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The Art of Self-Criticism

Self-criticism can be an ally or a vicious enemy.
The art of being hard on ourselves is legend. Id say over 95% of my clients have said theyve judged, criticized and attacked themselves harshly at times and it has definitely affected their game.
Did you ever notice that human beings are the only species on the planet that does this? Did you ever see a cat or dog do it? Nobody abuses us like we abuse ourselves and this can be especially true on the golf course and weve turned it into an art form.
Arthur Ashe, the late and great Tennis champion once said:
You are never playing an opponent, you are playing yourself, your own high standards and when you reach your limits; that is real joy!
Your own high standards can be both a curse and a blessing depending on how you respond to the situations youre in. Unfortunately, many golfers use their high personal standards as a springboard to allow the voice of the inner critic to surface again and again. The critic within us sits in waiting for any opportunity to lash out and attack. It lurks underneath looking for situations that trigger you to harshly judge yourself and belittle yourself and it can be draining, mentally, physically and emotionally. Sometimes the critic turns outward as well. When this happens we look to blame circumstances and other people for our poor results. In his press conference after losing a lead and a playoff in the British Open, Sergio Garcia noted some criticisms of himself and more criticisms of the conditions he found himself in.
One should never criticize his own work except in a fresh and hopeful mood. The self-criticism of a tired mind is suicide. Charles Horton Cooley
Harsh self-criticism is the ultimate set-up for failure and a sure fire way to suffer on the golf course.
We display our own condemnation when we think or say:

  • Im not good enough

  • I cant believe I keep missing this shot

  • I never shoot a good score

  • Im a failure

We demonstrate criticism toward others or situations when we think or say:

  • Its their fault I hit a poor shot

  • The course was playing slow today and I dont like to wait

  • I wasnt happy with my playing partner

When we begin pointing the finger of criticism at others we have given them the power to control our game.
Here are some suggestions to consider when the critic appears at your door:
  • Remember: The critic is only PART of you; not all of you

When the critic shows up it tends to overwhelm everything else. However, in reality the critic is only one small part of you. Put the critic in its place!
  • Substitute the word I with the word That

When the critic shows up it tends to get very personal. Get rid of the word I and replace it with that. For example; instead of Im no good change it to that was no good. Try saying both statements right now. Notice the difference in your internal reaction to the two statements?
  • Embrace your critic!

Rather than fight it or resist it; why not embrace it? Its the resistance that causes the problem, not the criticism itself. It becomes a problem when you judge it and fight with it.
To your best golf!

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    Copyright 2007 All Rights Reserved. David Breslow is a national speaker, author and Performance Coach. His book, Wired To Win is available at 888.280.7715 or online by clicking here. His clients include professional athletes (PGA, LPGA, other sports) as well as Business Organizations. He brings a fresh, direct, no-nonsense revolutionary approach to unleashing Human Performance helping people make quicker and more powerful shifts in attitude, behavior, action and impact on others. His articles are read by over 400,000 people per month on The Golf Channel website and David frequently speaks to organizations of all sizes who want to create real shifts in how people, think, feel and perform every day. For more info on E-Books, Free Monthly TeleSeminars, One on One Coaching and Presentations; please visit: or email: or call: 847.681.1698.