Chaining down the goalposts

I discovered this week that all hockey goals in my authority are now padlocked in place by chains, following an unfortunate incident when someone climbed on top of one and it fell over on top of them, to their considerable injury. The PE teacher who told me this complained that the chains made it very awkward for them to move the goals, which they often want to do in order to use the playing area flexibly.

I don't know enough about this situation to comment on the wisdom of the decision to padlock the goals in place, but it struck me at the time that this institutional response is a great metaphor for the way that we, as individuals, respond to painful experiences in our lives.

When we experience pain, especially in response to the actions of others, we have a strong tendency to react internally by seeking to shield ourselves from further pain. Unfortunately, this defensive response also restricts our openness to receiving positive experiences in future.  In some small way we become less alive. And if we are not careful, we go through our lives repeatedly protecting ourselves, and repeatedly becoming safer but less alive. Like an institution where everything is safe but nothing functions.

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