Fear Power

Let me nerd out on you for a second. I know, it’s the beginning of the blog, but it’s only for a second. Give me a break here.


There was a Doctor Who episode that…did I lose anyone? Are you all still reading? Ok, good. There was a Doctor Who episode where he has a fantastic quote about fear:

“Let me tell you about scared. Your heart is beating so hard I can feel it through your hands. There’s so much blood and oxygen pumping through your brain it’s like rocket fuel. Right now you could run faster and you can fight harder. You can jump higher than ever in your life and you are so alert it’s like you can slow down time. What’s wrong with scared? Scared is a superpower! Your superpower! There is danger in this room. And guess what? It’s you.”

Isn’t that a great quote? I love it. Anyway, I’m done nerding out now because for me, that monologue is utter B.S. (Still love it, though)

It may come as a surprise to some considering my IG handle is @chubbygirlclimbing and I write and post, of course, about climbing…that I actually have a fear of heights.

Contrary to what the Doctor said, my fear does not give my supernatural abilities. Oh no. Alex Honnold I am not. On a day that I am feeling particularly anxious, any climbing technique or knowledge I have accumulated flies out the window. I over-grip so much it feels like I did a hundred pull ups once I’m finally down from the wall. I’m surprised I haven’t morphed into a chubby girl with John Cena arms yet.


The bouldering wall gets me too. Very irrationally, I must say. I will jump down from a route instead of making the next move because I’m nervous…I would have essentially been falling from the same height if I had just tried it in the first place-and maybe I would have even made it! Well, I’ll never know. Often, I say, “I felt like I could have done it, but I was too nervous.”

So, after falling gracelessly for the millionth time and mourning over some frenchie fries (y’all gotta know I love French fries by now), I had thought about that Doctor Who quote and how much it didn’t apply to me.


But that’s what rock climbing is, right? It’s not just physical, it’s a giant mental game. The puzzle of getting to the top and fighting that animal instinct of “OH LORD I SHOULD NOT BE UP THIS HIGH THIS IS FOR BIRDS AND THINGS.”


So now that it’s 2020 and we’re all doing goals and things, I want to harness that fear instead of fight it. I want to be Doctor Who-y. I don’t want my fear to get in the way of me topping a route. I should only not top a route cause I really suck at it.

How do I do that? Repetition? Meditation? How do you beat your fears? Tell me-I really want to know!

Jen Alger Contributor theDIHEDRAL

24 Replies to “Fear Power”

  1. A fear of heights is normal. We would’ve gone extinct long ago if we had tried to scale cliffs as cavemen (and women) because we have actual safety gear for that now that we didn’t have back then. That opens up possibilities for us. The real potential for you is in your head, though. Climbing feels as familiar as your experience with it. I was a rambunctious little climber from the time I could stand up and I still get scared of some walls and crags. Don’t beat yourself up over it. Just make a plan to gain a little more exposure every day or every week or over an appropriate time period for yourself. Everybody’s different. Traverse a lot every time you climb, though, to hone your skills and technique, and to build strength. That also gets you comfortable with a variety of holds and problem solving skills. You can do this! You don’t have to scale mountains to be a great climber. The key is to enjoy it and let it fill you with its enchantment and relaxing power. Think about one hold at a time, one position at a time, and stay in the moment. That’s the real power of climbing. Good luck and let me know how you’re doing!

    Liked by 4 people

  2. I have so many fears I want to conquer before I leave this earth. Some days I don’t know where to start … maybe meditation … not quite sure except to face them… which I’m scared as shit to do!

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I think The Doctor is talking about fear mixed with real motivation, for if there’s also fearful motivation for oneself or another, then we have the strength we never knew we could find. Mothers lifting cars away from their child etc…

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I have a teacher who asserts that fear requires two things: 1) an unwillingness to experience and 2) a concept of the future. In other words, fear is never about the present but about something which we think will happen in the future and we are unwilling to experience it. As he always advised, don’t believe it, try it on for size.
    So let’s say you find this to be true for you. Now what? Either be willing to experience (falling, death, whatever it is you fear) and move on, or be present in this moment, not the unknown one in the future. Good luck with that.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Totally understand fear in relation to an activity you love. For me it’s when I have to guide a horse to a new type of obstacle (whether because the hight of the fence, the width, or even because someone thought a bright idea to put little paper leprechaun at the base in order to celebrate St Paddy’s day) there’s always a moment of pure panic. What helps me is to rely on my training, making sure my shoulders are back, my legs squeeze the horse forward, and I choke any and all fear down because my horse will absolutely sense it and be afraid himself. So that motivation of fear (as someone commented previously does help) but I would recommend relying on your training as well. Even if it’s just repetition to a height you are comfortable with, go there go back down on and on until it’s easy, then once it’s easy go one higher up and repeat on and on eventually you’ll get to the top.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. An excellent, world-class climber friend (Annapurna II, Everest North Face, etc.) said to me once, “I wouldn’t climb with anyone who wasn’t afraid of heights.” His take was fear of heights leads to respect for everything that keeps climbers alive because the point is not to die. Every time I’ve hurt myself was because I was over-confident and not paying attention. Fear of rattlesnakes led me to see hundreds of them because I learned how to hike safely in their world.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. You are courageous! You have fear of heights and you climb mountains. I love courage which is overcoming fear. Bravo! And aren’t french fries the best invention ever? 😊

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Fear Power: I get scared too. What I did was stop trying to get rid of the fear. I just keep repeating this: “fear is just a feeling, fear itself can’t hurt me.” The fear doesn’t go away, but it stops holding me back because it loses its power to control me. Things I’ve been afraid of are sometimes still scary, but when I’ve applied this a few times, the fear kind of fades, and for a few things that used to freak me right out, well, the fear has just totally vanished. I worked on confronting fears in all corners of my life and it made a big broad impact even though I wasn’t always able to work directly on some of the really scary stuff due to timing or geography or whatever. BTW, I like your diagrams! 🙂 Good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

  9. If you fear the heights, concentrate on the next few feet, and then the next few, and the next… eventually you’ll reach that goal you were so afraid of without realizing it.

