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Emotions and Controlling them [#737]

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GoTraining: Emotions and Controlling them (2006-11-12 00:43) [#2377]

When people play go, they always focus on style, stratagy, skill, etc. As many of you know, emotions play a major part in the result of your game. To play a well blaanced emotional game, you must be calm. Achieving calmness before a game and during games are topics lightly discussed.

When I play go, I don't like playing on the internet. My reason is because I can't control my emotions. I always mess up my thinking with my chaotic emotions. During games, I close my eyes and take deep breaths, but my body constantly shakes inside and outside. I can never calm down before or during a game so I have two questions open for discussion.

1. How can you walk into a game with an emotion of pure calmness?

2. In the game, if you reach an unbalance in calmness, how do you calm down?

X Re: Emotions and Controlling them (2006-11-12 01:04) [#2378]


I would recommend meditation.

GoTraining: Re: Emotions and Controlling them (2006-11-12 04:32) [#2380]

I thought about meditation but can you really develop the skills of meditation fast enough to calm down during a game? That takes years and for people who strive to become pro, they can't sit there an meditate you know?

Warder05: Re: Emotions and Controlling them (2006-11-14 02:44) [#2398]

One could also focus on the consequences (symptoms) of emotional problems and see if they're treatable. It seems to me that playing in the wrong state of mind can result in:

  • Hurried Play
  • Laziness
  • Lack of Fighting Spirit
  • Improper behavior or decorum (rudeness)

The first two symptoms should be easier to fix. Regardless of the circumstance, anyone who takes the time to consider each move before playing it benefits greatly. The trick is to do it in a manner called "mindfully". This term comes from Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. The general concept at work is the harder you try to rein in your emotions, the less success you will have. Instead, focus on the board. When your mind wanders, acknowledge the digression and then return your focus to the task at hand. Try it at your local club first (or in untimed games). The more you are able to focus on the board, the less your emotions should bother you. Go is complicated. If you let it take over your mind, it will. This is probably good during games.

The second two symptoms are a little harder to deal with. I like Tasmin?'s suggestion for dealing with losses: Smile. Beating yourself up over a loss will only hurt you in the long run. If you can analyze the game, do so. Make sure you don't make the same mistakes again. As far as lack of fighting spirit goes, I have little to say about this one. I have this problem. It's hard to face an opponent that you know is much better than you and take risks.

axd: ((no subject)) (2006-11-12 09:25) [#2383]

You must enter a game without any expectation.

Enjoy the game unfolding, try to enjoy your opponents beautiful moves as well. Any negative feeling in you, be it towards yourself or towards your opponent, will fire back on you.

Be critical, but never criticize your bad moves: the go player in you is learning, watching but then also suffering.

Consider a game won, not because you won, but because you underwent it without negative emotions, because you discovered some beauty in it: so it is better to lose a game and walk away smiling, than to suffer throughout the game and not remember anything about it afterwards.

GoTraining: Re: ((no subject)) (2006-11-12 10:34) [#2384]

Now that really helps. Just think I win and relax about it. Forget winning period. I will win if I stop focusing on winning.

axd: Re: ((no subject)) (2006-11-12 14:07) [#2385]

No, don't think you win, because you are lying to yourself. Just enjoy the path you choose to follow in a game, and try to learn from it.

And indeed, IMO focusing on winning is not the right strategy. As in aikido, softly lead your opponent to the ground, but don't destroy him (her).

Maybe an ideal game is where both players end with a feeling that they accomplished something together, not against each other. (But I admit this might sound a bit overstretched...)

GoTraining: ((no subject)) (2006-11-13 22:55) [#2395]

That's a nice way of putting it.

reply controlling your feelings (2006-11-13 23:40) [#2396]

Tamsin: When emotions are crowding in, I find it helps to concentrate on trying to play the best that I can, one move at a time.

Also, when something goes bad or seems to go bad: do an O Meien and break out your best cheesy grin. It's more mature than getting angry, and it's easier to get back into a move-finding mentality.

(I remember seeing pics of O Meien smiling broadly after losing crucial games (Honinbo 2000, game 1, and one of the Oza 2002 games) from blunders. I bet he privately wanted to bash his head against a wall, but in both instances he came back to win the match.)

reply ((no subject)) (2006-11-13 23:52) [#2397]

I try to "play the game and not the opponent". The stones have a natural way of moving, but basic instinct isn't always the best way. I try to distance myself from the game, to see where the stones want to move, to question it and to "correct" them if necesary.

Playing Go is rather like driving a car. You move from unconscious incompetence (never having tried) through conscious incompetence (learning) then conscious competence (where learning is consolidated) through to the ultimate goal of unconscious competence (the hand of god?). Except that with Go, the game is so deep that as soon as you feel unconsciously competent at something, you realise you are incompetent at many other things, so it progresses in a spiral of learning.

One passage that I find is inspirationl as a meditation is the chapter about Cook Ding from Zhuang-Zi (quoted here: [ext] That is unconscious competence - coupled with a little conscious competence when the going gets tough!

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