handicapping yourself

Handicapping yourself to fail: extreme procrastination

Every hypnotist has to deal with procrastination. (Either their own, or in the client). It can be very hard to clear. Many procrastinators are really skilled at putting things off and come up with wonderfully inventive reasons for not getting on with it. But the underlying reason is fear.

Handicapping yourself to fail

One common fear is fear of being criticised for not doing well enough. The most common way out of this is to handicap yourself, usually by restricting the amount of time available to complete the task. A common strategy to get round this is put off and put off starting until five minutes past the last possible minute, and then slamming into the work and getting something out of the door by the deadline. The rationale is that you can't then be criticised for not living up what is expected because you didn't have enough time to do it properly. So in your mind, you are safe from the pain of being found not good enough.

Handicapping yourself to fail: extreme procrastination

Some people have taken this to extremes, making it a part of their life. The world chess master of the early nineteenth century from 1800 to 1820, Alexandre Deschapelles, used to take the pressure off his chess matches by giving away one or two pieces before each game. That way he handicapped himself: his opponent had eight pawns and he only had six. So if he lost it was not because of his lack of ability, it was because he had fewer pieces than his opponent. And if he won, well it just showed how good he was, but he avoided the pain of not measuring up, and therefore did not have to procrastinate about playing a match.

Eventually he became recognised as the best player in the world at the time. But then someone else came along, who beat him consistently. Deschapelles realised that he would always be beaten, so he gave up chess completely, never played another game, and took up the card game whist, later known as Bridge.

And once again he handicapped himself by wasting his highest card. He went on to be an outstanding card player but always only after imposing a handicap on himself.

This habit is remembered today in the Bridge technique known as Deschapelles Coup, beating your opponent by deliberately sacrificing a high card in order to spoil their planned strategy.

David Mason

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