Detox Files #6: How To Use Compassion Instead Of Stress To Skyrocket Your Output

Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast: Detox Files Episode 006

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.

Photo supplied.

Poker Detox on social media:

This Detox Files episodes features a one hour “optimization consult” with one of Poker Detox’s contracted players.

These are guys Nick and his team invest tons of resources into so it’s going to be a bit more advanced than the previous Detox Files you all know and love.

Click any of the icons below to find the CPG pod on the platform of your choice. Then sit back, relax, and enjoy my conversation with Nick Howard from Poker Detox on the Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast.

If this is your first time on the Chasing Poker Greatness website, be sure to check out our groundbreaking poker courses to help sharpen your strategy and profitably implement solid, data-proven solutions to your game today:

Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Presents: Detox Files #6: How To Use Compassion Instead Of Stress To Skyrocket Your Output

For hearing impaired fans of CPG, or for those who simply want a good read instead of a listen, we're taking steps to transcribe as many episodes of the Chasing Poker Greatness podcast as we can. Watch this space for a transcription, and by all means, contact us using the form at the bottom of the page to make a request for an episode transcription and we will do our best to push it to the front of the queue.

The pokers legendary champions, next generation stars and tireless ambassadors of the game, sharing their wisdom and guiding your journey to high achievement on the Greenfeld. This is chasing poker greatness with your host, Brad Wilson.


Brad Wilson  (0:30)  Nick, welcome back to the show my friend, how you doing?


Nick Howard  (0:33)  Thanks, Brad. Excited to be back for a more advanced console, I think than some of the ones we’ve, we’ve listened to before.


Brad Wilson  (0:43)  And by more advanced, could you expand a little bit on that, and also tell the listener, why you chose Simon as this next episode of detox files.


Nick Howard  (0:57)  Simon is a member of my contracted coaching for profits team. And I’ve known him for over two years now. I chose the next three episodes from consults specifically that I had with my team players on my team, because I wanted to be able to demonstrate sort of a more well rounded catalog in these detox files. And I think these guys really, they contain certain aspects, career aspects that really provided a nice change of flavor from some of the other consults. So these are also longer form. I mean, we’ve added them down, still, but these are like more like one hour optimization consults, I call them on my team, whereas the stuff you’ve heard, up until now is usually just a half hour consults, or sometimes runs over if we’re really striking gold. But it’s not designated to really provide a specific upgrade, like these ones are. So yeah, we go into a little bit more depth, we have a little bit more back and forth conversation, that I think a more advanced listener will appreciate the nuances of


Brad Wilson  (2:14)  awesome, we need to define some references that you make to with Simon. And I assume, with the previous detox files, they were sort of a first interaction with folks. And so that sort of led the conversation down a path where they do most of the talking. Because you’re familiarizing yourself with their story, you’re getting to know them. These are guys that you know, that you’ve worked with on a regular basis. So that’s another slight difference from the other detox files is that you lead the conversation, I feel with your coaching for profit guys more.


Nick Howard  (2:59)  That’s a big difference, I think. Because you’re right, I have way more context on their situation. And they’ve been more trained to arrive at the concert with a specific point that they really want to get to the bottom of. Whereas in these career consoles, it’s more of just a sort of a groping in the dark until we find something to hang on to and then depending on the level of availability of that free console member, we might go into it, we might not. You guys have heard most of the free consults that ended up good.


Brad Wilson  (3:30)  Good groping.


Nick Howard  (3:34)  But yeah, there is this one thing that we need to define which is a talk about flashcards, specifically a program called Anki, which has become kind of a go to software upgrade on my team. Specifically in the mindset department. You can make different flashcard decks through this program. And I’ve really done a lot of work with my guys putting emphasis on how to design flashcards to be able to basically do what we call Sprint’s flashcard, Sprint’s which is basically priming your mind priming your subconscious to anchor in these big principle essential upgrades that I think make life way easier over the course of the rest of your day because you’re not having to recreate your desired perspective consciously. The decision fatigue behind that really evaporates when you subconsciously anchor something. So anytime that a big principle comes up in this concept, I think you’ll hear me say like, you know, that’s your card right there. That’s your flashcard it’s like a big idea comes up that would be worth anchoring. And I’ll just give them a quick reminder that like this is worth writing down and adding to your morning routine. Some guys use them as sort of like a gratitude practice. Some guys use them as a active activation method before they go into sessions. And there’s different Types of decks that we sort of teach them to design. We’ll be doing a webinar together where I’ll go into more depth on how to use these decks because I think it’s one of the biggest impact factors to a medium level performer who really wants to take things to the next level, is learning how to distill these essential principles that are popping up over the course of the day and really anchor them into the subconscious in a way that creates real change.


Brad Wilson  (5:28)  And the other term was cushioning. Could you explain what cushioning is related to schedule optimization?


Nick Howard  (5:36)  Sure, cushioning I don’t know if it’s a real thing, but it’s sort of a word that my team and I came up with. It’s basically a term we use to describe the transition point between one schedule zone and another. We work a lot on logistical optimization in these consults on my team, because it’s the most important thing, once you become really good at playing poker, you got to make sure that your schedule is optimized so you can maximize volume. And just overall health because they’re, they’re connected, obviously. So when we insert a cushion, it’s kind of a funny thing, because you’re doing a schedule optimization concept that focuses a lot on cushioning where cushioning is giving yourself space to roll into a new zone of scheduling without pressuring yourself to do it looks like this 15 to 20 minute gap that you would leave in your calendar, every time you’re switching in and out of something because sometimes, a scheduled zone might just go over or you might get a late start. And what we’ve noticed is that the worst thing that could happen in schedule optimization is that you get off track at some point in your schedule, and then you get under so much type a schedule pressure. Because you do have that tendency to really be hard on yourself, that everything just breaks down. You know, we don’t want guys being 15 minutes late for a zone on their schedule, because breakfast took a little bit longer for whatever reason that day, and then they’re just like, well, I can’t even go on with the rest of the day, because everything’s just messed up now. So we put these cushions in place to really relax the day. And it’s a compassionate balance. I think it’s, it’s where compassion shows up in the scheduling process. And it’s, it’s an intelligent balance, too, because it’s preparing you for the things that happen in life.


