I remember as a beginner the hardest part of learning to hit the golf ball was getting all the parts of my body moving together. This was an unnatural movement as it was done sideways like hitting a baseball, but with a much smaller ball at my feet. It wasn’t until much later that I discovered that it was my thinking about how to accomplish this that kept me from doing it consistently. As I progressed, I learned that the harder or faster I swung, the more the synchronicity I desired disappeared. And because of this the ball didn’t go as far because my timing was off. Learning to swing at my own personal natural swing tempo was the solution.
I learned the way to prepare my mind was with a consistent preshot routine on every shot whether it was a tee shot or a putt. I think of the preshot routine as a series of actions that move me from behind the ball to the place over the ball where I am ready to swing. When you are concentrating well, you are not thinking. You are totally absorbed in the routine process of getting the ball to the target. When you use the same routine each time, you then have control of your thinking and send good messages to your body.
A mind that is busy, restless or indecisive will find it difficult to concentrate on an activity. The first step toward improved concentration would be to quiet your mind. When it is your turn to hit, turn on your focus by going into your established pre-shot routine to keep your mind from wandering. Begin the routine by taking deep abdominal breaths to relax and slow down your thinking mind.
Another valuable lesson I learned was to let go of my attachment to the outcome. When I stopped thinking about how I was doing, and the possible score, I focused on playing one shot at a time without any expectation of what the number of strokes taken would mean. I stopped thinking about how to swing. I stopped thinking of what others might say about me or my game. I stopped thinking about having to make a certain score to maintain my low handicap. I stopped thinking about beating others. I stopped trying to win. I played for my own enjoyment.
Love playing the game of golf more than you love the outcome.
As I let go of these mental blocks, I began to trust my abilities. I believed that I knew enough to play at my peak potential. I believed that I deserved to have good things happen on the golf course. I believed that I deserved to be a winner. And I did win, again and again. Miraculous things happened on the golf courses that were beyond my fondest dreams.
I returned to the state of loving the game for what it is, a compelling game full of ups and downs, twists and turns. Love is a unique life force energy that motivates us. Without the love, it is just dedication. Without the love, it can feel like an all consuming work effort. Love is what makes it easy. Love holds our attention in the present. It was no longer satisfaction for my ego.
I learned to let go of self-judgment. When you think about how you are doing, or how to do it, you are judging yourself and your performance under the guise of helping your game. When you judge yourself you are likely to feel anxious, guilty, embarrassed or angry. These feelings will ultimately sabotage your golf game, lower your self esteem and keep you from being successful.
Judgment is the comparison between how something seems and how we think it should be. We would like to believe that we could hit every golf shot perfectly. And when we don’t do that, we feel frustrated, embarrassed and humiliated, and reject ourselves because we feel inadequate. And so we pretend to be what we think we should be (the perfect golfer) by demeaning ourselves with words or physical actions of disgust. In other words, we pretend to be what we are not (perfect), because we are afraid someone else will notice that we are not what we pretend to be.
The way we judge ourselves is the strongest Judge there is. When we miss a shot in front of other people, we try to deny the mistake and cover it up with excuses and rationalizing why it happened. To be a champion golfer, you need to seek your own approval, not the approval of others.
To maintain our balance and composure it is necessary to look at the game of golf/life in a different perspective. We need to forgive ourselves for being human, for making mistakes. This is the answer to Judgment. It requires a change of attitude and a new belief system. Golf is management of imperfection. Each shot is a story. When it is over, you begin a new story. Instead of blaming yourself for your mistakes, learn from them so you won’t repeat them. When we are “in the zone” and playing at our peak performance level we are not learning, we are just enjoying the experience.
Become a magician! Use your thoughts and words and pictures to create the life and golf game that you desire. Let go of judgments that sabotage your game and put you into an internally self-created prison. Give yourself permission to enjoy the game of golf with its ups and downs, with its perfect shots and imperfect shots, with its humiliating situations and its joyous moments! Remember that golf is a game where an inch can make the difference between total disaster and absolute perfection! See the round in its entirety. Don’t be trapped by a few mishits into judging your whole performance by them. Reinforce and enjoy the good shots.
Peak performing athletes rarely put themselves down. They talk to themselves positively about what they are attempting to create. They change past negative messages that come up into positive empowering ones. This is a part of their mental training program. They repeat positive mental affirmations and training routines until they are wired into their brains, body and spirit and become a conditioned response.
You are your most important critic. Nothing is more critical than the opinion you have of yourself. What you say to yourself in your inner mind is the most important conversation you will ever have. You become confident by affirming yourself.
Keep doing your best. If you always do your best, there is no way the Judge within can find you guilty or blame you. When you give it your best effort, you learn to accept yourself. Practice, learn from your mistakes and look honestly at the results. This increases your awareness of your Self.
Focus on the good that you want to create in your golf game and more good will come to you. This is the Universal Law of “like attracts like.” Be your own best coach. Encourage and treat yourself as well as you do the others in your foursome. Let go of all your unreal self assessments in which you find yourself in any way inadequate that comes from never measuring up to being perfect. Accept and love yourself more than anyone ever loved you.
Golf is a game in which we have to play our mistakes. Learn to forgive yourself for your imperfection of being human. Instead, congratulate yourself for what you did well during the round of golf. Gratitude is the answer to forgiveness. You probably made fewer mistakes than you thought.
There are hundreds of other lessons that I learned from the game of golf. You can access them on the www.pmi4.com Positive Mental Imagery website, on the www.pmi4.com/blog weekly blog or “THE HEART OF GOLF, Access Your Supreme Intelligence for Peak Performances.”
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