When I began training with Arno and Laur, something that I mentioned I wanted to focus on and wanted help with was my self-worth. Self-confidence and self-worth have always been things that I’ve struggled with, and I do think that having an anxiety disorder has severely affected my self esteem. I had previously found out through seeing a psychologist that a lot of my anxiety stems from the same belief – that I am not good enough. I have a tendency to place my value as a person in my accomplishments or lack thereof, and on how people view me. This affects not only my climbing but my life beyond that as well.
I get wrapped up in my head a lot.
One of the first things Arno and Laur taught me was how to have an observant mind, where one can notice thoughts as they come up and redirect to the task at hand. This is not to ignore or try to block out thoughts, but rather to acknowledge them without attaching to them. I think one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned in working with The Warrior’s Way is how to identify thought patterns and unhook from thoughts that I would normally spiral into. When you can recognize a trigger and come back to the present, it is a powerful and proud moment. This was a helpful step in detaching my identity from my thoughts.
Another part of my self-worth issue is letting the outcome of something take over how I view myself. Something that I learned from The Warrior’s Way is that we tend to use the words “good” and “bad” a lot as labels. But when you start to look at things a little more objectively, it allows a little more clarity on where the locus of control lies. I’ve always thought of myself as an all-or-nothing person, which may be why my self esteem is so easily affected. In using this tool, I am able to see things with less of a black-and-white depiction, and more understanding and acceptance of what’s going on in reality and how things don’t always have to be either/or.
I can be a valuable person without always meeting what I label in my head as “enough.”
Knowing these things does not mean that I will never experience uncomfortable emotions or feelings. It is great to be able to acknowledge patterns in thinking and behavior, but being able to accept my state of being and things out of my control is what I’ve realized the next step in my training should be. We all have moments of frustration, fear, etc. and giving myself allowance for these times is important. Once I’ve accepted something, I can then take on defenselessness through relaxation techniques and come back to the observant mind. My whole perspective on the situation changes in this step. And in the next step of tough love, I bravely take on a stressor that will allow me to connect more with the situation. This is not to completely take me out of my comfort zone, but rather to stretch my comfort zone the smallest amount so that I can healthily deal with what’s causing me uncomfortable emotions or feelings in the first place.
I’ve found this part of the training incredibly helpful in better connecting with people – as I said before I have a tendency to take what other people think of me as my own self-worth, but most of the time I am the one who assumes what they are thinking, and assigns a false reality to the situation. This drill has allowed me to express myself more clearly, and understand myself and others with more compassion and grace. As for climbing, practicing acceptance, compassion, and tough love has given me the chance to appreciate all parts of the experience with less attachment to the idea that the answer in every frustrating moment is simply that I am not good enough. It has opened my mind to see value and fulfillment in tough times as well.
Near the end of our training, we started to get more into ways of giving myself compassion, and understanding what my needs are. Being a people pleaser and living a life based on victories and likability, Arno and Laur brought to my attention the lack of self-compassion I tend to have. Taking a moment to fill myself with compassion every now and then has greatly affected my mood and outlook on what’s happening around me. Similarly, I tend to ignore basic needs for myself. What I mean by this, is that I tend to be so engulfed in stressful situations sometimes that I ignore needs I have that may end up resolving or enriching whatever is going on. I’ve found that it can even be as simple as needing water or sleep. Or it could be something like communication or purpose, which are just as important. In recognizing needs, I’ve been able to see myself as valuable and give myself more respect.
Lastly, one remaining component that Arno and Laur have helped me with is realizing the importance of boundaries, and how to set them. I always used to think that setting boundaries would weaken my relationships with people and experiences. It turns out, the opposite is actually true. In setting boundaries, I can use what I’ve learned thus far and act upon what I need and what I value. They not only serve me, but they serve the connection I have with the other person or the richness of an experience. I am proud now to have the confidence to be able to set boundaries and live a life more true to who I am.
Working with Arno and Laur has been an honor. I have learned so much about life, climbing, and myself. It’s amazing what following their steps, drills, and lessons have done for me. No longer do I feel so attached to achievement and outcome, but instead I feel just so excited to find meaning and purpose in all the ups and downs of a journey. And when I catch myself wondering how I look to others or basing my value on someone else’s view of me, I remember that I am not here to simply meet the needs of others. I am important and valuable just as I am. I can’t thank The Warrior’s Way enough for giving me tools to live a more fulfilling life. And climbing has become a conduit for all the ups and downs that life has. As Laur said to me in one of our first sessions, “We do not climb to clip chains. We climb because we love climbing.”