Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Strategic Wisdom, Cognitive Bias and Poker

Just a reminder that the purpose of this discussion aims at stimulating thought and self awareness as tools to help those in recovery from trauma learn how to make safer choices. To make the discussion more jocular, we've defined Cognitive Biases as “CranioRectal Inversions” (CRI).

I'm not cut out for poker and political games, especially interpersonal ones.  Just the same, I forget (through errors of attribution) that for some people, the drama created by such strategic game paying adds spice to their life. I actually have trouble accepting that it also comes into play when working with others to meet a common goal. I've been in some skirmishes that have demonstrated my desire clarify some matter of logic or miscommunication, but the whole mess quickly degrades into a emotional battle of wills before I realize it.  The cues are there, but I don't want to notice them.  I don't understand what motivates them, but I must learn to respect them and the problematic ways I've coped with them in the past.

Usually, the primary problem to be solved in such situations involves my realization that the matter at hand wasn't logical but screamed 'power struggle' from the outset. What I consider a win through negotiation is what the other party considers an cruel process of lashing out at them personally, taking no prisoners. And in the mix, the emotional hooks of the hobgoblins of commitment and consistency make it easy to get pulled into the conflict as a spitting match. And as a stubborn soul, I often don't know when to quit.

Earned Trust

As much as I've written on this wild blog about how important it is for trust to be earned by those who have mistreated us, I still find that on many days, I am still a novice. Until kindergarten, I spent most of my time with adults, and I never mastered the art of survival on the playground or at the bus stop. I thought that everyone did what they said and that most of the time, I could trust people, and a good deal of that had to do with my upbringing (read tons more about that HERE).

Around the mulberry bush, I go again and will likely do so in the future, as I am still finding the tendrils of the false expectations created by false beliefs wrapped around so many areas of my life. Perhaps the tiny ones that tug at my worth or my confidence are the hardest to spot, and they're taken for granted as what always is and has been. I will say that in a way, they keep me honest, as the process of growth and maturity that I work towards requires that I keep on tugging them away when I find them. And they hurt when I do. Games like poker and the schemes of politics point them out to me so well, and they've become my teachers.

I wish that I could be open and honest with everyone and dive deep into that which is meaningful about life for me, assuming that the same is true for them, too. Sometimes, that happens very naturally, but usually, it doesn't. I've also been sad to realize that the really strong and deep relationships of honesty and self disclosure can wear out their usefulness as life and people and needs change, or people move away. And what I wish for doesn't change any of that. I have less than a handful of friends with whom I can not see for a decade and pick up with them, right where I left off in the same safety that I felt with them long ago. But those people are so rare.

The Wisdom of Waiting

There are safe experts out there, but avoid false assumptions.
So the bud of wisdom for today is that of waiting to see what people do and if their words line up with their behaviors over time. I will respect my inner sense that something seems off and it's likely not wise to proceed. As a friend put it to me using the analogy of a feral cat, some are just too dangerous to mess with. And the next question beneath that? Why would I focus so much time and attention on trying to get a wild cat to warm up to me when I had plenty of others that were waiting on me to come home and loved to cuddle?

I've also had the experience of feeling like the 'belle of the ball' where things just seemed to be too good to be true. Love bombing makes all of us a bit vulnerable, and sometimes expressed care and kindness is genuine. But as that old saying goes, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Either way, waiting and watching behavior over time cannot harm anything before I put my heart on display on my sleeve.

It's probably safe to say that I'll never develop any interest in poker playing, and I seriously doubt that I'll ever develop a poker face. I'm wise to avoid such tables, because I don't do well at them. But if I must, I can definitely play with awareness of those feelings of what I want, what I fear that I'll never have, and I can usually take all of the time that I need to take. And I can definitely hold my cards with discretion.

Well, I will try. :) And I'll likely happen across this post and wonder how I forgot all about all of these things that I should always remember. I should follow my own advice? Welcome to the human race.

It might seem like risky business to air all of this on a blog, but anyone who has had anything to do with me has already figured all of this out. To them, I would say, “You should have seen what I used to be like!” It may have taken me some time due to stubbornness, but I make progress every day, and I marvel at how far I've come when all those days are put together.

A post to come will be an even more painful one about two sides of the same destructive coin. Ah, but why does one seem far more preferable and not destructive at all?  Before then will come preludes and parables about making peace with our monsters.