Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tiger Woods as Reformed and Forgiven

I was impressed by Woods' statement of contrition and that hard look that he took deep inside himself!
by Charlie Leck

The news media generally did not like last week's Tiger Woods statement about his contrition and changed attitude. I did. Let me try to explain why this miserable bastard may come back a changed and new man who we might actually like personally as well admire as an athletic wonder.

I've got some experience in sitting across from a person who is owning up to his/her failings and expressing a desire to turn it around. I've been pretty successful in determining whether that person was jiving me or being straight.

First off, Woods looked and sounded like a man who has been in group therapy. He had that beaten down, exhausted appearance that comes from people crapping all over you and tearing you down so far that you are but groveling in the muck of truth. In a good therapy session, Woods' fellows wouldn't care in the tiniest little bit that he was a mega-multi-millionaire who is regarded as the most talented player ever in his chosen profession. To them he was a bag of smelly waste who needed to get an honest and good look at just how crummy he is.

I got the feeling, from the glazed look in his eyes, that Tiger had been successfully torn down. From that position -- that low-down, miserable place -- it is then possible to rebuild a decent, good and happy person.

Tiger was down. I could see that clearly. The good news is that he is not out! He announced that he was on his way back into "treatment." That was a good word to hear him use because it likely means he has accepted what's going on as something good and positive for him and his future.

Lots of writers have surmised that Tiger is doing this therapy JUST and ONLY to try to rebuild his public relations image and, perhaps, to save a relationship with his children. That's always possible, but my observations of him during the statement led me to believe there is something real and truly sincere going on with the man.

I believe he is genuinely sorry for having hurt so many people, from his wife and children to his friends and employees. He thought he could do what he did without it causing that kind of pain. Remember what he said? He "didn't think the rules applied" to him. Wealth and fame had placed him on a different level where he could reach out and grab whatever gratification he wanted -- and, as he said, he didn't have to reach very far!

Believe me, in a therapy group like that, when you really see yourself -- when you see yourself so much more clearly than you can in a mirror -- when you can look below the surface and see clearly what a total piece of crap you really are -- you tend to want to change dramatically because of the ugliness you've seen.

Tiger was a man in that mode and he pledged to return a different man, with a different attitude in both his personal and professional life. Can that save his marriage? Will that keep his wife from hauling the children to Sweden as a way to punish Tiger? Can that win back the hearts of his golf fans? Can he rebuild his business and his professional career? Yes, I think so.

It will depend on how real they perceive him to be over the next couple of years. If he's in a good therapy group with tough, honest and caring partners, he has an extremely good chance of coming out of these sessions a new and rebuilt man.

Tiger had developed into something of a narcissist. That's a very bad place where you drive the love of other people away from you and cling only to a sick self-love that destroys you. If he can arrive at a place where he understands that others (all others) are as good or even better than he, then the therapy will have worked and Tiger Woods is likely to be a changed and different human being.

At this very time, Tiger is going through an intense self-examination that some people cannot handle. From the look of him on the day of his statement, I got the strong feeling that he had seen himself clearly and did not like what he saw, and was determined to rebuild a better person.

Could I be wrong? Of course! Yet, I've had a reasonable amount of experience here. I think Tiger hit rock bottom in the weeks before that statement. He could have stayed there and groveled around in his own excrement. Or, realizing that it was something he couldn't do on his own, he could have accepted the helping, lifting hands that were extended to him and begun an exciting change in his life.

I also like his reference to a return to his Buddhist faith. I'm often suspicious when I hear a condemned man suddenly accept religion; yet it seemed different and more humble with Woods. Buddhism makes no promises of salvation and eternal rewards. Its benefits are more immediate. I wrote several weeks ago on this blog about the influence Buddhism could have on Woods and about how I hoped he'd turn to his faith [Tiger Woods, Buddhism and Forgiveness ].

If Woods is really a changed person, we'll see some of the evidence in his golf game. Will he be more accepting of his mistakes and mis-hits? Will he be more gracious to others around him? Will he both win and lose graciously? Will he see victory on a golf course as unimportant when measured against the really vital issues of life? We'll see!

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