Managing your golf thoughts can seem overwhelming some days and super easy on other days. You may find your brain is quiet one day and super negative the next day.
Or you may notice that you have a very loud negative thought that you hear all the time.
You are not alone. In this episode, I share with you how to make sense of your thoughts with a couple analogies to hamsters and buses.
If you want to know how to quiet your negative thoughts and think more useful thoughts so that you create better results on the course, this episode will simplify what is going on in your head.
You can find out how to work with Kathy at KathyHartWoo.com
Your Golf Thoughts
Episode 95 of Think Above Par
Hello, my golf friends. We'll come back to above par. I am super glad you're here as I am every week. I know I say that every week, but I am so glad that you're here and listening. I really appreciate all the positive feedback and the notes that I get. I want to give a shout out to Natasha Hawes, who I had a privilege of talking to on the phone. And she's a big listener of the podcast.
She shared with me on how big of an impact this podcast has made on her and her golf game. So I appreciate you sharing that with me and listening. And if anybody else wants to drop me a note or let me know some of the things that you've found value in, in this podcast, I love hearing all about them.
So, thank you very much and good luck Natasha, with your golf game in this next season.
Today I want to talk to you about golf thoughts and how many you should have. And what to do with them.
How to pick them.
Which ones are good,
Which ones aren't so good.
So I'm just going to go through a general analogy with you that I use and that I share with my clients about golf thoughts, and it goes like this.
I liken our primitive part of our brain, the back part of our brain, where we have a lot of negative thoughts, like a hamster cage. The reason I use a hamster cage is because growing up, I had a hamster cage. We had one of these massive units that had tubes connecting them, almost took up half of the room. It was a big production. There were wheels going on. We had to separate them when they gave birth, because a lot of horrifying things would happen inside this hamster cage.
So when I think about thoughts, I think about, and I picture all the different hamsters that I would observe as a kid looking at this cage, some of them were spinning on the wheel, which can be our thoughts of worry going a round and a round. Sometimes there were three thoughts on there, three hamsters on there at one time. There'll be another hamster in the corner, just chilling out, like chewing on some hay.
And there'll be another hamster banging his head against the side of the cage. And then there was some hamsters they were eating their young, which we still do not understand what was going on with that one. It was horrifying. So we can have these horrifying hamster thoughts in our head.
Then I would wake up the next morning. I'd go look at the hamsters and they're all sleeping. They all looked so peaceful and so happy. But yet as a young child, I would poke the cage. I would shake the cage and I'd wake up all these hamsters and they'd start running all over the place, doing all these crazy things.
While, very entertaining, it is an analogy that I make to our brain.
Hang in there with me as I talk about your thoughts being hamsters and see if you can stay with this analogy in this connection.
So starting with the shaking the cage thing… When our thoughts are quiet we go out and think that we had such a beautiful day. Like I didn't have to think very much. I didn't have a lot of thoughts going on in my head. I want days like that all the time, the cage is quiet. The hamster thoughts, the nasty thoughts and negative thoughts in the back of our brain are very silent.
Then we go and shake our hamster cage. We shake our own hamster cage and create a lot of drama and chatter in the back of our head. We do this by making a big deal out of things. We do this by freaking ourselves out.
We can freak ourselves out on the golf course about making a big deal about the out of bounds or the water or a score or people standing around a hole or behind a green. We can freak ourselves out about a big number.
And so the bigger the deal, we make things, the more we are shaking our own hamster cage and the more negative thoughts/hamsters we're going to have to deal with.
I encourage you not to shake your cage.
Let's not freak ourselves out because our brain is designed to create a lot of negative thinking. It wants you to go home into the cave, stay safe, watch Netflix, eat bon bons and cookies all day. That's all your brain wants you to do. It’s designed that way.
To do that, it wants to scare you and warn you about all the possible things that can go wrong.
So when we go, oh my God, there's out of bounds up there or there's water, or I might miss the fairway, or I don't know how to hit this shot. You wake your brain up. And it's like, yes, let me tell you all the different ways that things can go bad.
We want to resist and limit the amount of times that we shake our own hamster cage and wake up all the negative thoughts because now we have a lot of negotiating to do with our brain. There's much more work in there.
