Bend it like Beckham: Emotional edition

There’s this sport. You don’t have to do much. You get to wear designer clothes. A guy will lug the equipment for you. And you sure as heck don’t have to run or break a sweat. In fact, you are chauffeured around in a small vehicle. The most exercise you will get is some hip movement and a lazy stroll.

No one except the players understands the rules or the point of this game. And still, this happens to be one of the toughest sport in the world.

Golf, also known as Tiger Woods, is brutal for the sheer amount of monotonous practice it involves. Imagine spending years standing in one place getting every muscle in your body to obey one another. That’s just one part of golf known as the golf swing.

While the difficulty of a sport may be subjective, there’s no denying that a typical golf-practice session (8-10 hours every day) sounds objectively merciless. What makes Golf different is the inordinate amount of practice it takes to even get started.

For long, we have associated practice with skills: Playing a symphony, mastering a golf swing, or solving a Rubik’s cube.

But what about practice when it comes down to thinking and emotions?

We look at compassion, creativity, and courage as binary innate abilities. Not as skills that can be practiced. We look at them in days instead of years. If you yelled at someone or got yelled, you automatically have a bad day. And you conclude you have issues. And you tell yourself you suck.

This is common with confidence, empathy, anger. You become discouraged because you lack confidence. You become angry because you got angry. You hate yourself for your insensitivity.

This is like admonishing yourself for not being a Golf pro after a couple of hours of practice.

The popular theory with learning skills is that mastery takes somewhere close to 10,000 hours of deliberate practice. With emotions, most of us haven’t even clocked 1000 hours. Because the rate of failure is frustratingly high.

We are stupid. And we are hard on ourselves. That’s a shitty alliance. We need to think about change in years instead of days or weeks. Like any skill, a couple of weeks is not going to get your very far given how little you understand your own emotions.

We look at the emotion pro’s and wonder why we can’t be so confident/calm/creative. Because they make the game look so easy. We can’t quite fathom all this took practice.

Brutal Practice.

Only instead of hitting a ball a thousand times a day, you are getting hit by embarrassment, hurt, regret and impatience. Instead of micromanaging your muscles, you are letting your brain learn acceptance. Of course, you don’t see any of that during the game.

That’s why the most confident and creative people you know will tell you they were never always like that. They all practiced. Growing old is the most natural form of practice. But it’s also slow and involves little deliberate effort.

Instead of looking back and realizing how most of your worries, troubles, and problems were a frivolous waste of time and hating yourself for wasting your life away, look forward to problems that give you the best practice.

All of philosophy is a long practice session in thinking and emotions. Wisdom is the result of hard practice. The need for change can make you very impatient. You can’t expect to be creative and confident if you can’t practice within the emotional confines of monotony, embarrassment, and failure.

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