Dr Stewart Hase - Psychologically Speaking

From cock of the walk to feather duster

To many its a futile exercise that just ruins a good walk, and at times I feel like agreeing, but last week I was happy chasing a little white ball around Lismores golf course. Its interesting how difficult a game can be when the ball is not even moving. It just sits there waiting to be hit, albeit in some challenging spots when it chooses to hide behind bushes, at the entrance to a rabbit burrow or resting between branches in a tree. Golf is a game full of anthropomorphic (giving human characteristics to non-humans) illusions in that golf balls choose to do things, clubs behave in particular ways, greens do things to balls and the wind has many personalities depending on the outcome of the shot you might have made. This all confirms that golf is not as simple a game as it looks and that it reflects something of the human condition.

Anyhow, a colleague had played a hole really well and then had a disaster on the next. He commented, in remarkably good humour given what had happened, that in golf one goes from cock of the walk to feather duster very quickly. This is very true not only from hole to hole but also from game to game. One week you can be right on top of your game and play a great round and the next week its as if youd never ever picked up a golf club before.

Lifes like that too. One day you are top of the world, doing great things, admired by those around you, self-esteem through the roof. The next, nothing seems to go right, no-one wants to know you and you feel like crawling in a hole and hiding. Ive noticed that people can be very unforgiving towards others when they are making mistakes, or when things dont go quite right. Mind you, these are also the times you find out who your friends really are and get support from those who do love you. Me, I go and seek out those who are close to me at these times and get all the sympathy and hugs I can get. Being a big sook can be very therapeutic.

Another way of handling things when youre looking like a feather duster is to not take it all too seriously and laugh at it. And definitely dont listen to the criticism around you, most of which will be second hand gossip in the corridors. People like to criticise because it makes them feel so much better about their own flaws. So, its all a matter of putting things in perspective. And its so much healthier than getting angry, miserable and bashing yourself up. It is really sad seeing someone so miserable that they throw their golf club at a tree or into a lake or across three fairways in response to a shot that went wrong.

You learn a lot from watching peoples reactions to bad golf shots or to a whole game going down the gurgler. Mostly, unless you want to bend or break the rules (and you learn something about people that do that too), you play the ball wherever it might lie and you deal with whatever might be dished up to you.

Its like that in life too. I dont think Ill be a feather duster today thank you very much!

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