Hidden Fences

An invisible fence is a device that gives dogs a shock if they try to leave the yard. The dog can’t see it but he can feel it. In fact, the “fence” is really a wire buried underground which transmits an electronic signal to the dog’s collar if it gets too close to the fence. It acts as a barrier to keep the dog in the yard, and from getting too close to the edge. The owner saves the money and trouble of having to buy and install a traditional fence.

What many of us don’t realize is that we have our own invisible fences keeping us confined to a specific area and limiting us in ways we cannot imagine. It probably began as a way to ensure our safety or comfort – just as the invisible dog fence is to keep the dog from running into the street and getting hit by a car.

The difference for us is that what felt dangerous in the past may no longer be dangerous; the NEED for our fence changes, but we continue to keep the fence up. Over time, our invisible fences become the self-contained walls that confine us, even if we are sick and tired of where we are. It could be a bad marriage, issues with weight loss, or being perpetually busy and feeling like we have little time. Not only does our invisible fences hold us in place, but it also places limits on our view of what is possible. After all, if we haven’t been out of the yard in years, how would we know what’s going on around the corner, let alone the world?

We’ve become afraid of the wrong things. The things that could set us free are the things we avoid. I‘ve met a lot of people who will not travel around the world. Many of those who do, stay in resorts. Too often it’s because of a fear of the unknown – the danger that lurks outside the confines of the prescribed “safe” area. Call me crazy, but I have often traveled around the world without any hotel reservation or planned itinerary. I encounter the unknown every single moment, and trust me, it is often quite an adventure.

We have two choices. Either we go for what we want and leave the fenced area but get shocked, or we stay within the safety of the yard. This is true for everyone. Stepping outside boundaries has always brought with it the risk of negative consequences. Because of this, most of our lives have become more about avoiding what we don’t want and less about getting what we do want. A recent study that was done, found that more and more people are afraid of being innovative in their workplace – not because they are not creative, but because they are afraid of the consequences of making a mistake. In other words, the fear of making a mistake and suffering the perceived consequences keeps people from innovating and fully contributing to the workplace. Our fear of what we think will be more painful, keeps us in what we already know even if it is confining and painful in its own way.

Maybe today is a good day to step beyond the boundaries of your fears, look inside yourself to discover what you really want, and find the courage to follow through.