Detox Files #5: The Next Level Of Performance Enhancement

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast: Detox Files Episode 005

What Are The Detox Files?

Founder and CEO of Poker Detox, Nick Howard, joins the Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast to sit down with Coach Brad Wilson and share consults, advice, and poker guidance for players (current or aspiring) who are looking for a path forward in the game and striking a healthy balance with their overall life. Every poker player experiences anxiety, downswings, uncertainty, frustration, and doubt in their poker journey. The man who has helped countless players detoxify these elements from their poker mindset joins up with the CPG pod to share these enlightening sessions and consults.

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Nick Howard returns with Detox Files #5.

If you’ve ever found yourself stuck in a cycle of high ambition that quickly leads to emotional distress, this is an episode you do not want to miss.

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Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Presents: Detox Files #5: The Next Level Of Performance Enhancement

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Poker’s legendary champions, next generation stars, and tireless ambassadors of the game, sharing their wisdom and guiding your journey to high achievement on the green felt. This is Chasing Poker Greatness with your host, Brad Wilson.



Brad: Nick, welcome back to the show, sir.



Nick: Hey, Brad, good to be back for number five.



Brad: I asked on Twitter, who people would like to see most like to see a round two with every single time I asked, they say you. And I’m like, it’s like round 22. Like round two is done and gone. We’re moving, you know, into the later stages at this point. But it’s always great collaborating with you, always great working with you. And this episode of the detox files, why were you, why are you compelled to share this one?



Nick: Yeah, this one happens sort of just on the fly. I’ve been holding the slot open in my calendar, just taken a couple of these guys a week still. And they book in from Twitter, or Instagram, or Facebook sometimes. And this guy came in. And I don’t know, it was a morning where I just sort of felt kind of tapped into the overall vision of what I was building toward, in the sense of the umbrella company of high performance that I’ve had my eye on for a while, which is basically a bridge to help and educate type A performers on how they’ve done themselves damage by applying motivational systems that are just too, too heavy in the pressure department, pressuring myself to perform at a higher level. And this consult goes into depth on why that is effective in the short term, but has a residual toll in the long term. So, I felt really good about this at the end of it, because I, I remember hanging up the phone call and saying you know that’s going to be the flagship audio file that I give to anybody who’s wondering what this next level of performance enhancement is. And I can give that file to anybody, you know, a poker player or an athlete. Anybody who’s dealing with high performance stress can understand what’s being talked about here. Because the emotional insight is universal, I think.



Brad: For me listening to the conversation, it felt, in a way I felt kind of heartbroken for the guy and heartbroken for folks that get stuck in a loop and they can’t disrupt it. And they, you know, it’s like trying to dig yourself out of a hole by continuing to dig. And it’s just very painful. You know, there’s a lot of suffering. There’s a lot of pain that goes into this. So very commendable. I love that I think it’s going to be extremely valuable for the chasing poker greatness audience. And yeah, if you don’t have anything else to say, let’s just jump into the show.

 

Let’s do it. Joy, guys. Hey, man. Hi. I’m trying to remember Twitter. Yes, people come into these from all over the place. So welcome. We’ve got some time. I usually just turn it right over to you just ask a general question. How are you feeling about everything and what would you like to try to get accomplished or or talk about in this

 

the main subject that was on my mind was my emotional instability. Okay, too. See unstable progress, as I’m going through all the time, from being like highly ambitious to in emotional distress. Okay. Going into that and over overcoming this issue.

 

Is it mostly to do with poker in terms of how the stress and these cycles rise,

 

it has appeared in other venues. But it is always about my financials, and my my ego that’s causing this. So, okay. previous problem was in sports betting where I also went down into self sabotage, cycle and caused self destruction.

 

Can you tell me more about how the cycle feels? what it looks like when it’s happening? Just the the outline of it? What causes it to shift from Super ambitious to Super defeated?

 

This loss of confidence? And yeah, that desperation feeling like I have to make something happen, I have to have to try harder. I have to. And I end up pushing myself like, which you usually call forced aggression.

 

