Your biggest challenge is always with you

Dec 14, 2022 | Wellness

Inner critic, challenge

Spoiler alert. Your biggest challenge in life is your brain. It’s the inner critic inside your head that will try to stop you at every turn and keep you within your comfort zone.

As you know, your inner critic is neither good nor bad. Your inner critic is just trying to keep you safe. And that is why your inner critic will always be with you. Your inner critic has a job to do, which is particularly important when you truly are in danger.

However, are you in mortal danger on a day-to-day basis?

I’m not. But as I write this I am days away from one of the biggest challenges of my life. I will be going for my 3rd brown belt in kickboxing martial arts, which is the belt before black.

To put the day into perspective, it will be 8 hours of non-stop activity.

During that time, I will complete:

  • 15 rounds of 2 minute shadowboxing
  • 30 rounds of 2 minute pad work, which is split between holding the pads and being the one hitting the pads.
  • A ridiculous number of exercises including 150 push-ups, 150 sit-ups, 150 squat thrusts, 150 star jumps and 150 burpees.
  • Horse stance punching, which I’m not sure how to explain to you.
  • Demonstrate the entire syllabus of all the techniques, some of which I will have to repeat as well as basic hand techniques at the slowest speed I can achieve.
  • And finally, 10 rounds of 2 minute sparring, 5 of which will be with my Sensei.
Burnt out

I know, it’s intense. But having thought about it, I can definitely say that childbirth is more painful! 

I’ve been kickboxing now for nearly 4 years and this will be my 8th grading. What I have learnt is that it’s not the physical elements that challenge me but my brain.

Yes, it’s the voice in my head that tells me I can’t. You know the one. I refer to her as Vera. She nearly sabotaged me when I graded for my first brown belt. I knew better when I went for my second brown belt, although I was dreading the experience.

And here I am, on the verge of my third and final brown belt ready to unleash all the power I have to make it the best experience I can.

But how am I preparing for this?

Accepting that the inner critic is always there

I accept that Vera is part of me and the more I push myself and step outside of my comfort zone the more ammunition she has. I can either ignore my inner critic or accept that my inner critic will be vocal. But accepting it doesn’t mean giving in. It means allowing the thoughts to come and go. It’s only natural. But what is most important is knowing that I always have a choice on what I do next.

Face the fear head on

In the lead up to my second brown belt, I allowed the fear of the grading to consume me. And I don’t just mean a few days before. I mean for weeks. Whenever I thought of grading I could feel the fear. It was horrible.

Not this time. Okay, to start with I could feel the fear was bubbling under the surface. But then I got a grip. I got some perspective. What I’m about to do is not impossible by any means. I know I can do it. It’s not like it’s my first grading. I’m owning it.

Exercise your muscle

Preparation is the key physically and mentally.

Physically, I am running three times a week, as usual, but I’m pushing myself to improve each time. I also train twice a week and whereas previously I may have gone easy not this time. I am all in.

Mentally, it’s a different story. Your brain will encourage you to give up before you’ve really been tested. I have actually taken the time to build up my mental strength. I have visualized, I have repeated affirmations and I have immersed myself in audible books that have demonstrated how best to manage and master my mind.


We constantly face challenges in our lives, some small and some that feel as big as mountains. Whatever the challenge, I can tell you that you are more capable than you realise and you have more potential than you know. You can choose to stay comfortable and allow the challenge to beat you. Or, you can accept the challenge and see where it will take you.

How do you manage your challenges?


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You might also like to read, What would you do if your inner critic didn’t stop you?

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