Writing, workshops and my own climbing journey

My favourite things to do are writing for climbers, and running workshops for climbers and this year I’ve managed a bit more of both which has been great. April saw me running two workshops for instructors, all about how to make courses a psychologically safe space for anxious climbers, and how to help climbers manage their nerves so they can get the best out of the course. These were both well attended by some really thoughtful instructors, and there was lots of shared ideas, examples to work through, and thoughts about how to prevent problems arising when clients get too overwhelmed on the rock.

Writing wise, I have been working away in the background with some brave souls who volunteered their climbing mental skills assessments for me to work through, developing a strengths and weaknesses analysis and then suggestions for where to start with mental training. The feedback so far has been really good, see the snapshots below. This is something I’m continuing to tweak so there are more testers to go, and then I’ll be ready to launch this as an additional service.

Rebecca’s mental skills analysis and action plan has helped me to recognise my strengths in climbing but also to help me focus on an area of weakness that will help with my climbing. The action plan was really clear and achievable in the time that I have to dedicate to mental training. Rebecca sent a recording along with the plan which helped me to get started straight away. I’d definitely recommend this as a way of bringing mental skills training into your climbing training. Using it alongside Rebecca’s book has been really helpful and I’ve seen improvements in my ability to focus, which has generally made climbing a more enjoyable experience. Thank you, Rebecca!

It’s always really valuable having an external view of where you are and highlighting the areas which you are weaker on, you often know this but having it pointed out is very helpful in trying to address them. It’s always nice for the ego to have strengths pointed out too! I would recommend a little mental MOT every season is a very valuable reflection on where you are and should help you in your progression towards your goals.

My health has been a bit of a constant background noise for me over the last few years, with some chronic issues still needing careful management. However, I do feel that I am still slowly improving, and with 50 not many months away now, its really satisfying to see with careful, patient work, I have been bouldering the hardest I ever have. This is thanks to both Isi Booker who helped me with my elbow nerve problem (it is such a pain needing two hands to lift a cuppa!) and John Kettle who has helped me build some strength work into my normal week. But its also thanks to two fabulous friends who make climbing together so much fun and never judge me for my off days where I just need to potter – take a bow Rauni and Suzi. I do feel it is so important for long term motivation to have people around you who you connect with, where there is no sense of having to meet anyone’s agenda, and where you can be uninhibited and have fun. Our only goal has been to be curious and playful about our climbing, and with that in mind, I think we have all progressed without pressure. A lot of clients I work with 1:1 are in unhelpful climbing partnerships, where one person’s agenda will dominate, or they are constantly being given messages about how to get over their issues which are not grounded in science or helpful at all. It can be really hard if this is your romantic partner too, but it is possible to work with and around this and come to a place where everyone gets their needs met.

Finally, I’ve seen a lot of nonsense written about egos recently online. I don’t believe that people’s ego, in the sense of how this is intended, is the main problem which gets in the way of climbing better, nor is it unnatural to want to ‘save face’ and find it hard to admit to fear, worry or nerves when climbing. For our own survival, it has been important to fit in with a valued group, and in climbing, the main narrative is still that fear is something ‘irrational’ that must be tackled head on and pushed through, and also that climbing hard/ training hard is the only thing that matters. So, its natural that we might feel some embarrassment or shame about admitting our fears, or might want to cover up that we ‘only’ feel comfortable climbing severe, or find it hard to admit that we don’t really train at all. Most recreational climbers I know are not egotistical maniacs who are going around BS’ing about their climbing ability. Where I see the problem here is in the narratives shaped by social media which make it hard to be open about our worries, and lack a respect for anyone climbing in whatever way works for them. There is no ‘one way’ to climb; there is no grade bar that means you are or are not valuable as a climber, and it is normal to feel worry, fear or anxiety when you feel out of your depth. If anything is helpful for the latter, it is having compassion for yourself and patience, as well as the courage to go against what seems to be the mainstream and work with what works for you, rather than simply flinging yourself off as often as you can. More problems are created by falling practice than are solved for most people, and there are plenty of other ways you can manage fear of falling. I had in mind that if people were interested, I would create two free downloads for what you can do instead of falling practice, and when you know you are ready for falling practice, so let me know in the comments, on insta/ FB, or by email if you would like this, and if enough people do, I’ll draw them up.

Summer is kind of here, and outdoor bouldering is sporadically happening for me, so time to stop writing and go have some fun…Rebecca

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