You’ve been listening? Yes. Okay. And does that feeling that you need to produce something got to do something more, that typically gets worse. When you’re not getting results, I would guess. If you’re either on a downswing or breakeven stretch with whatever you’re doing, I used to train this differently in the old content, the type of stuff that I’m working with now is a little bit more direct. So we can try it. It’s more emotional. But I think it’s more potent to basically, I’ll start by asking you to consider that the pressure you’re putting on yourself to change your behavior to do more during these periods. That is increasing your stress levels, I think you know, that it’s increasing your frustration. But it also feels like, that’s the only way to motivate yourself. If you’re anything like a lot of the type a performance junkies, which has its advantages, like you know, as well as I do, it can make you do a lot of stuff, it can motivate you to be a better performer, but it has a residual impact on your stress levels, which ultimately causes these cycles that lead to burnout. and can cause depression can cause just a whole host of different problems. But you’re doing that you’re using that motivational system, because you don’t think you have a better alternative. So this emotional inquiry sort of an alternative approach, I think it’s a healthier approach. It has to do with realizing that the only reason you’re desperately trying to do more, produce more when more is because you’re not currently getting the support that you need in the moment. It’s literally that simple. On the logical level of it, there is a emotion, deep down inside of you that is hurt, requesting attention, feeling undervalued. And the mind is trying to compensate for not knowing how to support that emotion and heal it by doing all these things that it needs to do. Thinking that I gotta do more, be more win more. That’s what will make this this hurt feeling go away this incomplete feeling inside go with a problem is that it’s actually just increasing frustration and stress. And it’s not doing anything to heal that emotion deep down inside either. So it’s it’s actually creating an additional problem without correcting the first issue. So what I like about this approach is that it is simpler in terms of the direct instruction, but it’s extremely difficult to train this new muscle because guys like you guys like me, when we came up, nobody was teaching us how to put our attention on ourselves in this way. We were taught to go get stuff done by sort of steamrolling emotions and bypassing them, and just hurling ourselves at the next problem solve. So here’s how this looks, instead of putting your attention on analysis of what you’re going to do more of to try to fix all this. And also, instead of putting analysis on how you’re going to fix the shitty feeling you have inside of you, which is really what’s causing you to do all of this stuff, trying to fix the way you feel. Instead of any of that analysis. Just try to be with the way that you feel stressed, hurt, desperate, without needing to do anything to that feeling without even needing to make it go. That’s the instruction It’s gonna take you a while to do it correctly. It’s not like, there’s no, this isn’t a magic pill, prove me wrong, that would be awesome. But if you haven’t been trained to sit with your emotions like this, it’s probably a more difficult journey than getting smart on an analytical level, especially after you’ve neglected it for decades.

 

Because what you’re really doing here is you’re challenging yourself to sit with the very thing that you never wanted to feel, which is why you develop the habit of solving problems analytically, urgently, and impatiently, and now what you’re realizing is that process doesn’t work, it leaves me feeling more stressed, and it actually distorts my decision making process. I’m not who I want to be. And now the alternative is to come back in and heal the wound directly at the emotional level, you chose a path long ago, that tried to correct the emotion by heading down in analytical problem solving masculine path, this toxic masculine path, get it done, be men put up results. That’s what that paradigm sounds like, type A. So that’s the instruction. It’s not satisfying. I understand that. But it is more effective than what you’re doing. So let’s start there. And I’ll turn it back over to you. How are you feeling about what I just said? Honestly,

 

yeah, I think it’s, it’s very accurate, everything is very accurate. And what I feel is, I usually detach from the emotion. So this is a great instruction, they instantly go into some self gratification or anything like that to, to get away from the emotion. And then return when, when I feel like I can, I can play again or ever. But problem that my mind is telling me is I have to be faster, I can’t waste, I still can’t waste that time to sit for long periods of time or to have to move in and move faster. Yeah.

 

So your mind must still think that what you’re doing is working?

 

Yeah, you know, in a way, it’s trying to tell me that I can’t quit my my old ways. But I know why I have to are, or what you were saying was making so much more sense and how it’s way more practical.

 

You’ll have time to sit with yourself, when you realize that you’re wasting time doing all the other stuff. Like it seems like you’ve been on this productive path and you have to stay productive. But like from the reality of the situation, you’ve been distorting your decision making process on a path that’s doing a lot of things in a silly way. And on a longer timeline, you would be better off actually resolving whatever’s creating this cognitive distortion, you’re going to resolve it on the emotional level. So you can get back in the game and actually start making better decisions, and shifting your trajectory towards things that truly inspire you. Instead of feeling like you’ve got to do something you don’t want to do just to prove yourself.

 

But will I overcome this by just putting attention to it?

 

