I have all kinds of things I want to say about this fox.
But if this is going to even slightly make sense, I have to explain the Video Game Technique.*
* A useful thing my students/clients use to simultaneously practice several of the principles we work with. If you’ve never played a video game, just pretend. No video-game-secrets needed in order to get this.
The Video Game Technique.
You’re playing a video game and you run into a wall. Smack. Ow.
Well, your avatar ran into a wall. You’re still on the couch. But still.
A massive wall. Right in front of you. Blocking your progress.
What do you do? You look for options.
It’s a video-game world, so you know there’s a way past it.
You try to go over it, under it, around it, through it.
If there is absolutely no way over the wall, you go left or right. Or you go back and try something else.
If over the wall doesn’t work, you don’t just keep trying to go over it seventy two more times. You look for a different way to get past it. You try new things.
How this is different from real life.
In real life, we are constantly running into walls.
Here’s what most of us do when we run into a wall. Smack. Ow.
Then we run into it again. Smack. Ow. Hey, look. The wall is still there.
We might try to get around it. But then we run into it again. Smack. Ow.
We step back. And then forward. Smack. Ow.
Then we cry, rage, complain. We tell our friends and our therapists and anyone who will listen about how much we hate this stupid piece of crap wall and how it won’t just go away.
And it doesn’t even occur to us that there might be another way past.
Ask most people if they’ve tried going left or right yet, and they don’t know. They don’t keep track of how they’ve approached the wall – they’re just stuck in a rut. Smack. Ow.
When you use the video game technique, here’s what happens.
You get sharper. More alert.
For one thing, the wall is a challenge. Not a sign that your life sucks or that you’re an incompetent loser.
Also: you’re keeping track of what you try and how well it works.
Under doesn’t work, around doesn’t work, over doesn’t work.
Okay, am I correct in assuming that I even need to get past this thing? What are the options that I haven’t tried yet? Have I missed anything?
You’re curious. You’re intrigued. You’re ready to try new stuff.
This is good.
Why it’s so important.
The video game technique is a classic destuckification tool because:
- it’s about awareness — being conscious of how you’re relating to yourself and the world around you.
- it’s about acknowledgment — letting the hard stuff be hard without being impressed by the hard or thinking that the hard defines you.
- it’s about possibility — taking information and making conscious choices.
- it’s about patterns — recognizing how things fit together and intentionally mixing things up.
- it’s about flow — moving away from things that result in paralysis, and reconfiguring.
- it’s about sovereignty — owning your space and making decisions about what you do with it.
It gives you flexibility, agility, adaptability, grace and all sorts of other useful things. And most of all, it shows you options.
Back to the fox.
Where we tend to get messed up with the video game thing is this:
We forget that this is about Very Interior Design.
We forget that it’s our video game. Which means that there are always more options available than you might think.
At our retreat earlier this year, some people were scared of their own video game.
Because it might be a trap. Because what if you got to a point in this learning-about-your-stuff experience where you ended up stuck behind that wall and you were never able to get out again?
An infinite loop of stuck.
That would not be fun.
So, here’s a question: who is on your video game design team?
What about a fox?
Foxes have a severe dislike of being trapped. Understandably.
And I read somewhere once that a fox digging a hole or a tunnel will always create a second exit.
This may or may not be true, but it’s useful.
Since it’s your video game, you get to decide who you want on the design team.
I want a young Marilyn Monroe, for sass and determination. And a structural engineer, one with a sense of humor. And Shiva, for endings and new beginnings.
And I always want a fox.
The whole point of Very Interior Design is that it happens inside of you.
If being trapped is not an option, set things up so there is no way to be trapped.
We can’t control external circumstances, but we have a lot to say about how we interact with them. And we have a lot to say about what filters we perceive them through.
And we have a lot to say about how we navigate our internal spaces.
If safety is vital because you’re scared of what might happen when you encounter your monsters, then by all means, let’s make safety the hugest priority of your video game.
Let’s get some safety experts on your video game design team. Let’s get you a bunch of negotiators. And an ideal family. Let’s get you places of sanctuary. And canopies of peace.
And a fox. Because it’s your video game. And it’s your experience.
The fox is smarter than the wall.
In fact, the fox might even know that your walls are only there because they think you need them.
And that walls can be spoken to. And you can interact with them in a variety of ways.
The fox knows that exit points are as important as entry points.
