“The Psychological Fear of Anxiety*
Life is full of choices. On the golf course, we have a multitude of choices as every golf shot is different. Most people are afraid of making the wrong choice. Some people become frozen, afraid to choose. Risk takers make a choice knowing that it can be the difference between success and failure, but that it will be a new and exciting learning experience.
Having a good mental game means changing your thinking to accept that you cannot know everything and cannot control the outcome of your game. All golfers want to win. What they don’t realize is that the more energy they put into winning, the less control they have. You can only control what is happening to you in the present moment.
Golf is not a sport where there is fear for your physical safety, even though some golfers have sustained physical harm to their bodies. But almost all golfers experience anxiety due to psychological factors. Psychological fear leads to tension, which is the ultimate swing destroyer.
GPA; golf performance anxiety is an agitated feeling aroused by an awareness of possible trouble. It is an uneasy feeling that something may happen contrary to your desires.
When you begin to feel anxious, your mind will bring up situations where you have experienced those fearful sensations in the past. Then you find yourself in a loop that escalates the fear. Fear is a sense that we are not in control.
Anxiety occurs when you project what you think is going to happen in the future. An example would be trying to break 100/90/80 for the first time. Or when you have a two-foot putt to win the hole for the team and you know everyone expects you to make it. Or adding up your score on the front nine, figuring what you need to shoot on the back nine to make a good score.
The most important thing you can do to relieve GPA is to keep your mind on your task by letting go of everything other than that. Trust the learnings that you have put into your subconscious mind.
- Be aware of your physical signals. Anxiety is the opposite of being loose and relaxed. Be aware of your body signals. Know what upsets you. Know what makes you feel fear, worry, anger or frustration. Most people think their feelings and aren’t aware of the physiological signals.
- Choose to change. After you are aware of your body signals, the next step is always to breathe deeply to slow down your mind to make a decision and take action to change. Anxiety is the enemy of athletes. Decide that anxiety serves no useful purpose in your game of golf. Choose to release the feeling as soon as possible.
- Dissociate from the feeling. When you are feeling anxious, you are associating your thoughts with the feeling. To dissociate means to detach or disconnect your thoughts and mentally replace them with thoughts of what you do want.
- Enjoy the release of tension. Feel the calm and relaxation of your body. Enjoy getting control of your relaxed mind and body. Enjoy hitting the shot with ease.”
*Excerpts are from Chapter 9: Performance Anxiety; “THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances”
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