Now, because you can’t overcome this, this is not about elimination. See, that’s the type a performance mind trying to use the only tools that has to solve something that’s far more mysterious. what you just did is tried to solve a problem. But your emotions are not the problem. In fact, making them into a problem is why you’re in the situation that you’re in. You’re not going to overcome it. Because it’s not something that needs to be overcome. It’s something that needs to be integrated and accepted and appreciated in a way that it never has been. So that you can stop being in conflict with yourself. If this feels abstract. It’s because we only have 30 minute phone call. And I can’t lay out all the theory and framework and language around how to work with this more deliberately. But there are tools. My preference is the ipfs model of psychotherapy, internal family systems is what it stands for. It’s a model that basically teaches you how to personify different emotions so you can work with them in different parts. And by doing so you can start to move pieces around I like it because I’m a visual learner. And I use this metaphor to describe it, where it’s sort of like a Rubik’s Cube, where all the squares are necessary and equal parts of the puzzle, you’re just trying to shift them around, get them in an organized place. That’s what working with emotions is like every square is honored, we just got to keep moving things around until we get everything in alignment, so that the whole system is operating on all cylinders. That’s a very foreign type of approach to a type a performer. Because what we’re used to doing when we construct or optimize methodology is eliminating parts that don’t work for us. And finding more parts that seem to make the whole thing run better. You take poker, for instance, when you create a methodology or strategy in poker, you’re always trying to come up with heuristics or rules that are simple and practical enough to execute, but are high impact for your winrate. And anytime there is a portion of your system that no longer is really all that useful. It just sort of gets knocked out, eliminated, subbed in with something better. And this is the upgrade process the whole way through. We like that. Yeah, we know that paradigm. It’s just familiar. The motional methodology is not like that. It’s about inclusion, cooperation, support, acceptance, and organization. organization is about as far as you can go, before you start trending back into the elimination paradigm. Because even organization is like demanding something of the system, demanding it to be organized in some way. Emotional work is mostly about identifying parts of you that are wounded, giving them unconditional support, and just sitting right there, without a demand or a further intention. That’s the hardest part. For somebody who wants to always be doing something. It’s like, Well, what do I do next? Isn’t this supposed to work? No, it’s that thought that it needs to be different than it is or it needs to work. That puts a behavioral requirement on the very emotion that’s requesting nothing but your unconditional support and attention. So it’s a subtle process of really coming into a place of inner harmony and surrender with difficult feelings. Because the more you try to do in this department, the emotional department, the more you’re going to find yourself getting jammed up, more frustrated. And that’s going to create these nasty feedback loops that leave you rationalizing for getting back on your horse and doing more work from a place that’s emotionally unresolved, and therefore cognitively distorted. You’re doing a lot of low impact activities that you think are productive, you’d be better off taking three months off, making some serious emotional upgrades, and getting back in there with some better binoculars, and a better processing engine behind you. And starting to do work again that way.

 

That’s great. Yeah, those qualities that you were talking about organizational skills, and acceptance, and these are all these are all qualities that I would describe myself as bad at it. So that’s, that’s pretty funny. And, and the other part was that I do take occasionally time off for like, a week or something, go offline totally, and just try to come back better than before. And I fall back to the same group so fast that it feels like it’s unproductive.

 

Probably because you have an expectation around it working. Probably because when you go into these cycles, it’s like, well, this should produce a result. problem is that if it doesn’t, if you decide that it doesn’t, no matter how much time that takes, I don’t know how long your cycles usually are. But this impatience that you have with yourself is a self fulfilling prophecy, where you decide something’s not working well enough, which inevitably is just going to happen. You can’t just be in control of the pace of life all the time. And as soon as you decide, it’s not working, guess who takes the beating for that? Your emotions, and then that leaves you in further conflict in opposition with yourself. And then instead of honoring that, And dealing with it directly, you get this idea in your head that it just means you got to go try another method outwardly, you got to try harder to make something new work. And so you’re piling on this feedback loop. And it’s showing up like this, I think I’m going to start releasing more links, just and building awareness around this framework of irfs internal family systems. It’s not going to work for everybody. But I do think a lot of people are visual learners. And it’s been working for me. So I think it’s a cool way to get on the same page using some similar language and starting to give yourself a framework that you can actually work with in a practical way, because it’s important. I don’t like this idea of emotional terminology and emotional methodology, being thrown around without also offering a practical framework for it, because I was in a lot of pain, not having those types of navigational resources in my past. So I almost feel moral obligation when I give emotional advice, to be able to also provide you with a scientific framework for using it because guy like you, you’re never going to be able to work with emotions, unless it’s speaking a scientific language. And by scientific, I mean, like, we can actually put it into numbers, words, diagrams. Yeah. Cool, very true. I hope this at least makes you feel like you’ve raised more awareness around it and gives you sort of an entry point for where to put all your productive energy. Because if there’s one place that I think you could benefit from channeling it right now, it would be towards this type of investigation. And as long as the world is still sort of on hold, I don’t think you have a better time than right now to really get into this stuff. Appreciate you reaching out man. I hope this helps. And feel free to contact me back through the Twitter inbox in a couple of weeks or a couple months if if you want to follow up and talk about how you feel. Thank you. Thanks. Thanks so much for your time.

