I have dealt with anxiety for as long as I can think. When I first started climbing, I would always have to wait outside the climbing centre until my friends arrived because I was too scared to go in by myself. But over the years climbing has taught me a lot of skills that are not only useful for the sport but also in real life and when trying to handle my anxiety.
The feeling of anxiety is a completely natural emotion but it becomes problematic when it becomes too intense and blows things out of proportion.
An essential part of climbing is the ongoing risk assessment: What is a real risk, what is only a perceived risk? What can I do to mitigate those risks? How likely are these risks to become reality? Are they worth taking? This thought process that was quite natural for me to go through in a climbing environment, eventually carried over into my whole life. It is becoming easier to catch anxious thoughts and risk assess them: Is this thought justified or just a perceived problem? What can I do to solve the problem? Is it actually as much of a problem as I thought?
Anxiety also has the tendency to overestimate the power others or the circumstances around you hold and underestimates your own capabilities. Climbing is helping me to set this balance straight. Every time we make a move on the wall, we leave a comfortable, known position to move to a potentially uncomfortable unknown position and every time we commit to doing that move, we prove to ourselves that we are in fact strong enough to do so, that we are able to find comfort in discomfort. The harder the move, the more confident I am after I have actually stuck it. Climbing has taught me that difficult situations are hardly ever as bad as I expect them to be and that I usually am vastly more competent and equipped to deal with them than I thought.
I just have to keep climbing.
Blog by Parthian Climbing Duty Manager Clara Doebler