Electric Fences

Electric Fences

I have both vivid and vague memories of my paternal grandfather. Visiting him was interesting. He whittled and smoked cigarettes. He was a man of few words. He liked to tease, sometimes in a painful way. My most vivid memories involve him trying to get the grandkids to touch the electric fence. The fence provided a very convincing shock and was to be avoided: meaning “I fell for the suggestion at least once”.

During once visit he suggested I touch the fence. I chose not to. I had learned that it did not feel good. (No shock for any reader, I am sure). He asked me if wood conducted electricity. I replied with a confident “no”. He invited me to pick a stick from the ground and touch the fence in order to verify my scientific knowledge. I obliged. I grabbed the stick and touched the electric fence. I received a very memorable shock. What a shock: my scientific knowledge had failed me. The stick was wet from the morning dew and I had not noticed. But, grandpa had.

I am leery of electric fences. I do not like the experience of touching one. That was learned in early grade school. I had been fooled twice; both times out of ignorance. I was wise enough not to urinate on the fence as he reportedly had suggested to another cousin. I am glad that invitation was not my first to the electric fence. I do not have any desire to know how that must have felt.

I think about the electric fence on occasion. Usually, it is when I am talking to a person (client) who continues to engage in the same behavior and continues to get “shocked”. Interesting how a person can continue to repeat behaviors that result in pain. As the saying goes: “If you keep on doing what you are doing, you will keep on getting what you always got”. It is so easy to repeat behaviors that lead to painful consequences.

I challenge my clients (and myself) to stop grabbing hold of the electric fence. Watch that you are not tricked by a “wet stick” and certainly do not urinate onto one. It is advisable to learn one’s lesson and avoid the inevitable—and what should be a readily predictable—shock. But, alas, many keep grabbing the electric fences of life, to be shocked again and again. There must be a better way. What (or whom) are your electric fences?