Conversations with Myself: Life is like a Chessboard

Chessboard Metaphor (Accept_Change)

Chessboard Metaphor:

You can never make the same mistake twice,
because the second time you make it, it’s not a mistake, it’s a choice
– Anonymous

Do you sometimes have trouble accepting yourself for who you are? Is there something we can do about this? Let us see . . .

Maybe you could think of your thoughts and feelings like chess pieces on a chessboard. The white pieces could represent the thoughts and feelings you want (e.g. confidence, happiness, self-esteem) and the black pieces could be the thoughts and feelings you don’t want (e.g. anxiety, fear, self-doubt, hopelessness).

Just like in the game of chess, the white pieces will try to defeat the black pieces. We want to rid ourselves of our negative thoughts and feelings. When going through difficult times in our lives, it seems like we’re losing – the black pieces knock most of the white pieces off the board. At other times, it may look like we are winning – we knock most of the black pieces off the board.

Looking closely at your life experience, what happens when you knock those black pieces off the board? Do they stay off forever, or do they come back sooner or later? You could find that new black pieces take the place of some of the old ones? It’s a continuous fight, with no end in sight. When we battle the black pieces, we battle a part of our experience, a part of ourselves. We could literally set up a situation where, in order to get on with life, large parts of our actual experience must disappear forever. We can become absorbed with our internal struggles, and disconnect from the outside world and the things in life that matter most to us. We can become so absorbed with our internal struggles that we don’t “see” the outside world.

Is it possible to let go of the fight? When playing the game of chess, is the chessboard affected or damaged in any way, or is the chessboard simply an arena where match after match can play itself out – and the board remains solid and intact, ready for whatever comes next? What if you could focus your energy on doing what you want, and carrying the positive and negative thoughts with you?

Don’t forget: there is a distinction between your thoughts and your observer self. Think of the observer as being the chessboard – as being you. Think of your thoughts and feelings as being the chess pieces. The chessboard carries the pieces, but it is not equal to the pieces. In the same way, you carry your difficult thoughts, you observe those thoughts, but you are not equivalent to those thoughts.
Adapted from:

