Saturday, July 30, 2016

Managing Your Emotions on the Golf Course

Sometimes it erupts openly and, at other times, anger is camouflaged and covertly undermines your life. Some experience anger as strength and power. They feel it is necessary in order to maintain control. Others assume they have the right to express anger toward the bad shots they hit. These are some of the lies anger tells us. In fact, when we are angry we are out of control and our ability to make decisions wisely is diminished.

Here are 7 steps for handling anger on the spot:
Step 1: Realize that anger is a choice you make. Anger is not a form of power, strength, or control. It is a toxin. Sometimes it provides a temporary high. But after the high subsides, we are weaker and more uncertain than before. Not only that, there are often negative consequences that have to be handled.

Basically, anger narrows your focus, creates confusion and limits your ability to find constructive solutions. When anger arises, stop, breathe deeply, and immediately look at the larger perspective. Put the incident in context. For a moment, allow the bad shot to be all right. Tell yourself right after it is possible that I will hit some good ones. Your main goal is to have the anger subside so you can see the whole picture clearly.

Step 2: Become aware of the various forms of anger. Anger camouflages itself and finds covert ways of manifesting. Unrecognized anger turns into all kinds of unwanted behavior. When these behaviors are not understood, it is difficult to correct them. Awareness is important in making necessary changes.

Some forms of anger are: depression, passive-aggressive behavior, compulsions, perfectionism, gossiping and certain kinds of competition at the workplace. When you realize that these are being fueled by anger, you can take appropriate steps to handle them.

Step 3: Start balancing. Balancing is the natural flow of energy, support and inspiration inside of us. When this flow is balanced we operate at our maximum level. When the flow is blocked or out of balance, we will become depressed, apathetic, sick and resentful. 

When one feels accepted and acknowledged for the way they play golf, there is no end to their ability to tap their full potential. Write down what this means to you and notice how it compares to the reality of your particular golf game as it exists today. This initial step provides a map and new focus. It provides a direction to move in.

Step 4: Discover your balancing quotient. List each shot that you hit during a round of golf. Score each shot on the following questions from 1-10. See for yourself what is going on.
a) I feel at ease with this shot. 
b) I trust in my swing with this shot. 
c) I swing naturally when I am faced with this shot. 
d) I understand what this shot means to me. 
e) I am able to except the outcome of this shot. 
f) I am able to give my full commitment to hitting this shot. 

Assess exactly what's going on in your mind and body during the round. Take a look at what you want from a round of golf. Separate yourself from the outcome and what you need and want. Start communicating your feelings in a responsible manner and ask what you really need and want. Start truly listening to the voices inside your head and change the self-talk to quiet. You will start to see who you really are on the course and not the images that you make up. 

We can often be playing a round and not even begin to know who we truly are as a golfer and a person. As you begin taking the above steps, you will make natural adjustments in getting yourself and your golf game back on track. 

Step 5: Stop casting blame. Blaming the golf course for a bad bounce or someone for talking too much is one of the largest factors in causing imbalance in your game and keeping the anger going. Stop casting blame as you are only dis-empowering yourself. By taking responsibility you are retaining control. Stop for a moment and see the situation through your playing partners' eyes. When you do this blame dissolves immediately. Also remember that the best defense is to feel good about yourself. 

As you stop casting blame you will be letting go of all kinds of resentments. Resentment inevitably affects our well-being and always bounces back on us. Look for and find what is positive in each hole that you play, and find the good in the people you play with. Golf is a social game. Tap into it and you will start to have more fun. Focus on that. 

Step 6: Create realistic expectations. There is nothing that makes us more angry and hurt than expectations we've been holding onto that have not been met. It is important that you become aware of what your expectations are for your round of golf before you start. Are they realistic? If not, let go of these unrealistic fantasies. Once this is done, anger will start to diminish. 

Step 7: Develop a grateful mind. See what this round of golf truly is giving you. We often take many things for granted and are not even aware of all that we receive each and every day. Take time to write down what you are receiving and be grateful. Make a point of giving thanks. Thanks to the new friends you met on the course, and thank the course. Thank it like you just got to play a round in the Garden of Eden. 

The more we thank others, the happier we become. Also, take time to write down all that you have given that day. It may surprise you. We often think we are giving so much and receiving little. This is a great cause of anger, deprivation and the emptiness within. However, when we take time each day to look at it carefully, we are often surprised at how much we have received and how little we've given in return. As we look at it carefully, and balance these two activities, we learn to take pleasure both in what we have given and what we've received.

Courtesy of: Brian Cairns, Head Professional, Fox Hills, Plymouth, Michigan; Senior PGA Professional of the Year, 2015.

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