According to Merriam-Webster a mind game is: “A psychological tactic used to intimidate or manipulate – usually used in plural (played mind games with his opponent).”
It has occurred to me that some of the biggest mind games we face are those that we practice on ourselves. When I was diagnosed with degenerative joint disease due to the fact that I had broken my wrist a couple of years back (and didn’t realize it at the time) the pain that I had been under intensified to the point of being unbearable and did not lessen with the NSAIDs I took.
I did quite a bit of research and discovered that the primary cause of pain in arthritic sufferers seems to be due to inflammation, which is caused by the foods we eat. So I embarked on what’s called the ‘Arthritis Diet’ wherein I eliminated from my diet all red meat, all poultry, all dairy, the nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, and potatoes), to name a few of the things on the no-no list. The dietary change helped and the swelling in the joints went down, which lessened the pain but prompted friends to offer their concerns that I might not be getting enough protein, iron, and other key nutrients. Voila, more research to conduct.
Things were going pretty good but then the pain returned in earnest to where it was constant and my poor psyche became more and more depressed and then this morning I awakened in high spirits and almost no pain whatsoever. I told my wife my good news and she wondered how much of my agony might have been psychosomatic, which caused me to wonder what came first: the depression over my pending surgery or the pain. Then I got to thinking about how people seem to go and go and then one day they’re told “you have cancer,” or some other such diagnosis, and then they quickly deteriorate and possibly die. Sometimes it even seems like knowing was what killed them.
It’s easier to shield against the mind games others try to play on us then it is to shield against the ones we play on ourselves. As for myself I’ve found a shield I didn’t know I had and plan to wear it bravely and look forward to overcoming the reconstructive surgery on my wrist and muddling through the long recovery period. And, God willing, six or seven months from now I’ll be able to once again sit and noodle on my guitar, play some favorite songs on my piano, and do all the other things a person with two healthy hands can.
John Lennon, in his song Mind Games, sang: “Love is the answer and you know that for sure. Love is a flower you got to let it grow.”
Love is also a good place to find that shield.