Above Par

How to Mentally Pivot

November 02, 2022 Kathy Hart Wood Episode 93
Above Par
How to Mentally Pivot
Show Notes Transcript Chapter Markers

Swinging powerfully and repeatably requires a good pivot. 

Thinking powerfully requires us to mentally pivot...and in golf it needs to happen quickly.

If we don't pivot away from crappy thoughts or states, we get in our own way. We prevent our best swings from coming out.

Often in a rush to feel better or quiet our brain, we change our circumstances. It is an easy and fast way to feel better. This looks like changing a pairing, dropping out of a tournament, pulling the ball out of a divot, even cheating on your score or handicap.

When we do this we miss the opportunity to build the mental muscle to pivot which we inevitably will need. 

I want you to learn to pivot from where you are...like a boss.

Choosing to think differently about your current situation gives you so much more agency and ownership over your experience.

Build that skill BEFORE you change your situation on or off the course.

In episode 93, I teach you how to mentally pivot in 4 steps.

Build this skill so you are ready for your next golf game.

If want help with this or want to learn more about how to work with Kathy, go to KathyHartWood.com

How to Mentally Pivot

Kathy Intro: Hello, my golf friends. I hope you're doing amazing. Thanks for tuning in and listening. 

I have a great podcast ready for you today. I love this topic. This was a hot topic in our above par club. Everybody was like, yes, this resonates with me. So I'm so excited to share it with you. But before I do, I want to give a shout out to Dinger Ward who is on Instagram. 

Who sent me a note or a message on my post about this podcast above par. 

And he said:  

“By far one of the best golf podcasts out there, I'm an eight handicap. Who's struggled with the mental side of the game. I bought new equipment and take lessons and improve slightly over the years only to go back to my old habits and old scoring Ben listening for three months and I'm so calm and actually feel it's okay to hit a bad shot or screw up an easy hole. This is the opposite of how I used to be internally. I shot a 71, 1 under par yesterday. My best score in 30 years, not bad for a 61 year old who thought his game was on the slide. Thanks Kathy”

Thank you Dinger and congratulations. That's awesome. I love that. That's exactly what this is all about is just really just helping you all play better. Feel better. 

Find your potential get out of your own way. Not to give up. That's so important. We never know, what's possible as long as we keep trying and keep moving forward. So thank you so much for sending in that note. That's awesome. Okay.  

Today I want to talk about pivoting. 

And pivoting of course, is a golf term that we talk about in our golf swing. Like having a good pivot, a powerful pivot. Versus sliding that's the opposite of pivoting or moving your feet I'm not talking about your golf swing pivot. 

I'm talking about mentally pivoting. 

I brought up and used this term in the above par group and a couple of the people really resonated with that. That it described exactly what they needed to do. And it was a really useful term. So I want to explain it to you here on the way that I think about it, and maybe you'll find it useful too. And even if your golf season is over, I don't care. You can mentally pivot on anything that is

A problem for you.  I'm going to go through the steps on how to do that. 

I can have days where I mentally pivot a lot. Any day, and I'm not on the golf course. So I use this tool all the time and the more you use it, the better you get at it. And the more ownership you take over the way you experienced your round of golf or your day. 

So, let me start with a definition of pivot in itself. 

According to the dictionary is “to adapt or improve by adjusting or modifying.”

And another definition is to turn as if on a pivot. 

So think of basketball, where you have a pivot foot, and then you turn around that pivot foot that stays stationary and that doesn't move, but you go in several different directions. 

In golf, we can pivot around our back leg or we can pivot around our spine, whatever you referenced in your golf swing that is the anchor. And then we turn around that. 

So when it comes to pivoting mentally, this is the way that I want you to think about it. Your anchor is your situation, is your circumstance, a fact.  We're not going to change that. It is going to stay the same. 

