We all tend to resist stress. To begin overcoming this tendency, admit that stress is a normal and desirable part of climbing. Accept this not just philosophically but in practice. When you encounter a stressful situation, accept the stress and explore its details. Accepting stress will help you see a situation as it is and avoid the distracting tricks your mind plays to satisfy its desire for comfort.
Acceptance does not equal resignation. It means simply that you avoid wishful thinking and illusions, and focus on gathering useful information about the challenge before you. Saying, “I wish these holds were bigger,” is an expression of resistance. It will not make the holds grow or help you use them. Saying, “I hope there’s a hold up there,” will not create a hold or help you respond if there isn’t one. Saying, “If only I wasn’t so pumped,” will not re-energize your forearms or help you find the least strenuous path through the crux.
If your attention is engaged in resisting stressful facts, wishing or hoping the situation was different, then it isn’t fully present for gathering information to prepare for the risk. Later, when you begin moving again, if you resisted stressful facts, your actions won’t be deliberate.

We all tend to resist stress. To begin overcoming this tendency, admit that stress is a normal and desirable part of climbing. Accept this not just philosophically but in practice. When you encounter a stressful situation, accept the stress and explore its details. Accepting stress will help you see a situation as it is and avoid the distracting tricks your mind plays to satisfy its desire for comfort.

Acceptance does not equal resignation. It means simply that you avoid wishful thinking and illusions, and focus on gathering useful information about the challenge before you. Saying, “I wish these holds were bigger,” is an expression of resistance. It will not make the holds grow or help you use them. Saying, “I hope there’s a hold up there,” will not create a hold or help you respond if there isn’t one. Saying, “If only I wasn’t so pumped,” will not re-energize your forearms or help you find the least strenuous path through the crux.

CR Resistance and Acceptance

If your attention is engaged in resisting stressful facts, wishing or hoping the situation was different, then it isn’t fully present for gathering information to prepare for the risk. Later, when you begin moving again, if you resisted stressful facts, your actions won’t be deliberate.

This Post Has 9 Comments

  1. This is a point ON teaching that will improve my climbing. I’m moving up a grade in lead.. eveything said here helps me identify resistence and the pull back to comfort. I see a way, from this lesson, to accept and redefine the stress created by moving ahead.

    1. Hi Maureen, Please do post on this blog to let us know how applying accepting has worked on climbs. We can all learn from tangible experiences other have. Arno

  2. Arno
    Awesome subject. I believe I use a lot of my attention to engage in thinking or doing to avoid stressful situations. For instance, homework (for Calculus). I’ll watch tv, do laundry, go to the coffee shop, or workout instead of tackling that tough subject know as Calculus. (I know it’s not a climbing example, but the same thought process can happen when I get on a climb that may be at my limit. I’ll hesitate, and check, check again, and then check again.)
    I understand that getting all of the facts and making a plan is how to begin…and I have had times when climbs didn’t stop me, nor the tv or laundry when i needed to study. Sometimes I have trouble sticking with it. So how do I stay with it?
    I can tell you that I am at a point, for me anyway, where I am at a crossroads, and I want things to change.
    I feel like the “Way” has brought me so far, yet I still have a long way to go. What next?

    1. Hi Robby, Yes, we all have a long way to go and we should be thankful that we do have a long way. Improving is a life-long affair so having a long way to go means we have the possibility of a long life to continually work on the process.

      What you describe about engaging attention in thinking/doing sounds more like distraction than acceptance. Your mind is resisting the stress of Calculus and distracting attention to tv, laundry, etc. Same goes for checking and re-checking your systems in climbing. You ask: “So how do I stay with it?”
      Follow the guidelines of the “practical tip” in the eLesson: I Like What I Hate. Let us know how it goes.
      Arno

  3. I wonder if I can add a different facet to the subject: Resistance and Acceptance toward injuries. We wish we dont get injured but reality is..it happens and when it happens it is hard to face it. I am only recently coming out of 2 months stop. It is a hell of internal battle. Resist the injury or accept it. Resist, continuing climbing through it and going back climbing prematurely or accept it and focus attention on the long healing process. Injuries are very stressfull situations that demand an awful lot of energy and strenght to overcome them. Despite acceptance is the way it is a hard one though.

    1. Hello Giuse,
      The premise is still the same. A situation is what it is. I came across an interesting Zen quote the other day: “If you understand, things are just as they are; if you do not understand, things are just as they are.”

      We all need to “understand” how the world works or we waste energy and attention. Our attention is on what we wish our world to be instead of how it is. And, all the while “things are just as they are.” You can begin asking yourself why it’s hard to not climb for a while. Why do you climb through the injury or begin climbing too soon? Why can’t you be present to the healing process? There are some underlying motivations that cause resistance instead of acceptance. Find out what they are. This injury could be a learning experience that gives you insight into your motivation that can lead to more enjoyable and effective climbing after you heal. There are some broader issues going on here…what are they?
      Arno

  4. I just reread the “I like what I hate,” section, and will put it into use the next time out.
    Thanks Arno

  5. Guise’s post on injury really resonates with me. I’m trying to come back from injury right now as well. Injuries are the best teachers. I’ve noticed that I usually get injured in the first place when I am not present – climbing with tight shoulders and a frantic mind. The physiological aspects of centered climbing (relaxed body, flowing movement) are ergonomically friendly too.
    Now, coming back from injury, my mind is easily swept off into fear – will this move re-injure me, am I warmed up, should I be climbing, is it too soon? Am I too late, too old? The mental pain of not climbing is far harder than the pain of the injury itself. It is so easy to think of all that is wrong, not being able to climb, and forget to embrace the opportunity to grow into new aspects of the sort previously avoided – like slab climbing 🙂

  6. Hello Arno,
    Interesting quote. A bit still…certainly eternal.
    To answer to your question, I guess it is the awareness that life is short and the burning desire to spend it doing what I like, as much as I can, as long as I can.

    I see your point about acceptance. Being injuries a common subject and a very stressful one that requires strong willpower I wanted to know more about your views on it.
    Giuse

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