Sunday, November 30, 2008

Excess & Deprivation

In this fairly blessed culture, one's greatest enemy is often ourselves. It's generally something tied to excess of something we like, deprivation of something we need, or both.

I've used this poem as a tool to help others help themselves. It's ideal for people with serious addictions, but nearly everyone has some trap they keep falling into.
Read this carefully:

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 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 this 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 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 street.
I walk around it.

Chapter V

I walk down another street.


No, I didn't write that poem. It's titled Autobiography In Five Short Chapters, by Portia Nelson. Amazing, isn't it?

When it comes to the demon you've been wrestling with, if you have one, which chapter are you stuck in?

I thought of waiting until January 1st to write this post, however, since that's the time many of you will be toying with the idea of a New Years Resolutions. However, with more holidays on the way, the opportunity is ripe to start thinking about issues that trip you up.

[Edit, Sunday, 11/30/2008 @ 2:40 PM
It occurred to me that this poem applies to nations too.
Hmmm, usually people and communities are a microcosm of the larger society. This time it's the reverse.]


I'll throw out some ideas in different categories. You'll see issues of people here that affect your life and tempted to say, "Oh, that's so n' so!", but this ain't about them, it's about you and your stuff, so try to focus on that and what you need or would like to do to bring about change that you have control over.


Excess: Knowingly being a sucker in any kind of relationship, reckless promiscuity, love or infatuation addiction, being needlessly critical or argumentative, oppressively dominating another in love, family or work, using anger to control others, being a workaholic to avoid emptiness in your social relationships, wasting time with people who drag you down or things that bring you little satisfaction.

Deprivation: Avoiding face-to-face social connection with others, putting hobbies and pleasurable activities on the back burner, ignoring your loneliness for companionship, sexual starvation, ignoring signs of depression and anxiety.


Excess: Overeating, eating foods you shouldn't if you have a specific health condition, not practicing safe sex to avoid disease or unwanted pregnancies, smoking, abusing alcohol, using hard drugs or steroids, staying so busy that you don't get enough rest or sleeping too much.

Deprivation: Not getting enough exercise, not eating properly or taking vitamins to compensate, not getting help for any kind of addiction or mental health issue that affects your body or mind.


Excess: Buying things you don't really need for yourself or others, gambling to excess.
Deprivation: Ignoring important bills, not saving for something critical, not developing your academic or career options to its fullest.


The burdens we carry with us are like unwelcome baggage... heavy, like a bag of rocks which weighs us down. Sometimes we pick it up luggage by accident, and since we are creatures of habit and like what we like, this can be to our demise.

More frequently the burdens we carry are generational, passed onto us by one or both parents, our extended family, grandparents, or further back on our family tree. It can be barely in our consciousness or unconscious, or, our troubles stem from a social burden and part of our community or culture.

I won't lie and tell you this is always a bad thing, because all sunshine and no rain makes a desert.

Our troubles can give us insight into the human condition and make us stronger, better and more useful people.

Thus, just as the earth needs rain for growth, we need the challenges that comes from problems to become stronger and give us depth. View your issues not as a curse, but possibly a gift, which teaches you how your problem developed, and how to overcome it.

What you learn may apply in different areas, and also be helpful in your relationships with others - and maybe prevent the next generation, i.e., your kids, from picking up your baggage, developing your less functional coping skills in some area, and later falling into their own hole.

As you begin thinking about all of this, by New Years, you might be ready to unload that some or all of that baggage that has been weighing you down.

Proceed slowly because success is a journey and takes time and nurturing. Your problematic habits of excess or depriving yourself probably didn't develop in one day, and they're not likely to disappear as quickly you'd like, so be kind to yourself.


  1. I'm glad you didn't wait til New Years to post that. It gives me 32 days to get ready. I'm tired of falling in the same hole over and over again.

  2. Kellybelle, Thanks, and I'm glad you left this comment. This piece is uncharacteristic of what I usually post, lacking the usual bite of the kind of topics I normally write about.

    On the surface it's appears to be a 'fluff' article, but I've found it so helpful to my clients that I passed it along today while I work on a political piece and juggle cleaning out the old stuff I no longer use. Good luck.

  3. I've GOT to quit eating like a food addict. I've gotten over all my addictions except that one.
    6'0" and 220 is gonna kill me.

    I keep letting my ego try to run my life instead of letting life just happen. That one is tough as I've been working on it for many, many years.

    Insanity is repeating the same behavior over and over and expecting different results.
    Yes, very good verse.

  4. Sagacious, Damn I hate housework. Just had to get that off my chest. Anyway, lots of of luck with the food thing. At your height & weight, you don't sound fat.

    Overeating is one the hardest addictions to beat, more so than many (but not all) drugs. It's also easier to stop smoking (you don't have to be around cigs or other smokers) but you can't avoid eating every day - which even if you're eating 'right', triggers cravings for your favorite foods.