Brad Wilson  (7:35)  Yeah, it’s, it’s very clever. And with COVID going around and the pandemic, I know that I’ve learned a lot about supply chains, and optimization in general. And I do know that the more optimized a process is, the more fragile it is as well. Because one thing comes up and then if you have no built in Slack or cushioning, you’re just dunzo All right, man, let’s dive into Simon you all hang around. After the call ends Me and Nick will close it down with an outro.


Nick Howard  (8:16)  To talk to me about what happens after a third session.


Simon  (8:19)  After third session. I do like a meditation or breathing exercise. Sometimes I do go and review my hands to see like if I made if those hands that are troubling me if I made a mistake, a big one or it’s just like doesn’t matter either way.


Nick Howard  (8:42)  So yeah, how much time do you have for the cooldown?


Simon  (8:46)  It’s a half an hour, sometimes they do it more. It’s from that time, it’s not that structured. But I’d like it to be I would like I have it you mindset work like you know, Tom, Bill you and impact theory you University trying to sound school stuff? Yeah, I’m trying to learn some stuff on mindset and push through some difficult stuff. And so yeah,


Nick Howard  (9:14)  I like that there’s a big, I’m just gonna refer to that whole window after session three leading up to launch. That just feels like a very useful cushion to me. Because the different things are going to be requested from you. Depending on what type of day it was, because you’re someone who wants to look at hands after the sessions are over, which is something I don’t typically advise but it’s also because a lot of guys are saying they feel stressed after the session and I don’t think that’s the best time to to look at stuff. And also because a lot of guys don’t create that long cushion for a really gentle cooldown. Personally, this was one of my favorite times toward the end of my 2019 Season of playing, I was really enjoying a very relaxed hour long cooldown after my four hour session, because I would just play one session. And that would be a time where I would basically compiled the voice notes I took in the session, mark any hands and try to just do a stream of consciousness, coming up with a theme that that was developing for how I could make emotional progress over the things that were triggering me in that session. And that takes on its own shape every time like there’s no blueprint for that. It’s messy, it’s honest, and it’s vulnerable. And sometimes, it’s not something that you want to have a clock on. Yeah, you know what I mean? Like, it’s not something you want to feel pressure, because it’s already so vulnerable, have a time to reach that level of personal honesty around how you did actually feel about your session, that you don’t really want any additional stress. So I think it’s great to have at least an hour if you do choose to use post session time for session review. And I would keep that the energy of that review, as aligned with presence and emotional attention as possible. There’s a paradox that I think is worth mentioning here, which is that oftentimes, when we go into session review, we feel like we have to apply this logistical strain, analytical strain, marking and solving and making sure that the right data point analysis is attached to this hand, that carries an ash an energy of pressure with it, which will actually block your intelligence from having a higher epiphany around the hand or the concept. So the paradox is that I posted this in the mindset chat today as a card, something along the lines of like, we have as a, as a society, especially as a performance culture. We’ve confused the benefit of stress, we think applying stress is going to get us to a more clarified solution, when actually, it often blocks us from it, because it’s just loading enough pressure that we become emotionally threatened. And then the thinking becomes distorted. That’s so true. Like, I’ve been really working on my mindset, and trying to figure out what are those beliefs that stopped me like, and I’ve been putting so much pressure on figuring it out that I’m just like, two hours with my open with open notebook, and a pen and don’t do anything. Like, it’s just, I can, I can write anything because of that brush pressure to figure things out. So yeah, I agree. Just to let it go and let the reason come by itself.