    “Who are you?
    Who who who who?

    Liked by 2 people

  10. I work as an industrial abseiler and I still don’t like heights. But I trust my skills and my gear. So each time before anyone goes over I check the ropes and rigging and them I am fine.

    When rock climbing I freak out all the time. So I am now skilled at down climbing. As I am terrified to fall and never properly have. Which I know is holding back my grades.

    So fear is great to keep us safe but slowly pushing yourself to go higher, harder or taking small falls will help improve everything. And one day on a sports route I might even practice big falls. But I am still scared to try.

    Liked by 2 people

  11. The only way to beat a fear is face is and overcome it. If you’re scared of heights start with a low climb and look down. Realize your safety harness and all the other equipment you have to keep you tethered. Then as you get more comfortable keep climbing until you could be upside down on the Empire State Building and not even sweat! Great article and great quote from Dr. Who.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. Hey Jen
    I would recommend to practise falling. Go for a personal training lesson with a climbing instructor and do fall training. Or better bring your climbing partner and do the training with him, it´s also a pretty good trust exersice.
    Normally you start with just sitting down into the rope and when you feel comfortable you go on and on.
    Main traget is to learn how to belay dynamicly to minimize the hardness of a fall, for it will increase the length of it but that doesn´t matter when you´re high enough ;-).

    I spent half a day doing fall training when I did a instructors class last November. I was very lucky cause my trainingsparnter was the last years female youth european champion, I´ve never climbed with a pro like her, it was a really great experience!
    Greetings from Vienna

    Liked by 2 people

  13. Great read, Jen! I enjoyed the humor and lead-in, very conversational and real.

    Yea, fear is a tough one; It’s actually part of the reason I started learning trad (on easy, easy routes) and bouldering more, because I was getting really uncomfortable with progressing in sport climbing. There was one day in particular where I just didn’t feel like I could trust my fingers/arms/strength, and grades that I normally would do with (relative) ease just felt hard. It’s surprising now to think how much it shook my confidence.

    No advice here on how I’ve overcome that fear. Just following the climbing that I’m enjoying, and slowly easing back into sport. We’ll see. And good luck! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  14. Gurl, I feel you. I recently began rock climbing PURELY because of my fear of heights. It was the whole Batman concept: to overcome your fears, you become your fears. He feared bats, so he became the bat. I fear heights, so I become the heights. Meh. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Bouldering is not my friend. I’d rather trust my partner at the base of a higher route than trust myself on a lower route bouldering. Maybe that’s my own problem, I need to learn to trust myself.

    But I don’t think finishing routes what this whole overcoming your fear thing is about. I think it’s about having a fear and overcoming that fear. When you jump down from fear, graceful or not, that’s not the imperative point. The important part is when you stand up and start climbing again. That first pull up when your feet leave the ground, that’s the important part.

    Also, Honnold is cray cray. He’s strong, super athletic, and ridiculously focused, but he’s also crazy.

    Liked by 2 people

  15. YOU GUYS. I read all these comments the other day before I went climbing and I had an excellent climbing day. I don’t want to say you’re all magic, but maybe you are? But truly, I did nothing that different, but I felt braver during all my routes. It’s like putting the fear out there and having others read it and comment on it made me have to prove something…

    I realize this is probably not a permanent fix, but thank you all for the comments and advice. I’m definitely going to start working on falls and just forcing myself/getting used to staying up higher. (But also maybe being easier on myself when I have an anxious day and want to stay on boulders). I don’t know-more of the journey to come, I suppose!

    Liked by 4 people

  16. First of all, I love this and your little drawings. I recently started bouldering indoors (will be moving outdoors one day I’m sure) and I totally get it. It feels irrational as you’re not that high up the wall but it’s amazing how fear can blast through you like that. I don’t know yet how to control it or utilize it but wouldn’t that be amazing to just be so much stronger for it?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Good thoughts! I recently climbed a low-grade highball outside and got really scared on the easy (but high) bit because I hadn’t spared a moment to think how I was going to climb the top. Maybe planning ahead would help to keep the fear in a cage…

    Liked by 1 person

  18. You made me chuckle with your introduction. Thanks for being relatable by the way 🙂
    For the fear, I don’t know. I’m not a fan of sea cos I don’t know what’s in there and if I can survive if something happens, like if I’d be left alone in the middle of it. But I still join my friends when they want to go to the beach. I surf with them sometimes. They said, fake it ’till you make it. I’m doing it. I’m trying to like the beach by being there.

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Hurray for this post! Feels very like what often goes on in my head about going to work, social obligations, writing, etc. I usually combat it by getting off the couch, drinking lots of coffee and loud music. I can’t seem to be wimpy with The Hives in the background.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I read this as Fear power! Like “be afraid” of power. Lol. But I see what you mean. I have a fear of heights. Just thinking about LOOKING down the Manitou Incline gives me severe anxiety, and GOING downhill on it, no way. I want to do better but I’m really afraid of fainting from the fear. Literally passing out and falling face down and tumbling down the stairs to the bottom. Which of course isn’t logical . I’m not going to fly , I’m too fat. Lol So I don’t have anything helpful. Sorry. Good luck to you in your journey!

    Liked by 1 person

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