Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking

Vision for the future

There is a very persistent spider at my house that insists on making a web across the pathway down to our fledgling orchard. Actually it should be called a collection of would be fruit trees rather than an orchard but I like to put a positive spin on things if I can. Better to make myself feel good rather than create all sorts of doubts. Anyhow, each time we go down the path the web is destroyed either accidentally as we walk into it face first (yuk!) or we remember in time and swipe it away with a stick. Either way, this very persistent and resilient spider keeps coming back. Must be a prime spot for catching insects and the occasional gardener.

One reason for the spiders resilience might be that the web is only swept away infrequently. Some time ago a bunch of psychologists with very devious minds undertook an experiment with spiders and their web making. They would allow the spiders to make their webs and then immediately destroy it. Then theyd destroy it when it was half finished. Gradually the web became more and more erratic looking and eventually would completely lose that wonderful symmetry that is the magic of what spiders do. In effect the poor old spiders gave up. One way of looking at this is that the spider lost sight of its purpose and could not visualise a way forward.

When people are distressed or unhappy there is a tendency to think that the bad feelings we are experiencing will never go away. We feel locked in, trapped. As a result the future looks incredibly bleak. The most common interpretation of this is that the present (feeling bad) makes us feel hopeless about a different future (the future looks bad).

A more helpful way of looking at this is to realise that in fact the future can create the present far more powerfully than the other way around. Imagine that the doctor has told you that you only had a year to live or that you knew that you were to retire in a years time (oh bliss!). Id be confident that knowing the future affects quite dramatically what you would be doing in the present.

So, imagine a desired future (six months, a year) and think about how youd like things to be. Then come back to the present and work out what it is you have to do to get there. This may be quite small steps of course. But if we gently take one step after another it is surprising how we suddenly find ourselves somewhere different than where we were before.

Now, if I could just apply this to my golf!

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