Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Falling into the Hole

a painting from a market in Ithaca, NY

There Is a Hole in My Sidewalk
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 whole 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.

i got this poem at a self-esteem workshop called "Taming Your Inner Critic" that i went to with my mom earlier this year. this poem was on the back of the pamphlet we recieved and i loved it. a lot. i also loved the workshop. it made me realize how negative self-talk is, first of all, quite common and is a developmental coping strategy that all children develop. i learned that in order to lessen its force we must understand where it came from, why we developped it, and really look at how it talks to us, what it sounds like and then go about the real work. the real work is supplanting the Inner Critic with an Inner Protector voice that steps in when the Inner Critic's cruel and unusual punishment even so much as whispers an untrue thought in our ear. (although to be honest my Inner Critic isn't so much into whispering. she looks a lot like Bellatrix Lestrange and has the voice similar to that of a fire alarm.)

i like this poem because the hole can mean anything to anyone at any time in their life. the hole is unconscious behavior. it's drinking too much, eating too much, eating too little, smoking too much, beating ourselves up, spending too much on things we don't need, being in an unhealthy relationship, checking out - it's whatever we keep doing that does not serve our highest good. there is something very important about the poem, and that is the idea that we have to keep making the same mistake sometimes in order to really get it - in order to fully comprehend why we do it, why we feel like we can't avoid the hole, and to figuire out for ourselves, what the lure of the hole is and to have some compassion with ourselves for falling.

my painting, "Dancers"

even if you aren't ready to leave the hole or walk around the hole, it's important to know that. it's important to know that there is some comfort in falling into a large inky black hole, where you can essentially disappear and escape the crust of the earth and the people walking on the sidewalk. if we are stuck in the hole or stuck in the habit of falling into the hole, there is usually an exquisitely good reason why we are doing it. our job is to figuire out the why and to be kind to ourselves as we learn the why. because, and i know this because my Inner Critic is the voice of a freaked out 5 year old and not that of a  mature adult, we never learn anything through our Inner Critic. our Inner Critic is dumb. it uses shame and guilt and fear. but we cannot shame or guilt or frighten ourselves into making lasting changes. that's where the Inner Protector swoops in, like a positive coach, like a good and loyal friend, like a nurturing parent that helps us see the issue and examine it without beating ourselves into orange juice pulp in the process. the Inner Protector provides positive feedback, encouragement. it is fiercely loyal, loving and protective. the Inner Protector is strong and reliable, calm and sure. and the truly beautiful thing is that the Inner Protector is us, is always inside of us and never leaves us. we can always trust in it.

my painting, "Dancer 1"

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