fighting fear

We went sport climbing the other day, and as I approached the cliff I became more and more tentative. Fear was creeping in. To be fair to myself I haven’t been sport climbing much over the last year and I’ve climbed on a rope four times since I got out of the hospital. My head is gone; but it’s easy climbing, this should be no big deal. It was a big deal, I convinced myself thirty times that day that I was going to die or get some heinous injury. I don’t want to feel that way. I want to climb care free knowing that the pitch that I’m on is well within my ability and that I’m safe and secure even if I fall Amy will catch me. For some reason, I don’t.

I’ve always been a cautious person. When I was a kid I was afraid to fall off my bike so I kept one training wheel on for longer than most boys. When I was snowboarding as a kid I would hit jumps, but not the big ones. The same attitudes have followed me into adulthood. I’ve always wanted to be the guy who’ll huck the big cliffs and who’ll take the forty-footer, I’m just not. There have been a number of times in my climbing and in my snowboarding that I’ve been bold and pushing my limits. I’ve had one-hundred-day ski seasons and I’ve climbed one hundred fifty days in a year: that’s when I’m bold, confident, and able to turn off my brain. But when I’m not on, I am not on. Then comes the negative self-talk: I suck, I should quit, I’m a coward. The list goes on and on needless to say its unproductive. I know the only way to combat the fear is to lean into the activity that I’m afraid of.

Self-acceptance is difficult. Especially when it’s wrapped up with a sport I care way too much about; it seems to hurt my ego when I don’t perform to the standards that I think I ought to. Rather than interrupting the cycle that I’m in, I seem to reinforce it with my internal dialogue. I need to cut it out. Looking back at my climbing career I’ve punted a lot and when I do I usually give some excuse about my fingers, the temps, or screwing up my beta. However, if I was being honest with myself and the people around me nine times out of ten it would be because I was scared. Fear is a normal healthy human emotion, we all get scared, and that’s fine; but from now on if I do get scared I’m going to own it, I’m not going to make excuses I’m going to be honest.

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