This is the last part to this emotional control series of lessons, but who knows, I’m always reading and researching new things to inform you about in this area in the future. Anxiety on the golf course stems from all of our difficult emotions. We fear them and we fear the perception of failure. This is what causes the anxiety which could be just a mask over the real fears.
Well the good news is, there is something we can do about it on the golf course when we’ve lost control in our mental game:
In part three I said that our subconscious mind is the realm of all of our emotions and that it reacts symbolically. This means that it does things and acts when it is presented with something that triggers one of its automatic responses. For example, a lot of people will suddenly change their attitude when they see a person in a uniform of authority, such as a police officer uniform or maybe a military uniform. Their reaction could be a positive or negative one, but all the same when it all comes down to it, it’s just clothing.
Throughout each and every day we subconsciously react to things such as logos, flags, monuments etc. The point I’m trying to make is that your body can instantly manifest a physical change without any conscious effort, simply by being exposed to a symbol of some sort and it’s all controlled at the subconscious level. Having this knowledge, psychology and NLP have come up with some ways to take advantage of this for creating positive states and change. I’ve found it to be useful on the golf course as well.
So let’s say you’ve just lost your cool on the last shot, but the next hole coming up is very important. You now know from reading my last lesson (lesson 3) that there are chemical processes at work in your body and so you need something strong, straight away, as an antidote to turn your mental state back around. One suggestion I have for you is to bring something with you in your golf bag. It could be something like a special handkerchief, it could be your lucky hat, or it could be any item that you feel is your symbol for a creating a resourceful state. Something that you had with you that you associate with a successful achievement from your past (an anchor to that experience), like a trophy. Your body has the ability to instantly change its chemistry if you’re really good at communicating with your subconscious mind.
Studies of people who display multiple personalities have shown that these people instantly change such biological functions as: brain-wave patterns, blood flow patterns, muscle tone, heart rate and even allergies (from the book Holographic Universe) when their personalities change. That is how amazingly powerful our subconscious mind is. You can turn off the anxiety as fast as you turned it on.
You possess this same skill. It’s just a matter of thinking about it in advance and using some sort of symbol/trigger to help you get there when you need to. How about bringing a picture of someone special with you to pull out when you need it. Or a picture of yourself in a great moment. It doesn’t even need to be a good moment, just something that’s has a very strong memory attached to it that can help to at least get you back to neutral. This is all very, very possible and if you’re one who is prone to letting negative emotions get to you and affect your game, this is a very good strategy. You can do it very easily and all on the sly by just going into your bag and opening your wallet for second and taking a look at that picture right there on the golf course. But it could take some time of repeating this trigger before it takes full effect of being able to work, so do this often – even when you’re playing great. Actually it’s a good idea to do this all the time with your great shots, then it will really be an anchor to your playing good golf. If you only use it when you need to on your bad shots then eventually your symbol or trigger could take on a whole new meaning for you and you’ll associate it to your bad shots. So use it regularly, especially on your good shots as well. I strongly suggest you integrate a good trigger into your pre-shot routine. You wouldn’t notice it, but many top pros use physical triggers in their pre-shot routine (subconsciously or consciously – either way, they do it).
The last thing I want to leave you with on this subject is that we can become addicted to the anxiety and emotions. Yep, no kidding, just like an addictive drug. Some of you may be surprised to learn that you can actually become addicted to feeling angry or frustrated. Why in the world would we do that? The answer is the same as why do people like to go see horror movies? It makes them feel alive, they get an adrenaline boost. It helps them express passion that they may otherwise be lacking. It’s not that we consciously WANT to be angry. It’s just that those darn peptides cause the cells to go crazy, vibrate, move. If you want to see a funny explanation of that in a movie I recommend you see “What the bleep do we know.”
Anyway, again, it comes down to awareness. Take an honest look at yourself and ask yourself if you’re in the habit of getting angry. Can you play a full round of golf without losing it? Play your next golf game with only that goal in mind (to stay in complete control of your mental state), and don’t be at all concerned about your score. Then, at night when you do your mental practice and self-hypnosis or accelerated learning visualizations, see yourself in complete control of all your emotions and mental state. In your mind play that day’s round of golf just like you see Retief Goosen at a major. Rehearse it regularly just like the astronauts did before the first mission to the moon.
Remember, Winners win in advance!
About the author: Craig Sigl is golf’s anti-practice expert. For years, he struggled to break 80 like so many amateur golfers. After throwing his clubs in the corner of his garage and giving up, he discovered golf’s secrets that changed his life and renewed his game. A year later he scored 77 on a championship course. He then went on to drive his handicap down to a 5, make a hole in one, and record his first under par round…all without practicing. He is now a mental toughness trainer and teaches his methods to golfers worldwide. To learn more about breaking 80 without practice go here now.