Fear that "takes-over" is the enemy of the climber. It is a thin line or thread that one hangs from that can easily be cut under tension. Over the decades I have come to know this deeply. I have seen my ability unravel in a dangerous situations and I do all of the things that will lead to my worst fear becoming a reality, falling off. My hands sweat, making gripping the rock more difficult. My body shakes, compromising the friction of my shoes on the rock. Where the mind goes, my body eventually follows. Think of falling and one falls. I have seen this in myself and many other climbers.
When coaching my students, some of whom are leading for the first time, I often give them step-by-step instructions in a critical moment to prevent a fall. I guide them to the desired outcome: staying on the face and completing the climb. Eventually they learn to do this for themselves. Managing fear along the way, and staying focused.
There are many human trappings that are fueled by fear. The arrogant teen who presents a facade of confidence and self-righteous, who has to be right, otherwise they feel they have no self-worth. An impatient man, who cant wait for something to happen "in due course", witless about a consequence that may not exist in reality, who takes inappropriate action. A self-effacing girl who is terrified of their own power and competence and how it may lead to greater responsibility, stands and does nothing at a critical moment. The addict, panicked about feeling the pain of past losses, medicates to the point of self-destruction. A martyr, petrified of being abandoned by others, gives himself away until there is nothing left of their own truth. The stubborn woman, anxious about anything new coming into her life and having to adapt, fails to see a new way of doing something that is better. And the greedy boy, who must have it all, for fear that there will not be enough.
Arrogance, impatience, self-deprecation, self-destruction, martyrdom, stubbornness, and greed are all fueled by fear. They are all a hazard to the climber, or human being traversing through life. I have seen them play out on climbs with myself or others. Having to be right, and leading a party astray and off route and into the hazard to be avoided. Climbing through a storm instead of waiting it out under the protection of an overhang, and slipping off in the wet. Having the answer to a problem the climb is presenting, but saying nothing, and then tragedy strikes. Using climbing as a tool to escape the pain of life, and like the a heroin addict, always needing more until safety erodes to nothing. Agreeing to climb something that is not in one's heart and meeting with an epic or worse. Failing to adopt a new technique, because you have always done it a certain way, but desperately needing the new information to solve a problem. And wanting "more" when the situation is saying "enough is enough, turn back."
I think I have been gripped by all of these 'dragons' at one time or another. However, mostly I have tripped on not valuing myself, and my own power. Martyrdom. This week I stumbled on impatience. Taking direct and power filled action when simple listening was needed. And now it is all "in awareness" which is all I can do to remedy.
Love fuels the opposites: meekness, composure, self-approval, self-creation, contentment, flexibility, and generosity. There is a place for fear in the grand sceme, otherwise it would not exist. Fear keeps us on our toes, brings focus. . . but that is all we should let it do.