Your state of mind will be a huge determining factor of how you will play your golf game day to day. Learning just a bit about how the brain works may help you manage the way you think.
Our brains are naturally drawn to finding out why we are in the problem that we are in. If you just hit it into the bunker you might have this conversation with yourself, “Ugh, I’m in the bunker. How could I be so stupid to hit it in the bunker? I hate bunkers. I never come out of them well. My golf stroke was so bad, I need to figure out what I did so I won’t do it again. I wonder what my pro told me in the last lesson that actually worked for a little while. What was that — I can’t remember. Oh my, the lip on this bunker is huge, maybe I should just throw it out, no one will see me.” When a problem arises, the brain naturally looks backward or “away” as to why you are here and what a bad problem it is. The brain wants to look at the problem and determine what went wrong. It is easier to think about the problem than projecting and figuring out a future solution.
When you are in an “away” state of mind the chemicals that are released from parts of your brain tend to make you more jittery or negative about things. In an “away” state of mind you are trying to figure out how you got into this situation opposed to trying to find the solution which is a “forward” state of mind.
It takes much more conscious control and energy to begin looking “forward” to seeking a solution. Because the future is anticipatory it is not as easy to think about because it is an imagined future. Realizing this and taking a moment to say to yourself, “I am in this situation, now what am I going to do about it?” will help you focus your attention to where you want your thoughts to be. You want to focus more on where you want to go which is a forward thinking process rather than thinking about what you did wrong to get in the situation.
“Forward” states of mind are thinking about what you WANT to do instead of what you don’t want. Training your thought processes to look forward toward the solution gives you a positive feeling because you are full of hope and the chemicals sent from the brain are “feel good” chemicals such as serotonin and dopamine. Just by thinking forward you may have a much better chance of making good decisions and keeping your body in a calm, collected and confident state of being.