Kissing Gambling Pitfalls Good-By
Guest Post By Marty Klein Marty Klein
Since I wrote and published The Enlightened Gambler, I’ve noticed an interesting change in my gambling experiences.
Whenever I go out for a little gambling entertainment I catch myself observing myself and all my little eccentricities. There’s this part of my mind that now has a constant eye out for anything I do that’s weird. This actually turns out to be a good thing because that little observer takes notes and those notes turn out to be good material for blogs down the road for me to share with all of you. And hopefully some of you will learn a few things about yourself and your own gambling habits as I am learning more about mine.
The other day I was playing a slot machine at my favorite casino and was having a good time with two of my friends. I was sitting in the middle of them and all three of our slot machines were responding pretty well. Things turned lousy pretty quickly for me though and the next thing I knew I had used up all my credits but my friends were both winning even more. Their machines were rocking and rolling and they were both having a ball.
I immediately started feeling envious and wanted to participate in the party. Only problem was that I had lost all the money I started with. So, even though we had a loose agreement about how much we would play with, I quietly pulled out another twenty dollar bill from my wallet and tried to slip it into the machine without anybody seeing. I was successful and was back in business.
All the way home that night my little observer kept bugging me to face what I didn’t want to look at. So I forced myself to look, copping to the fact that I had been sneaky, and I was being sneaky because I didn’t want my friends to know that I was losing. Once I owned that weird behavior I immediately had a bunch of flashes come up. Great! More strange crap from my past. The specific behaviors that follow may or may not resemble some of your own weird shit. But if not, well you should still get the jist of what I am trying to point out.
- Denial. Most smart gamblers know about denial and how it can run us and our lives into the ground. It’s dangerous behavior. The best way to destroy the power of denial is to be open and honest about all your winnings, and more importantly, your losses. This is always harder when we are losing because we don’t want anybody to know. Why? Because if we tell the truth then our friends will know exactly how much we lost. And, in our minds we believe that this will have them see us as a loser. It’s good to remember that it’s our projection and may not be true at all. But denial, if allowed to run the show, eventually leads us toward a losing mentality.
- Hiding. When we hide the fact that we like to gamble we hide the truth about who we really are. We hide this from our friends and family because we do not feel pleased and relaxed about our love of gambling. This weirdness nurtures pretentious behavior which usually leads to problems down the road. It becomes a very healthy shift when you can be honest about your love of gambling with no shame or guilt. Those who want to shame you or lay a guilt trip on you for gambling will have a hard time with your lack of negative reaction to their righteous condemnation. But that’s their problem, not yours.
- I must add here that if you are gambling with money you shouldn’t be gambling with, then all bets are off. You need to come clean and check yourself out. There is nothing healthy about gambling with money that you cannot afford to lose.
- Blaming. Years ago I used to blame losing on myself and my mistakes. I’d get pissed off at myself and vow to practice more so I could get better. This actually worked when I was playing pocket billiards and I eventually became South Florida amateur champion. The game of pocket billiards is mostly skill though. I hated feeling incompetent or inadequate and I believed that if I were playing at my best, well very few people would be able to beat me. So instead of coming up with lame excuses for why I lost, I worked my ass off and got really good.
But in general, blaming yourself or others for losing is a losing attitude. Try changing that behavior with responsible statements like the following:
“I put the extra money in the slot machine. I missed the shot. I stayed in the pot, hoping for the card that would make me a winner. I did it and it was my decision.”
The piece about gambling that’s hard to wrap our brains around is that sometimes we get hot and sometimes we are cold. And those streaks often have nothing to do with decisions we made or didn’t make. That’s why there is a term called Lady Luck. It would be healthier to be upset for a few minutes about a tough loss, but not blame anybody or feel bad about ourselves because we lost. Just shake it off more as an unlucky moment rather than somebody’s fault.
Remember this. Responsibility, it means so much to me,
To check myself when I, blame others constantly.
- Exaggeration. Years ago when I won a hundred bucks I would tell people that I won two hundred. And when I lost a hundred bucks I’d usually say that I lost about fifty. I always told friends that I won more than I did and that I lost less than I did. Whatever I won was never enough and whatever I lost it was always too much. This behavior nurtured my isolation because I became more and more dishonest with my friends. Somehow whatever the truth was, well it wasn’t good enough. Dismantling this weird behavior is easy. All you have to do is be totally honest and tell your friends exactly how much you won or lost. It may not feel as good, but it’s authentic, and being authentic starves the losing mentality.
- Desperation. Do you know how it feels in your body when you are acting desperate? Well I want you to make friends with that feeling in your body. Allow yourself to feel it fully so that anytime in the future if you start feeling desperate you’ll know to back off from whatever you are doing that’s bringing up the feeling. When you continue to do whatever is causing you to feel desperate, you are once again nurturing the loser mentality. Your body is a great GPS system for you. Learn to listen to your body. Your body knows that when you activate that desperate feeling you are getting closer to crashing. Watch what happens when you back off. Your body gets more relaxed. So? Which one are you going to choose?
Unfortunately there are many more ways we have acquired over the years to nurture losing mentality, but this gives you a picture of how best to work with these weird behaviors. If you interrupt them when you notice them, then you will be on your way toward a healthy love of gambling. And if you love to gamble, and if you plan to gamble for the rest of your life, then doesn’t it make sense to move toward enjoying it without any negative baggage attached to your experience? I think so. Don’t you?
About my friend and fellow author Marty Klein:
Born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Marty Klein has written and published two other books. His first, a memoir, Blindsighted, One Man’s Journey from Sight to Insight, is an account of his transition from being a self-centered, cocky soldier in the Air Force with normal vision, to a compassionate, loving counselor, workshop leader and family man with no sight at all.
His second, a self help book, Emotional Cleansing, The Spiritual Journey toward a Clear Heart, is a compilation of insights and wisdom gained from years of experience in the counseling world.
He is currently seeking an agent or producer for his two screen plays, “Fat Chance,” a romantic comedy and “Die Trying”, a controversial drama.
In addition Marty was the founder and CEO for seven years of Southern Springs, a holistic learning center in Tallahassee, Florida and has also co-produced a 5 CD yoga program called, Beginning Yoga for the Blind and visually Impaired. www.blindyoga.net.
He has been totally blind for more than forty years, a counselor and workshop leader for over thirty-five years and currently lives in Woodstock, New York.