July 7, 2016

Goodbye Careful & Hello Courageous—Reminders for those who Make themselves Small.

Cara Bradley article image

Author’s note: In my gut I’ve wanted to say this for a while and now I’m finally ready to just do it. My hope is that you find a thread of your story in mine.


A few days ago I had two “aha” insights:

  1. I’ve become Careful Cara.
  2. I’m ready to leave her behind.

Over the past 12 years, I’ve been meticulously careful and cautious about what I do and say in public.

In building my business, I’ve shared and supported, relinquished and reconciled, and flat out made myself small—even invisible.

Somewhere along the way, I came to believe that I had to minimize myself to raise others up. I’ve tempered my enthusiasm for some things, compromised on others, and often curbed what fuels my fire and makes my heart sing.

In cultivating my yoga and meditation center, I’ve been careful not to misrepresent the yogis and Buddhists. I’ve been careful to align with the average American, but not to dumb him or her down or make empty promises. I’ve censored my blogs so that they’re both friendly and accessible.

In other words, I’ve been careful not to be too big or too bold. I’ve contained my intensity so I don’t rock the boat.

In a nutshell, I’ve been careful—very, very careful.

Until now, being careful has worked for me.

Well, sort of.

I’m not sure exactly what has shifted in me, but I know I’m now ready to declare that Careful Cara’s time is up. Her ship is ready to sail—without me.

How about you?

I can no longer ignore the gnawing feeling that emphatically tells me I’m not quite allowing my true voice to come through. I cannot ignore the impulse to share my uncensored dreams, and I most certainly can no longer mute my experiences and discoveries of how to shine.

It’s time for me to stop tiptoeing around. I am ready to drop my protective layer and expose my unbridled zest for being awake and fully alive.

I can no longer hold back. The force is too strong. I feel anxious when I contain it. When I’m careful, I feel awkward. Careful churns my insides and makes me do stupid things. I feel more real, more genuine when I play on the edge of my comfort zone.

You see, I was born a prodder and a provoker, and I love to be poked and prodded. It’s in my DNA. I seek out people who speak directly, move with confidence, and tell it like it is. I feed off others’ intellectual brilliance and love of learning. I welcome their inquiries and their encouragement to lean in and press on. I love to dish it out too.

I feel called to stir pots—mine and yours—so that we can get real about where we hold back and where we are stuck. I get jazzed about pulling back the curtain on cultural beliefs and exposing the insanity of our numb acceptance of mediocrity.

Careful Cara is not who I am; it’s who I was.

She has protected me for many years, but I am ready to let her go. I don’t know what will happen to me. I don’t know who I will be or what I will say or do. What I do know, however, is that I’m excited to be free of Careful Cara. I’m ready to speak more directly and move with more confidence. I’m eager to share my enthusiasm for optimizing our mind and body and my insatiable curiosity for sucking the marrow out of life.

I look forward to exploring this territory without the protective layer formerly known as Careful Cara. It’s bound to get interesting.

How about you?

If you sensed a stirring in your gut, if you nodded your head even one time while reading this post, I hope you’ll join me in leaning in, shedding the careful and embracing a bolder, more truthful way of living.

We can do this. I know we can. Let’s stay vigilant to how we move through the world, and notice our tendency to want to shrink back. The following reminders can help:

>> Being careful feels small and awkward.

>> Being small and invisible serves no one.

>> Holding back is exhausting.

>> Being honest feels open and clean.

>> Sharing our enthusiasm is infectious.

>> Declaring our dreams inspires others to declare theirs.

>> Sometimes rocking the boat is necessary.

>> Being courageous is liberating.

I feel the quickening, the stirring that arises when change is imminent. I’m on the verge of an entirely new way of being. Are you?


Author: Cara Bradley

Image: Courtesy of the Author

Editor: Catherine Monkman; Travis May

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