The image of having a mind that is free of limiting habituated behaviors seems useful for applying ourselves to challenges in climbing and life. Ultimately, we need to use our mental faculties to fight with life, not against it. Let’s see how the mental qualities of agility, resilience, and confidence do this.
Our concept of freedom can be clouded.
Are we really free if we have a mind that restricts the use of our attention? If we’re slaves to habituated behaviors, then we’re really not free. Our attention is locked in a mental prison, so to speak, of our own making. True mental freedom comes from our ability to apply our attention, which is most difficult to do when we meet challenges.
The idea of fighting can be useful here.
Consider that we take on a fighting attitude when we’re thrust into a challenge. Challenges are stressful because, by definition, they’re outside our comfort zone. Thus our ability to deal with them is stretched. We’ll need to fight or we’ll succumb to the challenge. How should we fight? We have two options.
First, we can fight against challenges. We have ideas in our minds about the reality of the world. The new challenge challenges those ideas. This seems obvious. It wouldn’t be challenging unless it conflicted with our ideas. In this first option, we fight to maintain our ideas about reality. We think we know how life should unfold and we fight to maintain those ideas. In other words, we fight against challenges.
Fighting against what’s happening seems crazy when we reflect on it.
Fighting against the reality of the challenge makes the mind rigid and tentative, and leaves it deflated after the challenge passes. It leaves us damaged. Then, we struggle to reconstruct the confidence we had about our old ideas of how life should be.
Challenges, challenge us to expand our knowledge. We can only do this by fighting with them. This is where having a free mind is most helpful so we can create mental freedom. Our goal for true mental freedom is creating a mind that allows our attention to flow freely to the current challenge. We fight with them by applying our attention directly to them. Doing this requires mental agility, resilience, and confidence.
Challenges unfold over time. Mental agility allows our attention to move with the unfolding challenge. We’re adaptable to new information so we can incorporate it into new levels of knowledge. This is the learning process in a nutshell.
Mental resilience is about bouncing back from challenges. This “bouncing back” though isn’t just arriving back at the old status quo. We develop mental resilience because we seek value in the challenge itself. We want to learn from it. Thus, we “bounce back” with expanded knowledge.
Mental confidence builds directly from agility and resilience, which utilize attention from an internal locus of control. Confidence builds because we are directing how our attention will be applied. External challenges are the raw experience we engage, but internal processes of how we utilize our attention are the means. We know how we’ll focus our attention each time we face challenges, which gives us a familiar process to focus on and thus builds confidence.
Mental agility, resilience, and confidence create a free mind, which creates true mental freedom. I think this is the kind of mind we’d all like to have. Mental training should address issues that interfere with creating such a mind.
Life is going to be challenging. You can count on it. Learning how to fight with challenges–not against them–not only makes living life more effective, it also makes it more enjoyable. When the next challenge happens to you, know that you have a choice: fighting against it or with it. Choose to fight with it and see where it takes you. A free mind frees your attention from the self-imposed mental prison and gives you true mental freedom.
Practice tip: Be Alert To Your Choice
You’ll be challenged today. Count on it. And, you’ll have a tendency to resist it, to fight against it. Know that you have a choice when this happens. You can choose to fight with the challenge. Fight with the challenge and see where it takes you.
Changing habituated behavior that fights against reality requires reminders. Put reminders at the usual places you’ll be, such as in your car, on your computer screen, and on your phone. Be creative in how you do this. These reminders need to alert you to your tendency to fight against challenges. When challenges show up, show up yourself with your attention. Decide consciously to fight with them. Then engage with curiosity and enjoy the ride.