The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Definition of Insanity


You may have heard it said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Today I heard an even more succinct translation of that colloquialism. This person who is in recovery from addiction stated, laughing at the irony,  that insanity is knowing what the outcome will be; same as it ever was and making the decision to engage in the self destructive behavior anyway. He wasn’t sure what led him to fall into that  literal and symbolic hole again and again. I wondered as I sat with him about the nature of this learned behavior and what it would take to him make better choices. I often share with my clients this poignant poem written by Portia Nelson:


Autobiography In Five Short Chapters

Chapter I

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 sidewalk.   I walk around it.

Chapter V


I walk down another street.

How many times have I walked down the same street, imagining that THIS time, the sidewalk will be nice and smooth, no bumps or pitfalls?  Plenty. I (like all of us) repeat patterns because they are familiar and I think that is the way I am expected to interact with others, or perceive a situation. It is when I reflect on outcome that I am able to honestly assess what is in my best interest. It is that classic ‘fearless and searching moral inventory in 12 step parlance,’ that each of us, regardless of if we are in recovery with which we are called on to engage. I do it every day, asking myself if I have brought the best of who I am into each encounter with a fellow being. Gratefully, mostly I have been able to say a hardy YES! I guess that makes me (relatively) sane.

Previous Posts

God Singing Through Us
Another powerful dream this morning, the remnants of which linger as I am typing these words. I was in a rural setting with a group of adults and children. A mischievous little girl runs up to me and makes a comment about music and tells me that ...

posted 9:34:23am Nov. 25, 2015 | read full post »

Living in the Just Don't Know
"May you experience each day as a sacred gift woven around the heart of wonder." -John O'Donahue Tonight at dinner with my friend Chris, we were speaking about that nebulous place between here and there, one state of being and the next, ...

posted 8:18:31am Nov. 22, 2015 | read full post »

Being In The Flow of Life
Consider your life as it is right now.  Is it filled to overflowing with all that you desire, or does it feel dry and lacking in pizazz and juice? Take a moment to do an inventory of what you have going for you. Do you have a place to live ...

posted 10:10:21am Nov. 17, 2015 | read full post »

What Would Yoda Say?
Although he is a fictional character created by Muppeteers Frank Oz and Jim Henson, Yoda remains my favorite little green sage. His wisdom is exemplary and in his death, he melted back into the Force, as I believe we all do. One of the most ...

posted 5:01:42pm Nov. 16, 2015 | read full post »

In the End Only Kindness Matters
Today is World Kindness Day. As it is celebrated, it allows people around the globe to connect heart to heart. There are times when people feel disconnected from each other and themselves. I am convinced that it is at the core of war. It is at ...

posted 5:32:22pm Nov. 13, 2015 | read full post »


Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.