Climbing: A relational approach, this could improve your climbing
We are relational beings, this is a fact. Some of us have pre-dispositions, which might put limitations on this, but understanding or at least considering this could advance or bring more enjoyment to your climbing.
How we relate to ourselves, others and feelings is directly linked to how we were related to by our parents or caregivers as babies, through childhood and adolescence. There are many ways of expressing or referring to this: our default settings; we are our history; our baggage/what we carry with us; and one I heard recently was our ‘scripts’, which I particularly like. This latter term refers to something written that will be ‘played out’ again and again as the actor, however with some work we can try to take an alternative position, such as that of director or script writer.
So, how does this relate to climbing? and I would pose, how does it not? You could say that rock is an inanimate object, but our scripts will inform how we approach a climb, think about it and ultimately climb it. Just think of the language that is used, which highlights this, Hillary talked of ‘knocking the bastard off’ in relation to Everest, conquering, beating into submission, the game, a puzzle, attack. Some of these words are used to create a positive attitude to what is being undertaken, but these are often conflict or battle based words (replace undertaken by tackled).
In climbing, roped up at least, but still applicable to bouldering, think spotting your mate, you are managing a partnership of trust (hopefully, rather than blindly accepting anyone to belay you with little thought or consideration). Then there is how you approach the climb itself and then others, your mates, the climbing community, whether you succeed in your aspiration or not, is the latter considered failure for example or an experience to learn from. Of course we cannot overlook how you manage and relate to yourself, in those moments of anxiety do you shut down, give yourself a good talking to or go through a re-assessing of your options. Do you catch this early? or at the point when your arms are about to explode, you’ve pushed on and now in a more exposed and dangerous position. It’s interesting, right?
It can be a real challenge to remain calm when the heebie jeebies are knocking on your door telling you that you are at risk and you should be scared. Back to my point, having some awareness of your ‘scripts’ can help you to take the director’s position and improve your climbing and/or your enjoyment of it.
Personally, I like to have stuff in the tank, a back-up that creates more confidence, which leads me to train more. Belief in your ability will always help and give you the confidence that as long as you stay cool, you will be ok.
Consider how you relate to risk: dismissive; fearful; controlling; and of course there will be others, but take a moment to think how each of these will differ and how the climber might respond/relate.
This is a starting point to encourage curiosity, are you curious?