Embracing Difficulty

Back in October I went on a rock climbing holiday in Catalunya, northern Spain. I climbed for 6 days on – the most I’ve done in YEARS. It was fab. I was happy and fit and ticking grades that are at the upper reaches for me (no pun intended).

Then I returned home to rainy weather, followed by a week of solo child-care and illness, all amounting to a month of no climbing or pretty much any exercise at all. The weight that had fallen off me effortlessly in Catalunya crept back on and the easy flow of climbing fled.

This weekend I got out on rock for the first time since then. Saturday was a disappointing slap in the face for me. I did a paltry three routes, backing off two of them before the top. Climbing grades that were my warm up in Catalunya, here I was nervous and incapable. Back to square one. I ended the day in a foul  mood.

Sunday we got out again. Again it was a gorgeous day. Climbing in a bikini top in mid-December has got to be something to smile about, right? And I decided to smile and enjoy the sensation of being out on rock again and to forget about the grades. To accept that climbing really is just hard. Even the ‘easy’ grades don’t necessarily feel easy. It always requires concentration, application and, above all, confidence.

Beating yourself up over finding something difficult doesn’t achieve anything. It puts you in a worse frame of mind and sets you up to fail. Embracing the difficulty, enjoying the complexity, getting lost in the workings of the movement; all of these allow you to forget yourself in the moment. Once you get in your flow your chances of success shoot up astronomically. What’s more, even if you don’t succeed on a particular occasion all is not lost, for this way you will enjoy the process and take the learning from it.

On this Monday morning I am sore and tired but happy. Now I am facing in to a week of work and life challenges that threaten to overwhelm me at times. But I am going to take my eyes off each end goal for now and I am going to knuckle down to the doing of their composite tasks. I will lose myself in the doing and hope to awaken at week’s end with a number of important goals completed, or at least that much nearer.

Happy Monday everyone!


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