Living Strategically: 50 Lessons Chess Teaches You about Life

1. Purpose: In chess, every move has a purpose. Obviously we cannot live life with so much unceasing calculation, nor should we want to, but there are times when we need to align our actions with a predetermined strategy instead of just fumbling our way through it.
2. Play for the advantage: If you already have it, maintain it. If you don’t have it, grab it with both hands.
3. Everyone’s playing: Sometimes it’s a friendly game, often it is more serious. The problem is that not everyone knows they’re playing – even after they have made a move.
4. Seize the initiative: If you wait around for someone else to make a decision for you, they will . . . and you probably won’t like the outcome.
5. Learn to spot patterns: There are often clearly defined lines of success that work well. Learn to see these when they repeat, and take advantage of them.
6. Don’t get stuck on the formula: A little bit of creativity and lateral thinking can often take you to new heights.
7. Ignore what your opponent is trying to do at your own risk: We often get so absorbed in our own games and scheming that we ignore what is going on around us. Be aware of threats and alert to opportunities.
8. Simplify.
9. Take on challenges: If you only play beginners games, you never really improve – take on a few tough challenges, and even if you lose, try to learn something new.
10. Cut your losses: Sometimes you are going to lose material. Try to minimise your losses and move on.
11. Play the board, not the player: Don’t target your responses at people, target what they say and do. There is a difference.
12. When every move is a bad one: Sometimes you get stuck in a position known in chess as zugzwang: where no matter what move you make, it’s a bad one. This is just the way it goes sometimes, in chess and in life.
13. A discovered attack: There is nothing more satisfying than a discovered attack: pretending to do one thing, while attacking somewhere else. Learn to play and live less obviously and on more levels. This makes you less predictable and more interesting.
14. Sacrifice material for position: Be prepared to sacrifice material for position. Sometimes even the greatest material sacrifice can result in a winning position later on.
15. Care less about small victories: If you spend all of your time chasing lowly pawns, you may be on the receiving end of an opponent who cares less about small victories and more about winning the war.
16. Moves that improve your own position: A threat is best met with a move that improves your own position. Don’t get trapped into mindlessly trading moves and material in anger. Sometimes the solution is more gentle and rational.
17. Be better: You don’t have to be a devious cheat to win . . . you just have to be better.
18. Bad mistakes: We all mess up from time to time. This does not mean we should give up and run away. Often when you’re sure there is no way out after a bad mistake, you will be given a lifeline.
19. Making silly moves: When someone makes a move that you cannot understand, don’t read more into it than you need to. Sometimes people just make silly moves – that’s all there is to it.
20. Have a Plan B: Have a plan B, and a Plan C. If none of these work, you’re probably doomed.
21. Your opportunity will come: Play for the middle. Don’t hold back too much, and don’t push through too soon. Your opportunity will come.
22. Play wisely: How you start a game determines how you will finish it. Play wisely.
23. Seize the opportunity: If an opening appears, seize it immediately.
24. Don’t get pinned down: Where something more cherished cannot be included because it is stuck behind something trivial, make every effort to get it into the game – as soon as possible.
25. Anticipate what could go wrong and plan accordingly: In the end game, attack the King by focussing your attention on his escape squares: When you are in the final stretch, and about to win, anticipate what could go wrong and plan accordingly.
26. Be flexible: It seldom goes the way you planned – adjust and continue.
27. Boxed-in: If you are feeling boxed-in, free things up.
28. Trade inferior material and positions: Where possible, trade inferior material and positions for better ones.
29. Take care of the little guys: The little guys on your side matter. Look after them.
30. Small advantages: Accumulate small advantages.
31. Foregone conclusions: There are no foregone conclusions in life or in chess.
32. Ignore meaningless threats: Anticipate and deal with dangerous ones quickly.
33. Keep looking for new opportunities: Never rest on your laurels. Keep thinking, looking for new opportunities and trying to generate new ideas.
34. Rank and Titles: Don’t be overly impressed with grand words or titles. The only thing worse than being overly insecure towards those who outrank you, is being dismissive of those inferior to you.
35. Keep calm and move slowly.
36. Take action: Replace wishful thinking with action.
37. Learn one important lesson: If you lose, do so graciously and try to learn at least one important lesson.

I’ve learned so much from my mistakes . . .
I’m thinking of making a few more.
– Anonymous

38. Draw is better than a loss: Sometimes a draw is as good as a win, but a draw is always better than a loss.
39. Always have an escape route: Keep your options open and always have an escape route.
40. Creativity always has a purpose: Surprise and impress people with unconventional moves, but not with dumb ones. Creativity always has a purpose – doing something wild and crazy just for the sake of it may be fun at the time, but ultimately has no value. Break the rules – but only if it serves a good purpose.
41. Assess/Evaluate your position honestly: If it is bad, do something about it. If it is good, make it even better.
42. Don’t get swept away by distractions.
43. Narrow down your choices: and then decide. Take your time, but settle on one plan of action . . . and then DO IT!
44. Sacrifice: Sometimes you have to sacrifice in order to achieve a break-through.
45. Look at the bigger picture: Always consider the whole board when deciding on a move: decisions made with too narrow a focus are often bad.

What you see, depends on what you are looking for.
– Anonymous

46. Collaboration and co-operation: Connect your pieces cleverly. Collaboration and co-operation are the keys to success.
47. Look beyond the obvious.
48. Enjoy yourself
49. Deep and meaningful is always better than superficially pretty.

Success is not always what you see.
– Anonymous

50. Fake it till you make it: If all else fails . . . fake it!


One thought on “Conversations with Myself: Life is like a Chessboard

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.