The fox knows that intelligence wins out over brute force.
The fox is there to try things.
Which, really, is what this is about.
Creating safety. And then trying things. Creating safety. And then trying something else.
So that it’s not just an endless parade of smack-ow-smack-ow.
You make safe spaces in which to practice. You find out what your options are. You take notes. And you take care of yourself. Because this world is yours.
And comment zen.
We all have our stuff. We’re all working on our stuff. We let people have their own experience, which means that we’re supportive and kind, and we don’t give advice (unless people specifically ask for it).
You’re more than welcome to share stuff you’re working on, things you’re thinking about related to foxes and video games and destuckification and Very Interior Design.
Love to all the commenter mice and the Beloved Lurkers and everyone who reads. Besos.
Ohmygosh have I been smacking into walls. I even have contusions and I have been ignoring the pain and dusting myself off and running straight for the wall again! And you are correct- it has not occurred to me there might be a way around. Going on a fox finding mission.
This post and the
Exit the Middle post https://www.fluentself.com/blog/stuckification/exit-the-middle/
are now my 2 favorite pieces of your writing! (hope the link will work)
Thankyou thankyou thankyou
.-= Stacy´s last post … What Children Know =-.
This is just gorgeously thought out Havi 🙂 I’ve got this fun vision of myself running through a level of Super Mario Brothers right now … somehow my walls seem a little lighter … a little more fun.
.-= Sarah Tieck´s last post … Vision as Fuel =-.
I used to think video games were a waste of time, then I watched my son play something, it probably was the one with the fox 🙂 and realized it teaches strategy and problem solving skills. Which are excellent to apply to the game of life. Thank you for putting it into such a fun post!
.-= Andi´s last post … From Concept to Finish =-.
This is hillarious. And genius. Simultaneously.
First off, I was watching MTV HD last night, and they always show the weirdest videos (maybe because I’m in Chile, I don’t know). And there is this one video by this guy Wiley (no joke, like E. Coyote!) and the video shows all these women in these REALLY strange fox costumes running around and it is so extremely weird and last night I was like wtf is this video and then you write this post. Are those foxes the universe trying to tell me something 🙂 (btw the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9FqqTt-Xwrc)
Secondly, I am currently playing Super Mario Galaxy 2 (yes, I’m a huge dork and yes I’m 28, whatever) and I actually get disappointed if the levels are too easy and something doesn’t kill me at least once. Because that makes it fun. So when you finally do complete it you can feel all clever because it’s almost always about problem solving (which always seems so much more fun in video games). Applying that perspective to my own life just seems brilliant.
So maybe, from now on, instead of having problems I can have goombas (so ferocious yet lovable simultaneously). So much to play with here! Thanks! 😉
Speaking of walls, here come the construction workers (literally) to remove my front door and wall and replace my ceiling. Oh universe, you are so silly!
This is so awesome. Plus funny (not funny haha – more funny hey).
Because I have the same approach to video game walls as I have to real life walls: Extreme Impatience. I’m like, a wall? Let’s hurry up and get to the other side of it! Then if that doesn’t happen, I break my foot kicking it.
My VID team would have to have a crafty, foxy fox to build in sneaky trap doors.
.-= Amna´s last post … The dignity of certain futile acts =-.
Havi, you are a genius. Really. This is sooo true and sooo helpful. (It’s also funny.) Thanks!
Two words: CHEAT CODES.
.-= Tori Deaux´s last post … Needful Things! The Yes-I’m-Still-Breathing Edition =-.
Beautiful stuff, Havi! I’m going to need to remind myself of this post repeatedly and often.
.-= Catherine Cantieri, Sorted´s last post … Where do you start Part 2 =-.
As someone who has been playing video games for the large majority of their lives, I loved this! So smart that you equate problem solving in the video game world to that of the real world. Why IS it that we keep trying the same solution in the non-digital realm?
Great post! Havi FTW!!1!
aha! video game! oh my, i just had one of those “bing!” moments.
you know, sometimes reading your blog is like what my chiropractor does to my back. there’s a funny sensation or a pop and then suddenly something just works better and i feel taller, clearer, calmer, energized. awesome 🙂
.-= Jesse´s last post … It’s been a good week- except for that flying shoe =-.
I have been seeing the life-is-a-video-game metaphor a few times lately and I am happy for this post!
