Climbers know me as the founder of the Warrior’s Way mental training method. They can have certain expectations when they see me climb and judge me based on those expectations. Perhaps they expect me to climb a certain grade or not fear falling. They may compliment me for climbing well; criticize me for performing poorly; or judge me as a failure. How should I deal with such compliments, criticisms, and judgments?
Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that can give us perspective about others judging us. Stoics value tranquility; peace of mind. Being judged can disturb our peace. Therefore, Stoics have identified and developed practices to deal with judgments. One practice is a three-step process for reframing judgments:
1. Pause: The first step is to do nothing, instead of getting offended or becoming defensive. We delay reacting to give us space for developing awareness. We can respond intelligently if we’re aware.
2. Learning opportunity: Others may be well informed. We can consider if their comments contain intelligence. If they do, then we can focus on learning from them.
3. Let it go: If others’ judgments don’t contain intelligence, then we can ignore them. Letting go of others’ comments doesn’t make how we feel about ourselves dependent on them.
We can build on the Stoic three-step process by understanding what we can control. Let’s say I’m climbing at my local gym. Many gym members, employees, and coaches know I teach the Warrior’s Way. They may compliment me for climbing well and criticize me for climbing poorly. Or, they may be criticize me for climbing well and compliment me for climbing poorly.
For example, let’s say I climb well and succeed on a route. Some people will judge me as a great climber because I succeeded, while others will judge me as a showoff. Let’s say I fall and fail on a route. Some people will judge me as a great climber because I gave my best effort, while others will judge me as unskilled because I fell. I’m judged positively and negatively regardless of the outcomes I created.
Focusing on desiring compliments or avoiding criticisms shift our attention to what we can’t control. We feel like a success or a failure based on other people’s judgments, not on how we feel about our effort. Instead of this unhealthy mindset, we should shift our focus away from these judgements. Knowing that we’ll be judged regardless of the outcomes we create helps us shift our attention to what we actually can control: ourselves. Then, we can direct our attention to the Stoic three-step process for dealing with judgments. We can pause, look for the learning opportunity, use it, or let it go. Doing this allows us to focus on our effort.
We’re neither successes nor failures based on our achievements or others’ judgments. By pausing and shifting our attention to our effort, we develop peace of mind. Our mind peacefully takes in information, processes it for intelligent value, and utilizes or discards it. The whole process becomes part of the learning journey we’re engaged in. We don’t worry about other people judging us for the grade we climb or if we fall. We focus completely on our climbing and enjoy it.