Stress or Anxious? The Poem That Changed My Life

Inspiration in difficult times
Inspiration in difficult times

We all need it.

In 2003 I experienced such a time in my life.
It was during this time that I discovered life coaching.

What my life coach, Chris, taught me …
My first encounter with Chris, a life coach, was at a restaurant in Cape Town, South Africa.
In that first meeting, he introduced me to a poem that still stays with me.

A poem that changed my life.
Therefore, I often use it to empower my clients with new hope.
It comes from the book “There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery” by Portia Nelson.

She (1920 – 2001) was a popular American singer, song writer and writer.
She developed breast cancer which she conquered in 1974 by undergoing a mastectomy.
Four years later, the book mentioned above appeared.
The poem that Chris, the life coach introduced me to, comes from this bundle.

Here is the poem that changed my life.

“There’s A Hole In My Sidewalk: Autobiography In Five Short Chapters” ~ Portia Nelson

Chapter I
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 II
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.

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

Chapter V
I walk down another street.

Our path
We often feel that you do not have control over the things that happen to us.
To a large extent that is true.
However, there is also another side.
When a crisis arises in our lives there is a path that led us there.
Sometimes we know exactly how that path led us where we are now.
At other times we only see the outlines.
Sometimes nothing at all.

Then we want to know “why?”
This is human. We all do it.
But in the long-run why is not such a good question.
Why? (smile)

Because as one of my professors at the University said:
“The why question always comes back to you like a boomerang”.
You try to finds its answer by throwing it to the universe.
It comes back and lie down at your feet again.

And in time we learn …
There is no final answer for the “why” question.

Ask: “How?” instead
It is better to ask, “How?”
The “how” question is important for two reasons:

It helps us to:
+ gain insight into how we got there
+ understand how to get out of it
For instance sometimes we are trapped in the downward spiral of a bad mood.

But when you start to understand how such a spiral begins and is maintained, two things happen:
+ You feel relieved and
+ You feel empowered because you know what to do to counteract it.

Thank you for reading my article!

Please feel free to fill in the form below if you wish to find out more about my counselling and coaching
services.