18/08/2015 05:50 BST | Updated 17/08/2016 06:59 BST

Facing Your Worst Critic Plus That Damn 'F' Word


I am a strong advocate for self love and acceptance. Not only because I have seen the profound effects that it has had on my own clients, but also because it has been something that has helped me in my own life. Dramatically. But just because you focus on choosing to see the positives doesn't mean it is always sunshine, rainbows and unicorns.

At the moment I am getting ready (physically and mentally) to head off to Bali for a month in September to do my Yoga Teacher Training. Half of me is overwhelmed with excitement and butterflies, and the other half of me is crippled with fear.

Lately that 'f' word keeps rearing its ugly head. Fear. Fear of not being good enough, strong enough (physically or mentally), or flexible enough. Our own negative self talk can lead to terrible consequences like holding us back, making us play small, missing out on opportunities, and even interrupting our sleep patterns (which wreaks havoc on our hormonal state). When it comes to criticism about yourself, you'll more often than not find that the worst critic is yourself.

My head (and ego) keeps telling me that I should have waited and done my training in a year or twos time because my back isn't bendy enough, I can't do certain poses, I'm not where I want to be physically, my wrist is pinching and struggling to hold a plank, and I'm not sure I'm strong enough mentally for what may arise in that month of meditation, physical challenges, and being away (even more than I already am living in another country from my friends and family) from my daily support system.

But the other side of my brain (and my poor partner!) keeps telling me to shut up, show up, and face whatever I need to. To accept that it isn't about being the most advanced, the most bendy, and the most ready, but rather to be humbled by seeing how far I have to grow. This part of my journey is simply about being open, willing, and loving to whatever happens. I need to stop placing unnecessary and unrealistic expectations on myself and just allow myself to 'be' in each moment.

In order to grow and fully experience the next step, I need to stop constantly criticising myself and putting myself down. I need to focus on seeing and appreciating the things I can do and allowing my physical and mental growth to occur organically rather than trying to force it.

It is about acknowledging the fear, facing it, and allowing it to exist (and hopefully shrink) as I move forward.

By facing the things we fear the most we are able to reap the biggest gains.

And we need to do that from a place of love and self acceptance, by focusing on the positive, by realising that nobody is perfect, by using our fear to enable us to grow, by choosing to see our strengths over weaknesses (and instead seeing our 'weaknesses' as challenges and areas to simply grow), and to build ourselves up rather than put ourselves down. Some of the best ways to actually do this include meditating, creating vision boards, journaling, allowing the things you fear to actually happen and seeing what the real consequences are, and to stop over-analysing and expecting the worst. Accept what is happening, going to happen, and don't hold yourself back for fear of unrealistic expectations.

If it doesn't challenge you it doesn't change you. You are capable of being challenged and changed if you open your mind and your heart to accepting it.

With Light and Love,

Cat Elliott