Stop before you throw your golf club
Controlling Your Emotions on the Golf Course Part 3
Last time, I gave you my confession for a time I threw a golf club (my putter after missing an easy 4 foot birdie putt). Yes, I was and am ashamed to say it, but, give me some credit though as I did take my own advice and stay in the feedback loop using my cybernetic mechanism toward my goal of getting my handicap down to 2. In other words, I didn’t just say to myself that it was an isolated incident and that I could get total control of my emotions no problem from then on. Oh no, after the round, looking back at what happened, I became aware of my flaws as an imperfect human just as all of us are. I’m not perfect and neither is anyone else. We’re all on a journey of learning toward reaching our goals and as long as you keep learning and adjusting, you’ll keep advancing.
O.k., good, what next? What if this happens again? What will I do?
In the last article, to reiterate, it is best to prevent this sort of thing than to recover from it, right? Ok, good, you’ve got that. So after I came to that conclusion, I went on another book-reading binge to get some answers. I first went back through my NLP training manual to find help.
I think the first thing for us to know is that the unconscious mind is the domain of all of our emotions. What is an emotion really? According to Daniel Goleman, they are, in essence, “impulses to act, the instant plans for handling life that evolution has instilled in us.” His book Emotional I.Q. is a fascinating read and describes the actions that follow each of our emotions and their purpose.
It’s a bodily reaction, a release of a pattern of molecules, or chemicals if that is easier to understand. This is all controlled by our unconscious mind and is triggered by our senses taking in something and then it being filtered to become our internal representation of that event. It all happens automatically, in our unconscious because of the way we have shaped our internal representations over the years through our culture, experiences, upbringing, personality, etc.
These molecules get sent throughout the body from release points all over the body, not just the mind, and bind with cells to cause them to take an action that is appropriate for that emotion. This from the book: The Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert phd.
The big thing to know about this for golf, is that once this happens, it takes awhile for these molecules that bind (ligands) to unlock from the receptor sites of our cells. So no matter how determined you are to come back to normal after an outburst, like when I threw my club that day, I was up against a chemical process that just takes time to normalize, if I let it.
So what should I have done differently given all this science stuff? Well, the next hole I played was a par 3 about 220 yards. A tough hole yes. I usually play it with my 4-wood that takes a full swing and very good contact to make it there. Normally, I play that hole with confidence and I focus just on swinging it freely like I do with my driver. I pick my spot on the huge green and have the confident idea before I hit that I have the potential to birdie this hole like every other one. But this time, unbeknownst to me, all those chemicals were locked onto my cells into a pattern that was getting me physically ready for a confrontation (which resulted from my anger on the last hole). This prevented me from my normal swing having much chance, and as a result, I hit a very poor shot that went way right resulting in a terrible lie and approach angle.
What should I have done? I should have gone to my next club up, my 3-wood, choked down a little, used a more compact swing that has less chance for error and doesn’t require the finer touch, and played the hole far more conservatively. I should have used my go-to shot. The hole had a huge front opening that makes it a very easy chip up if you miss short. That’s where my miss should have been if there was going to be one. The object of the game for me on that hole should have been to just get through this hole with no more than a bogey and a good chance of par; to just survive my unresourceful state. To wait out the chemicals returning to normal. Instead, I got lucky to get a double, continued to be p.o’d, went to the next hole, a par 5, and again played it like I normally do (going for it in 2) and ended up with a triple!
Many golfers, once they lose their cool, they think they have to “make up” for their choke and they start “going for it” for everything. They take more chances than normal. They get all fired up and vow to erase that last miss with a birdie. Like when you lose a bet at gambling you think you should go double or nothing. But, we really should be doing the opposite after a bad negative experience.
We need to scale back, retreat, and regroup so that we can come back strong after our body chemistry returns to normal, which it will sooner if you use this strategy. Then when it does, then you can become more aggressive again if that’s how you normally play. I had to give you all that scienctific junk so that you would see the value of this strategy and you won’t have to throw or break that golf club!
The next ideas I’ll give you to help with recovering after you lose it is based on the fact that our unconscious mind reacts symbolically. Stay tuned for controlling your emotions Part 4. Until next time,
Greens and fairways,