I was a very careful child.
“Be careful!” “Don’t drop it!” “Don’t cut yourself!”
I think I’ve only cut myself once, and that was by accident, when I was carving my best friend’s name into a piece of wood. I almost never drop things. I’ve never broken a bone. I’ve never hit another car in traffic. You could say I’m careful.
But I’m also rather neurotic, ruled by fear, and terrified of taking risks. I’m overweight because I didn’t run, jump and play enough – in part, I was afraid of getting hurt. I was careful. I listened to people too much when I was young. I didn’t develop a healthy sense of rebellion either. I learned the fine art of sneaking instead. “Be careful” turned into “don’t appear to do,” or “don’t try at all.”
Sometimes we need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes. We need to try new, audacious things. Stretch outside of the other-made prison of careful. Take risks. Move past fear so we can see the other side – then instead of careful, be mindful.
Mindfulness means we think about what we do, we look at it, but we weigh the risks and sometimes we decide a risk is worth it. It’s being careful in a new way. The way I did it as a child, it was fear motivated.
That consumed my young life.
“Well, so what?”
The mistake might not be so bad and the result not the end of the world.
Mistakes can be recoverable. In the meantime, that scary trip you wanted to take but were afraid to? Take it. That exercise class that’s a little too vigorous? Do it. Be mindful, and fear won’t rule you. Sometimes being a little less careful can lead to learning.