Learning to Control Negative Thoughts

Again inspired by the blog post of a golf coach, this seems to be a new way to deal with negative thoughts. We have all had negative thoughts and, in general they don’t help. So, the question is, how to deal with them? Here are some examples:

“I hate this target (field archers).”

“I am so stupid!”

“Why didn’t I let down?”

“When will we be done?”

Not only do these thoughts not help, they hijack our attentional systems. Questions trigger a reflex known as “instinctive elaboration,” that is when someone asks you a question, the question takes over your brain’s thought process and you feel compelled to answer and make that answer a good one. So, these unhelpful thoughts beget other unhelpful thoughts and pull your attention farther away from your shot process.

We have mentioned any number of ways to deal with poor shots including having a process to do so (called a recovery program), having a post-shot routine that carries you beyond a poor shot outcome, taking the negative thought and re-framing it as a positive thought, etc. but this idea was different and seems worth trying.

Here’s what was recommended if you have a negative thought. Take out your score card and make a mark, a tally mark, and then move on. If there is a spare column on your score card, you can use that or you can put a dot in the inside corners of that shot’s score location. You are not trying to parse the negative thought, merely acknowledge that you had one. Make a tick mark and then move to your next shot. It gives you something to do, while bringing no more attention to the content of the thought.

Over time you will also have a record of these things diminishing . . . or not. This is akin to bringing attention to your diet by writing down everything you eat, but instead of wanting more information in that case, in this case we want less. Make a tick mark and then move to your next shot. Try it, you might like it.

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