So you’re working on this problem or route, and you just can’t get the move. Of course there is absolutely nothing wrong with that so long as you are trying your best. I’m speaking from personal experience, as it has taken me nearly a year to actually try hard instead of chickening out!

In my mind there was a constant negative monologue because I was scared of falling and failing. The problem was too scary with the little foot hold, or the height, or the wall angle, maybe even all of the above.

“I’ll never make that move…I’m too short…I’m tired from work…I’m not strong enough”.

Thinking these negative thoughts approaching the wall will only help you fall off, and can even make matters worse. Being scared should not stop you from trying hard or make you fall off purposely so you don’t have to face the scary bit! Now I find it grounding watching someone climb and seeing them come off at a move without actually trying it. I know that was me previously, so I sympathise because I know what it feels like to have that block, but at the same time I want to see them really try and do well! So why wouldn’t others feel the same watching me/you?

So what can be done, how can you break through the wall and stop being scared? Honestly you can’t I’m afraid, but you can learn to stop over thinking and turn that fear or excuse into useful energy.

When you get stuck in a negative mind set you just need to snap out of it. Simple as that. Go and sit down and have a snack, get inspired by watching some climbing videos, chat to a friend, grab someone you’re comfortable climbing with or listen to a song to get you psyched. You need to get out of your funk so you can approach the problem positively. If it’s a permanent feeling that you can’t seem to shift, sometimes it’s better to leave and come back fresh. This isn’t defeat, it’s accepting that now is not the time and you’re saving yourself from further frustration and/or possible injury.

If you’re struggling with anxiety or fear when climbing, thinking less is better. Ignore what you think the people around you are thinking of you or your climbing. They are probably focused on themselves trying to climb as hard as they can!

Another tool I like to use is beginning to sing a song in my head as I start the problem. At first it was ‘incy wincy spider’ because that was easy to remember, I have now progressed on to some Taylor Swift or Eminem (diverse, I know). This distracts me from my fear of falling or over thinking the problem just enough to allow me to naturally try hard without thinking about it.

Remember to take enjoyment in the progress you make. One week you can’t reach the hold or make the move, then next week you can fly to it like you’ve always done it. That’s progress and shouldn’t be ignored just because the problem/route didn’t get finished.

For anyone struggling with the mental game, I hope this has helped you know you’re not alone and can do it! I’d love to know how you (safely) push yourself to climb at your best 🙂

– A Girl Who Climbs

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