A life-lesson from Rock-Climbing
Have you ever stopped to consider the cost of asking yourself “what if”?
Very often we are not even aware that we are asking ourselves this question. Yet, we take into consideration the “WHAT IF”- which is “the worst case scenarios” and this impacts our behavior and the final outcome.
The thing is: When you visualize something scary you will end up being scared. So thinking about the “what if” is the best way to get stopped from manifesting what we truly want to manifest.
You know that you need to push things in life to get what you want, but you are scared that the worst case scenario happens. You want to move from A to B, but you are afraid that on the way to B, you could lose what you already have (A) without eventually making it to B.
I have experienced that when I decided to change my career (like a dozen times!), when choosing to cut a relationship that wasn’t functioning, and of course, in handling my business too.
Recently, rock-climbing taught me a great life lesson on this.
You might know that when you lead climb, you are climbing up and anchoring yourself for safety on “bolts” placed on the wall, usually at a distance of 1-2 meters from each other.
The closer you get to the next bolt, the longer you fly down if you fall.
Climbing is like living
To me this is a great metaphor of anything in life: we need to get away from the comfort zone- the bolt we are hanging on- and face the fear of falling, knowing that the closer you get to the next bolt, the more disastrous the fall you could catch.
Yet what climbing also taught me is that, I should NEVER ask myself the question “What if I fall now?”. That question is disempowering. It instills the doubt that I cannot make it in my mind, and that doubt is like a worm that eats any certainty. And the thing is, certainty is power. We need certainty to manifest what we want in life.
I need certainty that I can get to the next bolt, and certainty manifests itself as presence: in the presence of certainty there are no thoughts and no distractions. Certainty is a state of pure focus and concentration on what I am doing.
If I am in a difficult section and I start wondering “what if I fall?”, I will not be able to make it through. SO, the only question allowed is: How do I climb up?.
At the beginning of January I had one of those climbing experiences that can change your life (well, climbing does that).
My friend Daniele decided it was time for me to climb some harder routes. He offered to belay me on a wall that was harder than anything else I had climbed before. (To belay means, he was the one holding the rope for me as I climbed).
The route didn’t seem that challenging until the third spit, when the fight started. I flew down 3-4 times, but I was still quite close to the third bolt. After spending some energies going up and down, and wasting some time, I decided I was going to do a dynamic movement and hopefully catch a good grab with my hand that looked higher than anything I had tried until then.
I didn’t ask myself: what could happen if there is nothing really good for me to hang on? What if I can’t reach that spot with my hands? What if I don’t have enough strength? What if the belayer doesn’t catch me?
I couldn’t ask myself those questions, because if I did, I would just stop where I was.
My friend Daniele says always “Don’t think, just climb”. And this is precisely what I did.
I did that move, it felt almost like a jump and I caught something that was stable enough to climb up a few more centimeters and clip-in the fourth spit.
Once I clipped in, I looked up to keep going. You don’t congratulate yourself when you have 6 more spits to go.
I kept going: the route became increasingly more physical, so I had to ask for blocks to rest every now and then.
The more difficult it became, the deeper I focused. I wasn’t thinking about anything. I was leveraging my energies, resting my forearms, and looking at the wall to find the best route. I had entered the so-called flow state.
Once you enter that space of mind, it’s like being possessed and obsessed by only one goal: getting to the top.
Not once did it occur to me that I could give up, nor the possibility of flying down on some difficult sections. When I was resting I was still looking up to figure out the best direction ahead. I was sweating drops of determination. My eyes could only see the top of the route. I didn’t have any pain in my feet even though I was wearing new climbing shoes.
Amidst this head-space, I felt like in the middle of a fight. The opponent: my own limitations. My own limiting inner voices. I was determined to win.
What stops a climber (at least, a beginner climber like me) is the thought: “what if I fall?”.
But once you stop considering that worst case scenario, you are bound to make it. Because in fact, you WILL fall.
If you are not falling, you are not really climbing for your level. Falling then becomes just a side hustle of getting better, and going higher. And to make it less scary, climbers in fact refer to it as “flying”. And flying is part of climbing.
If you climb, you fly.
Hope is your enemy
How does hope feel in your body?
“Mmm.. yeah, I hope I can get up there and finish the route”.
In climbing hope doesn’t work. Because hope is just another name for “doubt”: hope is in fact an “optimistic doubt”.
So, in those moments, I had no hopes that I could make it to the top. I had the certainty that I could do it.
The feeling of certainty is a propeller forward.
With a clear headspace that was not asking “what if?” (and contemplating a worst case scenario), and with the certainty that I could do it, in this climb I did moves that I had never done before, I enjoyed flying down, I skipped a bolt at some point (I am leaving this story for another post!) and eventually I made it to the top.
And once I was up there, I knew that everything is possible.
That day I understood that it only takes a decision: I will keep going, no matter what, because the “what if” are just in my mind and I can chose to discount them.
Every decision I have made since that climb, I have taken it with the same determination.
I have not wasted time contemplating the worst case scenarios. I will have it my way, it is bound to happen. I will be able to handle any fall, but I will not let them scare me.
I wanna live just like I climb. Knowing that life is a fun game that I am willing to accept, to taste and to understand. And that I really don’t want to control its outcome, that if any fall is bound to happen I am ready to enjoy it.
Yet it will not change my certainty that I will make it to the top.
Have you ever thought about it?
Is there any situation in your life where the prospect of the worst case scenario is keeping you stuck?
Are you taking time making a decision, or doing THE move that could change your life, because you are thinking about what could go wrong?
How could your life change if you never again asked the question “what if”?
If you need someone to kick you right where it’s going to make you move, join me for a transformative Yoga & Rock Climbing Adventure in Sicily in May 2022, find all the details HERE.