Gambling is a concentrated experience where risk
and reward collide in a heady (and for some an addicting) cocktail of highs and
lows that can be as thrilling as a bungee jump and equally deadly if you don’t
check the rope from time to time.
Problems in gambling happen when we become too
focused on the experience and lose sight of the desired outcome or the
potential repercussions of going too far.
We all know that feeling, even if we have yet to
succumb to true addiction, and when playing for money, most of us limit our
bankroll and manage our money to keep a fair check on our emotions.
Or do we?
Truthfully, I think we are all playing with fire
when we drink more than we should, party too hard or gamble irresponsibly but
from time to time we definitely need to blow off some steam.
For most people, cutting our own leash
occasionally is the best way to reboot ourselves before returning to our usual
routine once that hangover wears off.
Playing with fire is a necessary human need that
teaches important lessons that might prove valuable in other walks of life
(like “don’t get burnt, dummy”).
Letting go of our inhibitions is a psychological
necessity and can lead to personal growth but can become damaging if it gives
way to compulsion or addiction.
Alright, enough of that – have fun but keep an
eye on your mental and physical health; this is about a mechanism that’s needed
to protect ourselves from going too far when caught up in emotion or distracted
by other factors.
In every mistake we’ve ever made, one of the
things that often haunts us is that moment we remember before we stepped off
that cliff and there was no going back.
This point of commitment is where our intellect
failed us (or was never invited to the party) and our emotions took over and
urged us to jump.
You see it when poker players are on tilt or losing players keep buying-in despite having long lost the ability to play effectively.
We see it when con artists manipulate people into falling for a scam or when a sucker reaches for their bankroll because they know for sure that the pea is under that middle shell.
It’s when the hook is deep, the line is pulled,
and raw emotion is in the driving seat with the pedal pressed hard to the floor;
these are the times when we make a wrong turn or take leaps of faith.
We see it in ourselves when we lose our temper
or react based on how we feel rather than how we should be thinking but, in
these moments, there is real opportunity for all of us to flex a much-needed
muscle and perhaps prepare for more dangerous situations in the future.
The Power Of Stepping Back
The idea I’d like to propose is simple and we
have all tried and failed to do this in various scenarios throughout our lives.
When we feel our emotions are high or that we
might be caught in a wave of enthusiasm or ideology, we must find a way to step
out of that mindset and observe our own behavior and the environment or
conditions that might be causing us to feel or think in a certain way.
When we are angry at the news or when we argue
with a loved one or when we get caught up in a heated debate, we have the
opportunity to try and evaluate our reactions before we commit to saying or
doing something we might regret, or that might cause a negative or unwanted
These things happen often and by consciously
aiming to observe our own behavior whenever we recognize our emotions are high,
there’s an increasing likelihood that we will learn to step outside of our
emotional mindset and reassess what’s happening intellectually in the future.
This is not a guarantee that you will be
right or wrong in any particular situation, but it can foster the extremely
powerful (and protective) habit of stopping to think before committing to a
course of action you might later regret.
In gaming, this is a priceless skill to have
though for many it might seem like a killjoy compared to the thrill of just
letting it all ride but to each his or her own; you’re the driver of your own
meat wagon and you can play any way you like.
In life, it can be extremely useful when applied
properly but don’t mistake this as being risk-averse, which is also often
dominated by a lack of understanding or emotional hesitancy.
Stepping back is about checking that the bungee cord
is tied to both your feet and the platform, that it isn’t frayed or about to
break or is strong enough for your weight while short enough to be sure you
won’t hit the ground and bounce back in 40 wet lumps of what used to be you.
Knowing in advance what the risks are, what you
have to lose and how far you are willing to go are simple steps anyone can take
but having the internal mechanism to double check ourselves (and that
metaphorical bungee cord) just before we jump can identify flaws, dangers or
deceptions BEFORE it’s too late.
And when it comes to deception, this ability to
self-check before commitment is the con artist’s worst enemy and the sucker’s
Your Best Defense
I’ve spoken before about how to question any
situation that might be a con game, but we can ask ourselves simpler questions
in everyday situations when we feel our emotions trying to grab the wheel and
take us for a ride.
- Why am I feeling this way?
- Why does the other person feel or think
- Do I really understand what is
- What is the best (and worst) possible
Apply these questions to matters of business or
personal interaction whenever matters become heated or you feel yourself and
others being carried away by excitement, anger, or enthusiasm.
Doing so will create a useful (but imperfect)
buffer between your feelings, your decisions and your actions but more than
this, it practices the habit of self-monitoring your thinking in day-to-day
scenarios to create a reflex response to re-evaluate when the stakes are much
Make stepping back mentally a habit and you’ll
be surprised at the effect it has on situations or interactions you might
previously have found difficult.
And if you’re unlucky enough to be caught in a
con artist’s web of lies, it might offer an intellectual lifeline to escape
Or maybe convince you to fold that pair of