The Flinch

If I swung an unexpected fist to your face, you’d probably flinch.

Flinching is an innate reflex developed through centuries of evolution.

Professional boxers train rigorously not to flinch. It affects their ability to see clearly and, thus, react.

What exactly happens when you anticipate impending doom? I can’t explain it but I demonstrate it with an exercise. Go to the bathroom, strip naked, and turn on the shower. Make sure the dial is as cold as can be. In two seconds, you’ll experience the flinch. Even if you told yourself you were going to jump in before you turned the shower-head, now that the water is running and you can feel the mist, you’re beginning to have second thoughts. You’re no longer able to perceive decisions rationally.

You win five consecutive rounds, the True Count remains high, and you hesitate to push your top bet out. That’s the flinch.

You hesitate to play a casino you know to be sweat. Another flinch.

You’re up twenty grand the first day of your trip and contemplate stopping to not lose it back. The fucking flinch!

When it comes to overcoming the flinch with cold showers, I suggest standing there for a couple seconds before the plunge. Just stand right at the edge. Allow fear and doubt to fill your mind. Feel the chemical reactions going through your brain and body. Give yourself an opportunity to change your mind. Tell yourself, “This is stupid. I don’t have to do this”. Then jump in.

I’m an avid supporter of cold showers. It’s the only way I shower and there are a number of health benefits associated with it. You can look up the Wim Hof Method to learn more. It got easier to manage over time and I still get the flinch all the time. I woke up freezing today and dreaded my morning shower. But it boosts my adrenaline, wakes me up, hastens muscle recovery, and keeps my skin healthy in this Vegas desert. It gets easier in the sense that I know what to expect now. As soon as the cold hits you, it’s the same feeling every time and I focus on my breathing. It distracts me from focusing on the cold.

But hey, cold showers might not be for you and that’s completely fine. Training to get punched repeatedly in the face isn’t really for me. And blackjack may not be for you. There is nothing wrong with that.

When hesitate from making correct decisions in blackjack, understand that it’s just the flinch. Nothing horrible has happened yet. You’re just anticipating it.

Understanding this can be the key to overcoming it.

Or deciding to walk away.