BRENT STOLLER

Writer. Advice giver. Peanut butter and chocolate enthusiast.

Stop Holding on to What’s Holding You Back

Man hiking a path through the forest

Is there something you’re holding onto that’s holding you back?

A fear? A mistake? A belief?

Sadly, I’m holding onto various forms of all three, with each one taking its turn to feed the other two.

And yesterday on the golf course, this trio buried me beneath its breeding ground.

After a horrendous start, I stood on the fifth tee determined to turn my day around.

In front of me was about as basic a shot as you can have, meaning it was the perfect opportunity to get back on track.

I selected my club, went through my routine and committed to my process of producing a quality swing.

Then I hit a shank — a comically amateurish outcome in which the ball flies almost directly right, toward, say, 2 o’clock instead of its intended target of 12 o’clock.

It’s about the most embarrassing shot you can hit.

Given my already depleted mental state, this mistake had an easy time fueling my long-held belief that, despite my complement of physical skills, I’m not that good a golfer.

And naturally, the mistake and the belief teamed up to fuel a fear that haunted me the rest of the round.

Every time I stood over the ball, I couldn’t shake the memory of the shank. I could feel it in my hands, and I could see it in my mind’s eye.

I was fearful of hitting it again.

I believed I was capable of hitting it again.

And the only reason I didn’t hit it again was that I committed all kinds of mistakes to prevent myself from hitting it again.

This, unfortunately, is a microcosm of my life in general.

I have goals. I have dreams. And somewhere deep down, I have the sense I’m capable of achieving them all.

Yet too often I’m too scared, too timid, too unforgiving of my missteps that I do nothing but self-sabotage, sentencing me to an endless ride on this merry-go-round of disappointment and failure.

Sports coaches talk about not letting one team beat you twice, i.e., don’t let the hangover from the previous game disrupt your preparation for and performance in the next.

While I failed to adhere to this advice yesterday on the whole, the one thing that gives me hope is that I did adhere to it in the moment.

The shot I faced following the shank was far more difficult than the one that produced it, making it the perfect opportunity to kick-start my inevitable downward spiral.

But in that immediate aftermath, I was so frustrated and so fed up that I felt a sort of freedom.

And for a brief second, I was able to get out of my own way, draw the club back and hit my ball to within a foot of the hole.

By not holding on too tightly, I had allowed myself to let go.

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