In my last article I encouraged you to differentiate between your reaction and your response.
A response is measured, considered, chosen.
Reactions are…less so.
A large amount of our frustration arises from the mistaken belief that we’re doomed to repeat our reactions, over and over.
Event “X” causes reaction “Y”, always and forever…and so we’re doomed to our golfing pasts becoming the future.
But that’s not the case.
Not only do we get to choose our response…we can also learn new reactions.
And it’s not as difficult as you might think. All you need is time, and a commitment to change.
After all, it’s not going to get better straight away – the patterns we’re in are often well-established, and it’s easy to slip back into them.
Perhaps you’re finding you’re smiling through gritted teeth, or your focus has once again shifted from flowing movement to in-swing mechanical thinking. Maybe you’ve let your anger flare but forgotten your decision to let it subside before your next shot.
Or perhaps you’ve found you play better when you’re keyed up, maybe even a little angry, but you’ve become distracted and lost the fierce focus which served you so well.
Non-judgemental awareness could help you get back on track.
It’s a technique which comes from the Buddhist practice of mindfulness. I’ve used it to good effect both on and off the course.
It couldn’t be simpler.
Think about which reactions you find unhelpful and detrimental to your game. Explore different responses to find which one you find most useful. As you do so, I’d urge you to leave your perception of what’s “good” or “bad” behind; these states are neutral, neither bad nor good.
Find what works for you, in terms of performance…and enjoyment.
(The two might be related, but they’re not the same)
When you’ve settled on the course of action which feels best for you, all you need to do is play. If you then find yourself getting caught up in your unhelpful reaction, make a mark on your score-card.
And that’s it. Just make a mark. No need to beat yourself up, no need to get angry and no need for anything more complex. Awareness of the behaviour you wish to change, along with keeping a tally of when you lapse, is enough to change your behaviour.
(and if being too hard on yourself on the course is part of the behaviour you’re looking to change, make another mark if you find yourself getting angry)
Over time, you’ll find yourself fewer marks as your behaviour changes and your “reaction” evolves.
Why not free yourself from the cycle of reaction and frustration?
After all, you don’t want to end up like this…do you?
If you’re interested in exploring your reactions and starting to change them, individual coaching can help you find the right direction. If you’re interested please get in touch, and we can discuss if coaching is right for you.
[image credit: "Meditation" by Moyan Brenn, used under Creative Commons licence]