What happens a lot of times is we're searching to change our situations or circumstances so that we can feel better. And we're not really learning anything. That's us running away from an emotion. So that we think that we might feel better in a different place. That example would be, this a golf example and a super simple one, but let's say if your ball was in a divot. 

He had a bunch of crappy thoughts about that. And you pulled it out of the divot, you changed your situation. So you didn't have to have these series of negative thoughts to manage in your head. 

You might have a pairing with a group of people and you want to get moved out of that group. You want to change your situation so that you can think better. That's changing your circumstance. 

Your balls in the bunker, you pull it out of the bunker. That's changing your circumstance. So you don't have to think a certain way. You make an eight on a hole and you erase it and make it a six and now I feel better. I don't have to have all these crappy thoughts to negotiate in my head. That's not what I'm talking about. 

I want you to keep your situation the same. 

Off golf course, circumstances or situations might be a conversation you're planning to have and you're uncomfortable and having to negotiate your thoughts. And you're like, I'm just not going to have the conversation. So I don't have to negotiate my thoughts or be awkward or uncomfortable. 

Or it could be that you said yes to going out to dinner. And now you have all these thoughts and emotions about going out to dinner with these people and you decide to bail. That's you changing the situation. 

I want you to pivot by keeping that situation the same. I want you to mentally pivot. 

Once you mentally pivot, if you want to then change your situation, that's up to you. So I'm not saying that you never change your situation or circumstance or fact I'm saying first mentally pivot. 

And then like your reason for changing your circumstance or your situation. 

This builds up an amazing mental muscle that you can use over and over again in any area of your life. 

All right. I want you to learn to mentally pivot like a boss. 

Step One: Your first step is you're going to notice a thought you don't like, or you're going to notice a feeling you don't like. Usually for me, it's a feeling 

I'm like, Hmm. I don't like the way I'm feeling. I've been feeling this way too long. 

And I don't like it. 

Or you might notice that you're saying or repeating some negative thoughts over and over in your head. 

That you don't like, or you want to change. 

So always your first step is awareness. Sometimes it might be a thought and sometimes it might be an emotion. 

So for me, I usually notice an emotion and then I get really curious. 

And I try to find the thought that is creating that emotion. I labeled that situation. I'm not going to change the situation. I notice I’m feeling a certain way, and then identify the thought that's in between that is creating that emotion for me. 

All right. So step one is you're going to notice either the thought or you're going to notice the emotion. If you notice the emotion you want to find the thought that's creating that or the series of thoughts. 

Step Two: And then if you're done sitting in the little baby pool of poop, which is what I call it…

Sometimes we can wallow in this misery and are feeling upset, or I just need to be upset for like 10 minutes and sit in this little baby pool of poop.  When you're finally done, your second step is to make a decision to pivot or change.

I like to say it out loud. 

I like to tell myself, all right. Kathy it's time to mentally pivot. 

And that just means I'm going to change directions. I'm going to decide to think something different.  For my own good because I can, I get to think whatever the heck I want. You get to think, whatever the heck you want. 

So I'm going to keep the situation the same, and I'm going to start asking myself, what do I want to think about it?

How do I want to feel about this? 

Sometimes you want to even ask, well, how could I be wrong about this? Like if you're regurgitating a conversation in your head over and over again, And imagining what someone's thinking. And you're feeling really crappy. You might say all right, it's time to pivot. I'm done with this. I want to get out of the pool. 

I spent enough time there. And then you can start asking yourself really powerful questions. Like how could I be wrong about this? Why do I want to think about it? What, how do I want to feel about it? And that's when you get to pivot. 

On the golf course, this could be a situation where let's say you made an eight. And instead of erasing it. Turning into a six which is just cheating. And I do not approve of!  You might be sulking and pissed off and upset. 

And hopefully you're not sitting in a baby pool of crap for a long time, cause it's going to affect your score. You want to pivot. Instead of going, I suck. I can't believe I did this. I just ruined my score. 

We can't change the eight. We need to change and mentally pivot to something that is going to serve us more as we go forward. 

