Mental toughness (tenacity) is fundamentally about managing our fear in all its guises. ‘Fear’ or what is considered the mind-body’s natural response, alarm and unease, to the perception of not feeling ‘safe’. The key belief to adopt is “whatever happens I will handle it”.
Let’s start with one element of mastering our thoughts – ‘Outcomes Thinking’.
On noticing a difficult situation, accept it completely, or deal with it. Don’t make it into a problem. Nurture ‘Complaint Free’ golf (future article). Simply reframe a problem frame into an outcome frame by asking, “what do I want here?” or “what do I want instead?” It’s important to realise this is not putting on rose-tinted glasses or applying spin, rather it’s just simply stating what you want to have happen.
A simple and profoundly powerful concept is that your mind cannot process negations or don’ts very well. Don’t think about a blue apple! Now it’s vital to think (often visually) of what you DO want (outcomes thinking), sending messages to your muscles as an example. Any so called problem could be expressed in terms of outcomes. “I want to relax” rather than “I wish I wasn’t so tense” or stay focussed rather than don’t worry. Positively stated language creates positive images and therefore a more resourceful performance state (at least one element of the performance state.) Because, amazing as the body is, it can’t tell the difference between a thought and a real situation – it responds as if it were happening in the real world. With the resultant muscle tension for example, great to protect yourself from danger, disastrous to a free flowing swing.
So what do we do? Start noticing thoughts (usually showing up as that little voice in your head).
First realise they are not YOU! Make sure they are framed in what you want to happen (outcomes thinking) and later with other Golf Monkeys, learn how to master them and stay truly in the now.
“Would you tell me please, which way?
I ought to go from here?”.
“That depends a good deal on where you
want to get to,” said the Cheshire Cat.
“I don’t much care where…” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,”
said the Cat.
Adapted from Lewis Carroll’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’