When you “hope” that something will happen, you give up control of the situation. Telling yourself, “I will/ hope to make this putt,” puts your thoughts in the future. Stay in the present moment by telling yourself, “I am making this putt.”
Staying in the present is the opposite of what Christina Kim had been doing in tournaments before the State Farm Classic tournament. She had been worrying about making the Soldheim Cup team. When she was not picked, she let go of that pressure and finished tied for second at the Safeway Classic and second at Springfield. She described her change of heart as, “I was focused so much on the Soldhein Cup that I was putting too much stress on myself and too much pressure….. (These past two weeks), I just had an awesome time. I had a blast.”
Worry is a state of mind that focuses on an outcome in the future. Nothing was ever accomplished by worrying, except to cause anxiety for the person doing the worrying. It is like carrying around an extra burden. When you are having fun you are focused in the moment and the game is easy.
There are two types of situations in life and in your golf game; those that you can change and those that you cannot change. If you are worrying about what you can’t change, you are wasting valuable energy that could be used to move in a more positive direction. Let go of what you can’t change and concentrate on taking an active role to create what you can control.
The easiest way to keep these fear feelings out of our minds is to realize and to accept that we cannot really control anything. In golf, as in life, we can only do the best we can with the knowledge we have at that time. You can choose to focus on distractions, trouble, past missed shots, lack of confidence, what others are doing, or the score. Or you can choose to focus on the best that can happen in the present moment. What you focus and think about the most you will attract into your life. Keep all your thoughts focused on what you want to create.
The strongest way to prevent doubt and worry from coming into your thoughts is through continuous positive and reassuring self-talk (PMI Newsletter May 2002) and by repeating affirmations (PMI Newsletter August 2002). An excellent example of this is the children's story about "The Little Engine that Could" that kept saying "I think I can, I think I can."
And when you let go of expectations, or your attachment to the results, the golf game becomes easier. There will be no room for doubt, fear or worry to develop and to grow. It takes both mental practice and determination to change old beliefs and patterns of thinking. Once you change these old habits, it is amazing how much more effortless life and your golf game can be! Listening to the PMI Fearless Golf CD will replace your fears with a new mental habit of confidence.
A Louis Harris poll showed that upwards of 50% of Americans experience their major failure in life as a sports failure. For golfers, these fears are expressed as:
1. Fear of Failure. Golfers are afraid to make mistakes in front of others fearing what they might be thinking about your performance. Fear of making mistakes also causes golfers to play tentatively or to "steer" the club.
2. Fear of Success. Unconsciously golfers can be afraid of success because it adds pressure to perform shooting lower scores. Most people are prepared to deal with failure, but not for success, and are more afraid of it.
3. Fear of Being Judged. From childhood we wanted our parents' and peers’ approval. Seeking this constant approval can keep golfers from their peak performances because they are continually judging themselves and others.
4. Fear of Embarrassment. Most people don't like to experience the feeling of public embarrassment (looking foolish) over making a mistake. Golfers need to forgive themselves for their errors and learn from them, and not be concerned with the opinions of the other golfers or what you think they might be thinking about you.
5. Fear of Rejection. Many golfers feel that others will reject them if they do not play well enough. Rejection of you personally does not mean you are not worthy, or skilled or desirable. It just means that a person or group of people views something differently than we do.
6. Fear of Losing. Some golfers can't stand to lose and become anxious and tense, which interferes with their performance.
7. Fear of Not Being Perfect. When golfers want to win so badly they are afraid of making mistakes (not being perfect), their perfectionism interferes with playing up to their potential.
8. Fear of the Unknown. This is the greatest fear of all. Life is full of unknowns. When you keep your thoughts in the present moment, you don't allow the fear of anything that happened in the past to influence you. If you don't allow your thoughts to move into the future and imagine the "what ifs," you won’t experience anxiety. The "fears" that we thought might happen, more often than not, don't happen. If it does you are usually more prepared for it than when you worried about its enormity.
To overcome these fears, adopt the following golf mental strategies:
Ø Focus on the process of creating the shot. Let go of expectations.
Ø Stay in the present. Don't let your mind wander into the past or future.
Ø Give 100% to the preparation (preshot routine) of every shot.
Ø Breathe and relax all fear thoughts out of your mind.
Ø Practice tolerance. You will like yourself a lot more, and so will others.
Ø Be brave. Courage is acting with fear, not without it.
Ø Believe in your ability.
Ø Focus on the reasons to succeed.
Successful people have fears, anxieties and doubts. Even though they feel insecure, they use their insecurity as a motivating factor to push themselves twice as hard.
Everybody makes mistakes. Everybody fails. Everybody takes his knocks, but the highly successful keep coming back. They stay in the game.
When you try too hard to win, you will put pressure on yourself that results in poor play. When you have fun playing the game and let go of winning and all potential outcomes, you will probably play well.
Golf and life is about you. Play golf for your own enjoyment. Giving 100% effort to your performance makes you a winner, regardless of the score. Believe in yourself and your ability.
Entrain Your Heart & Brain for Peak Performance!
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