‘I’m convinced that fear is at the root of most bad writing,’ Steven King, ‘On Writing’.
When I spoke about achieving the impossible through visualization what I was really talking about was conquering the fear that prevented me from performing at my best.
To get in your flow you need to control your fear. Visualizing facing your fear and controlling it means that when you come face to face with it in reality, your mind and body have a positive response.
Through visualizing myself climbing the moves on my route, powering through my fear on the tricky sections, when I actually came to those tricky sections I automatically dug deep and powered through, just like I had pictured in my mind.
Rock-climbing when your fear is in control of you goes a little like this:
You grip so needlessly tight on the handholds that you quickly build up lactic acid in your forearms and lose power. You breathe rapidly and shallowly, panic builds and you scrabble your way up the climb any which way you can. Inevitably, your legs start to tremble (disco-leg as it’s called). Just a little at first, but the very fact that you’re trembling freaks you out as you realize you could shake yourself off the rockface, even on the easiest section. Unremarkably, this thought fails to calm you and your legs start to shake more violently. Your focus is unrelentingly fixed on each upcoming bolt where you can clip your rope in to temporary safety – you barely notice the featured rock in between where the hand and footholds are awaiting discovery and where the dance that is actual climbing is done. You forget how to climb. You suck all of the fun out of it.
Fear sabotages your performance. Learning to conquer fear, to stare it in the face and carry on regardless, can release you to be your best. Know your enemy. Analyze how fear stops you from being your best and visualize yourself beating it.