PRE ROUND ANXIETY: THE EGO AT WORK
One of Dr. Rich’s clients presented the following question: I really enjoy playing golf, and I generally play pretty well, so I can’t understand why I get anxious for a few days before playing, even when it’s not a match.
After our pre-game and on course discussion, we reached the following insights: You usually think of accomplishing things by having your ego in control. In fact, whether you win or lose, succeed or fail, your ego finds a way to make it work – you can feel good either good or bad about yourself. The ego is still in control. What you are facing in golf involves setting the ego aside for a while, and the ego does not really like that at all.
The anxiety in anticipation of golf (for this client) was the same resistance you might have when you try to meditate. You don’t want to just sit down and be still; you don’t want to discipline your thinking. You just want to “relax” or “be active.” Golf can be more like meditation and this does not make the ego happy.
The ego would rather have you focus on its agenda, by creating distracting questions like: Will I play well? What will people think of me? Will I be able to hit bunker shots today? These are questions arising from your “small self,” your ego. Get caught up with them and you will spend a lifetime in a battle with the ego which will always outwit you and present new questions, if you ever think you solved some of the old questions.
Approaching golf as meditation pushes the ego off to the side. You focus on breathing, being in balance, just being friendly; you stop judging, you accept what the golf gods have in mind for you today, you might even stop caring where the ball is going. And when you do this, you start to notice how beautiful the course really is, you are walking fairways without going anywhere. The fears and hopes pass through, barely noticed. You start to play Golf.
Remember…. next week, let alone tomorrow, no one will recall whether you had a 4,5,6,or 8 on that hole. But you will always retain the beauty and shared friendship of a great round of Golf. Your ego will resist this and re-affirm that need to shoot and score. Be thankful whenever you meet someone whose generosity brings you closer to the beauty of the game.