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The psychology of the rage-quit, and how to turn something negative into something positive


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We've all been there: when the combined frustrations of a match simply become too much, and we rage-quit. This post is meant to help others understand the mental processes surrounding the rage-quit and know how to alleviate the resulting negative emotions. 

Before getting into the meat of this post, I'd like to define two important terms: brain vs. mind. When I refer to "your brain," I refer to the part of your head that interprets and processes things in an unconscious, instinctual and calculating way. When I refer to "your mind" or "you," I refer to the part of you that has cognition, an internal voice and an ability to think and use logic.

So you've rage-quit, and now the source of anger and frustration is gone, but those feelings are still there. You're still shaking, fuming, even though you know it's just a game. So why do you still feel so shitty?

Your brain will interpret video games as competitive tasks. When you are repeatedly beaten down despite your best efforts, your brain interprets this as failure to complete tasks, as a failure to achieve, and as a failure to meet standards you've unintentionally set for yourself (or for your team). Even though your mind can make the distinction between failure in a game and failure in real life, your brain doesn't know the difference. Your brain will process perceived failures into negative emotions that manifest in your mind as anger and frustration, which can climax with a rage-quit. These feelings tend to linger afterwards, making you irritable and irrational. So how can you prevent or minimize the lingering negativity?

You can't control your brain, but you can influence it. The best way to alleviate negativity after a rage-quit is to make yourself feel like you've accomplished something. If you force your brain to process accomplishment rather than failure, you will quickly feel better.

I rage-quit pretty hard this morning. I felt like trash, and wanted to put my mind to other things. I made breakfast, took care of my recycling, handled some important phonecalls, went for a swim, took a shower, and then wrote this out, in that order. Sometime in the middle of all that, I realized how quickly I got over the nonsense from this morning, and why. It was because I'd avoided nonproductive, escapist activities like TV and meme-browsing; instead I'd focused on returning a sense of accomplishment through a succession of small "victories," as mundane as they may seem.

So when you get pissed off at RenX (as one does), by all means, rage-quit. Then do something productive! Exercise, cook, clean, rotate your tires... not only will you feel better, you'll be rewarded with the fruit of your labors, and you'll have transmuted something negative into something positive. 

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