Monday, August 08, 2005

The Mirror Black

One night I had a dream
of a maiden in black and silver
I will show you your fears, just look in the mirror


It has been discussed elsewhere what personality types do well in poker. I'm not here to re-hash those ruminations, but rather to pose a question. Can you modify your own personality consciously?

For the sake of argument, let's say your make up is not ideal for poker. But you play anyway. You don't always have the successes you desire, but you are improving. There comes a point in time that you feel that your game is good, but there are certain aspects to your play that consistently become obstacles towards attaining your goals.

To be more specific, I'll look at my own play as an example.

I'm not tilt-proof.

I'm becoming more tilt-resistant, but tilt-proof? Not yet. I would estimate that the source of tilt for me is my reactions towards quite normal circumstances that occur during play. Bad beats, failure to move up in limits, etc., etc.

So I began to wonder - can I actually change my own personality such that my reactions to NORMAL poker-based stimuli becomes less detrimental to my play?

Over the last 18 months or so, the time during which I feel I've actually become a better player, I certainly do believe I've made improvements. But I'm not cured. Can I be cured? Can I do it myself? And what does it take?

My current psyche is made up of 37 years of life experiences on this earth. (I know you ladies are asking yourself - "How does he do it? He doesn't look a day over 34.") It is a bit unreasonable to think I can change it overnight.

I took a look at some psychology references online involving changing personality traits. Here are some interesting items:

* Treating a personality disorder takes a long time. I'm certainly not saying we have personality disorders, but this is somewhat equivalent to changing behavioral patterns under certain stimuli. I want to change my reaction to various events, but doing so is going to take a long time. I certainly can't argue with that assertion. I'd have to say that I have indeed changed, but the progress was slow.

* Group therapy is effective. Hey now, isn't that what a bunch of us do by blogging? Perhaps. I like to consider our little corner of the intarweb an opportunity for group therapy. Certainly what we do is much more than that, but I do believe that this forum is an opportunity for just that.

* Reducing environmental stress can quickly relieve symptoms. I translate that into walking away from the table when you feel these same feelings begin to creep up on you. Either logging off or taking a break has often times saved me from a bout of self-destruction.

* Setting limits on behavior. I'm probably going to have to employ this one a bit more effectively. I have been guilty of playing too much. Without question, my worst results follow extended periods of playing when I shouldn't be.

The bottom line is that changing an aspect of your own personality is quite difficult and can take a long period of time. I know I'm not giving up, that's for sure, but I hope to make fewer setbacks on my journey towards my goals.


No more terror sleeps in me, I will not cry I'll be strong
The last tear has rolled down on my face
I am stronger,
Stronger than yesterday

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