I am sure that you have heard the following mantra for life – what the mind can perceive, the mind can believe, and the mind can achieve. Have you noticed how true this is? What is in your mind, your thoughts, your memories, and the things you know to be “right” are simply your own perceptions of reality.
You and I could be standing at a junction and you see the traffic light is red and I see it to be green. It all depends upon the angle from which you are observing the lights. It depends on your perspective. You could, of course, choose to walk to the other side and view it from a different angle.
I would like you to take one minute now to carry out a simple task. Wherever you are at this moment in time, take one minute to look around you and notice, really notice, what around you is the colour blue. Notice as many things that you can that contain the color blue. Spend a full minute really noticing everything that is blue…and then read on.
Now, without looking around again, can you list what is the color red? This simple exercise should demonstrate what happens in everybody’s mind ALL of the time. Our observations and the judgments which we make of “reality” are shaped and colored by what we are focusing on, by what we expect to see or happen. Thus our perceptions are not only shaped by the angle of observation but also by our expectation, our underlying beliefs we see what we expect to see. This is true of everything in life, not just golf. But in golf the effect is so very noticeable!
As Kendal McWade, the genius behind Instinctive Golf, states “Golf balls always do what they are told”. Now, if you are telling yourself that you are a bad putter, what are you telling the ball to do? Putting can so ably demonstrate the doubt and fear that holds us back in everyday life emotions which can literally stop us in our tracks.
A child is not born with fear. We learn fear. Sometimes fear is a useful emotion and protects us from danger, but let’s face it, a putt shouldn’t be fearful. Even Tiger says that when he was a teenager he would hit the first putt so solidly that if it missed it might go five feet past the hole, and would simply rap it back into the hole without worry or fear…but that as he has got older he isn’t quite as fearless. Fears can creep into even the strongest of minds…if you allow them to do so.
So how do we remove fear when it’s not needed? How can we change state easily and quickly? Awareness is all important. Most of us are not really aware of the thoughts that are running through our minds. And yet your thoughts create your emotions and direct your actions (and the club and the ball). Let us try another exercise. Stop reading and spend the next minute just observing your thoughts. Notice just how many thoughts pass through your mind in one minute.
How many did you have? I bet there were quite a few. How many thoughts do you have in the very short time in which you swing a golf club? Or, more precicely, how many thoughts do you try to have whilst swinging the club? And how many thoughts run through your mind as you are setting up to the ball, be it for a tee shot or for a putt? Five, ten, fifteen?
Once you become aware of these myriad thoughts, it is easy to understand why the outcome of the shot can be unpredictable to say the least. All of those thoughts can be likened to ants running through your mind, each competing for your attention and focus, thereby taking your awareness away from what really matters – the ball and the target. These two things never change; or, at least, they shouldn’t change, assuming you have taken the time to select an exact target.
So the question is “how do we stop these ant-like thoughts from crawling all over our minds?” Cast your mind back to when you were a child and the answer should come to you quite easily. Children’s emotions change quick as a flash, crying one moment and laughing the next. They change state easily, quickly, INSTANTANEOUSLY; you and I were born with this ability; it’s an instinctive part of us. When a child falls over and scrapes their knees, they cry, and what does the parent do? The adult offers a sweet, they DISTRACT their attention away from the knees that are hurting.
The easiest way in which to displace a negative thought (or a selection of negative thoughts which are competing for your attention) is to give your mind something clear and precise to do. Give your mind something meaningful, interesting and relevant to do, something that is fascinating.
Fear is a function of either the past or the future. Fear does not exist if you are focusing on the now. Think about that for a moment. What are you afraid of on the golf course? The putt not rolling in? That’s in the future. The memory of the last shot sailing into the trees? That’s in the past. Making a fool of yourself? That’s in the future.
So when you are approaching a shot on the golf course, allow the “child” in you to surface – the part of you that’s fascinated, curious, the part of you that’s “in the now”. I was playing with a friend the other day and when we reached the green and saw where my ball was I said something to the effect of “oh, wow! This is an interesting one!” My playing partner’s response was “is that a new reframe for “Oh Hell?”!
Try it…and notice the effect. Because if you are “in the now” you will be aware of what you need to be aware of – the ball and the target. And if you are sizing up the situation with child-like wonder and fascination, you will be thinking “how can I get this in” or something to that effect, rather than being a puppet manipulated by A-N-Ts (Automatic Negative Thoughts).
Being “in the now” is a wonderful place to be. It allows you to be aware of what is really happening around you, to appreciate each moment for what it is. It allows you to notice when a rhododendron leaf glistens in the sunshine, or water sparkling as if thousands of stars are twinkling on its surface, and so on. It allows you to notice the feel of the fairway beneath your feet, the feel of the club in your hands, to notice the feel of your swing. (And wouldn’t greater feel come in handy?) Being in the now allows you to enjoy the time between shots, remaining relaxed and peaceful; it allows you to fully enjoy the game of golf, AND the game of life. If you aren’t in the now, you aren’t really living.
Another wonderful thing about being in the now is that you reap the rewards immediately – literally in the now. So many people say that it is impossible to change without hard work and effort. What can be hard about noticing what’s happening now? What can be hard when you are interested and curious and fascinated? When you are in the now, past beliefs cannot hold you back.
Are you ready to control your golfing destiny? Are you ready to make a commitment to yourself to play golf “in the now”? Are you willing to allow the natural instinct for wonder and fascination to come to the forefront of your mind? Are you ready to enjoy your golf and play better golf than ever before? Because you are the only person who can choose your thoughts. All you have to do is to choose to do so.
Roseanna Leaton, specialist in golf hypnosis cds and hypnosis mp3 downloads.