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Busting Through Negative Conditioning

I receive many letters and emails asking questions such as How do I stop the negative thinking that happens so often out on the golf course? and I can play a great round up until the 14th hole and then all of a sudden things seem to go wrong for me, how do I prevent this from happening? and When I stand over short putts and easy approach shots how do I get over that feeling of nervousness and anxiousness? While these seemingly automatic inner reflexes take place as uninvited quests, they are signs of our own conditioning at work.
When a baby elephant is tied to a post by a 30-foot rope it learns that it can travel only so far before it feels the tugging sensation reminding it that, this is as far as it can go. When the elephant matures into a full-grown animal it will still only move 30 feet away from the stake even though it has tremendous power and strength. Why? Conditioning.
Its amazing how the mind / body / performance relationship operates. We literally condition ourselves over time to experience the stream of negativity that seems so easily triggered within us. Our minds and nervous systems act as imprinting mechanisms that weve conditioned to playback the exact recordings weve put into them. We live in what I call A prison of conditioning. Its a prison without any walls and we are all among its inmates.
This doesnt mean that we cant break free from the prison but its useful to know that it exists. How are we conditioned? Family, friends, society and so on have helped condition our beliefs, perceptions and attitudes over time. We condition ourselves by repeating these beliefs and perceptions until they become so ingrained they are just automatic ways of behavior and habit. They become unconscious reactions and responses to people, places and situations.
Take negativity for example. Psychologists suggest that 90% of the thoughts we experience today are recycled thoughts from yesterday and will be recycled again tomorrow. This means that we will probably perceive the same way, feel the same way and do the same things on a consistent basis. Talk about conditioning! The mind/body/performance relationship records and imprints these same thoughts and perceptions only to be replayed on a moments notice. What you record most often is what you will playback. If you set up your VCR to record the Masters on Sunday afternoon, would you expect to return home later that evening and see a football game on that tape? Of course not. Yet this is what many of us expect on the golf course. The mind/body/performance connection operates the same as the connection between your VCR and television. When you record negativity and you expect to playback something elseyouve set yourself up to fail. Its simply not possible.
Here are some steps you can take to break the prison cycle and begin recording something closer to what you want on the course.
Celebrate Your Successes
Why not imprint your tape with the things that feel good on the course? Start celebrating ALL of your successes no matter how trivial you might believe them to be. If you dont invest the energy into celebrating them, they wont be imprinted. If they are not there, they wont show up when you need them.
Find Ways To Feel Good
This may sound funny but how many ways do you have to feel good on the golf course? Youd be amazed at how many ways golfers DONT have. Theyve got plenty of ways to feel bad but not that many ways to feel good. If your only ways to feel good are performance related (hitting fairways, making putts, etc.) then begin looking for other ways to feel good about yourself and your game. If you dont find them, youre not recording them
Become a Private Investigator
Your conditioned reactions and responses arent necessarily true or accuratetheyre just the ones youve repeated over time. Begin investigating your conditioned ways of seeing, feeling and doing things. You might be surprised to discover that your conditioned way isnt necessarily accurate or the only way to perceive something.
The FlowZone is more often triggered when conditions within you are more favorable. When you begin to break negative conditioning you create more opportunities for yourself to succeed.
This is one prison break you wont get arrested for. Have fun!
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    Copyright 2004 David Breslow. David is the author of Wired To Win and offers a highly acclaimed Perform In The FlowZone' program for sports and business. 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). Also, review the new series of Performance Training Manuals available online! Contact: David Breslow at 847.681.1698 Email: or visit the web: For book orders call toll free: 1.888.280.7715