Life is a lot more fun when you’re grinding skills and going around walls! Whee!
This is such a wonderful, clear and almost palpable explanation of this. It’s something I’ve known for a long time, but it’s so much more real for me now.
Amazing! It also reminds me of another big learning about getting out of my stuckness – I live in a world of infinite possibility – so, that being the case, it is simply impossible that there’s a situation in which I don’t have choices. If I feel trapped, I need to step back and calm down and come up with at least 3 possibilities for how to respond to the trapped feeling – usually the act of doing this makes something light up in my head and the right way to go becomes clear – the critical thing for me is to back myself down from the intense stuck IMBEATINGMYHEADAGAINSTTHEWALLANDICANTSTOPness to allow more options to show themselves….
.-= Andy Dolph´s last post … Under the Sky in an Inflatable Planetarium =-.
Can I please vote for this for the useful stuff archives?
Love. I can see I already have a fox, and she is wily. (I know, I know, she’s a fox, not a coyote). I hate getting trapped and sometimes I get frustrated that maybe I miss out on stuff that doesn’t have an escape hatch. But now?! I have a fox! It’s her job! And maybe I need to engage her creativity and have a little faith that she’ll get us out even if the hatch is invisible.
.-= Briana´s last post … Postcard Balance =-.
Something you said made a *bing* for me. “Creating safety. And then trying things. Creating safety. And then trying something else.” I realized the reason that I wasn’t able to try new things for the longest time is because I didn’t feel safe at all so my subconscious was all “Not MORE scary!!!” and wouldn’t budge. I will make creating safety my top priority now.
Heehee, love the Smack ow!… I think I’m going to have to remember the sound/feel of that for the next time I’m facing a wall. It makes me giggle, and I find that it’s much harder to be bogged down by life when you can giggle at it 😉
And @Lindsay YES! Love the problems as goombas! I grew up on Super Mario, so this I can totally relate to 😀
.-= Heidi´s last post … Permission granted =-.
“…it’s much harder to be bogged down by life when you can giggle at it!”
TeeHeeHee – Yes! Yes!! Thank you Heidi and Havi!
When you mentioned external circumstances versus very interior design, this part of me came up yowling like an angry yet fluffy kitten with really sharp teeth (like this: http://bit.ly/d9dVbL). It’s the part of me that says I can’t be happy (or even really conscious) until I control the external circumstances. I think it just doesn’t understand.
When I get into a situation I don’t like, I think it really wants permission to leave. When I feel stuck, I think it needs permission to follow my intuition. It doesn’t have to go outside me for that.
Granted, happily! Though I didn’t know that the flight part of me had so much fight in it! What an angry kitten.
.-= Doc´s last post … Art from the Heart =-.
This post made me smile 🙂
As a videogame developer myself, I’m very aware of how people play – how they make decisions differently when they *know* there’s a solution, and it’s okay to keep trying different things. I also recognize that people (read: I) tend to forget to do this in the real world.
In games, the point really is to have fun. Why can’t we find the fun in our everyday problem-solving? Why don’t we seek out challenges as new exciting toys, rather than crises to overcome? And why do we stop trying when a first attempt fails?
Note to self: It’s *all* a game.
.-= Sarah´s last post … No-blammo =-.
Love this. Thank you.
Discussions of walls always remind me of a very powerful experience I once had as a music therapy client: I was improvising and imagining walls that I had created around myself as a child, that protected me from others but also kept me in lonely isolation — and then, all at once, I stood up, and realized that these were child-sized walls, and I was taller now, tall enough that I could simply step over them and move on.
.-= Kathleen Avins´s last post … The trouble with “middle vision” =-.
Smack-Ow! I’m lovin’ this post. I’m gonna be running around all week sayin’ “Smack-Ow. Smack-Ow” Just because it’s fun!
Thanks so much for posting this! I’ve just hit this realization myself, and to have this validation so quickly after is wonderfully reaffirming. That, and the “smack-ow” is so frickin’ accurate! LOL! 🙂
What fun to come back after an internetless day and see all your smart things.
So happy that some of this is helpful. Awesome.
@Kat – oh! Standing UP. Love it. Yay!
@Andy – I like the idea of stopping until you can find three possibilities. That’s super smart. Will use for sure.
@R – oh good. Making safety the first priority is a really big deal. Cannot estimate enough. Good.
Internet hugs all around. You guys rock.