    BTW, Readers,, it occurred to me a few minutes ago that this poem applies to nations too. I'll edit and add that now.

  5. Big ol' hug and a hand clap, Kit :-).

    This is on point. It's taken me 37 years to realize this, especially appreciating this fact you pointed out...
    Our troubles can give us insight into the human condition and make us stronger, better and more useful people.

    Excellent insight and things to ponder, as always!

  6. @CurvyGurl: You are right on with our troubles can and do make us stonger & better people.

    Also knowing what it is like to have difficult problems and then to have tackled them enables us to help others that are struggling with the same issues.

    Like they say, 'takes one to know one', and you can go even further with it, 'Takes one to help one' Because people that haven't experienced the pain of an addiction don't really know how someone that is dealing with a problem like this is really feeling, and how can you really counsel someone and tell them how to get well if you have never experienced the problem yourself.

  7. Very Powerful!!

    The poem is very relatable...I think we have all fell down into a hole or two (or may be still in a hole). I definitely will be fowarding this to some who I know need to read it.

    On another note, your words are always inspirational AND entertaining in the perfect combination.

    Happy Holidays to you and yours!!

  8. Kit, Right you are. I've quit/recovered from a lot of addictions, but food is the hardest. Like you said, you can't remove yourself from food. I can't imagine just smoking a cigarette once a day or taking a drink twice a week.

  9. Thank you for this... I'm going to be thinking about this as I travel through this week.

    BTW: As you provided examples of how this type of habits manifest itself as behaviors, I saw so much of myself. It was almost depressing. But instead of getting depressed, I'm going to get moving on dismantling my destructive behavioral patterns that are ruining my life.

    Peace and power to you, KIT.


  10. I am one for New Year's Resolutions. I am certainly going to be discerning this post.

  11. which even if you're eating 'right', triggers cravings for your favorite foods

    So true! I am currently on a rice cake addition craze. Yes, I'm sure you'll think 'that's great' but it has no real nutritional value, I don't think.

  12. PGH Muse, Fantastic! Glad it may work for you.

    Miriam, Rice cakes = great diet munchies and probably fine with a well balanced diet in a healthy person.

    Torrance, Thanks. I may be biased, but I often find that folks who have never had problems or challenges often lack insight and depth - or they're in denial.

    Lovebabz, Good luck hon, and you do a wonderful job on your blog providing inspiration.

    Angie, Peace and blessings to you too, and go easy on yourself.

    Sagacious, Cheers to that!

    Monk, I so appreciate your compliments and rah-rah spirit. It nurtures my soul.

    Somebodies Friend, Yes, like the Native American saying that you can't know the pain of another until you've walked a mile in his moccasins.

    Curvy Girl, *hugs back*

  13. What a profounf post. Have found my work to do for a month. Thank you.

  14. Now this was a timely post... for now, for New Years, for all 365 days of the year.

  15. OMG. You rocked my world with this one. I kept passing over it to read other back-posts and finally made it here to read about "Excess and Deprivation."

    You have no idea how much I needed to read that post. I'll be sending a link to a friend for him to read (I got him hooked on blogs, including yours. hehe).

    I ask your permission to post the poem (with credits) and comment with my spin for New Years (or right before New Years).

    You can never over-expose an important message like this.

    You rock, KIT!

    Hawa, author of
    Fackin Truth Blog (Personal Blog)
    Cleanse Master Remix (Health Blog)

  16. Hawa, Hi. I'm pleased you found the post helpful; however, as I said in it, I did not write the poem. I doubt that the author would mind if you used it since it's used by substance abuse and mental health professionals and found easily on the Internet.

    I did write the post that accompanied it. Anyone noncommercial is free to reprint it, just please include a link here.

    Lady Lee & Blackberry, Thanks you. I'm glad you liked it too.

  17. I am in Chapter II sadly...not very close to getting out of that hole, am I :-( . But honestly in some way I feel like the bad habit I struggle with now will only be replaced by another bad break or not to break the cycle?

  18. Shy, Re: Ch 2. Denial is the hardest part to overcome, I pretend I don't see it.

    In every habit, there is something called a secondary gain (even when it's a bad habit).

    Examples: One overeats too much, but on some level doesn't want the attention they'd get if they were trim, or doesn't want their spouse to get jealous, or it soothes anxiety or loneliness, etc.

    Or, one smokes. They hate the cost, the smell on their clothes, and potential for bad health, but they enjoy the ritual, the taste, the increased social opportunities while chatting with other smokers outside of the workplace, or it's calming effect when feeling intense about something.

    Most habits have these secondary gains, but the habit itself keeps us in a hole. Figuring out how you benefit or gain from yours may be a good first step to getting beyond I pretend I don't see it [the hole].

    Instead, focus on what draws you to the hole and why that thing is so comforting.


Hi, this is Kit.

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