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I just really thought this poem said a lot in very few words. If you’ve done some self-work in the past, this will really resonate. Read it slowly, then read it again. Then read it again. In a few days come back and read it again.. -SL

This article’s theme area:
SELF WORK

by Portia Nelson (1920-2001)
quoted in “The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying”

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 poem stands very much as a metaphor for one’s journey in counselling: as we gain greater consciousness we learn to spot those holes a mile away. If this poem doesn’t resonate that much, maybe you are stuck between chapters…

Just keep talking. Although it sometimes feels like we’re standing still – or dare I say it, regressing, just trust that the positive momentum is still working there in the background. That trust is what makes counsellors able to counsel – we have our share of challenges too; we’re just in a place of pure conviction that our self-work works. Here’s a reference from a therapist to help keep the faith -SL

Musings on poem from Dr. Suzanne LaComb, therapist This poem most often reminds me of my own recovery from depression. The holes symbolize the hopelessness and despair I used to feel when I was in the darkest part of my depression.

It describes so well how depression felt back then. It felt like I would never get out of feeling this way. So when I read about being in a hole and not being able to see a way out of it, the words resonate with me.

I now understand why this would be so.

I have learned that when we are in a specific state (i.e. depressed, energized, even feeling sick), it is very difficult to experience a different state. In fact, if we project our thoughts into a future event, we typically take our current state into that image. Then naturally enough, we feel discouraged. Our current state colours that future event.

But what I wanted to share with you is what happened when I started to recover. Even when I was making good progress, I would still fall into a hole. Yes, that’s right. It felt like Day One… like the deepest hole I had ever been in!

Even in my recovery, I fell into “holes”!!

What I didn’t fully see at the time was that while the hole went just as deep, I didn’t get stuck there as long. And remarkably, the holes were getting farther and farther apart. Unless, you understand this, you are in danger of assuming that you are getting worse when in fact, you are experiencing a normal recovery! Thankfully, there came a time when those deep holes were a thing of the past. And while I recognize that life events can conspire to put one in front of me, I know that if I fall in, there’s a very good chance, based on the joy in my present life, that I won’t stay long.

P.S. If you feel that your feelings are snowballing and preoccupying more and more of your time, then you may want to consider getting help now rather than later. Your feelings can be de-escalated instead of getting to a point where they are overwhelming…

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