The secret inner game weapon (that no one talks about)

This is a mystery to me: There’s an inner game skill that’s every bit as important and powerful as cognitive control, but virtually no one talks about it.

I honestly don’t know why. It’s possible that it’s because they don’t think we can do anything about it, but if so, they’re wrong about that. We definitely can, and it makes a huge difference in our lives when we do.

In any case, that’s the subject of this week’s post.




  • The “secret” inner skill that’s every bit as powerful as cognitive control, but that no one talks about.
  • The profound emotional benefit that cognitive control simply can’t provide.
  • How to develop this important inner skill.
  • Watch/listen to get the full message.


1) The ACADEMY is OPEN! Registration is now open, and there’s a special $100 off launch offer, available through 10/5/18. Learn more and register at

2) Check out our podcast, The David Levin Show.

3) Free guide: “Three Things You Can Do Right Now To Start Loving Your Work (And Life) Again.” Visit to get yours today!

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Finished the Hellfire Club. Good enough. :-) Not much more to say.

Finished the Fixer by Bradley Tusk. Loved it. SO interesting and entertaining. A non-fiction page turner. How often can you say that? Highly recommended.

Started FAME by Justine Bateman. Loved it, but it’s pre-order. Also, it’s crazy expensive. $27, for an ebook. Never seen anything like it. Not sure what’s going on there. Hopefully it’s a typo, because I will not pay that much.

Sort of floundering around right now for something to read, otherwise. :-) Will let you know what I settle on.

[ transcript ]

Hey, it’s David Levin. Author of Raise Your Inner Game, co-author QBQ the Question Behind the Question, Founder of RYIG Academy.

I made a big point last week about the importance of cognitive control to your inner game, and it really can’t be overstated. When you can learn to direct and control your thoughts and attention, especially when you can shut them down and free yourself from them when you need to, it literally transforms your life, and in the very best ways.

But the more time I’ve spent working with the Raise Your Inner Game material, I’ve come to understand that impulse control, another of the core Inner Game skills, is equally important.

And that’s sort of a shocking discovery because ALL the other conversation about this topic—self-mastery, mindfulness—is all about cognitive control in one form or another.

Daniel Goleman’s book, FOCUS, was all about this, very explicitly. When you hear meditation teachers and advocates — Sam Harris, Dan Harris, the Headspace people — the focus is on stilling your thoughts and breaking free from this endless loop of thinking we get stuck in. It’s pure cognitive control. Eckhart Tolle, when he speaks of presence and moving “above thought”, it’s the same idea.

And I don’t mean to diminish it in any way. Cognitive control is incredibly powerful and important. But this one-sided focus on it misses the fact that impulse control can do the exact same thing—help us be more present and mindful—but it also helps in areas that cognitive control can’t.

So let me give you an example of this.

You’re in a meeting. The idea is to be present and pay attention, of course. But the reality is that your thoughts are elsewhere. You’re checked out, thinking about other things. The cognitive control solution is to notice your drifting thoughts and pull your attention back to the meeting, and it works. It brings you right back into the moment.

But how about this? You’re in the same meeting, but this time you get the urge to check your phone. The urge is not a thought, it’s more of an unconscious physical desire. You feel the pull, you reach for your phone. But the effect is the same—your attention goes elsewhere. So, if you can observe the impulse and resist it, it has the exact same effect as doing that with your thoughts. It brings you back into the moment.

You see? For the purpose of staying focused and present in the moment, impulse control is every bit as powerful as cognitive control.
It’s also every bit as necessary, because we are distracted by our impulses just as much as we are by our thoughts. But nobody talks about this, and when we focus only on the cognitive control aspect of our Inner Game, we miss a huge part of the problem, and a huge opportunity for improvement.

Because here’s the thing that impulse control does that cognitive control alone simply can’t, and this is really important: Developing impulse control gives a huge boost to our self-esteem.

Most of the things we do that make us feel bad about ourselves have to do with impulse control, or, a lack of impulse control. We get angry and say things we regret. We spend money that we really shouldn’t. We eat things we know we shouldn’t, and we eat when we shouldn’t.
Now, we tell ourselves we’re not going to do these things, but in the moment when the impulses arise, we give in, and we end up feeling ashamed of ourselves for it.
But as you develop impulse control, you’re able to make better choices in these moments. You’re able to control these unconscious drives. So, not only do you get the instant benefits of being present in the moment, you also start to feel better about yourself as a person, which for many people, myself included, is the most important thing to how they feel about their lives.

So hopefully I convinced you in the last post to work on developing cognitive control. Now I want to add impulse control to your list. It’s easy to do. At a practical level, the work is very similar to cognitive control. And it just makes a huge improvement in your life. I can’t say enough good things about it.

As far as how to do it, no surprise, I suppose, but Raise Your Inner Game ACADEMY is the best training available for it.
It’s totally clear, the tools are practical and easy to use. It’s just crazy effective for developing and strengthening impulse control. The book touches on it, too, but I go much deeper in the Academy on this than I do in the book. It’s one of my favorite things about the Academy compared to the book.

And also, to be clear, you don’t necessarily need training to do this. It’s such a simple skill, you can just start doing it. Start noticing impulses when they arise, and practice resisting them. It really is about that simple. But if you do want help and training, the Academy is the absolute best way to go. There’s nothing like it anywhere. It will help you like nothing else you’ve done. So I encourage you to give it a look., links are there to the information page. Everything you need to know is right there.

So that’s what I wanted to talk about in this post. Yes, of course, work on cognitive control for all the reasons we’ve talked about. But don’t stop there. You also want to work on impulse control. It is the surprising secret weapon of raising your inner game.

If you prefer listening to these posts in your podcast player, check out our podcast, the David Levin Show. iTunes. Google play. Been hearing great things from people about the show. Would love to have you subscribe to that.

If you’re not on our newsletter list, you can sign up for that at, too, so I can let you know about new posts and trainings when they come out.

Otherwise thank you. Keep up the good work. And I will talk to you next time.

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