How Trauma Gets in the Way of Your Goals and What You Can Do About It

Trauma is not the event(s) that happened to you, it’s how you are affected by those events.

Every noise, every touch, the stones beneath my feet, the splash of fountains from a window, crept evilly upon my senses. The air had a stinging weight like ocean waves. I felt myself a stranger to the world.

Circe by Madeline Miller

The quote comes from the character, Circe, in Madeline Miller’s book. The character was sexually violated and this quote comes some time after. She is describing a hyper alert state, which comes from being triggered.

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Overcoming irrational fear in climbing

In January 2018 I was experiencing deep frustration at the fear that was paralysing me when I went to climb. Climbing was one of my passions and had been for about a year, yet when I went near the wall I felt crippling fear. I wondered whether my fear was related to the effects of trauma that pop up in my life, so I decided to research trauma and recovery, and set myself experiments to overcome fear. I recorded my journey in a series of blog posts, in case anyone else was going through the same thing as me. I thought I’d share links to those posts here because the sports psychology I used in my experiments might be useful to you. Here they are:

  • Part 1 – noticing habits and delaying acting on negative self-talk
  • Part 2 – how trauma affects the brain and how embodied mindfulness can aid recovery (if you can feel your feet!)
  • Part 3 – going slowly and gently is kinder than rushing full steam ahead
  • Part 4 – teaching beginners to boulder, dissociation (and how it’s not helpful in climbing), and how training plans can relieve anxiety
  • Part 5 – breathing to overcome fear, personal learning styles, and practising falling
  • Part 6 – Putting a learning style into practice and is a comfort zone actually comforting?
  • Part 7 – Questioning beliefs and does regular climbing normalise the activity and remove the fear?

Four months after completing that series I began a new journey as a Climbing Instructor at an indoor wall.