Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Feeling Good Notes for Smash

I read Feeling Good (David D. Burns) for personal reasons but have found that some of my notes correspond to playing melee (out of game habits). I’m going to assemble them here for personal reference.
(Note: I’m obv not a psychologist, these are just notes that I find personally useful and like most anything else I ever say should be interpreted as such.)


The more that I read and think the more that I reckon that 50% of getting good at melee is making lists. The other 50% is probably just practice that you can do even more effectively by making lists. Pretty much whenever anything gives you pause you should just go ahead make a list.

Cognitive Distortions

All of your moods are created/perpetuated by your thoughts.
Emotional turmoil including frustration and discouragement contains gross distortions that are normally simple to identify and correct. In this way your emotions function as proverbial canaries in a coal mine, warning you that something is amiss. Examine your mental process. Is your response rational and warranted or distorted by irrational beliefs? Even simple, solitary distortions can have dramatic effects on your mood, outlook, and effectiveness.
(there are many many many cognitive biases. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cognitive_bias You are to some degree hardwired to misinterpret events in ways that helped with the survival of the species/etc. Unfortunately, without checking your mental work, cognitive biases warping our perception of reality can easily make us feel and perform like shit via accepting falsehoods.)

10 Common Cognitive Distortions
  1.  All or Nothing Thinking
    black or white judgements
    including truly inappropriately high expectations
    “You’re either 1st or you’re last/I always have to play to the best of my ability.”
  2.  Overgeneralization
    thinking that one event determines a trend
    exacerbated by confirmation bias
  3. Selective Abstraction
    interpreting the whole by a negative detail
    like a drop of ink in water
  4. Disqualifying the Positive
    disqualifying positive experiences/feedback via discrediting
  5. Jumping to Conclusions
    via pretending to read negative thoughts in other people’s minds
    or predicting a certainly bleak future
  6. Magnification/Minimization
    exaggerating or understating importance
  7. Emotional Reasoning
    assuming things are as they feel
    (it feels impossible to learn this, therefor it must be)
  8. Should Statements
    “I should have(not) done that” only creates pressure and resentment
    other people not meeting expectations used as emotional ammunition
  9. Labeling
    The measure of a man is the mistake that he makes
    “I’m stupid” or “he’s an scrub” after one mistake

    ("Why do you waste your time and mine by trying to get value judgements? Don’t you see that when you get a value judgement, that’s all you have? They are destructive to our proper business, which is curiosity and awareness."
    Scrubs don’t exist. If they did it’d be an arbitrary and useless line to draw between scrubs and non-scrubs. An action can be scrubby and this is a more accurate and far less damning/crippling statement than holistically labeling your identity.)
  10. Personalization
    Assuming guilt that isn’t (or isn’t directly) yours
    influence =/= responsibility
These are BAD MENTAL HABITS. Any benefits that they may have are quickly outweighed by the drawbacks of constant negativity and can be easily reproduced with accurate analysis and actually constructive habits.

You can break these bad thinking habits with the 3 column method.
write in 3 columns:
1, unmediated thoughts
2, what cognitive distortions are evident
3, rational retort

1 I don’t want to play on stream because I won’t play well and everyone will judge me by this one set. 
2 jumping to conclusions, all or nothing thinking, magnification
3 You don’t know how you’ll play, what the result will be, or how other people will react. You can’t know. Chances are they have something better to think about, but even if they do make a judgement it doesn’t matter at all. You don’t have to play 100% all the time, especially on stream. That’s actually the perfect place to make mistakes so that you can go back and learn from it later.


The biggest hindrance to changing a habit is the belief that you are out of control. In fact, you are in control but the control is contrary to your want. It’s not that you shouldn’t do ___, it’s that because it’s a habit, you actually should. By conjuring up guilt by thinking that you shouldn’t you’re at least doubling the number of problems. Set up a reward system. Don’t punish yourself or feel bad about failing because you aren’t. Take it slow and focus on equipping yourself. Animals thrive with rewards, not self-administered emotional punishment.

* Desire to do good work
* ?

* Undue pressure for work to always be good
* Stifles experimentation
* Impossible (not just difficult but actually impossible) to be satisfied
* Tense and nervous energy if there’s energy at all
* Intolerance

Make a list for the day. You’ll see that effectiveness and satisfaction are not directly related. You might also see that you had a better day than you thought.
Activity - Effectiveness(0-100%) - Satisfaction(0-100%)
breakfast - 90% - 80%
doubles - 50% - 80%
singles - 40% - 15%
running the tournament - 80% - 50%
culvers - 20% - 70%

Obviously effectiveness is valuable. But habitually obsessing over effectiveness at the cost of satisfaction is counter-productive and damaging long-term.
You can resolve to give up on a compulsive drive for perfection, put your experience first and enjoy increased productivity with satisfaction or you can choose to pursue perfection (literally impossible goal) and settle for anguish and modest productivity.

The first step is to switch to a process-oriented outlook. Outcomes are incidental, weird, and unreliable. Maybe you get a bad seed and place badly despite playing normally. Maybe you catch a better player on a bad day and win off an SD. Who knows? Maybe you get a 3 stock, maybe you get 2 stocked. Not really important. What’s important is how you’re playing. But how “well” you’re playing can start to be an equivalent substitute for results-orientation if you feel like it has to resemble an ideal.
I personally don’t care at all if I win or lose. This is good for objectively watching out for my gameplay but replacing that with care for an ideal “well” is not only bad for my immediate tournament results but pretty damn shitty for my satisfaction. I can (and often do) go 5-2 or whatever or even win and feel just as disappointed as if I had gone 0-2 because my jigglypuff didn’t look anything like the ideal puff that only exists in my head (and even there it’s nebulous). No one has ever in the history of melee has played jigglypuff as well as I seem to want myself to at a biweekly. I’ve gone and set an impossible standard, it’s no wonder that I don’t enjoy playing in tournaments! How can I expect to play well if I’m too preoccupied with an impossible task to even enjoy myself? That’s not process-orientation at all, is it?


Video Review Exercise

Looking for mistakes is valuable and easy. Also a good way to fixate on negativity. Try to comprehensively review a video and list everything that is done right, consciously or subconsciously. You’ll still learn a lot, you’ll feel accomplished and you’ll build a habit of looking for good decisions before they happen or where they could happen (which is most of the point of reviewing vids anyway). Maybe more valuable in the long term, haven’t decided. Essentially you want to turn your judging function down so that you can really start learning effectively.

Goal Setting

Set realistic and process-oriented goals.
not “get good” but “practice things on my to-practice list for 15 minutes twice a day”
not “100% shield drops” but “repeat shield drops for 6 minutes”
not “learn the fox MU” but “make half-page list of recurring situations vs fox”
not “get 1st or bust” but “stay focussed for the next 30 minutes, then see how I feel.”
These are more satisfying and more useful anyway.

Pay attention to diminishing returns. The more effort you put into something over time, the less steep the rewards. You can try to perfect 1 thing to 10/10 consistency or you can split that time and try to get several other important things each to 8/10.
You can write a 98% effort paper or maybe you can write several 80% effort papers. Where does the usefulness of your effort/time transition into needless perfectionism? Is it better for you to have the one 10/10 or the several 8/10 in your queue?

Might add more later, dunno.

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