This week I’ve returned to playing Elden Ring. Movement, combat and management of weapons, armour and spells, is all handled by a “controller”1. Games will generally ease you into which button to press when but after a while you end up not having to think about what to do and you just do it.

The thing is, every game is different. So as you change from an unnamed Tarnished in Elden Ring to Frey in Forspoken or Aloy in Horizon Forbidden West there are new controls and systems to use.

Going back to an earlier game takes a lot less time than you think. Muscle memory clicks in and before long you are back up to speed. In my book that’s pretty amazing. Physiologically it’s a laying down and strengthening of neural pathways in the brain.

What works for us in gaming can work against us in conversation. “Muscle memory” takes us down the same repeated conversations with their associated emotions and identical results. But just as the controller memory from one game can be replaced with another through conscious effort, we can do the same with our conversational patterns. It involves being aware of what’s happening and then making a change. Unlike gaming though, the impact may not be immediately obvious (using the crouch button from one game to attack in another will quickly lead to “game over”).

In your next conversation, instead of thinking what to say next, divert that part of your brain to observing what is happening within you and how little control you are exhibiting. That will show you the lever to change.o


  1. If you’re not familiar with a controller console for a Playstation 5 or Xbox, you can view the Elden Ring button mapping at