I’ve been playing the game of golf since I was 7 years old. It’s a sport I enjoy, but was never routinely able to play.
Recently I returned to the golf course on a mission to improve my golf score – an ambitious goal for me. You would understand if I shared my score with you.
Let’s just say it has 3 digits, not two…
Immediately, with my first tee shot, my golfer’s slice returned, sending my ball into the brush that lines the right side of the fairway. The only consistent thing about my golf game is my slice.
It’s engrained in the mental ruts I’ve formed with years of muscle memory I’ve developed repeating the same flawed swing over 40+ years. I’ve been putting myself at a disadvantage from the start of each hole on the golf course.
What I need is muscle amnesia, not muscle memory. Forget what I know about swinging a golf club. I need to break down the old neuropath ways and create new ones.
To develop muscle amnesia, I’ve been trying to rid myself of my complex swing thoughts and unstable motion. I’m replacing my poor swing with clear and simple thoughts and a motion that is fluid and in alignment. It’s time to create new muscle memories.
Previously, my golf swing felt painful and off balance. As I addressed the ball, my head was cluttered with numerous instructions on how to stand over the ball, grip the club, place my feet, and transition my weight.
I was hunched over the ball, choked up on the club, squeezing the club with a death grip, and crushing the ball with all my might. Consequently, my ball went way (I mean WAY!) off course.
Why wouldn’t the ball do all it could to scramble away from me? I was trying to kill it, wasn’t I? With a choking death grip and crushing blow, no less! I’d run too, if someone treated me that way!
Now I’ve learned to stand up straight in alignment, relax my grip, and keep my lower body still. By aligning, relaxing, and remaining still, I maintain a stable, fluid, pain free swing that is propelling my ball forward farther and straighter than I’ve ever been able to hit the ball.
My golf shots are landing in the fairway, giving me a better chance to succeed in achieving my goal of a lower golf score one stroke at a time.
The same is true in life. Have you ever felt off balance or out of alignment when going about your day, making an important decision, or trying to achieve a goal? When operating in this state, we often make painful mistakes.
Attempting to succeed when we’re out of sorts or grasping and clinging to desired outcomes leads to bad decisions. Just like a tee shot that starts out in the brush, it can take awhile to recover.
Often the reason we fall out of balance or out of sorts is because of years of doing things a certain way. We fall into habits based on tendencies we’ve established during our lifetime – 40+ years in the case of my golf swing.
Perhaps, you have a tendency to please others, become anxious about a future outcome, fear failure, or want things to be perfect. Whatever it is, if it’s been your tendency throughout your lifetime, you may be falling into old bad habits, creating a vicious cycle of making the same mistakes over and over again.
Try developing muscle amnesia by forgetting the bad habits and replacing them with ones that align properly and propel us forward. As David Brooks writes in The Road to Character, “In order to fulfill yourself, you have to forget yourself. In order to find yourself, you have to lose yourself.”
Just like I had to forget my swing thoughts and develop new muscle memory to improve my golf swing, you can replace the thoughts and behaviors that lead to your bad habits with better ones that will produce more positive results. Overtime, these new thoughts and behaviors will become so automatic that success will be an everyday occurrence.
Remember my new golf swing thoughts? Align, relax, and be still. Everyday, I try to do that. A daily 20-minute meditation practice helps me achieve alignment, relaxation and stillness. I clear my mind and focus on my priorities. When I don’t practice meditation or can’t get a moment to myself to be quiet, I certainly notice more stress in my life.
Remember my new golf swing motion? Stable, fluid, and forward. When I’ve taken the time to relax and be still, I become more patient. It calms and stabilizes me, as I deal with the ups and downs of daily life. I stay present to what’s happening, while remaining fluid and creative in my response to what unfolds. Only then can I move forward towards success with resourcefulness and creative solutions to problems that arise.
All it takes is a little muscle amnesia and a little practice to see your results improve.