Losing money with your sports picks can wreak emotional havoc on you. However, is it worth all the trouble? Here's the first of an 8 part series that will help you deal with your emotions.
This is the first of an 8 part article entitled “get out of your head” ... If you bet on sports, you need to read each of the eight articles. If you classify the advice that follows as “meaningless - psychobabble” or “believe you feel like a little girl” when you read these articles, then you really need to get out of your head, man up, and follow this advice.
I have personally dealt with the emotions of wagering for my adult life. In my 36th year operating a sports service, I deal with client’s emotions on an ongoing basis. The message in this series of articles is that you can enjoy and profit from sports betting without making it an emotionally agonizing endeavor.
The first part in this series of articles will deal directly with the healthy way in which you can choose to handle your emotions when they begin to overcome you, in your reaction to a sports pick or a result of a sporting event. The first thing you must realize, and this is critically important, is that emotions in and of themselves are neither positive nor negative. It is the choices, actions, and behaviors that are spawned by these feelings which lend a negative or positive connotation to them. Understanding this is critical to dealing with your emotions.
Let’s take a typical Sunday afternoon loaded with NFL picks. Things are going your way in the early games. Suddenly, and almost simultaneously, a series of turnovers, two minute drives, calls by officials and poor coaching choices, all out of your control, turn your ticket from 3-0 ats to 0-3 ats in the blink of an eye. Your emotions regarding those results have totally flipped themselves. You feel noticeably upset, perhaps even betrayed, resentful, and angry. How could this have happened to you? All these games were winning!? One year from now, or even 6 months or 6 weeks, this event will be long forgotten; but how do you handle these feelings to make yourself feel better in the current moment? Reactions that I have heard from disgruntled sports bettors range from throwing a piece of furniture at the tv, to blaming someone else for influencing them to make the wager, or to internalize the anger without verbalizing it. Depending on your style and emotional tendencies, these fit with other emotional responses in your life. After you’ve comeback within your “thinkline,” you understand that none of this is emotionally healthy. In order to enjoy, or even live through the late afternoon games, what is a healthier emotional response for you to exhibit, knowing that neither physical violence, blame, nor passive aggressive acceptance is the answer.
Assertive Communication, Reflective Listening & "Here and Now"
Making the changes I’m about to suggest you implement, will initially be foreign to you, appear to be unmasculine and far from your comfort level. Yet I assure you that once you try them, they will lead you to a far more enjoyable experience when you’re watching the games with your family and friends. There are three key elements to my recommendation; one, assertive communication, two, reflective listening, and three, operating in the present. Try this pattern the next time you and your buddy are watching your game and the situation above arises.
First, return yourself below your “thinkline.” Do this by leaving the room, going outside if you must, sharing your thoughts in SBR Player's Talk forum, and bringing your emotions to a place where you can express them. Next, return to the room with your friends and assertively communicate to them exactly what the feelings are that are coming up from within. This is not an intellectual response to what happened in the game. It is an expression of the true feelings that you have within you in response to the events that have occurred. It may sound something like this, “I feel really pissed when I get screwed in a game because of that official’s call! I imagine I feel this way because I had expectations that I was going to win that game, then had the rug pulled out from under me. In the future, I’m going to try to limit my expectations so I don’t feel disappointed when something like this occurs.”
By using assertive communication in this way, you will feel better immediately. The real pay-off comes when your message is heard through the reflective listening of your friend (with whom you are sharing this article!). If he is a good buddy, he is going to help you out by echoing your feelings with statements resulting from his reflective listening. It should sound something like this, “So, I’m hearing you say that you are really angry when the ref called interference on that pass play that turned your victory into defeat? I imagine you feel this way because your unmet expectations resulted in disappointment and anger. In the future, you’d like to limit your expectations so that you do not need to go through this again.” He then adds, “Do you feel heard?” If you can positively acknowledge that you are heard, you have dealt with your emotions, in the present moment. You can now put this event behind you and proceed to the next present moment of your life without anxiety toward the future. I get that you will “feel like a girl” when you choose to express your emotions in this way, for most guys who are watching a sporting event that’s a normal reaction.
When you are able to act in a vulnerable, authentic way and humanly express your emotions, you will find that it is a far more healthy way to live your emotional life. By transferring this exercise to other aspects of your life, it can empower you to an emotional freedom that you did not heretofore believe exists. It is far healthier than drinking another six-pack or devouring another hoagie. My suggestion is that you have the courage to be brave enough to give it a try. You will be pleasantly surprised with your new found power.
In part 2 of “get out of your head,” we will examine expectations and the way in which they lead you on the downward spiral of your emotions. Until then, get out of your head and get into your heart!