Golf & Shame

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Not many talk about how emotions affect athletic performance and I have never heard or read anyone discussing the role of shame in golf, but it’s a huge factor. About a quarter of my coaching clients are uber-successful athletes with about half golfers. You’d be surprised, maybe even shocked how the issue of shame eventually comes up for most of them. You are not alone.

Shame is a deep emotion and emotions along with mechanics and mental strategy form golf’s and even life’s three-legged stool, so be like a Hall of Famer and take note.

If you live with shame, become curious of it instead of afraid. When you face it with an open heart, you’re on the path to finding joy. You can build a new existence, perhaps one that feels small and flawed, but honest, each day accumulating treasure.

Instead of running away or ignoring your shame, welcome it. Like negativity, when you shine the light on shame, it will often shrink. It can be like an interesting artifact. When you carry an image of shame about you, you tend to project it into all kinds of harmless other items. It creates imaginary worlds inside your head that are invisible to others.

It’s time to step into the light and come out of hiding, to be seen with fears and failures, warts and yes, shame. You have countless opportunities to reinvent yourself. Just tackle one thing at a time and rejoice these moments.

You may feel like you are running out of time or have some expiration date, but that makes no sense. It’s your job to cast out your shame forever no matter your failed attempts. Choose narratives that make you feel more alive and contribute to this often twisted world. Treat yourself as a loving parent would. You’re sitting upon a pile of diamonds that you’ve accumulated, but don’t notice simply because shame has blinded you.

It’s okay to be worried or feel despair for that’s what humans often feel. That’s part of survival and growing. Just don’t let your shame build a merciless story of your worth, but rather construct something else from your shame.

Don’t worry about what needs fixing, because nothing does except to live in your reality. Investigate your shame like a scientist, celebrating and even lamenting it. When you treasure it, it opens you up to your little awkward moments, reaching out to others, and perhaps even to a little creativity or inspiration. For sure it can build empathy for others.

All of this work leads to a better emotional foundation, especially if you have a history of playing well below your potential. Ill feelings like shame spell “I’m not good enough or don’t deserve winning.” Your mind doesn’t miss this and your subconscious will invariably sabotage your best physical efforts.

Remember to own your full self. Feel proud of even your small creations, the places you’ve visited, the acquaintances you’re fond of as well as those forgotten. They all add up to the treasure of you. After all, you’re human. That’s a success. Everything matters. Open your eyes, look at what you have now and in the past. This is where it all begins. Your future self will thank you.

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