– developing a sense of self

Hi, I’m Charlotte (Yogi Cha). I’m a yoga teacher with a degree in clinical psychology. I’ve always had a deep curiosity toward eastern and western approaches to understanding the mind, and the ming/body union. You’ll find me in the lovely Canggu Bali, nestled amongst coconuts, palm trees and sunshine 🥥🌴🌞


I was listening to Alain de Botton commenting the idea that people have of him as very sane and calm. He laughed and said the thing is it’s human to be flawed.

If I was to resume for myself: we are not one dimensional. That is what makes us so great.

In a whole different situation, a discussion of who I am as a teacher, his words came back to me.

What makes a teacher (any kind)a really good one is allowing all of the dimensions to interact.

The teaching must come from a place that you trust. 

It means to teach from a place of who you really are. I.e. not falling into the trap of wanting to please. 

– I say “teaching” but what I really mean is “living”. I’m not relating to teachers per se, I’m relating to anyone living with these words –

It is hard to do because we are trained to function from a perspective of reading other people’s needs. Learn what works, then use that. Make it a routine.

If it’s working, keep doing that! Why change anything?

But it then becomes mechanical:  just get it in there, do your thing and then out again.

But it isn’t really you anymore, it’s not coming from a place you trust.

All of a sudden you’re not able to relate to it anymore.

All of a sudden, you feel a disconnection.

That is when the insecurities comes crawling back.

Who am I?

What do I stand for?

What message do I wish to transmit?

…all of a sudden there is a need to redefine something. A sense of self, what makes me, me. It’s the Image of self that comes in and plays around as well as the worth that I’m giving myself as a separate person from others.

Where are my boundaries?

Let’s use the word “preference” for a second instead of boundaries. If my preference is to eat a savoury breakfast but that I don’t have any other choice than to eat chocolates, everything just seems a little “off”.

So by replacing the word boundaries with preference (for instance in food), imagine the following:

When your boundaries are not respected (by yourself or others), you might get that feeling “This was not my choice / I just don’t want to be here right now”.

A feeling that nothing in this moment is working for you.

That you feel out of place.

It can be a rather frustrating feeling that even turns into s sensation of dislike of oneself.

Of not wanting to be in your own skin even.

I am forced to eat this sweet stuff but it goes against everything my being is telling me so the only choice I have is to reject myself in order not to have an internal conflict anymore.

I will disconnect. 

In psychology we call this cognitive dissonance, an intellectual internal conflict that is too charged so we find a way out of it to cope.

Two ideas that are contradictory within our minds create such levels of psychological stress that all we can do is to make sense of it by either blending the two or leaving one behind. Now, if one of them is dependent on our survival, the choice of which to choose isn’t hard to make.

Can you keep this idea in mind as you look at a small child throwing a tantrum next time?

They are not being difficult because they want to mess with their parents. They are experiencing a stressful clash internally of what they would want and what has been planted by the decision of the parent. So you are not taught to listen to your own preferences. You are socialised to follow the rules of the group.

How can we make sense of anything when we are brought up learning some really contradictory truths?

First it’s all: “these are the rules, as long as you are under my roof that is what goes”

Then it becomes : “you need to know what you want to do with your life, who you want to be. As long as it goes in the lines with what is normal”

And finally : “you have to be YOURSELF (but make sure that self is accepted because otherwise you’ll lose, you’ll be alone)”

By the time we’re in our thirties, we are either completely slaves to the boundaries set by others so we cannot even imagine anything else and we don’t understand why we hate ourselves so much; or we’ve finally decided to start looking into who we actually are and feel totally lost because we don’t even know how to do it.

Respecting boundaries of the body in the practice has to do with self worth and the self image too. Not defining my worth from what my body can do and therefore not pushing the boundaries into injuries. We learn in the body the same way we learn in the mind: we push and crash into speed bumps.

We get the consequences and we either use them as a lesson or we repeat until it’s so in our faces that we cannot do anything else than learn.

I, for sure, am no exception.

I learned in the last year or so something about my yoga practice that brought me back to what is actually essential for me to stay healthy.

It’s easy there as well to project onto the outside world: it’s someone else’s fault or it’s the practice that isn’t good. It takes time to turn the attention where it needs to be focused in order to realise that it’s never the outside world. It is always I.

So it’s not that ashtanga isn’t good for me, it is how I use it that will be important.

It is what I make it MEAN when I’m on that mat, that will determine how I use it.

When I don’t respect my boundaries of my sense of self, I feel dislike and want to get out of my own skin.

When I don’t respect the boundaries that my physical body is showing me, I feel this just as strongly through pain and disrupter of balance within the organism.

TOUGH LOVE – as an adult you need to learn it all over again. What was lost before.

When you know what you don’t want, you begin to realise what you do want.

Practice this: create a list, a description, of who you are. What you like and what you prefer to do and have in your life. You might realise that it’s not as easy as you thought it would be. Or you might notice the opposite and it all just flows through your fingers as you write and it all becomes so clear. It’s as if we need to learn all over again what we knew once upon a time but have forgotten. So as an adult, we crash into the speed bumps over again and this is how we learn about our boundaries.


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