Every day, I walk my dog Bailey around our neighborhood about 2.5 miles to the marina, where she loves to swim. We walk by this one house that has two dogs that constantly bark whenever someone walks by. My wife Summer calls these dogs the sad dogs. She calls them sad dogs because they both have huge black invisible fence collars around their necks. One of the dogs, a black and white pit bull, charges toward the street in a frenzy, then hits the brakes just moments before hitting the invisible fence line. You can even hear the little beep that the collar makes before it’s about to shock the dog. The other dog just sits in the back barking away with this squeaky bark–very sad indeed.

It occurs to me that a lot of us act like these dogs. I know I sometimes do. We do it in different ways. We all have these invisible fences in our brains.

But, the fences we put around ourselves aren’t just invisible, they are completely imagined. Imagined by us! We tell ourselves that we can’t do this or that. Any slight discouragement that hits us when we are trying to do something new, we immediately say, “I can’t do this.”, or “This isn’t for me.”, and BAM just like the sad dogs, we run back to the house with our tails between our legs. Stopped dead in our tracks.

Our invisible fence tells us things like, “I’m not very good at that”, “I’m not smart enough for that.”, “I could NEVER EVER do that.” We sabotage our experiences because of a little shock we may have gotten in the past, and now we “won’t ever make that mistake again”. All-day long this can happen, we convince ourselves that a certain level of wealth and success isn’t for “someone like me”, or, that leadership position that opened up in my company, is going to be taken by one of the top doggies.” “I could never start a multi-million dollar company. I am not that type of person. I just don’t feel like it’s right.” We invent all of these reasons about why that thing we really aspire for, just isn’t quite the right thing because we just aren’t ready for it yet.

Even though we can, we don’t.

Even though we should, could, would, we won’t. How sad.


–Bailey “the Dog” Oostra

Now I don’t want to be casual here, being casual leads to casualties. I’m not saying that we haven’t had VERY PAINFUL experiences in our lives that truly should be respected and dealt with. These things taught us to stay away from certain things that we very well should stay away from (like sniffing unknown white powders…). This is not what I mean. Kindness and empathy should be exercised on ourselves at all times. We are all humans, we are all incredible creatures with complexities and differences. However, we do have to muster up the strength to overcome the imagined fences and mental blocks that we’ve created based on other false beliefs that may weasel their way into our minds and our philosophies. We do have to make careful assessments about our feelings and be aware that some of them might just be an imagined fence.

Here’s the secret. And no, it’s not going to be child regression, or inner shadow work, or a trip to the shrink. Nope! It goes back to an old philosophy that’s been re-worded, and re-branded, over and over and over. If you fall off your horse, bike, motorcycle, unicycle, tricycle, (lots of cycles here…), anyway you get my point. GET BACK ON IT! Try it again! Try something new! Try a different approach.

Are you afraid of taking to new people? Don’t get self-hypnosis, a life coach, or jump into a self-help group yet… That’s might not be the right thing to do. What I do suggest is to just stick your little toe into the sea of uncertainty in that moment and just say, “Hello.” to a stranger in line next time you’re getting coffee. Ask the barista how they are doing, and just smile and listen. While you’re out for a walk, stop and ask to pet someone’s dog you think is cute.

Take little steps up to and past your imagined fences. Be aware and reflect back on how you felt when you do those little incremental steps. The goal will be to be able to plunge into the things that you once had fenced yourself out of–because you are strong, brave and you have courage.

Last thought: Courage is the basis of all self-advancement and development. Let’s jump the fence together.

Let’s go get them out there today! Love to you all!

Featured Photo by Daniel Oostra on Unsplash