I like to view climbing challenges as risks. Some of these are risks in the commonly understood sense: there is a chance of serious bodily injury. Other climbing risks involve little or no physical danger, but may be intimidating or frightening for any number of reasons. You risk a thrilling but safe air fall. You risk the feeling of “failure” or embarrassment in front of onlookers. You risk “blowing your redpoint.” You risk putting yourself in a situation where you need to hold on uncomfortably hard for uncomfortably long, etc. Psychologically speaking, these risks are as real as the risk of physical injury.
In the Warrior’s Way® method, taking a risk involves three phases: preparation, transition, and action. In preparation, you gather objective information about a risk. Once you’ve done this, you move into transition and make a decision about whether or not a risk is appropriate. If the risk is appropriate, you move into action.
Here we are concerned only with preparation and the best frame of mind for that task. For proper preparation, you need to break out of your tendency to rush or stall and do active, focused thinking. Active thinking uses intention. Intention is attention focused in the direction of a choice. When you are at a rest stance, your choice is to focus your thinking processes on gathering information in preparation for the next challenge.
“Information” means objective information. If you begin thinking about how difficult the climbing will be, then you’re being subjective. “Difficult” basically means “stressful,” a signal that your mind is straying off task and beginning its comfort-seeking tricks. This kind of thinking is not intentional. It is habitual, based on how you have dealt with stress in the past. Instead of actively thinking, you are allowing your mind to run its habitual stress-avoidance thoughts through your mental space.