We have to hear more negative thinking. We can think things have gone horribly wrong because we have all these negative thoughts.
I’m telling you. No…all that's happened is you've shaken this cage. Now, if you are a person who is in the habit of shaking up your own hamster cage, waking up your hamsters, freaking yourself out, then they never sleep.
They're busy and noisy all the time.
We want to retrain those thoughts to become quieter, to sleep more, to be less alarmed.
If you notice that you have one of these thoughts that is very loud. It's like a hamster. That's been lifting weights. It's on steroids. And it has a megaphone and it's very loud in your head. You want to starve that hamster. You want to keep taking the microphone away from it. You want to take the food away from it. You do not want to feed that hamster thought.
Now, if you notice a thought in there that you like that is a useful thought and that serves you, you want to feed it. You want to give it the microphone instead.
Examples of this would be, if you hear this very loud thought in your head about, you're not very good, you suck at this game. You're never going to figure it out. You want to take that microphone away from that hamster and you want to give it to the one that's trying to say very quietly, but not louder than the other one that “you're going to figure this out.”
“Your game is good” “Keep going.” “Don't stop.”
So it's very important for you to understand that you are not your thoughts. Just because you have these hamster thoughts in the back of your head that wake up every once in a while, you are not your thoughts.
And just because you have a thought. AKA a hamster in the back of your head doesn't mean you need to think it.
You are not your thoughts.
And you decide which thoughts to think.
Alright, so a different analogy, (though, I'm going to come back to the hamsters) I was waiting for luggage at the airport and there was the conveyor belt of all the bags going around. Of course my bag was the last one coming out because it was the last one going in and I already got a notice that it was going to be, so I was standing there waiting for all these bags to come out.
There were tons of black bag, a black bag, black bag, black bag.
This God awful blue fluorescent bag. If you own one, I think it's clever because you can find it, but it was a godawful bag and it just kept catching my eye. It must've went around five times. I was like, where the heck are these people?
Why aren't they taking this luggage off of the baggage rack?
The conveyor belt.
While I was zoning out, I just kept watching these bags. And I thought to myself, this is like that loud thought in your head, all of these bags going around this belt, our thoughts in our head, we have 60,000 thoughts a day. We only hear about 5,000 of them. Though they can create results for us unintentionally.
That's why it's always good to be curious, to find the thoughts that are back there, creating results for us. But just because we have thoughts doesn't mean we have to think them. We can let them go by just like luggage on the belt. We can let that loud negative, noisy fluorescent blue bag. Just go by.
We do not have to pull it off and we do not have to think it. That is similar to the loud hamster, the muscular hamster that I was just making reference to.
We get to decide which thoughts we think. We get to decide which thoughts we just let go by.
So if you hear negative thoughts in your head, nothing has gone wrong. If you hear some horrific thoughts in your head.
You are not your thoughts. You got that hamster back there. That's like a little cross-eyed. He’s missing some teeth and his hair's all crooked. He's looking a little crazy. That's your thought? Not a problem. Everybody has them
That doesn't mean you have to think it.
You don't have to act on it. You don't have to do anything. You just let it go by.
The other point I want to make….’Cause you also do not need to take inventory on your thoughts, especially when you're standing over the golf ball. This can be very overwhelming.
If your brain is quiet, uou do not have to stand over the ball and say, okay, what do I want to think? What do I need to think? What am I thinking? Like, what am I thinking right now? If there's not a lot going on, just let it be. Your emotions are your indicator of your thoughts.
So if you have a negative emotion there, then be curious. But don't start waking up every little thought and going, What are you? What are you? What are, what are all these thoughts in my head? Too much, too overwhelming. When you're standing over the golf ball, if your brain is quiet, go through your routine and hit the ball.
The less thoughts, the better.
So we don't have to over do it. We don't have to create more work for ourselves if it's not there. Ideally, I would tell you when you're playing golf, the less thought you have the better. That means the quieter your brain is.