Hugs to you, too, Havi! Especially from 5 years down the road – NOW this lands in a place where I can see it 🙂
This is making my head spin. Much smartness, all around.
Must. Re-read. 🙂
.-= Amy Martin´s last post … What Thai Masseuses Know About Marketing- Sing It! =-.
Yes! A foxy fox to fox the wall. I likes it.
I did a visulisation thingy quite recently where I was imagining brining something closer. When it got closer I discovered this HUGE wall. Eeek.
Then it turns out I could just draw a door in it, because – you know – it’s my imagination which totally rocks. Inside it turned out to be a fortress, for me. To keep me safe and it had this beautiful walled garden and a fantastic feeling of “this-is-all-for-me-to-nurture-me-and-keep-me-safe.”
Then a few weeks ago I actually visited somewhere that looked a *lot* like my lovely, romantic internal walled garden and it felt goooood.
It reminded me to check in with the fortress inside when I am feeling beseiged.
Love this post, Havi!
The video game thing: I never played them as a kid, but I wish I had. There was altogether too much Rightness and Wrongness in my upbringing. When I play a game now, it takes a LOT of safety-building for me to feel OK with just trying stuff and seeing what works. Even knowing how most games function, I’m still hung up on Making A Mistake.
I’m irritated when people diss video games for that reason – I see my five-year-old now beginning to play them, and it’s so clear to me that he’s learning vast amounts about problem-solving, perseverance, success and failure. These are things that I am learning slowly, painfully, in my thirties.
Perhaps he will need less therapy than I have 🙂
.-= Lean Ni Chuilleanain´s last post … A Girl’s Best Friend =-.
I keep thinking about my fox and ways to befriend her. And as I’ve smack – ow’ed into a wall or two or three this week I’m realising that even though I feel trapped, I’m not as stuck as I think. There’s a way around the wall, it’ll just might take a bit of trying to find. Which doesn’t sound like much maybe but when you feel like that wall is going to be there forever and ever, just the possibility of going round it, or over, or something, is wonderful.
A saying I use when I get stuck in games is “stop looking at where you want to go, start looking for where you can go.”
When you get stuck in games, it’s generally because you’re too wrapped up in how YOU think the game should go. “I can’t figure out how to open this door.” “That platform is too high, I can’t get to it.” “I know it’s something to do with this funny pedestal, but nothing I try seems to have any effect on it.”
When you let go of where you think you’re supposed to go, and start looking for options elsewhere, you find the answer was right there, you were just too busy ignoring it.
You can’t open that door because it’s an exit. You fall down from the floor above, get the treasure, and come out of the door. The platform is too high because you’re ignoring the platforms behind you that ladder you up to the right height. You can’t figure out what’s up with the funny pedestal because you haven’t got the doohicky that goes in it. Look elsewhere, and you’ll find the doohicky.
I developed the “Stop looking at where you want to go, start looking for where you can go” rule playing games, but it totally applies to real life. As does the secret to defeating any boss in any game ever: “Do more damage or get hit less.”
This is a really thought-provoking post, and I’m still processing it, but I feel like I need to throw something out there… I’ve been “smack-ow-ing” a lot over the last few months. A whole heck of a lot, actually. So thanks, Havi, for getting me to see my wall differently. I’ve jotted down what I’ve tried, what absolutely hasn’t worked, and what is sort of working. The sort-of-working thing is the thing I’m going to try to do differently/better. It’s the thing I’m going to mix up and try new things with.
But as far as the fox goes… I need one, and I want one. But help me understand. Is this fox already on my team? How can I find the fox, and how can I convince the fox (or train the fox??) to help me create exits and strategies for dealing with the wall?
.-= Dee Wilcox´s last post … The Wednesday Sisters Giveaway =-.
*Allow* the fox to create the exits and strategies?
Late to the party, but I had to comment that I love this metaphor. I’m not a gamer, but my stepson is, and I watch him do this on new levels all the time.
The other thing he does when he hits a wall is go online to look for cheat codes, which give him a clue around the wall. And if he gets too frustrated, he walks away, does something else for a while, and goes back with a fresh perspective and determination.
I think both of these ideas could be incorporated into the Video Game Fox idea. I do a lot of looking for cheat codes, but I rarely take a break without giving up completely.
.-= [email protected], being´s last post … The car goes where the eyes go =-.