An Invisible Fence

IF  dog

OpenField

Today I came across an invisible dog fence.

Small electric shocks teach a dog to stay within a perimeter.  However, after a few weeks the signal is turned off and the invisible fence no longer exists.  The dog is free to go, yet remains based on its memory of the pain.

Many boundaries exist to keep us safe and happy.  In this situation the boundary may prevent the dog from getting hit by a car.  Parents create boundaries so children can learn to function and thrive in the world.

However, there are many boundaries that no longer serve a purpose.  The fence has been turned off, and you’re free to roam.

Yet we stay behind the fence, in fear of pain.

Somewhere along the line I learned that authority knew better and I couldn’t trust myself.  I learned that if I did make a mistake or do things differently, I would suffer a consequence.

When I was in 8th grade I snuck out with my friend and her older sister. We walked to the local high-school in the middle of the night and met up with some other high school boys.  We climbed a fence and went swimming in the school pool.  The cops showed up and my parents were called to pick me up.  I suffered a month of what felt like debilitating consequences in addition to the sternest lectures soaked with disappointment.  Following this I endured years of mockery from my family anytime I climbed another fence.  Of course my parents were looking out for my safety, especially as I approached my high school years. I totally understand their decision and appreciate all they’ve done for me.

Whether or not this moment had a huge influence or not, somewhere along the way I developed a fear of failure, of making mistakes, of being corrected, of looking stupid, of appearing ill-equipped.  I have therefore restrained myself with tension and worry and retreated to less-challenging environments or when in a new situation, relied on the thoughts and opinions of others. I lost my trust for my own instinct, intellect, and ability.

However, the longing to love life persists and has called me forth. Through my engagement with yoga and coaching, and my quest for knowledge and understanding, I have gained the tools and courage to again approach the invisible fence.

The new paid position I hold has challenged me in many ways. I’m new and don’t know all the rules yet, so I am forced to either make decisions on the spot, or constantly put things off and wait for a supervisor or veteran staff’s approval.

But this time has been different. I’ve noticed the flexing of fear and given it space. I’ve relaxed, and continually regrouped. I decided to start running through those invisible fences left and right. I’ve decided to make decisions on my own.

What have I noticed as a result? First of all, most of the time there are no shocks whatsoever. And if there are shocks, they fade quickly and are overshadowed by my growing sense of confidence and understanding of my role and abilities.

Seeing the fence sign tonight has affirmed my current path and encouraged me to keep going, to keep showing myself that the shocks no longer exist.

Advertisements