RPGs are by far my favorite genre of video games. They allow you to live the life of the hero.
From Final Fantasy to Knights of the Old Republic to Pokemon to Fallout and we cannot forget the MMORPGs (massive multi-player role-playing games) like World of Warcraft, Diablo or Everquest; all of these games tap you as the central hero to the story.
Be Your Hero
You can spend hundreds of hours exploring and questing in games like Fallout or Skyrim.
I clocked over 96 hours in Skyrim exploring, questing, and slaying dragons throughout the countryside and still had not touched maybe 50% of what that game had to offer, that excludes the downloadable content, or DLC!
Many of these games find inspiration from Joseph Campbell’s work with the Hero’s Journey or the Monomyth.
Campbell described the Hero’s Journey like this in his book:
An RPG allows you to customize your character. You pick his or her attributes, their powers, their class (or classes) that you want to pursue.
Perhaps you choose to have more strength to carry all the treasures you discover on your journey, or maybe you choose the gift of gab allowing you to slyly talk your way out of situations.
Pfft, those two are boring, why not become a ninja and choose to be light and quick and move in silence.
In real life, you may be more timid and meek.
Yet, when you play games you vicariously live through your character as a brute beast who crushes everything in his way with your sword/fists/hammer.
I go with wizards who shoot fireballs/lightning bolts out of their hands, look if I can play as a Sith I will.
RPGs provide you a ton of choices from your characters name, physical features/attributes, as well as how you respond to interactions with other characters you meet along the way.
As the hero, you are constantly making a decision and moving down a path with nothing but your armor, weapons, wits, and tools you find along the way.
The point is you have the choice.
You choose whether you have a beard, you choose whether you will slice your foes with a sword, shoot them with a bow, and you choose which direction on the map to head off in your adventure.
“Life is like an RPG”
Life is a game of choice
In both Skyrim and life, you’re faced with a choice of how you interact with people you meet or create relationships with. In the game world of Skyrim, you are faced with perils from bears, thieves, Dragur, Falmer, Dragons, and Giants.
Many times you’re faced with a choice: fight or run away, especially in the case of giants (run, run very quickly)
For most of us, the dragon or dragons that we face each day are our own thoughts.
In his book,You Are the Placebo, Dr. Joe Dispenza writes about how we as humans automate almost 95% of our daily thoughts and actions. This automatic behavior leads us to produce the same rationalizations, decisions, choices, behaviors, and emotional experiences which all leads right back in a vicious cycle to our thoughts thus making our negative thoughts harder to break.
You can’t always choose what life throws at you, but you can choose how to react to it.
Fighting a dragon in Skyrim is one thing, but if your daily automated response is to react in a negative manner, how are you supposed to find the strength to fight your own inner fire-breathing dragon of doom?
Similar to any boss in a video game, there are a few steps you must first undertake in your boss battle before you can stand triumphant.
How to Conquer Your Quest, and Slay Your Inner Dragons
In our quest to conquer negative thoughts, we first have to begin to recognize the pattern(s) in which they arise before we can combat them.
Are they initiated by our environment, a person, a situation, a job, or our past experiences? (i.e. feedback loops)
Most video game bosses have a distinct pattern in which they attack.
This loop may take a moment to figure out, but when you recognize it, then it is much easier to dodge their attacks and plan yours.
Same can be said for your thoughts, once you recognize the patterns in which these thoughts attack you or come at you the better equipped you will be at defeating them.
Be Aware of Your Surroundings
While battling the game’s boss, not only do you have to dip, dodge, duck, and dive away from their attacks, but you must be mindful of the pitfalls around you.
Boss battles usually take place in a defined area but are lined with objects or traps that can be used by the boss to damage you.
We line our own lives many times with our own pitfalls that continue to bring trip us up and damage us as we try to make positive changes.
One of the most influential and famous motivational speakers, Jim Rohn, once famously said:
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
Who/what are you surrounding yourself with?
Are you surrounding yourself with positive and supportive friends and family, are you glued to news channels selling negativity and fear, are you constantly getting dragged into long and arduous Facebook status debates that go nowhere and solve zero problems?
If any of the five people or things you spend time on are not adding VALUE to your life and just make you more depressed, maybe you need to un-surround yourself with these things/people.
Ignore the Distractions, Stay Focused
We have nearly 50,000 thoughts a day and if the vast majority of them are negative that is one tough boss to battle!
Our brains like routine and maintaining homeostasis, so when you decide to combat your inner dragons of negativity and make changes, it sends our brains into a panic mode. Our own minds will begin to fire terrifying salvos of thoughts at us attempting to paralyze our positive progression.
How do you fight something that likes routine?
Fight it with routine.
James argues that the reason we fail most of the time is because we put a time-frame on our goal.
“I want to lose 30 pounds by Christmas”
“I want to have $30,000 in my retirement fund by age 35”
“I want to exercise every day”
Once we fail to meet that time-frame or notice well into it that we will not hit our mark, we then consider ourselves a failure.
This only rolls over and continues to add to our negative feedback loop and reinforces in many of our minds the idea of “why even try” or “I can’t.”
If you use the power of routine against your own mind and set a schedule instead of a goal, striving to consistently do whatever it is you want to do when you schedule it, you are much more likely to see success.
Life will send distractions and derailments will happen.
Very few things move linearly in life, but if you can create a pattern and follow a routine you may have a greater chance of conquering your goals and better managing distractions as they come instead of letting them paralyze you into inaction.
Similar to the boss in a game, use his pattern against him, remain consistent in your action, and eventually you will stand triumphant!
Choose What Adds Value (Positivity)
After following the above steps, you are now standing at a crossroad.
You can either choose to follow the negative thought and give in to it or you can choose to take a different path, a path of positivity.
When you reach this step in the battle with the dragon in your mind ask yourself this: “what choice adds the most value to my life.” Does this choice push you further in becoming the best you can be or does it push you further back down into the nest of negativity thus elongating your battle with the boss?
Make the choice that creates and gives you the most value.
Life is an RPG
Boss battles are hard, and the dragons of Skyrim were no joke but just like in a video game, the problems we face in life each day operate in a similar fashion.
They run on loops and patterns and to defeat them we must learn their pattern of attack.
Every day you are faced with similar choices with your thoughts, and you can either choose to continue following the same thoughts and getting the same results or you can choose instead to battle those thoughts and choose thoughts that add value to your life and allow you to achieve your highest level.
You are in control of your life and the story you weave.
What story do you want to weave?
Will you remain in a mindset where you blame taking an arrow to the knee or are you ready to battle your inner dragons and unlock the Hero inside of you?
Become the Dragonborn, it is already within you.