 

You’ve heard me talk early and often about how improving your awareness while you’re playing cards so that you make better decisions in the moment and notice trouble spots that merit deeper consideration is one of the most valuable things you can do to make more money on the felt in my conversation with the only four time WP T main event champion ever there and Elias he told me that his ability to shut out of all of the distractions in the world and fully focus on making great decision after great decision is his superpower he most attributes to his success, and you cannot improve your awareness at the tables without being fully present. When you learn how to stay fully in the moment on the Greenfeld, you can finally have a clear path to becoming the absolute best version of yourself. Which leads me to Jason Sue, Jason is one of the foremost authorities on the planet when it comes to playing poker with presence. As a matter of fact, he even wrote a book on it. Here’s a direct quote from Nick Howard at poker detox on Jason’s ability to help you stay focused, quote, Jason’s work is a new paradigm in poker and performance in these are just empty words. Nick has put his money where his mouth is by hiring Jason to coach up the poker detox crew. And as a loyal listener of chasing poker greatness, you know, by now that I would not be promoting anything I didn’t 100% believe would improve your poker skills and your life. So if you want to master your emotions, and perform at your peak with presence while doing battle in the arena, you’d be doing yourself a grave disservice if you didn’t check out Jason’s work at poker with presidents.com. One final time, that’s poker with presents.com.

 

Alright, Nick, there’s a lot to unpack from this conversation. There’s a book that I love. It’s called the one thing and the focusing question is, what’s the one thing you can do that makes all the other things easier or unimportant? So what would you say is the one thing that folks can do from this conversation?

 

I think admitting that you don’t understand this step one. That’s so huge because it creates a space of availability for you to actually increase your, your intelligence, there’s this quote that I like and it says what you know, is not actually what you know, it’s the current limitation of your intelligence. And when you’re dealing with something like this, which is like, I’m basically trying to move this guy to a completely different domain of understanding than easy To operating within. And there’s a certain mount of cognitive dissonance that gets generated when you when you nudge somebody in that direction. So, in order to prepare yourself for even having a chance at being able to incorporate that type of upgrade, you’ve got to start with an honest confession that just says, I’m not happy, I’m not getting the results I want, I must not actually know what I’m doing, I must not actually have good judgment. And that doesn’t have to be a debilitating type of statement, it can be inspiring, as long as you have a deep conviction that you’re not going to stop trying. Maybe that’s the advantage of the type A, as he heads into this new paradigm of emotional resolve and healing is that his work ethic has been what’s got him so far to begin with. And he can leverage that in the direction of emotional education. And once he does that, he’ll basically realize all of the, all of the potential energy that’s been building up all along by him, neglecting this side of reality, so literally, there’s two sides of this coin of reality, there’s like the analytical, high performance, get it done, side of the coin. And then there’s the compassionate, be kind to yourself, support yourself through this process and surrender to the time that it’s going to take to improve. He’s lacking the second side of the coin. Nobody ever taught him, the tails side of the coin. And he’s trying to catch up. And his advantage and catching up is that he knows how he knows how to get on the hunt. Better than the complacent one.

 

It’s so common, it’s such a common thing, you know, we’re told to work harder, sleep less, we can work our way out of anything. And I love that. The first step is to admit that you don’t understand, right? It’s the exit ramp, in the feed, get feedback loop that I don’t understand what I’m doing is going in a circle, it’s not working. So when you admit you don’t understand, this can give you a new path towards improving and solving your problem. Or not solving your problem staying with your problem, see how prevalent it is just in language, right? Just being there with your emotions. Absolutely, the

 

language is so crucial. And it goes back to other pods that we’ve done in the detox falls together with the one with jack is coming to mind. And even I can point out the thing you said about the exit ramp, like, yes, it’s an exit ramp out of the old paradigm, it could also be framed as an on ramp into the new paradigm, that emotional openness, the openness to admit that I don’t understand something creates an emotional space to be able to upgrade the entire paradigm. And I think that’s really the skill set that if you could, if you could test for that. It’s something that I’m interested in, like I’m trying to find ways to test for emotional resilience. And if I can’t find a guy who’s emotionally resilient already, I’m looking for a guy who’s available to an intellectual upgrade that reaches beyond his current understanding. You can have a lot of smart people in a room, but if all they’re interested in is operating within the limits of the current paradigm, but then you have a lot of fast scientists who can’t ever break out of the limited understanding that they’re in. I’m interested in the guy that’s really devoted to exploring beyond that. And I think that’s what this this type of shift is. And for the for the type a high performer that is able to accept that, that quest, because it really is like you’re going on a journey here, you’re going on a journey to the other side. And it’s vastly unknown to you. And it’s scary for that same reason. But if you can commit to it, and if you can honor it for the potential that it actually contains, on on some sort of trust and faith and, and just being fed up with your current limitation, then you can make real gains.

 

I love it, man. I look forward to more detox files in the future. And you know, you’re doing the noble work that’s necessary in this world and I look up to you and very proud to be releasing these. See you next time. Appreciate it, man. Thanks.

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