Read something recently that has really hit home
I had a bit of a downswing last week - and it didn't phase me much. I lost over 8 buyins over the stretch, and with 2 of them being at 2/4 NL (rest split between 1/2 NL and $1 bb NL), it was a sizeable downswing in $ terms, although not much relative to my bankroll nor relative to the stakes.
I used to get really upset with downswings. One of them affected me so bad that I was never able to play winning limit poker again (was at 4bb/100 over 30K hands at 5/10 limit). This was in December 1995, but even more recently I have had issues where I get really angry, when I know it is just the variance of the game. Despite having to report a sizeable amount of winnings to the IRS each of the past 3 years and complete understanding that I know that the variance is good, since the fish have to win sometime if they are to play, I still got upset.
I read something recently that really opened my eyes Angel Largay (sp?) from Bluff mag wrote an article where he said he experienced many of the same things. He was finally able to admit to himself something that got him over the emotional hump. He was afraid. When he had a downswing, he was afraid that maybe he wasn't a winning player after all. That all those winnings for all those months/years were a fluke. That really hit home and helped during my recent downswing.
When I have had downswings, I think I have become afraid that perhaps something is changing that won't allow me to keep winning. While my wife and I have made a conscious effort not to spend the money I have earned through poker as income, it has helped in many ways. We bought a new van recently, and it helped with a down payment on a house. Now it is helping fund my wife's IRA and both my and her Roth IRAs (for those not in U.S. - these are retirement accounts that offer tax advantages).
Could I still get a tad afraid in the future? Sure, but I think knowing and admitting the fear is half the battle. I recovered from the downswing quickly and recovered a good chunk of the losses back in the past couple days. I hope to keep this mindset during future downswings.