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June 5, 2014

As a CBT therapist I spend a lot of time looking at the power that behavioural change can make on our lives. Often clients come to see me because they are struggling with an area of their life. We break down specific problems and look at how they are being maintained with thinking and behavioural patterns. Time and time again I am fascinated to see how simple behavioural change can lead to a big psychological shift. As clients create more positive behavioural patterns in their lives, this in turn has a significant role in promoting more optimistic thinking and a sense of pride at observing the power of their own ability to provoke change. The poem below beautifully illustrates how it can take time to change our behaviours and thinking but that we do learn (often by repeating the same mistakes!) and in changing the script we move forward with our lives.

Autobiography in Five Short Chapters

By Portia Nelson

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 me forever to find a way out.

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.

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.
my eyes are open
I know where I am.
It is my fault.
I get out immediately.

IV

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

V

I walk down another street.

Copyright (c) 1993, by Portia Nelson from the book There’s A Hole in My Sidewalk.

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