Nick Howard  (13:12)  It requires an intention still, but it’s not an intention that places it behavioral requirement at all on you the thinker. So it’s this is where the paradox comes in, I think is like, if I asked you how you feel in that, in that moment, or the two hours worth of moments that you’re just locked up, I would expect you to say that there’s a frustration as the core emotion there or anything ranging from frustration to total apathy, almost like you’re just sitting staring at a wall and you just feel so blocked off to your emotions that you can’t even contact frustration. So it’s doing a call with another player today. And he was in the apathy range, I’ve always been more in the frustration range, because I’m always aware enough to have a high requirement for my, for my review session, I guess, it’s hard for me to slip into just a total days where I just am staring at a wall blankly. That sounds kind of nice, actually. But, um, if you can contact the lock, I’m referring to as feeling locked up because there’s, there’s emotions that are not flowing, there’s resistance to contacting yourself at a deeply honest level. And if you investigate what the belief is that’s generating that blockage, what you’ll find almost every time is that there is a requirement being put on you that is threatening to you. In other words, there’s a little part of you inside that holds the key to a great analysis, a great session review. Call it your inner child, call it your creative mind, call it your subconscious, whatever you want. That mind won’t be able to be accessed until it feels safe. Because it doesn’t respond to pressure. It’s just how it is. I mean, you can try and report back to me in a decade. But I’m thoroughly well versed in that path. I’m no longer exploring it because I clarified the futility of it. And I’m speaking to you from a practitioner state on the other side that saying this actually moves that blockage. So what is it that moves it? What is it that triggers in a good way, emotional movement and higher level thought, it is the ability to remove the requirement of how the review should look, or what should be produced from the review. And that requirement is being placed on you, Simon, the one with emotions, there’s a there’s a demand being put on you to produce something in this review. If that demand can be replaced with a non expectant form of compassion, by non expectant I mean, support without any expectation for it, to turn out, like a good review. Hard to do, this is the paradox of it, if you can find that balance, where you can support the emotion from a place that has an intention to be sitting in review, like, okay, we’re sitting down to do this. And if nothing gets produced from this, that’s totally fine. Because my priority is supporting the emotion that feels confused or threatened. If that emotion can get the support that it that it needs. magical things start to happen in terms of new insights around the review. That’s the paradox. Easier said than done. Or easier done than said, actually, because it’s long, it’s long winded. And the actual practice of it is so immediate when you when you slip into it, and you’re like, oh, that’s what I’ve been missing. Something so simple. It’s such a simple posture to be in. And by simple, I mean, take all of the external requirements out of this, and just place focused attention focused relaxed attention on the emotion that feels threatened or confused or stressed. That alone, a single point of focus around that relationship is what builds trust. And trust is what makes you feel safe. And safety is what relaxes your nervous system. And a relaxed nervous system is what produces clear analysis. The opposite being a stressed nervous system, which produces distorted analysis. So it is a very simple thing once you slip into it. And I think what gets you more fluent and mature in that process is just being there, you got to get reps in there, you got to develop muscle memory, to be like, that’s what it feels like when I slip into focused, relaxed compassion. And that’s actually the channel that produces spontaneous insight. And it’s far more effortless and rewarding than me trying to force myself to get there through some linear logical analysis and stress. Take me through what happens after the session. And how long do you have for that, an hour and a half looks like, Yeah, I like that. Keep that block and approach it as authentically as you can, from a place of personal honesty and compassion. And I think you’re gonna see a lot blossom out of that zone of your life. Because that’s the, that’s the soil that is you’re placing as fertile soil as possible in that zone, if you do it in the way that we just talked about. And the the challenging part about it will be for you not to have any guilt, or self criticism. If the session does not produce anything, sometimes you are going to stare at that wall. And sometimes you might forget to just inject compassion to get the emotions and thoughts flowing again. And when that happens, you’ll walk away from that session, tempted to think I’m a failure and tempted to fuck up the rest of your day. And then that’s, that’s your next highest opportunity to say, You know what, I can spend that right away more compassion. That session went like shit. And it provides me with the opportunity to walk away from a 90 minutes of staring at a wall blankly with more compassion. And as soon as I do that, I spend the entire production of that session because I found the compassionate incentive that gets me unlocked again, you’re never losing anything. This is the card. Maybe the key card to integrate around Fear of fear or frustration around inefficient study sessions, you have never lost anything. Even if you don’t produce anything valuable and a session, all you’ve done is pull the rubber band back even further, so you have more potential energy. And that thing’s going to fly forward way faster. Once you find the compassionate release. Take that to the macro. And for me, that’s what I felt over a decade period from 16 to 26. Before I created detox, I was building up massive potential energy in the direction of futile, futile levels of analysis. And then once I found more of a faith based approach to intuition and exploited of guidance, it shot forward really quick, took me a while to get over the shame of doing things wrong for a decade. But as I made strides with that, it resulted in a lot of acceleration really fast. So if you bring that into the micro of a study session, you’re never failing. In any study session, you’ve just built up more potential energy, so you can accelerate faster. Once you find once you put the compassion key, into the shame lock, and turn it and then you watch forward.


Simon  (21:14)  Yeah, that’s, that’s true. How do you tame that expectation? Like down, for example, I sometimes feel I’ve been putting so much work, and something just still haven’t clicked yet. And that, that creates a frustration, because it’s best so long. And I’m expecting it to do to, like, burst that energy the next time, but it doesn’t, and the next time and it doesn’t, so that also compounds back to the failure belief that I have.


Nick Howard  (21:57)  I have been trying so hard to improve. And each time I try it results in more expectancy or some amount of expectancy. Yeah. And each time I fail to meet my expectations, frustration mounts, more or less accurate.


Simon  (22:22)  Yeah. I mean, it’s like 99%.


Nick Howard  (22:26)  Great, well, you’re confirming my theory that we’re all much more similar than we pretend. So the question is, how do we tame the expectation? I think it’s in to two very distinct phases. The first is actually clarifying that it does not contain the benefit that you think the expectation is driven by a bias or a belief that logistical accuracy will produce clarity, success, security, safety, insert your favorite word here, by logistical accuracy. I mean, if you hold an expectation for yourself, it will give you the proper behavioral response that will result in accurate action that will get you closer to your Northstar of fulfillment. However, you see that high stakes mastery or whatever symbols you attach to total safety, which is how I was framing it in the Jeff Brainer console, you can replace that word with success. If it feels more resonant, you still must believe that holding expectations. And applying stress to try to achieve those expectations is the fastest path to safety. As long as you believe that you will respond to every undesired circumstance or outcome. That doesn’t match your expectation with judgment.


Simon  (24:09)  That’s exactly what’s happening right now.


