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How to win your mental game

“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” ― Marcus Aurelius

So, how do I win my own mental game?

I had to develop many mental games and strategies when I began school. I have severe dyslexia, so simple things like reading and writing, even tying my shoes, were complicated. When people would say take your left hand loop the lace to the right…. well, it didn’t lead to anything resembling a bow. Both my laces and my brain felt tied in knots!

So, for each thing I have learned in life, I made up a story or a game. That means that when I study it takes more time per subject. For each goal I need to find the game or trick that translates what I am learning into a language I can understand. I see all things in life as images in my mind. When I read a book it is like watching a movie for me; my mind’s eye sees the thing the words describe. The world is a colorful ,sensual place for me. Sometimes, if there is too much new information coming at me too quickly, I shut down. This is a normal response for anyone. With technology advancing faster than people can keep up, information overload is something we all have some experience with. I just would reach overload faster than other kids around me. I knew I was different and I didn’t want to call attention to myself … thus I began making up the games. They were often fun and silly, since learning felt so stressful for me, and I used a lot of color.

I had many games that suited me and the thing I needed to learn. I actually tutored for a while and found that my games were helpful to other students. I mean, who doesn’t want to have fun with something you have to do anyway? But when the question was posed,”How do you win your own mental game? How do we develop mental toughness that is also healthy and self-affirming?”, I had to go over all the different games I had created and what they had in common. Here is what I came up with:

Single Step Solitaire

  1. In life there is one person you must rely on, yourself, and that is why the game is Solitaire.

  2. When things in life are hardest, chaotic and complicated, we can manage to take a single step (physical or mental).

  3. When you are overwhelmed, and a task seems impossible to overcome, often we are looking too many steps ahead. We are thinking of all the things we need to do at one time, making endless lists in our heads. Or we see people that have mastered a process ,and think,”It looks so easy for them.”, comparing our beginner selves. We forget they all started at the beginning too. We are in information overload and this can lead to self-sabotage.

  4. When I find myself frozen in frustration, I relax it into a pause. I breathe. I let things go silent. I quiet the lists in my head. Then I choose one step towards my goal. Just one.

  5. And then I celebrate it. I congratulate myself on making a step. I make it a moment of joy.

  6. The only real power we have is in the now. We decide the energy and intention of that one step and make it our own. And, each step leads to another.

  7. We cannot control the world at large. And, even if we do not want to change, change happens regardless. We grow, we age , we learn. .

  8. And then I celebrate it. I congratulate myself on making a step. I make it a moment of joy.

  9. But, we can be the master of our single step. We are adaptable and able to flow with the world around us because we are moving and responding in real time. I think it is in essence simplicity, and in its simplicity is strength.

  10. The best part of this game is that it is different for everyone, but everyone can play. The funny thing about the game Solitaire is that the alternate name of the game was Patience. My Single Step Solitaire taught me to have patience with myself while never giving up.

By Beau Stetson: An avid avoider of gluten; you could say it is due to being Celiac born and (anti) bread. I eat Paleo, because it feels good and right for me. ( Also, I have an unfortunate propensity towards accidental arson when cooking with fire.) My views on self-preservation are very simple: Life is unpredictable and there are moments beyond anyone’s control; my mind, my heart, my soul are my own. I decide the perspective. I control my own filter. These things can only be touched if I allow it. As for physical self-preservation … this is why I come to train. 🙂 When asked if I think outside the box I reply, “There is a box?” (The sweet irony  of this is my cubicle of chaos at a bureaucratic government job. Life has a definite sense of humor.) I am a plant loving, tango dancing, animal lover with ADHD that believes with all my heart in ….. Squirrel!

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