October 24, 2011

Unconditional Confidence

“How well we play is often a reflection of our level of confidence. We`d like to have the feeling that every drive will find the fairway and every putt will find the hole.” – Dr. Joseph Parent, Zen Golf


It’s important to recognize that there are three kinds of confidence.

False Confidence. False confidence doesn’t help at all. It’s just talking big, kidding ourselves. It can lead to taking unrealistic chances, ususally with disastrous consequences. We may be trying to impress others into thinking we’re better than we actually are. The truth is comes out in no time on the golf course.

Conditional confidence. This kind of confidence depends on recent results. We are confident “on the condition” that we continue to play well. When things go well, our confidence can build until we feel like we can make every shot.

But if things go badly, we start questioning our ability. We start asking, “What’s wrong with me?” From there, down we go. If we`re worried that we might hit a bad shot and we do, we feel less confident for the next one. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. The antidote to this is unconditional confidence.

Unconditional confidence. Unconditional confidence arises from connecting with our basic goodness. We bleive in ourselves as deccent people and in our golfing skills for our level of play. This doesn`t mean that we expect to hit every shot perfectly.

It does mean that we can handle whatever the result is. With unconditional confidence, our self-worth as a human being doesn’t depend on how well or poorly we strike a golf ball. We see our nature and our abilities as basically good and the diffculties we encounter as temporary experiences.

Instead of assuming something is wrong with our swing and trying to fix it, we reflect on what may have interfered with our intention on that shot. This approach makes it possible to quickly turn things around and play well again.

Unconditional confidence takes a big perspective, independent of moment to moment results. The bigger the perspective we have, the better we can ride the inevitable ups and downs within a round, over several rounds, or even longer.

We can handle difficulties with a sense of humor, knowing that these things come and go. We can regard experiences of success with a sense of humility: these also come and go. Whatever we encounter, we can be fearless in the moment. That`s the expression of true confidence.


This article was contributed by Dr. Joseph Parent, the author of Zen Golf and mental coach to PGA golfer, Vijah Singh.

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