How Climbing Helps Me Overcome My Fear of Failure
Climbing is a damn strong workout. Not only for the upper body, but for everything . I recently went to a climbing hall in Los Angeles, paying $ 79 a month for something I really love to hate. And yet I keep going because, besides training my body , I really train to overcome my fear of failure.
Let’s start with some background: this is not my first time climbing. I first got into it back in 2009 when I was bouldering to get stronger. In bouldering, you do not wear a harness and only climb to a certain height, while relying heavily on your strength to cling to rocky holds for life. If you fall, the gym pillows will soften you.
I am quite athletic and strong, so in the first few trainings I did the easier routes. The difficulty of the route is classified according to one of several scales . On the V scale with which I am most familiar, V0 is ideal for beginners, while V17 is essentially Spider-Man. Simply put, the higher the number, the more difficult and technical it is. And when you metaphorically and literally reach the top, you experience some of the best dopamine shots every time.
Climbing is one of those things where, if you want to get better, you have to be comfortable with repeated failures so that you know what to work on, make mistakes in front of others, and put aside all that negative self-talk. Eight years ago, I couldn’t handle any of this, and I couldn’t get better. So I left.
Climbing is my new “training for failure”
Since then, I’ve been doing strength training, which taught me that you won’t get the results you want if you don’t constantly do your best and constantly learn. And today I am climbing again with a group of supportive friends (hello Andy and Sherri).
I thought that by this point I was already used to failure – not being able to gain weight, not being able to see how the bathroom scale worked the way I wanted, not being able to be perfect with my diet or self-control, and so on. However, it turns out that when it comes to climbing, even though my thinking has changed, I am still far from perfect in overcoming this psychological resistance in order to climb the rock again and keep trying.
The difference this time is that I now view climbing as my “hitting training” and remind myself this:
- If one method doesn’t work, try something new: I once kept approaching the first move of a climbing route with the same left foot (because it was comfortable) and I struggled to accelerate. Then someone asked, “Why not shift the weight with your right foot and so on?” Yes, just change it. And that little tweak was all I needed to climb that route like a spider monkey.
- Forget the ego and embrace where you are: my 99% fear of failure is my ego telling me that I can be just as cool. When reality hits and I fail the climbing route, my shattered ego allows me to quit too easily. I take a page from Jake the Dog where I need to suck on something first in order to be successful at it . With this in mind, I am getting a more realistic view of my abilities right now and can understand what I need to do differently in order to become better.
- Seek Help and Support: Climbing is a social activity and this is one of the reasons I keep doing it. My friends, who are much better than me, give me ideas, tips and different approaches to my problems that I would not even think about. It can sometimes be difficult to admit that you need help, but getting help just speeds up the learning process.
- You cannot compare yourself to anyone else: solutions vary from person to person, and you can learn a lot from watching someone else, as their body type, height, limb length, and relative strength make their approach completely different. You have to get up on the wall and try it yourself. This applies to almost everything in life.
Figuring out the best way to climb each route is basically like solving a puzzle with your body, fighting invisible forces like gravity and fear of heights (or, in my case, fear of spoiling). If, for example, you are unable to grab the next hold, perhaps you can move your hips closer to the wall to widen your reach; or just jump up and believe in your grip. The only way to know for sure is to return to this stone and try again.