Nick Howard  (24:12)  Okay, so let’s let’s break that down further. That judgment that you will be feeling towards the, in this case, unproductive study session is a projection of a judgment that you hold against yourself. I’m not able to learn faster, play smarter, think clearer. It’s something you got to find it. It’s one of those things usually or some flavor of it. It is a belief in deficiency that you have not met with compassion that gets projected on to the circumstance that missed your expectation, the failed study session in this case, okay. So as long as you hold an X vegetation around that session being productive. It’s going to put a emotional strain on you, that blocks you from clear analysis. Clearly can’t do that, if you want to actually get results in the macro. So drawing it back again to the original question, what eases that expectation? It’s the twofold balance of clarifying that it won’t work. Because stress does not get you to safety. You need to relax the nervous system, if you’re going to think straight, you need to think straight if you’re going to arrive at safety, because safety success that requires that you behave accurately. That’s the logical side. And that’s not enough. Because with only the logical side, it’s going to make you feel like there is now a behavioral requirement to relax. Which is still you feeling like you’re getting yelled at which is still you feeling threatened. So what I have found to be the balance to that or the the solution to that is replacing the expectation to relax, or the expectation to move into a higher more resilient paradigm with sheer unreasonable levels of compassion. So all the attention that’s being placed on trying to now upgrade the paradigm now that you see that stress doesn’t work, all the attention that’s being channeled into trying to get on a new path, a more incentivized path of relaxation and harmony. That’s a trap too, because it’s being funneled through the same motivational system of obedient deficiency. So you see that, that’s another level of this trap that you’ve been in all along, and you finally neutralize that with compassion. And you say, this game stops right here. This little obedient deficient victim game that I’m playing, that seems to require me to meet expectations before I can authorize my own safety, and relax that ends right here. But I’m not forcing it. I’m just inviting the awareness into the scene that holds a constant and compassionate invitation for the part of me that wants to keep chasing for safety, to relax, there’s a difference in that energy. It is unreasonable. It doesn’t have anything to teach the stressed out part of you. It’s not lecturing you. And it’s certainly not pressuring you to get on board with relaxation. It’s just holding presence. From such a conviction, that this is your natural posture, before you got all fucked up. With stress, this was how you naturally approach life with compassion and curiosity. And it just holds right there. There’s only so much you can do before you overstep that, that balance point, because it’s such a thin red line, I was telling Harry this earlier today, between holding non expectant compassion. And by a non expectant again, I mean, no requirement for the scared part of you to stop feeling scared, just beaming support, and reminding it of its safety and reminding it that you’re not going to leave aside. There is a thin line between that type of energy of compassion, and the type of energy that holds the subtle manipulative quality that says, I’m here for you, and you better change.


Simon  (28:52)  What I’m afraid of is like, if I don’t have high expectations, that I’m gonna start slacking and that everything’s gonna be fine. Like, everything I do, it’s gonna be fine. But then I will start to, then I can start to do stuff more lazy, not doing as much and everything’s gonna be fine.


Nick Howard  (29:15)  Say the last part again. There’s a fear that you’re going to become lazy. If you allow,


Simon  (29:20)  I don’t have Yeah, if I don’t have that expectation of me. That I’m just gonna, if I say like, I want to this to happen, expectation and I don’t reach it. Then saying, Oh, it’s okay. It’s fine. No problem, then I’m gonna start lowering or lowering or don’t have any other expectations, like start to become lazy. Don’t do enough to get better, like doing Oh, I’m trying to say yes. 


