Tiger Woods' