First, I discussed the origin of the term tilt and how it moved from pinball to Poker to Magic the Gathering. Next, I summarized some of my own struggles with tilt. Finally, I discussed some new ways of thinking about tilt that I found helpful. Today, I want to finish by examining some habits that can help address tilt.
I ended my last post with the statement that knowledge alone is rarely enough to change behavior. As human beings, we can recognize when certain behavior patterns are destructive or irrational, but this recognition alone is rarely sufficient to bring about change. What is needed is to develop new habits.
Imagine trying to change the course of
a small creek. One simply cannot dig a new channel and hope for the
best. You must dam up the water, create a new course for the water to
run, and make sure the water will correctly transition to the newly dug
channel. In the same way, when it comes to changing behavior, one must
not only awkwardly practice new habits, but one must work hard to block
the old patterns of behavior until the transition to the new behavior
So here are some actions that I have found helpful in address tilt:
1. Recognize when you are tilting. Tilt is most dangerous when it is unrecognized.
Learn to recognize your own body cues that signal this aggressive shift
in your emotions. Maybe it's a rise in your internal temperature, an
inability to focus your thoughts, or even a simmering rage like I
typically experience. Whatever the symptom, if you have any chance of
avoiding the pitfalls of tilt, you have to clearly identify when your
mental balance is being pushed upon. Heed the warning, stop "nudging"
the table, and take the next step.
2. Refocus your thoughts and emotions. Once your recognize the danger signs, you've got to stop what you're
doing and refocus. Step away for a moment. Take
several deep breaths. In between games, you can even get up, walk
outside for a moment, listen to a song on the Internet, or almost
anything that helps you relax, refocus, and push back against your
3. Come back to the game. At some point, you've got to come back to the game. In the middle of
an event or a tournament, you may not have the freedom to simply walk away
and take as much time as needed to get your emotions back in check. In
the short term, force yourself to rethink your play without making snap
decisions. Don't rely on your instincts, especially since what probably
comes most naturally is to drift right back into tilt. Slow down, put what's already happened behind you, and focus on the reason why you're playing the game in the first place.
I still have a long way to go before I feel like I have mastered my own struggles with tilt. But with these actions slowly but surely becoming habitual in my life, I have seen progress.
What about you, my readers? Have you struggled with tilt? If so, what have you found helps? Let me know in the comments below. Thanks for reading.
Next time, I'll be back with an annoying Magic Online bug and what you can do to make sure it gets fixed.