Nick Howard  (29:50)  And all that that exposes is that you haven’t clarified that your way doesn’t work. So again, we can go back to the logical proof because we’re doing this from two sides. adds logical and emotional, what you just did was slipped back into the assumption that the way to success is more stress. I asked you go to compassion, you say, I don’t feel like I can, because the logical part of my mind thinks I’m gonna become so lazy, and then I won’t produce anything. Well, that’s the same part of your mind that hasn’t realized that stress doesn’t work either. So you’re in a bit of a pickle here. If you can actually develop conviction, that what I’m saying is true that the stress based path does not provide you with the capacity to solve problems accurately, and it’s gonna burn you out in the long term too. Then, again, you can drift back into the range of this compassionate invitation to allow yourself to relax. Now, there’s a key here that relates back to what I was saying just previously, before you gave that objection, I said that the compassionate invitation will never require you to accept it. Because as soon as it requires you to accept it, it becomes the same thing as demanding you to relax, or demanding you to get back on your horse and go do it your way. It’s the demand, that is the problem. It’s the demand that is causing all the stress. So let’s play it out. Again, I show you that stress doesn’t work, you seem to be consciously on board with it. I give you the invitation for compassion as the path out of that. And I tell you that the key here is that you can’t demand yourself to accept that invitation. And you say I want to accept this invitation. But it feels like if I do, I’m going to relax to the point where I get nothing done. What is the proper response to that logical objection, once you make it aware that it belongs to a paradigm that still believes that more stress and logic is going to get you where you want to go? That’s half of it. But the real part, the real energy you greet that objection with is just more compassion. So here’s how it looks. You say, I see the invitation to relax consciously, it makes sense. But I still feel like there’s this knee jerk reaction that if I accept that invitation, I’m going to just become lazy, and nothing’s gonna get done. That makes no sense to me. The compassionate side of yourself responds to that by saying, I understand that you’re afraid. And I can’t possibly explain this to you. Because it is unreasonable. From your level of understanding. The very nature of this paradigm shift cannot make sense to your old mind. If it could, it wouldn’t be a paradigm shift. Compassion is smart enough not to try to explain that to you, but to just try to make you feel safe. So to every objection, compassion responds with comfort, and support. Simon says, I don’t want to relax, because I think it’s going to result in a inefficient outcome. Where I get nothing done compassion says, you are free to think that. And I’m not forcing you to take this invitation towards relaxation. I am here with you if you want to continue that path of stress. All that’s important is you know, I’m here with you now. Because that’s what’s going to build a safe, trusting relationship, which is going to make defenses eventually melt. And then you’ll naturally slip into a relaxed space, where this new reality emerges as something that was so not scary. So actually not scary. It just seemed that way because you were stressed. Because that stress was creating distortions that kept you locked into believing that stress and logistical accuracy and pressure was the only way to get where you want to go. Now, what’s your next objection? What would be the next objection when when all your own if you’re required to do anything? The only requirement is that you meet every objection with compassion. But that’s not a requirement. That’s an infinite patience. Like everything that your mind says about not wanting to relax is met with I understand that you’re scared and you don’t have to come yet. If you don’t want. You don’t have to cross this bridge out if you don’t want. I’m here though, because there wasn’t somebody in the room with you all along, but I’m here now. That statement, that demonstration of pure support, a support that’s not trying to manipulate change. That is going to melt the defenses of your scared mind you Because what it actually wants is security actually just wants to feel safe. It hasn’t gotten that in the past, which is why it’s it’s resorted to all of these neurotic objections as to how it needs to keep itself on the path to redemption, towards safety through stress. It’s just confused. It’s confused, because there’s not been a safe presence in the room for so long. So what comes up from for you now, and as we visualize the new process for greeting these objections with more compassion, the mind says, I don’t want to relax completely during the study session, it feels like I’m not going to get anything done. Compassion says, I understand that you’re afraid of not getting anything done. And no matter what you decide to do right now, I’m holding a compassionate attention on you. So that you’re safe, no matter what trouble you get into in this review session, he want to go stress yourself out and act like you have answers from that place. I’m still here with you. You want to come and relax into the energy that I’m presenting as an invitation. I’m here with you there to infect you will become me, if you relax into that. What can’t you do here? What are this is the key to this whole practices. All along, we’ve been thinking that we’re not capable of providing that support to ourselves. It feels scary, it feels like without pressuring ourselves. If all we have is compassion, are we really going to be able to respond to every threat in a compassionate way? That feels like it’s scary, that feels like it requires something of me, but compassion is automatic. That’s really the faith that you’re trying to train is, can I trust that no matter what happens, I have a tool of compassion at my disposal, that is never damaged, it’s never deficient. It’s always there. And it’s always immediately authorized double. If I want it, if I choose it, it’s not a skill. That’s the beauty of you can’t fuck it up. Because it doesn’t require any amount of understanding. It’s unreasonable support. And it’s magical. And what it can do to the analytical mind, because it relaxes it.


Simon  (37:27)  I don’t know. It still doesn’t feel like it’s clicking for me. I get I see it like that, for example. If I have a bad session, and then I quit after half an hour, for example. And I’m frustrated. And then like something says, I have to be playing. Like, if I don’t play, I’m just not going to, like, succeed here. I want to push through this, I’m strong enough. If I’m not pushing through, like, there’s no way I can make it. And that feels like something doesn’t click because if I see it from a compassion, something feels like I cannot play anymore. I’m too stressed. And let’s say that compassion says that, that, and I give in like, okay, so I’m not gonna play, right. And I feel like if I’m always giving in, there’s going to be a lot of those kinds of sessions,


Nick Howard  (38:39)  there might be. And I will call you back to your three year career, where you’ve experienced numbers of performance cycles, where you burned out under the other model. And all I will call your attention back to all of the stress and distortion that you experienced from doing it the old way that thinks that piling pressure on yourself to push through this is the incentivized path. Because the reason I’m calling your attention back to that in such a macro way and such a blunt way. So forgive me if that triggers you. But that has been the progression, you stagnated as a player for years under this approach. And the reason that there’s a way out, is because the ease of compassion, albeit slow, is actually going to release stress. So what your what your mind seems to be doing is focusing in the micro as an excuse or a an objection, this is going to result in a lot of quit sessions. Yes, it might in the short term, but what you’re not validating side by side along that alongside that is that it will result in self care that will boost your emotional equity and so Low will make you more resilient. So it doesn’t continue to happen in the future. I’m building a sustainable paradigm with that model, where Simon a year from now doesn’t have sessions that he needs to quit, or it happens very, very rarely. But you’re only going to be able to get on board with that if you can expand your vision to the macro. Because if you stay in the micro, yes, there may be sessions where you have to quit, because the honest truth of the matter might be that your emotional equity levels are actually just in need of repairment. Because they’ve been neglected for so long. So I get it, it’s a tough to tough pickle, especially, especially with the expectations I’ve put on stepping it up over the next three months. But you’re not really in a position where you need to be threatened by that. In my eyes, you’re not because you’re already top division. So if that’s a concern that you have that like if I, if my volume lowers in this time, where I’m focusing on self care, it’s going to look really bad. Just know that that’s an acceptable excuse to me, because we’ve had this conversation. If you come to me in a month, and you’re like, Hey, man, I don’t play 10,000 hands. But I really feel like I made serious gains in the self care department. And I listened to my emotions, and I quit sessions and focused on building up my, my safety levels and my trust levels. In that time where I was supposed to be playing, you’re not going to hear a argument out of me, because I’m looking at the 123 year version of you and how much benefit you’re, you’re giving yourself there. So to answer your objection, I would ask you to consider to frame it in a longer term picture. Because the objection you’re using is only valid if you don’t extend this vision, this compassionate motivational vision to like a year, even six months, six months, a year, two years, three years, it builds on itself. What you’ve been stuck in is a pattern of performance cycles that teeters on burnout and tilt, risk aversion over the course of years, arguing for that model, because it seems like it keeps you it seems like it keeps you productive. But the out the quality of your output is what has suffered from that model. Is there another objection? Besides telling me to fuck off for


Simon  (42:36)  I would just have a question like, how do you recognize it’s, it’s like compassion telling, but not fear, like anxiety?


Nick Howard  (42:43)  You’d be honest with yourself. So that’s the cool part about if I put this in the context of a workout, it’s easier. So you’re doing this program, right? Yeah. And I love it. I love it too. And sometimes, especially in the early phases, like phase one and phase two, I would find myself trying to push beyond what I sensed was a healthy limit. And the way I could sense that was there was a, there was a request inside, like an honest request for my emotions, that I just need a break. And I would override that thinking, No, this is where we push through David Goggins style, basically. Yeah, exactly. And what I came to see was that, that can work in the micro, but it has a residual effect, because it causes me to take a really harsh tone towards myself. And then it locks in this critical momentum that’s with me for the rest of the day. Better, was this approach of compassionately quitting the set, knowing that I listened to an honest request to quit it. And what that did was built up a more honest relationship to myself and my actual limits. And because there was that respect there that two way street, like you tell me when it’s really enough, and I’ll stop, then, the part of me that used to quit early actually would start raising his hand and saying, I want to go further. Because you’re here with me and respecting me, I actually want to go for that extra rep. So you find that companionship there. That’s how I resolved it. Well, I think the fitness example is a really good way because that’s when you’re under the most physical strain, and it creates the most emotional conflict. So remind me what your initial question was there because I know that was a


Simon  (44:38)  like, to differentiate between anxiety or fear and real compassion.


Nick Howard  (44:47)  Yeah. So you have to you have to get some reps in and start to sense into when there’s an honest request to stop and when it’s just a bluff that you’re using from fear And that’s a personal, that’s an intimate journey that isn’t as hard as it seems like, you know, do when you’re lying to yourself. You know, if you sense it deeply enough to it into the,


Simon  (45:14)  like, it’s not true, like some part of me saying it’s not true, it’s


Nick Howard  (45:18)  right. So when it’s not true the request to quit, you know, that you can comfort yourself and say, I hear that voice underneath you that knows that you have a little bit more, and I’m focusing on you, I’m supporting you. Let’s go a little bit further. And you tell me if we need to stop. And sometimes that voice will actually say I need you to stop. And there’s a difference in the energy of those two tonalities. And you’ll feel it and in whatever way you intuitively know yourself to feel it. When that happens, you stop. So the answer to your question is you trust yourself to discern what is a true ask? And what is a bluff? Have a fear based bluff of the mind? Is there fear that that would be the next question, is that inquiry?

Simon  (46:04)  I don’t think so. Because I feel strongly that through repetition, I will be more self aware. To recognize what, what, like everything. Yes, beautiful. But I would still appreciate if you somehow helped me out with creating, like, those that deck like that card that I can question myself? Sure.


Nick Howard  (46:32)  Well, let’s do this. Okay, let’s finish this day, just so I think you are pretty mature in your ability to frame the logistics with cushions, the fact that you’re inserting activations and cooldowns. And you understand that concept, that’s the bulk of what I want to get across, you’re already working out, you’re already nutritionally dialed for the most part. So you’re what you’re well above average in that department. I would like to just finish this day and make sure there’s nothing gaping that sticks out in the sleep cycle. And then talk briefly about how we can go back and forth with more deck, work around this specific thing and turn it into something cool. Maybe we just end up doing another session specifically on SIM cards when you have them ready. So take me through the rest of the day with with whatever time we have left.


Simon  (47:20)  So it’s after cooldown, I decided I would like to do some mindset work from you, it University. Or just like something? I like learning, especially about psychology and mindset, of course. So yeah, something along those lines. And then when my wife and kid gotta get home, it’s like lunchtime. It’s sick at 4pm. And then it’s like family or free time.


Nick Howard  (47:54)  From 4pm onwards. 430 after lunch, yeah. time you went to bed


Simon  (48:02)  at 9pm Usually I start like evening routine around eight, maybe 830. Journal, some reflection, and then we prepare them for sleep, bedtime story and stuff.


Nick Howard  (48:19)  Too generally feel like you’re getting enough relief in the night. In terms of the the free time on a level one to 10 how stressed do you generally feel during that period of the day?


Simon  (48:36)  Which part?


Nick Howard  (48:37)  from 4pm to not from 4pm Till you guys go to bed.


Simon  (48:42)  It’s I don’t feel good about it. Because I’m feel exhausted. But at the same time, I want to play with my kids, right? Give my wife more attention. And there’s some time stuff to do around the house. And it’s not just like, I’m sometimes really exhausted. And I’m like a zombie sometimes. Yeah, so I feel bad because I cannot give all the attention I want. So my guess it’s it’s around, it’s five, from one to 10 It’s five, something like that.


Nick Howard  (49:16)  I’ll give a suggestion. that I know is a really tough one to consider. Especially when it comes to giving loved ones enough attention. But it follows suit with the same micro macro reframe that I solved your last objection with. If you’re feeling that way. And if you’re feeling exhausted, it means that your emotional levels are low enough that you’re not going to be able to provide adequate attention to anybody in your in your vicinity. And I would say you’re better off spending half the time in a higher emotional state. If you could do it, just hypothetically if you could do it, they would they would actually rather seize an assignment at an eight out of 10 for half the time, rather than assignment out of five for the full time. So assuming you believe that would be possible, if you could install some self care some more personal time, assuming you think it’s possible, I would suggest that you insert some more 30 minute blocks, I don’t know if you want to stagger them or have them all at once, where you focus specifically on just boosting your emotional levels. With self care, compassion, whatever you find resonating with you, that’s going to require a conversation with Anita, if you decide to do that, it’s going to require that you say, look, I want to be at an aid, I want to try this, I’m going to need an extra hour a day before I chill with you guys. Let me test it out. I’ll let you know how it’s working. But I gotta do something cuz I don’t feel like I’m giving you I don’t want to give you five basically. I think that’s an understanding way to frame that. So that would be my suggestion, because I know what it’s like to live at five, like, thinking that you’re doing something really helpful by giving more attention to people while you’re stressed. And I think it was a huge blind spot, having come out of it and seen, seen how it destroyed relationships. Like I went another round with renewal up until March of this year. And like in December, December, November, I was really stressed. Like, I wasn’t listening to my body at all, quarantine was the best thing that ever happened to me. And it’s sad to say, but breaking up with her was probably the second best thing that ever happened to me with the best thing being getting together with her in the first place. I just needed more space. And I would not admit it to myself, I’m telling you this because you’re exhibiting similar symptoms. And I know that breaking up is not an option or not something that you want to do anyway, in my case, there was more relationship issues. But if you’re serious about fixing it, I think the only actual way is more time for yourself. So it’s a tough, it’s a tough thing to say. But I’m just trying to be as honest as possible, because the alternatives are not friendly. In the long run, you don’t push through five without fixing something and get to six, you dropped to four. So scary and frustrating, I get that. And I think it’ll be appreciated. If you frame it in the light that you want to spend higher quality time. And I’m not saying you have to either, I’m inviting you to consider it.


Simon  (52:52) I mean, it makes sense. It makes total sense. Like,


Nick Howard  (52:56)  we all know that doesn’t mean anything now in terms of making change. If you find yourself resisting what I’m saying, I don’t know. But if you do more compassion to it, okay, until defenses melt and you get experimental with it, or until you prove me wrong, and then there’s no need to try an alternative either way would be a wonderful outcome.


Brad Wilson  (53:24)  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 Mary 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 W PT Main Event champion ever, Darren Elias. He told me that his ability to shut out 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 presents. 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 quotes. And these aren’t just empty words. Nick has put his money where his mouth is by hiring Jason to coach of 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 did. didn’t check out Jason’s work at poker with One final time. That’s poker with All right, Nick, what was your one big takeaway from this conversation with Simon,


Nick Howard  (55:18)  I think the thing that stood out most to me was just the quality of his objections as we got into the discussion around fearing that laziness would be the result of taking stress off of the system. This is really typical in type a performance utility, which is what I’m beginning to call it. futility in the sense that, when we look at this over a long period of time is where we really see the engine start to break down. And I think that is the hardest part, it’s what makes this traps so hard to get out of, is very few guys are in a relaxed enough mode where they can start to consider what are the implications of motivating myself through stress over very long periods of time, three years, five years, 10 years. And I think it’s a huge blind spot. And that’s why it gets overlooked. It’s why we rationalize for stress instead of for more relaxation. So I liked how we really got to go into the objections that his mind had. And we got to see how his mind plays that game of convincing itself that stress is the way to success, more stress, not more relaxation, because if I give myself that permission to relax, I will never get back to doing the things I need to do to be successful. And this is the huge blind spot.


Brad Wilson  (56:47)  

I have a question. So what does the end game look like? You and Simon talked a lot about the transition from using stress as a motivator to using more compassion. Like, imagine somebody that’s not using stress as a motivator? Who’s playing a poker session? What does that even look like?


Nick Howard  (57:12)  The word that comes to mind is resilience. And resilience is a word that encompasses many dimensions of Evie, even outside of the session that you’re playing, or even outside of the amount of volume that you’re able to play. In a given month. Resilience extends into the quality of your relationships, the quality of your schedule, the quality of your sleep. Basically, the more you can expand your vision around how many different dimensions of life are actually affecting your overall performance and fulfillment, the more resilient you’re becoming. So a lot of what these consults do is they, I hope, that they train guys to start to consider how they can upgrade their overall resilience. Because if you were to really break it down, the skill set that we’re teaching guys to walk away with is the ability to spin a negative into a positive as quickly as possible. And so when you realize that you’re making yourself feel like shit, which is what the major effect of type A performance stress does, there is opportunity there on the table. And I love that word. It’s it’s a reframing in itself that gravitates toward a more resilient paradigm. If somebody sees stress as an opportunity, as opposed to a burden. We’re immediately in a mindset where we can work with it and see it as an invitation for growth. So that would be a quick little linguistic example of how you can develop more resilience in paying attention to yourself. But to answer your question fully, what does this look like when it’s when all is said and done, when the system is healed? What is a well oiled resilient engine look like? It looks like one that is able to recover extremely quickly. Maybe that’s a better way of putting resilience. If we could teach you how to recover, the section might be one of the best compliments I ever got from one of my friends who doesn’t even play poker, I was drunk at a nightclub with him. And he had looked at my Instagram that day, it was for I changed the poker, detox Instagram, to a separate account from my personal account, that he was looking at it. And he came up to me drunk at the club, and he was like, Yo, dude, he saw this post, he saw some post, and he was like, I just want to tell you that what you’re doing here is awesome. Because you’re not trying to teach people how to be perfect. You’re trying to teach people how to recover. And I was like, Yo, that’s, that’s it. I didn’t realize that but I remember I made a post in the nightclub as soon as he said that, with that caption on it because it was so real to me like Yes. If I can teach you how to recover. I don’t need to teach you how to be perfect in fact, off The more recovery is a transcendent level of performance of performance perfection or performance optimization. So that was something that was super meaningful in terms of developing my perspective of what we are really doing here when we’re trying to help people.


