How to Embrace the Ugly Side of Projecting

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“Foul me! Get me on the damn floor!”

I roll my eyes as the outburst of anger echoes through the canyon. This guy had strayed from his project for the past few hours, the swear words intensifying with each attempt. Every single climber at the crag on this otherwise quiet Tuesday morning knew exactly how their day was going. I wasn’t looking forward to that particular phrase appearing in my dreams that night.

At the same time, I couldn’t really blame him. No one within earshot could. That voice could just as easily have belonged to any of us. I’d let loose my own emotional outburst earlier that morning after a particularly annoying foot slip – my own outburst was quieter and more sullen, but it was a tantrum nonetheless.

Hard climbing brings out the best in people. There’s nothing quite like experiencing the kind of joy that radiates through a person’s entire body when a project they’ve put their heart into, sacrificing time and energy and so many layers of skin, is finally unlocked. Mastering a descent from the unfathomable to the possible to the feasible takes a person on a soul journey that could just as easily be a religious experience.

I’ve never felt so comfortable in my own skin as I did right after a particularly hard-fought send. It’s not just the feeling of having achieved something. It’s also a sense of reassurance that I can truly trust myself to be strong in the face of adversity. It’s the kind of stubborn determination that carries over to any other obstacle. Being able to sit back at the top of an ascent and know that I’ve struggled a lot, but given more, gives me reason to believe I have unique strengths that are worth it to be celebrated. Each ticked project represents a different code that I translated from gibberish into my own private language. The bottom line is mine; People around me can see the final product, but they can’t understand it the way I can. That moment, looking back on my tumultuous history of ascension as I descend from the send, arms me with enough confidence to ward off the nastiest inner critics for weeks. The initial luster is fading. The boost for my morale is not.

But climbing must also produce the very worst. You need to want it. At some point frustration, fear and doubt creep in. Screaming, crying, swearing, whining, kicking, throwing… I’ve seen and experienced it all. I’m not proud of the person I can become after banging my head against the wall – sometimes literally – on the same project only to make inches of progress. In my deepest moments, I get so snappy with my partner that on more than one occasion we’ve narrowly avoided a nasty breakup at the bottom of the rock. Endless loops of self-mockery are not easy for outsiders to endure in the long run. Nor the snide responses to any attempt to calm me down, nor venom when they try to remain silent instead. Sometimes I can watch myself from the outside almost helplessly as I unleash the interrogation: Why can’t I? How could I have slipped? Where did I go wrong? What needs to change? Were you even paying attention?! They are questions without answers, at least none that anyone but me can give. But I’m so desperate to escape the spiral in my own head that I unleash it on my partner instead. It does not look good.

[Master dynamic movement with this course by Carlo Traversi]

But I’ve come to the conclusion that uncovering a little ugliness is a necessary part of the process, a prerequisite for the eventual high. The Triumph wouldn’t feel nearly as enjoyable if you hadn’t sat in the vacuum for a while first. Maybe she doesn’t even exist. As Brené Brown, PhD researcher specializing in shame and vulnerability, explains, “We cannot selectively numb emotions. When we numb the painful emotions, we also numb the positive emotions.” The joy can only shine through when the opposite does too.

Unleashing the ugly means I care. It shows that I allow the act of climbing to uncover the deepest layers of my humanity. I’m not trying to hide from the pain of such an experience. At the same time, I don’t want to feel so powerless over this pain that I forget my values ​​in life. The key is finding the right balance. In this way, ugliness is both felt and managed. Owning the less attractive sides of ourselves removes the shame and stigma of being a multifaceted person. shame fixes the ugly; without them we have the confidence to laugh away the pain.

Embrace the ugly climber in you. Make the effort intentionally and indulge in the absurd.

  1. Perfect your bellows. make them loud Choose the phrases that best express the feeling of unprecedented disappointment after dry-firing the same grip five times in a row. Bonus points for accompanying moans, squeals, and the occasional sob. Get the pain out of your head and let it be heard in a healthy way, addressed to the universe at large and not to yourself or anyone else. research shows that vocalization improves grip strength, so you’ll reap both mental and physical benefits.
  2. Play the blame game. Bad air, bloated tips, oozing holds, lack of sleep, indigestion, too hard yesterday, too hard tomorrow… the possibilities are endless. The more ridiculous, the faster you’ll get a smile. Also, humans are narrative beings. We value the story behind every success and failure. Generally there are many external factors that contribute to every struggle we face – in climbing and in life. Write the whole story down for yourself so you can put your efforts in context.
  3. Dive deep. Don’t stop thinking about your project. Bring it up on first dates. Text your mother every development. Mime the crux sequence in the bathroom mirror at work. Crying about it on the bus. Sleep with Beta Notes under your pillow. Don’t let it interfere with your daily functioning. If you bother to get upset about the climb, let it all the way in. You’ll get a helpful perspective on how your project fits into the bigger picture. What can it teach you about your learning style and emotional habits? What insights might pop up in the middle of your daydreams?
  4. Eat your feelings. Gummy bear. chocolate squares. Cheese sticks. sushi rolls Whatever your sad self desires, you have it at hand. It’s not good to cry with a full mouth. And last but not least, you are strengthened for the next attempt. Because of a lack of energy, some mountaineers feel more hopeless than the situation actually warrants. Grab a snack before heading down that rabbit hole.
  5. Give up. Walk away. Take the dramatic exit you’ve always imagined with a swish of your coat and a “Good day Mr; I said GOOD DAY.” Retiring for the time being, or even for a few days or weeks, could be good for your spirit. Give yourself permission not to depend on this one endeavor. Discover your opportunities elsewhere. Whenever you start walking again, it won’t feel the same because you won’t be the same.

Climbing isn’t just something most of us do for fun. It’s a huge part of who we are, where we direct our energy, and how we plan for the future. But loving something so strongly also gives it the power to hurt us. Don’t – the winnings are worth it. Just do yourself the favor of owning the ugly before it owns you.

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