Careful…Carefree…Careless

Careful: controlled, exact, fitting-in, cautious, fearful, heavy, reliable, dependable, conservative, edited, unknown, uncertain, judgmental, closed

Carefree: light, refreshing, spontaneous, enjoyable, infectious, in-the-moment, willing, open, friendly, authentic, vulnerable, silly

Careless: reckless, wasteful, undependable, restless, loose, standing-out, sloppy, fearless, dangerous, risky

These are my words. My definitions of three terms that are extremely important to me right now. I want you to notice how my definitions reflect my feelings about these words. Notice the judgment, the discomfort, the aspiration. For me, these are definitely loaded terms.

On the continuum of careful to careless I’ve long made my home on the left-hand side. At the risk of oversimplifying the “why” it really comes down to childhood compensations that are really tough to let go of as an adult. As a 10-year-old kid who’s family has been fractured of course you’re going to go for “controlled, fitting-in, cautious.” I look at my 10-year-old son and what his “concerns” are and I’m pretty well convinced that kids that age aren’t ready to take on that much “careful” without it having some long-term impact.

And so, it’s time for those old compensations to go. Not that it’s that easy – I’ve been chipping away at it for years now. I think I’m just so damn close to reaching a new level of freedom that I feel the constriction as freshly as I ever have. Isn’t that the way? The closer we come to beating down the resistance, the more desperately it tries to retain control. I just see it for what is and I’m over it. The old control needs are massively limiting, holding me back from expressing myself, risking more and giving chase to my dreams. Screw that. (See that? That was careless, the good kind.)

I think my closest friends and family would say that I am “carefree” a lot of the time. A few have even borne witness to my “carelessness.” That’s about safety, the strength of relationship, the certainty of real trust and acceptance. All of which equates to a low-risk environment.

I’m in pursuit of that same level of “carefree” (with at least an occasional dash of “careless”) when the risk is higher – new circumstances, new relationships, new environments – when most people are happy to just fit-in. I don’t want to just fit-in. I do that on auto-pilot. I want to stand-out, be distinct, be remarkable because I’m willing to express who I am, what I think and why with as much transparency/vulnerability/authenticity as I can muster.

© 2010 David Berry

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