This post will be looking at Portia Nelson’s poem ‘Autobiography in 5 Chapters’, which I think describes how most of us learn from our mistakes in life.
Chapter 1: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.

Chapter One is sometimes true and tells us exactly how life is. Sometimes as you walk down the sidewalk of life you wind up in a deep hole that is not of your own making.
Any unforeseen events can place you in a hole of despair, anger, loss, anxiety, worry or grief. You did not have anything to do with creating the situation but now you have to deal with it. The hole is often deep and dark. You have to struggle long and hard to climb out of it. Some of us give up and stay there for a long time. Some of us never get out.
This is the nature of life. Some things are out of your control. Unexpected things happen all the time. All you can do is try your best to adapt to them. Pull yourself out and carry on.
Chapter 2: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.

With Chapter Two the question to consider is, “Have you found yourself in exactly the same hole more than once?”
Have you found yourself in yet another bad relationship? How is it that you always get into the same type of problems at work? Do you and your spouse argue about the same things over and over?
You wonder “Why does this always happen to me? Why do they always do this to me? When will they ever stop? Why can’t they understand what they make me do?” If other people would just “act right” life would play out better.
Chapter 3: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.

Chapter Three challenges us to wake up.  all into the same hole enough times and you might awaken to the true nature of the problem. You are responsible for being there. You played some role in the process. You must change. This is good news. If you can find out what you are doing and stop then you can avoid these holes in the first place.
Taking responsibility for your problems means that you have control. All you have to do is to change yourself and the situation can improve. If you change yourself, your experience of the situation will also change. Surprisingly, if you do this, the other people you were wanting to change may change as well. You cannot change others by directly trying to influence them, but if you change yourself then they will have to change aswell, simply because they need to adapt to your new behaviour.
Chapter 4:I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

Chapter Four is a new chapter in your life. Once you take responsibility you can finally start avoiding the holes on that street. You are now able to see what is coming, because you know your pattern. This knowledge gives you control and you can intentionally respond to life in a different manner. A different response gives new possibilities.
Chapter 5:I walk down another street.

Chapter Five is a new day. Finally, you change streets! You change your inner dialogue and behaviour so that the old pattern no longer occurs. Once on the new street, you must be careful because, unfortunately, this street will have its own holes. It will have holes that you have never seen before. But you now know the rules and can apply them faster this time round.
About the Author:
Daughter of a 2-9 British Army Commando and Combatives Instructor, Kelina Cowell grew up on a military base in Dortmund, Germany. Inspired by training with her father from an early age, she continued her combative journey into Krav Maga, Submission Wrestling, Filipino Martial Arts, Pencak Silat and Muay Thai. She searches for the truth in personal protection, simply keeping what can really work on the street and the discarding the “Hollywood” techniques that don’t.
Kelina Cowell is the Founder and Chief Instructor of Apolaki Combat Systems:
  • Apolaki Krav Maga – a unique blend of traditional Krav Maga, with elements of Filipino martial arts, Pencak Silat, Muay Thai and Submission Wrestling. Complete with it’s own 5 Level syllabus and gradings.
  • Apolaki Dirty Boxing – A more in-depth training into Filipino boxing, Western Boxing, Muay Thai and Pencak Silat. Complete with it’s own 5 Level syllabus and gradings.
  • Apolaki SPD: Self Protection for Dwarfs – Co-founded with her student Eugene Grant who was born with Achondroplasia (a form of short-limbed dwarfism). An adapted form of Apolaki Krav Maga suitable for dwarf body types.