Don't go around, poking those hamsters and waking them up and seeing like, are you going to work? Are you going to work? Are you going to work out? Just go play. But if you've shaken your cage, And you have all these negative thoughts going on in your brain. You want to take the microphone away from that big muscular, loud hamster thought, and you want to give it to the one that's more useful and that's the work constantly changing your thoughts. I don't like that one that one's loud. It's spending a lot of time in my head.
I want to give it to something else. The discomfort comes in changing our thoughts. Our brain doesn't like to change that hamster, that big, loud voice you've given the microphone phone to so many times. That's why it's big. And loud. And pops up all the time. You've overfed it.
Your work is to start starving it, taking the microphone away from me, giving it to something else and it's stronger.
So it is going to fight you and pull for the microphone. You guys are staying with my analogy.
You just gotta be up for that battle. That discomfort. You have to stay persistent and consistent.
Until it shrinks becomes quieter and becomes smaller.
And the one that you want to think that serves you and is useful and feels better is getting bigger and stronger and louder. That's the process.
I am constantly starving hamsters in my brain.
All the time.
And I'm giving them to other more useful thoughts that I want to think that are going to create different results for me.
And when that hamster thought comes up and I hear it, nothing has gone wrong. It doesn't mean I've gone backwards. Doesn't mean I'm doing things wrong. It's just still there.
So to put this all together, we are going to have a lot of negative thoughts when we shake our own hamster cage. When we wake up the negative thoughts in our head.
And we put our primitive brain to work, to try and keep us safe.
If we consistently shake our own hamster cage, we set our hair on fire. We get very alarmed by things. Then those hamsters, those negative thoughts are very big and heavy and fat and muscular in our brain.
They're just noisy.
We want to quiet them down by not waking up our own cage.
When they're sleeping, those are greenlight days. Things are nice and easy and quiet and smooth.
Don't unintentionally, wake them up. Don't look for opportunities to wake them up.
Golf in itself is going to give you plenty of opportunities.
If you notice a thought that you keep repeating all the time, maybe that's on that hamster wheel going around in your round, in your head, that’s usually a worry thought. Or if you notice one that's very loud, nothing has gone wrong. Just decide you're going to keep taking the microphone away from it. You're going to start starving that hamster thought you're going to start feeding a different hamster thought.
And you're going to stay consistent and persistent with it.
Just because you take a peek inside your hamster cage and you notice some really God awful hamsters in there, nothing has gone wrong. You are not your thoughts. You are the thinker of your thoughts. Decide which thoughts you want to think on purpose.
Think of it like being in a bus. And we want to think with the front part of our brain, our prefrontal cortex, this is where we make good decisions. And we think clearly we want that part of us behind the wheel, driving the bus, deciding where we want to go deciding what we want to create in our lives.
All the hamsters are in the back of the bus. We're driving along, they're sleeping. We hit a bump, a pothole. We wake them up and they come in and try and take the wheel. We will not like where that bus goes if we let them take the wheel, most of us go through life, letting hamster thoughts, take the wheel.
Like I'm crappy. I'm never going to be good enough. I should just quit.
We let them take the wheel. Your job is to swat them to the back of the bus constantly. It is a job that we have to do every day. Because of the negative bias of our brain. And if you're onto it, then it's no big deal. Oh, there comes this crappy hamster thought that is not useful. It doesn't serve me. I'm not going to think it back of the bus.
Back of the bus. Some days you got to swat those hamsters to the back of more than other days. That's part of it.
Other days, the bus ride is very smooth and we go quickly towards our goals and the things that we want to create.
Other times we're hitting lots of potholes. And it's just a little bit more work. Nothing has gone wrong. My friends. All right. That's my analogy about hamster cages. Do not get your children any hamsters. The terrifying little creatures.
They got loose. Oh, my gosh, they got loose in the house. My dad stepped on one. They can get flat underneath doors. They were everywhere. It became quite a thing. So I'm not a big fan of hamster cages. That’s why I'm using the analogy for our crappy thoughts in our brain.
I hope you found that helpful. Think good thoughts. Keep your brain quiet. Don't shake your cage. Don't shake other people's cages. Not nice.
All right. Have a beautiful week. If I can help you reach out to me at KathyHartWood.com