There are many books with metaphors from various sports giving advice about how to live a better life. One such book with valuable lessons is Learning to Climb Indoors by Eric Hörst. This is a book for those interested in this sport of ever-increasing popularity. (You get that ‘o’ with the two dots over it by holding down the Alt key and typing 0246. I just thought you would want to know.) Of course, as the disclaimer at the beginning of the book, and of this blog, indicates, climbing can be a dangerous sport. It should only be entered into with proper instruction by a trained professional. However, anyone can ponder the pearls of wisdom gleaned from the pages of this book from the safety of their armchair.

Some of the advice Hörst gives could come from any cognitive therapist. For example, Hörst states that “everything you are and will become is a direct function of your thoughts.” Cognitive therapy tells us that what we react to is not so much an event but our interpretation of an event. An example I often offer to my clients is that of two people stuck in an elevator for a moment. If the first thinks that they will be stuck in there all day, they will likely feel anxiety. If the other person thinks that the error will soon be corrected and they will be on their way, they will likely remain calm. Same situation: different thoughts, different outcomes.

Let’s look a few more pieces of Hörst’s advice for achieving success while climbing (and in life). Part of his goal-achieving strategy is something I haven’t see in other books. He advises us to think about what we are willing to give up in order to reach the specific goal we have. He reminds us that achievement doesn’t come just by doing more of something or trying harder. It also involves letting go of those things that are holding us back. Yes, it becomes necessary to detach from those things that are draining our attention or weighing us down.

Hörst advises us to see our failures as opportunities for learning something new that will eventually lead us to success. We need to be aware of the process of what we are doing to be able to spot the lessons. Thus we can avoid becoming overly attached to achieving success every time. He advises us to identify and minimize our legitimate fears. He also advises getting rid of illusionary fears by challenging them head-on and conquering them with reason and courage. We can build self-confidence with positive self-talk and visualization. We do best if we avoid or redirect negative thoughts or imagery from our minds.

I’ve noticed that we can’t control what pops into our awareness from moment to moment. Where we can exert control is how we react to a specific thought or mental image. We can think ‘Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. I should think about that some more.’  Instead, we could think ‘Oh, that’s ridiculous and I have better things to pay attention to.’

Hörst asks to realize that we are not defined by our success and failures. How we react to those successes and failures is what matters a lot more in climbing and in life in general. Finally, Hörst’s secret to happiness is “Embrace each day as a gift, no matter what it brings.” So, there are many valuable lessons to be learned from climbing up the rock, even if we never put a hand or foot on a gym wall or crag.


If you’d like to schedule an appointment, please give Specialized Therapy Associates a call at 201-488-6678.