The other day, I did something that I never would have done a few years ago.
I booked onto a mountaineering course and learnt some basic skills. While this may not sound like much, it did involve some technical aspects that a layperson would be unfamiliar with.
We learnt how to walk up a mountain covered in snow with and without crampons, and how to use an ice axe to make our way up too.
This was new terrain for me. I had never done anything like it before. When I am learning a new skill, I am very tentative and wary about what I am doing. Sometimes, this can manifest itself into doubting myself and working myself into a full-blown panic.
There were times during the day when I was wondering what the hell I was doing as I traversed my way up a white wall of snow with only the crampons on my feet and my ice axe stopping me from slipping into the boulders below, but I carried on regardless.
A few years ago, I may not have had the confidence in myself to complete such a task. I would have let the voices in my head get the better of me and I would have been paralysed with fear halfway up.
This time, however, I trusted myself and my ability to learn new skills and I embraced the challenge. I backed myself to rise the challenge and I did.
If I don’t back myself to succeed, then how can anyone else? We can be our own worst enemies at times. Sometimes, all we need is a little belief in ourselves and we can achieve more than we ever thought we were capable of.
Believe in Yourself
I have always been apprehensive about trying new things throughout my life. Whenever I contemplate doing a new activity, there are a number of thoughts that run through my head?
Will I enjoy this?
Why do I want to do this?
What is the point of doing this?
As you can see from those questions that are overly negative and in no way positive. When I ask myself these questions, I have already decided in my mind that I will not enjoy what I am about to do.
This is despite not trying the activity yet. It used to be a recurring theme whenever the opportunity to try something new came up, I would find ways to talk myself out of doing it.
One example of this sticks out in my mind. When I was living in New Zealand, my friends suggested we go skiing. I had never been skiing before, and I was ambivalent towards going.
Without any knowledge of skiing or even trying it, I had convinced myself that I wouldn’t like it and that I wouldn’t be any good at it.
I went along on the trip, but I wasn't overly enthusiastic about going skiing.
I remember getting to the slopes, walking up to the desk and still thinking of pulling out at the last second. One of my friends convinced me to give it a go, and I caved in and decided to give it a try.
I was still convinced I wouldn’t enjoy myself, but I thought I might as well give it a go if everyone else was!
It turns out I was right about one thing and very wrong about another. I was terrible at skiing at the start, it took me nearly the whole day to learn how to ski and not fall over after a few metres.
Despite all the tumbles I took, I had a brilliant time! All my negative thinking was washed away in the space of a day as I came to love skiing after a few hours.
I felt silly for being so adamant that I wouldn’t enjoy skiing without even trying. I learnt a valuable lesson that day. You have to believe in yourself, otherwise, no one else will and no one will want to be around either.
Since that skiing trip, I have largely been positive about trying new things. However, the other day, I felt those same negative thoughts creeping back into my head.
Booking on a mountaineering course was a big thing for me. I do a lot of walking, but going up a mountain is a different proposition. After checking in at the lodge, I could feel myself slowly convincing myself I wouldn’t enjoy it and, even worse, that I might not be able to do it.
On the day of the trip, I decided I would leave my negative thoughts behind and embrace the experience. If I didn’t like it, I didn’t like it, but I would be fully present nonetheless and make the most of it.
It’s not every day you get to climb a mountain in Scotland, so why not enjoy myself instead of being miserable!?
Again, there were periods when I thought I wouldn’t have the fortitude to carry on, especially when we were climbing a 45-degree mountainside with an ice axe and crampons, but I summoned my courage and got to the top.
This would have been a different proposition a few years ago. I would have succumbed to the negative thoughts and convinced myself I couldn’t do it and wilt in the face of fear.
Back then, I didn’t believe in myself. I was constrained by imaginary limits that did not exist in reality, but only in my head. The prospect of climbing a mountain, and climbing one with the aid of an axe and crampons would have been too terrifying to contemplate.
We all have periods in our lives when belief in ourselves is at a low. It can be hard to recover from this situation but have to remind ourselves that it is a must.
Instead of being our own enemy, we should be our own best friend. The more you believe in yourself, the more others will believe in you.