You get to decide. You pick, I can't tell you what to think. The reason I can't tell you what to think is because all the words in your head create little neurochemicals for you that go to your body and feel a certain way. So my words might fall totally flat on you. 

And you might say words that would totally fall totally flat on me. So you just have to experiment. And I encourage you to pivot to something that feels anything better than where you were. 


It can be super small. That's a pivot 

And let yourself sit there for a little bit. It's like taking one foot out of the baby pool. 

It's better than your whole body being in there. And then you can take the next foot out and you keep pivoting. If you need to do that, that's fine. But the better you get at this the quicker you can pivot. 

Step Three: So your third step is deciding what to think, deciding what is more useful to say for your own benefit for your golf, for your day and how you're experiencing your day for how you're showing up in your relationships or how you're showing up on the golf course. 

Step Four: And then the fourth thing I want you to do is…I want you to rehearse this and practice it like a boss on little things throughout the day that are much easier to pivot from. 

It could be as simple as, I don't know you…you burnt you're toast. 

And you're all pissed off and it's like, all right, I'm just going to pivot. What do I want to think about it? Just change. 

And you start practicing on those small things and your brain will just store those as a memory.  You'll build up that skill where you can start tackling bigger topics or situations for you that are more challenging that your brain wants to hang on to and wants to feel miserable about. 

You don't know how long we stay sitting in that little baby pool of poop. Which is me just describing it as us being miserable. 

Because we do it to ourselves. We stay in this little baby pool for a certain amount of time by habit. It's because we let ourselves do it. 

I tell the story when I played on the European tour and I'd miss a cut. I had that feeling of disappointment that I did not like and shame and beat myself up for three or four days, depending on practice rounds and pro-ams. 

I knew that when I missed a cut, that that was going to last three or four days. That's how long I would sit in the baby pool of shame and disappointment. Until it was time for me to go out and play and start my next tournament. 

It was just a habit. I didn't know, at that time that I could pull myself out of that baby pool. 

I didn't know, I just kept creating that for myself. I didn't pivot. 

I didn't know that I really got to decide how long I got to sit there and be miserable and disappointed and having shame after a bad tournament. 

I just did it as long as the window was, I filled up that space until the next tournament started. Whereas, no wonder I started to fear that it's cause it stunk. I didn't like that feeling. 

So I encourage people just to decide how long you want to be upset or miserable or frustrated or disappointed or shaming yourself. And put a timer on it. 

Off of the golf course you can do that. You have lots of time.

On the golf course, your golf game is going to suffer if you stay there.

But sometimes our brains just want to be upset for maybe 30 minutes.  

Just let me sit here and be pissed off for 30 minutes about something that maybe happened with your off golf course life.  

Put a timer on it. 

And at 30 minutes, pivot. Decide to think something different for your own benefit. 

Don't change the situation until you've pivoted and then decide if you want to change that situation or that circumstance or that fact. 

And like your reasons, if you do. 

So this is what I want you to practice off of the golf course. 

And on the golf course, it has to happen quicker. And the quicker you can pivot out there less shots are affected by a negative place or negative state. 

So you're going to notice that crappy thought or that crappy feeling. And if it's a crappy feeling, you’re going to find the thought. You're going to make a decision. It's time to pivot and get out of the little baby pool. 

Saying that out loud in your head is super powerful and super useful. 

Then  you're going to come up with a thought to think instead that is useful to you. That feels good in your words. And all you need is a little bit of improvement. You don't need a ton. 

And then, the last thing is, I want you to repeat this and practice it everywhere. 

Like a boss. 

So that you get really good at it because the better you get at this, the more control and agency you have over your life and the golf course. 

 All right. My friends that is mental pivoting. 

And if you want to learn more about how to pivot or if you want help individually, just go to KathyHartWood.com 

At worst case scenario, get on my email list so that you'll be notified of any new programs that I have coming up.

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