it collects biographical pieces, poems, aphorisms, and ironic jokes about relationships of various kinds - with oneself, with another person, with one's own addiction, fears, with resistance to change, and much more.
It didn’t take long for Portia’s masterpiece to become a practical self-help manual.
It is recommended by therapists and trainers, for those who find themselves in a dark period of their lives, whatever its source is.
Whether the challenging period is due to a work crisis, a bereavement in the family, a divorce, or a disabling disease “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery” has helped people from all over the world to regain hope and move forward.
One of her poems contained therein, "Autobiography in Five Short Chapters", has become a well-known text, quoted in many seminars and conferences, but way too often without giving due credit to her author.
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 hopeless. It isn't my fault. It takes 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'm 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.
This masterpiece clearly describes HOW the process of change occurs in oneself - from the powerlessness given by the idea of not having a choice to the awareness that new options are available and you can take a new path.
It’s also interesting to highlight that in the first two stages of change we blame external circumstances as the cause that leads us to fall into a deep hole.
From the third stage on, instead, we start blaming ourselves for falling into the same hole time and time again. We start taking full responsibility for our actions.
FROM AUTO-PILOT MODE TO CONSCIOUS-DRIVEN MODE
In this poem, Portia Nelson provides us with the insight to reflect on the value of awareness of one's "mistakes". In our life, we often behave in ways that only cause us harm.
We are often so used to the darkness of our mistakes that it takes us a long time to find ways to get out of it.
If we use our awareness, if we are careful about what we do, we will begin to understand that we, ourselves, have chosen to fall into the same hole again - it is a habit, a well-known path that we follow, even if it is inefficient and counterproductive.
At this point, a possibility appears though; when we are “awake” and when we are about to choose the same path, we can consciously choose to avoid it and take a new one.
SOME QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF THAT WILL HELP YOU DODGE THE HOLES AND TAKE NEW PATHS
How often do we continue to go down the same road over and over and over again?
Pretty often! Right?
To help you avoid it I’ve prepared 5 questions and I challenge you to write down your answers on paper.
Don't simply read and gather knowledge, take action!
I hope you will not simply scan this article.
I’d like you to actually start making changes in your life and this occurs only when you take action. In this instance it would be by answering the following 5 questions and acting accordingly:
1) What are my three main goals?
2) What do I need to do to hit these goals?
If you don’t know exactly what you want to get out of your life, and if you don’t make a plan, how can you ever think you will succeed?
Now let's talk about the hole in the sidewalk.
3) What do I need to stop doing to hit those goals?
Most of the time we think about what we need to do, but sometimes it's more important to find out what we need to stop doing.
4) How do I normally get in my own way and what can I do to make sure that I don't do that again?
5) What do I need to do to stay consistent?
According to a study it takes anywhere between 18 to 254 days to change a habit, break it, or create a new one. On average it's about 66 days.
So what do you need to do to stay consistent for at least 66 days, maybe even 254 days?
“Nothing worth having comes easy”. - Theodore Roosevelt
So, don’t be impatient because it takes time, but it’s worth the effort!
FOOD FOR THOUGHT
The process of becoming aware doesn’t come about all in one go.
Sometimes we need to fall into the hole and make the same mistakes time and time again to then, eventually - after getting up and dusting ourselves for the umpteenth time - become aware that in order to not fall into the same hole, we need to take a different path.
“If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten”. - Tony Robbins
Our job is all about not giving up every time we stumble and fall into the deep hole, but getting up, looking at what happened, learning, and growing from the experience.
Recovery can take time and I often invite people to consider how we learn to walk.
Do we stand up and walk straight away? Of course not, it takes time to learn to walk; the same principle holds true for recovery.
Now that you know about the 5 stages of change, let me know in the comments below what stage you are at.
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