Sometimes it comes naturally. Other times we can teach ourselves by re-framing situations, re-interpreting events or situations in ways that strengthen us, empower us. There are multiple ways to view everything; any one mountain can be seen from multiple vantage points, each valid and real. When I hear of people seeing the world in a particular way that helps them cope, helps them achieve, helps them succeed, I like to say to myself, “I can do that too! If they think that way, why can’t I?”
In the March 1, 2009 issue of the New York Times, Australian golfer and 2006 U.S. Open champion, Geoff Ogilvy, talked about ultra-high pressure situations, specifically beating Tiger Woods one on one in the Accenture Match Play Championship: “I enjoy the big situations,” Ogilvy said. “All the craziness around a tournament I can take or leave, but the pressure situations toward the end of tournaments and the big situations, I really enjoy those.” Speaking of must-win putts, Ogilvy said, “I just enjoy that aspect of match play, I guess.”
A lot of people in high-stress situations freeze up, paradoxically to do their worst rather than their best. It is your mind, your internal conditioning, making the choice to freeze up. You can choose differently. Others have taught themselves to choose differently and you can, too. Perhaps not instantly, perhaps not overnight, but it can be done.
Mental muscles can be retrained just like physical muscles. You may not be able to lift 20 percent more weight tomorrow but it is highly likely that you could in 90 days if you put your mind and body fully to it. So it is with mental muscles: You can train yourself to access your best self in times of need, to lay aside patterns of behavior and thought that do not serve you. The first step is believing you can, the second step is looking for others who have done what you want to do and learning how they did it.
“The mind is its own place,
and in it self
Can make a Heaven of Hell,
a Hell of Heaven.”
— John Milton, “Paradise Lost”
“Within yourself deliverance must be searched for, because each man makes his own prison.”
— Edwin Arnold, English poet and author