You often hear how important it is to be positive yet it seems for so many, negativity is far easier to come by than positivity. Jack is a development tour golfer who I spoke to last year. After his round he was disappointed with himself and told me it was a poor round because he double-bogeyed a par four and missed a couple of birdie putts. His description of the round was filled with frustration and disappointment. I discovered later from a friend of his that Jack shot a 3-under for the round, had several birdies and an eagle! Did Jack fail to mention these things to me? Yes.
It is a common tendency to focus on the negative and almost disregard the positive things we do. We actually learn to look for the negative and because its such a strong habit; the positive is ignored. Most of us have been doing this for a long time both on and off the golf course. We are usually our own worst critic and can find something wrong in almost any shot; the good ones and the not so good ones. As long as we continue to focus on the negative we will create additional pressure and tension to our game.
It is easy to get upset and frustrated when we miss a short birdie putt but when we make one we dont get all that excited about it. The intensity of our disappointment overshadows any interest or excitement we may have over something positive we do. Why do we do this so easily? It may be because we think that if we focus on the negative it will teach us something. This may sound good but for many people, focusing on the negative turns into more pressure. We may also do it because we find no reason to enjoy or celebrate our good shots; after all, whats the big deal, were supposed to hit them, right?
Heres the problem with this kind of approach. When we focus with greater intensity on the negativity we reinforce that in our visual memory AND in our emotional memory. When negative pictures and feelings are accumulated enough over time, nervousness and anxiety builds when we are faced with that same shot. Its as if weve created a shark when there isnt one.
The solution and the answer takes practice and repetition. After all, how many times have you repeated the negative response over the years? It has probably been well rehearsed for some time. As with any change, awareness is essential. Start to become aware of:
What words you use to describe a situation. Are your first words something negative about a shot, hole or round or yourself? You may be surprised how automatically this happens.
Change your first words to something positive. When you aware you can switch to more positive first words on the spot i.e. I hit a great approach shot on this hole; then I just missed the birdie putt.
Celebrate your successes! This is a conscious effort on your part to LOOK for things you did well on each hole. Find something to feel good about on any shot, hole or round. If you listen to Tiger Woods or Vijay Singh, they are very willing to tell you the truth if they played a poor shot or hole. Yet, at the same time they are also willing to find something positive about themselves and the round.
Cut yourself a break. Slamming yourself doesnt help your game and only adds tension and frustration. Has this ever really helped you play better? Give up the notion that somehow YOU are supposed to be the perfect golfer on the course today and that youre not allowed to hit a poor shot, get a bad break or not play well. None of that matters in comparison to how you RESPOND to those situations!
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Copyright 2005 David Breslow. David is the author of Wired To Win and offers the highly acclaimed FlowZone and Resilience Factor programs for athletes of all levels and business professionals to help them adapt and excel in any conditions. His unique approach is designed to affect real change from a root cause perspective helping people break ineffective patterns. David has appeared on The Golf Channel, ESPN radio, etc. For more programs/services/products or sign up for a free newsletter (write newsletter in subject box). Contact: David Breslow 847.681.1698 Email: David@theflowzone.net or visit the web: www.theflowzone.net. For book orders call toll free: 1.888.280.7715.