Why do you play golf? What’s your motive? One of my mentors used to say, “if you truly want to understand a person’s behavior, don’t focus on what they do, rather, pay attention to why they do it”. So I ask you again, why do you play? For fun? To compete? To socialize? For the challenge? To be in nature? For the love of the game? For the approval of others? Regardless of your personal motive, and to have a little fun, I’d like to ask you to play with an idea and consider that there might only be two motives for why you do anything, love or hate.
In my work as a psychologist, I have found that by oversimplifying answers to big questions like, “what motivates people?” makes the inquiry more approachable. In terms of motivation, I like to frame my answer to the question of “what motivates people?” as a straightforward binary proposition. There are two parts of a person’s mind: a part that loves them, and a part that hates them. Why I believe this to be true is outside the scope of this article, but for now, humor me and just go with it. Therefore, if you ever want to understand your own behavior, you can simply ask, “am I acting out of love for myself? Or, am I acting out of hate?” If you’re struggling with the idea, a less provocative way to think about it is to ask yourself “am I acting in my best interest?’ Or, “am I acting against my best interest?”.
You can apply this idea to every aspect of your life, but when it comes to golf, my experience tells me there is a direct correlation to performance depending on your answer to the question “am I acting out of love or acting out of hate?”. For example, we’ve all stood on a tee box knowing that we have the wrong club in our hands, but instead of changing to the correct club, we decided to hit it anyway. I would consider this a form of self-hatred, or acting against my best interest. Not surprisingly, my performance usually suffers. Fortunately, the opposite is also true in that when I am acting and making decisions in a more loving way towards myself, or in my best interest, my performance usually improves.
By asking these questions, you will start to bring the motives for your behavior to conscious awareness, which in turn will give you choice over the course of your actions. As with anything new, it will take practice and patience to change. However, I am confident that the more you understand why you are doing what you are doing, you will develop a greater sense of self-control and more rapidly achieve your goals.