Hot Tip Tuesday: How to be a Mentally Strong Climber - World Class Academy

Hot Tip Tuesday: How to be a Mentally Strong Climber

This Tuesday’s hot tip relates to the mental aspect of climbing, a piece that is arguably just as important as the physical side of the sport. Being a mentally strong climber has many sides, some of which include:

  • Staying positive through success, and more importantly, through failure
  • Demonstrating compassion for oneself
  • Staying mindful

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of “should,” getting down on yourself if you feel it “should” be easy or you “should” have sent or you “shouldn’t” fall there. Focusing on “should” can become a downward spiral relating to self-worth, self-esteem, and self-efficacy. It can impact how we climb on routes outside of our project. It can even trickle into life outside of climbing – friendships, romantic relationships, academics, to name a few.

But by practicing mindfulness and compassion, as this article, taken from Hazel Findlay’s Strong Mind Climbing website, teaches us, we can stop that spiral and learn a different path. The article discusses 5 simple steps relating to mindfulness and compassion:

  1. Defuse difficult thoughts and feelings: This step relates to seeing difficult or negative thoughts as just that – thoughts – instead of reality. It relates to Arno Ilgner’s comments in The Rock Warrior’s Way about observing actions and thoughts as an impartial, third party instead of being ruled by them. If we can view negative and difficult thoughts from an observational standpoint instead of being ruled by them, there’s more opportunity to change, pick a different path, and stay positive, stay in the moment.
  2. Remove “shoulds”: The authors suggest focusing more on the process instead of the outcomes to get away from “should” statements and thoughts. Instead of saying, “I should send this project today,” try instead to ask, “How can I set myself up to give the best possible redpoint attempts?”
  3. S.T.O.P: This acronym stands for Stop, Take a Breath, Observe, Proceed. In the first part, you can stop and notice how you feel, perhaps relating back to suggestion number 1. After that, take a breath and give yourself the chance to both slow down and calm down. When you observe, see where you feel the emotion and where it’s coming from; acknowledge it instead of resisting it. In the final part – proceed – give yourself what you need in the moment to be okay – climb, leave the crag, whatever it may be.
  4. Self-sooth: These are actions you can do to help calm down without drawing attention from others. You could scan your body for areas of tension and remind yourself to relax. Another suggestion is to take deep belly breaths for a minute or two. A third suggestion is to remind yourself of what you are grateful for.
  5. The Friend Test: When in doubt about whether you’re being compassionate to yourself, just ask, “Would I say these comments to a friend?” If the answer is “no,” you can work to practice self-compassion through some of the other steps from the article.

These are a few concrete and attainable steps to being more mindful and compassionate to ourselves as we climb. Check out the full article here for more information!

Tune in next week for another Hot Tip Tuesday!

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