Brad Wilson  (1:00:18)  When I was listening to Simon, I was thinking, his objection is that if he doesn’t use stress, then he’s just going to be lazy. And as I was listening and thinking about this, I realized that if you have compassion in the moment, and you allow yourself to feel the emotions, the stressful emotions of running bad, getting unlucky, losing five by ends, whatever that may be, your ability to recover, has to be enhanced in just a massive, massive way, right, which at the end of the road, will allow you to put in more volume will allow you to play more hours, if you can just recover faster.


Nick Howard  (1:01:06)  Hard to see though, if you’re trying to connect the dots from a very linear, one dimensional perspective that really needs to see results soon, it’s the urgency behind the type a performer that blocks his ability to connect that dot, because this might be something that creates less output, or lower performance for the first three to six months that you’re really integrating it. And that’s why we have to consider the wider timeline to really see the overall benefits of it. Most guys don’t want to do that, though. And a lot of in a lot of their defense, they don’t even have time to do that. Which is why a lot of the focus on putting on this new blog I’m writing, I think there’s an entire entry in it called healing up front. And it’s where I make as good of arguments as I can, for someone in any performance based industry, specifically poker, I guess, to consider minimizing life expenses as much as they can, until they stabilize in this healthier motivational system that I’m trying to train through this entire catalogue of consults. Because if you wait to do this, not only are you creating a momentum, that’s harder to get out of, but you’re positioning yourself potentially, in a lifestyle where you’re gonna have a level of expenses that keep it that make it really hard for you to keep your head above water. And what you really need is some time to heal, and some time to relax and to lower your output. So you can actually make these upgrades, you’re just not going to get it if you overextend yourself thinking that you got to have like, you know, the car, and


Brad Wilson  (1:02:45)  I have a thought here going through somebody who’s working within the paradigm of pressure and stress. Do you think there’s a correlation between high life expenses, creating stress, using this stress to perform? It’s basically, you know, subconsciously creating a system that’s built on stress where you must perform and you must play and you must make X amount of dollars per month in order to survive.


Nick Howard  (1:03:18)  I think we get overextended for sure. I think so much of the obligation that we feel like we have to respond to is elected earlier in life. It’s something that we sort of bought into or decided to take on as a burden, I need to have these things in my lifestyle, a lot of it being financial, because the financial aspect of your life is what puts the most immediate urgency on your productivity. So yeah, I think there’s a huge correlation. And that’s why healing upfront is a concept that makes very good arguments for almost living that Thailand. Minimalism lifestyle for as long as possible, with as few obligations as possible, until you can actually heal these motivational systems that are causing self sabotage and causing unnecessary or just unsustainable levels of stress. And I’m not advocating that you go to Thailand and do all the degenerate things that people do there. I’m saying like, actually focus yourself in a mature way. I think it could be really helpful and I really doubt many young 20 Somethings would be able to hear that message. But that doesn’t mean we should we should not try to send it because you know, I was that young 20 something and nobody ever had that conversation with me and this is something you’ll hear me say to the to the console guests and the next one is like dude, like, you don’t I don’t think someone is intelligent as you need to go through this pattern. I think it’s about you having a real truthful call. conversation and realizing that we’re talking about certain facts in your life that aren’t mapping. And if you can see that, then I’m hoping you can see that there’s some incentive to make adjustments earlier as opposed to later.


Brad Wilson  (1:05:12)  Yeah, this is, this is why I love Carlos Welch and he’s been a multiple time guest on the podcast, lives travels around the country, he lives out of his car, extremely minimal expenses. He went from a life of having a house having a car having all the stress. And if you ask him, he will tell you 100%, honestly, that he would never want to go back to that previous life. He loves the freedom and the lack of stress of just traveling around the country and playing poker out of his car.


Nick Howard  (1:05:45)  Now, there’s definitely advantages of both sides. And I’m not saying that you can’t get you know, all the trappings back eventually and have more comfort in your lifestyle. If that’s how you would define comfort, you know, the elegance of having nice things. I’m just saying we need to get the order, right. For sure.


Brad Wilson  (1:06:01)  Get your life straight, then you can get the elegance at the end. Exactly. Thanks once again for this episode of detox files and catch you next time.


Nick Howard  (1:06:14)  Absolutely. Thanks, Brad.

Thanks for reading this transcript of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Transcription of Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast Presents: Detox Files #6: How To Use Compassion Instead Of Stress To Skyrocket Your Output

Click the icon above to be taken to the main hub podcast page to view all episodes of the CPG Pod. If you have a request for a transcript of any other Chasing Poker Greatness Podcast episodes, just use the contact form below to let us know!

nurrle poker course

Join the Chasing Poker Greatness Mailing List and get a FREE poker training course!

Intel in your inbox! Sign up and receive not only CPG updates, poker strategy, and performance insights emailed to you -- but also get access to NURRLE: Neutralize River Leads for FREE 😃!

How can we help you on your chase for poker greatness? Contact us below.

Questions about the courses? Wondering where to start? Looking for advice? Hit us up with anything you want to discuss and we're here to help. Either Brad or one of his staff will get back to you shortly to set you up with anything you need out of CPG. Don't hesitate to ask!

Chasing Poker Greatness often posts about podcast episode releases, poker strategy, poker course offerings, and poker as an industry on social media: