Who do you think you are?

That was a serious question.  Who do you think you are?  Is who you think you are based on what you think or what other people think?  Is it dependent upon your expectations of yourself or others’ expectations of you?  Do you ever even think about who you think you are?  Is who you think you are tied to perceived past wrongdoings or events beyond your control – the “if only’s”?  What about who you think you could become?  I won’t apologize for having a Master of Science in Psychology, and these are questions that everybody should think about because the answers are going to make all the difference in the world as far as your happiness in this short life of yours is concerned.

These questions come from a position of various experiences that I am going through, have gone through, and have yet to go through.  Climbing has heavily influenced my development during these experiences, and has created many of them for me.  I have, therefore, had to think, “Who do I think I am?  Who do I think I can become?”  Climbing has provided the opportunities and environment necessary for psychotherapeutic gains to be made as I work with my doctor on getting my PTSD (and my entire life) under control.  For example, I am learning to set reasonable boundaries with people.  I am developing coping mechanisms for dealing with stressful and overwhelming emotions and distress.  Gains have been made in the verbal skills department, as I am learning different ways to negotiate what I want with people in tough, tense, and awkward situations.  I’m becoming more independent (very slowly, but I am) in my thinking and letting go of others’ expectations in favor of developing my own for myself.  I have developed a sense of intrinsic value and self-worth, and have become rather intolerant of being treated badly by other people.  Self-soothing continues to be a mystery to me because I’m harder on myself than anyone else could ever be and I anticipate that others will be hard on me, when in reality, they may hardly notice the infraction (if the infraction even exists).  My skills for dealing with conflict need improvement, as my military training dictates that I either shut-up or yell commands at gunpoint.  Obviously I don’t carry a gun around anymore, but I am still aggressive when threatened.  I am a gentle soul, though, who doesn’t want to hurt anyone or anything.  My military past and my duties during combat situations haunt me, and I am learning to deal with that guilt millimeter by millimeter, it seems.  Two steps forward, one step back (sometimes three!).  I am making progress, though.  My doctor and I celebrate every small bit of progress because every little bit counts!  Small successes build up!  I have readjusted my sense of progress, too.  Progress on the climbing wall, for me, is reaching one hold farther, committing to a more difficult move even if I fall off the wall, learning a new technique, improving my footwork, trying even when I don’t feel like breathing anymore, or just showing up.  Progress can be anything you make it!  Hold onto those moments!  They count!  They develop character and strength.  Soon, others compliment you on your progress – all that progress that you thought was imaginary or went unnoticed – and you find yourself smiling, not knowing what to say.  Say, “Thank you.”  I’ve allowed myself to try new things, too.  I now sport climb indoors and out, boulder indoors and out, set routes in a commercial climbing gym, participate in competitions…  All that and there’s more to come!!!  Most importantly, I’ve found a sense of joy in climbing.  I’ve found something that makes me happy.  Just thinking about it makes me happy!  Find something like that in your life.  With climbing has come a new group of friends, a social support network, climbing partners, and an enriched life for me.

I sincerely hope that you can find something that works to your benefit the way climbing works to mine in creating and experiencing joy and happiness and confidence in your life.  I’m becoming someone.  I don’t know who yet, but I’m becoming someone.  So, who do I think I am?  I think I am someone, and more than that, I am a climber.  Who do you think you are?

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