12. Filters for data collection

As a golf player it is essential that we can collect data. We need the data to make a good stroke. We need to know how our ball will react regarding lie, stance, wind, slope, water, sand, grass, flag position etc. Many things can block our data collection such as distractions, monkey mind, Fight-or-Flight state of mind, anger, anxiety, mental fatigue and much more. Consequently, we need to be in a state of mind where we are able to collect data about our golf game. NLP works with two concepts that help us here. One is open state of mind and the other one is closed state of mind. 

Open state of mind is when you are in a good state of mind, and you feel good. On that account you are able to take in data and store it for your game. The opposite is true when you are in the closed state of mind. This will block your mind from receiving data. 

Think of a situation where you are watching someone very negative. You are standing at both a physical and emotional distance. You are just watching as if you are the fly on the wall. You are not in any way connected or involved. The person just had a bad golf stroke and is now closing down. The person is frustrated that the golf ball went in the wrong direction. The golf ball flew in direction of the water just next to the green and there was a loud splash when the ball hit the water. You saw the reactions of the person. You saw feelings of frustrations, when you saw the movements and body posture of the frustrated person. Not the least, you heard feelings of frustration. Think about which sounds of frustration you heard. The person takes a total immersion in the bad feelings connected to the failed stroke. 

Now – how much data do you think this person is able to collect while indulging in the bad experience and the negative feelings. Not much. This is a pity, while now is the time to collect data. Why not learn from the shot and store the data? What went wrong? How does the GOOD shot feel? Make a good practice shot, maybe a good slow practice shot. Feel how the good shot feels and store it for next time. Now you turned the bad experience around and made it productive and positive. You are suddenly learning from it, and you are using it to build up your future game to a new and better level. 

A quick start to make sure you do not go negative after a bad shot is self-talk. Simply talk to yourself and say something like: “Aha, interesting” then put on a “Watch & learn” attitude. Remember this is mental training and it feels strange until your training made it a habit. Besides, you narrow the distance between the bad mental state and the Good State, which also makes it easier for you to access your mental state of choice and stay mentally strong for golfing. Equally important, you did not open the door to anger or Fight-or-Flight, and you did not let in the closed state of mind. You are still able to play golf. Well done. 

When three steps away from the bad shot, make sure you are in the Good State again. Recall your five positive anchors and pump your good state up to the level of Good State you want. 

Now you are in open state of mind, and you can collect data again. Well done. 

The above Fight-or-Flight person is an example of an open state and a closed state of mind. It is also an example of the filters we have when collecting data. In the above case we saw how the filters could be blocked or open. The data collection filters can be much more subtle than that.

We get bombarded with data all the time and we receive data via:

  1. Skin, touch.
  2. Ears, hearing.
  3. Eyes, sight.
  4. Tongue, taste. 
  5. Nose, smell. 
  6. Balance, movement. 
  7. Muscles, feelings. 

Our brain constantly receives data from our sensing organs. It’s basically getting bombarded with data. To make any sense out of it a filter is needed. The brain helps us filter and understand the information and it helps us use the data. Each person filters the information differently. Just think of an experience with someone where you and the other person have different approaches and different perception of that experience. Your sensory filters are important to your perception of the world around you. Some sensory input is essential, and some is ordinary or maybe even habitual. The filter can delete, distort, or generalise the sensory input and in that way change your impressions. 

On top of that your beliefs are fundamental for your understanding. If you believe that a bad shot is the end the world you will react accordingly. Over and above, you will be standing over the ball about to do your next shot thinking exactly that. This is the end of the world if you do not hit the ball. You might have the feeling that your full identity is at stake and you are afraid of losing it.  

You can also make a choice and believe that all feedback is learning rather than the end of the world. This will change your perception and situation when standing over the ball about to do your shot. You are now able to think: “This is great, and I look forward to the shot and the result of the shot.” 

In fact, one of my golf friends does that all the time and before every shot. He has a very competitive mind. He played for the Danish national team in handball. It is amazing to see how he steps up to the challenge whenever he faces a difficult situation on the golf course. It is as if he plays better the more pressure he is under. Imaging what this does to his game when the situation becomes very competitive, and the weight of the stress hits him. He steps up. He loves the next shot. In fact, he makes sure he loves the next shot. He makes sure he always looks forward to the next shot with joy and delight. He is 65 years of age and plays at around handicap 4, not with great technique but with a great state of mind. He is always a gift to the competitive teams we have in the club. Consequently, resulting in nice championships for the teams and the club. 

Does he do bad shots, does he get frustrated, oh yes. But he does not let the destructive feelings in. He cracks a joke, puts on a laugh, and looks forward to the next shot with joy. 

I even saw his reaction a day between hole 12 and 11 when somebody at another flight told him off in a laud frustrated voice. What do you think happened? Nothing, absolutely nothing. He did not respond to the frustration and it did not have any effect on his game. He carried on and played as well as ever.