Hey folks! As of writing this, it’s the second day of the Mythic Invitational and I have to say, I’ve been loving watching Arena on coverage and I’m excited to see it play a big role in digital competitive Magic: The Gathering going forward. I hope you’ve been enjoying it as well.

This is the second article in a series I’m doing specifically on the mental aspects of grinding toward Mythic on Arena. In the first article, we discussed several things you can do to help yourself mentally prepare for the grind. Today, I’m going to show you how to maintain that healthy mindset and hold onto your precious sanity.

To illustrate the importance of maintaining a great mindset during the grind to Mythic, I’d like to provide an example of what can happen when you don’t maintain a great mindset during the process. Here’s a story shared by another reader in a previous article:

A Facebook post from a disgruntled player.

In my own experience, slugging out wins and moving up the ranks became much more difficult once I hit Gold. From there, my progress involved often taking one step forward and then two steps back, winning one match or two only to go on and lose the next match or two. Naturally, this can get frustrating and, if you don’t cope with it appropriately, can lead to a major downward spiral such as the story above.

To maintain a great mindset each time you play and during the overall process of grinding to Mythic, let’s take a look at some of the key things you can do to help you to do that.

1) Be aware of your inner-dialogue. Control your self-talk.

It is impossible for me to overstate just how important this one is. Every single one of us has that voice inside of our head that’s constantly chirping away, whether we realize it or not. And, most of the time, we don’t. The average person has anywhere from 50,000 to 70,000 thoughts per day. That’s anywhere from 35-50 thoughts per minute. Most of them are occurring purely subconsciously, beyond your direct control and awareness. But you have the power to “flip the switch” and take control of your thought processes consciously and purposefully, to intentionally dictate how you speak to yourself and how positive your thoughts are. And it’s extremely important you do.

Psychologically, we know that emotional reactions are largely driven by thought processes. Your thoughts tend to play a major role in how you emotionally react. The perfect example of this is Reid Duke. If you’ve ever watched Reid play, especially in his YouTube videos online, he’s almost always positive and optimistic, even in the most dire and difficult situations. You rarely ever hear him get stuck in a negative thought pattern or overly indulge in destructive thinking. As a consequence, you never see him tilt off.

Each day grinding to Mythic will test your mind. The emotional states you find yourself in, and how you react to your experiences during the process, will be largely dictated by the kinds of inner-dialogue and self-talk you’re creating throughout. Be aware of and, most importantly, in control of how you’re talking to yourself and the kind of dialogue you’re creating around the different challenges and obstacles you experience. That’s going to play a huge role in determining how you react to them emotionally and whether you have the mindset to push forward and overcome them.

2) Celebrate small victories and achievements along the way.

In a recent article, I wrote on how to maintain confidence on a daily basis. One of the things I talked about was the importance of acknowledging and celebrating small victories. When you eventually reach Mythic and achieve that big, breakthrough success, what will that success be a consequence of? It will be a consequence of the small, incremental successes you accumulated along the way each day. It starts by earning a few notches in a tier. That small victory progresses into moving up a few tiers. That small victory progresses into moving up a few ranks. That small victory eventually gets you to Mythic. Every forward notch, every forward tier, and every forward rank is a small victory you need to celebrate and feel good about.

Not only that—you also need to acknowledge and celebrate the small “performance victories” as well. Did you sequence your plays in the correct order to win a game? Acknowledge that and feel good about it. Did you manage to navigate your way through an extremely dense board state and come out with the advantage? Acknowledge that and feel good about it. Did you make the right decisions sideboarding and win a match because of it? Acknowledge that and feel good about it. This helps to keep your confidence high and your mindset in a positive state throughout the process.

3) See every match as a growth opportunity.

In the end, it’s not really about winning or losing. It’s about learning and improving, because that’s where winning and success eventually comes from. While grinding toward Mythic, you’re going to play a ton of individual games and matches. Every single one of them is filled with numerous growth opportunities, chances to have your weaknesses exposed so that you can improve upon them, and chances to experience game situations you’re unfamiliar with so that you can increase your overall skill capacity as you move forward.

A great habit to get into during this process is to write things down. Take notes from each match—what you did well, what you didn’t do so well, and the areas of your game you need to focus on improving as you go. Also, take notes on the various matchups you play against. What cards do you side out, and which do you side in? Which cards do you cast in certain spots, and which don’t you cast in others? What are the cards you want to look out for in certain matchups and be mindful of, and which cards aren’t as important as they may seem?

Lastly, and equally as important, try to learn as much as you can about yourself. You can learn a lot about yourself during this process as well. Do you finding yourself tilting off too much overall, or only against certain matchups? Are you able to stay focused and concentrated throughout an entire game without being unduly distracted? Do you find yourself getting too emotionally hung up on whether you win or lose? Do you get too high when you win and too low when you lose? Whatever it may be, try to be conscious of yourself and be on the lookout for areas of you as a person and player where you can grow.

By seeing every match as a growth opportunity, it gives you a way to take something positive from every match, which is really important, especially when you lose or lose consecutive matches. This helps keep your mind from ending up in the gutter as you push towards Mythic.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll see you in the final article!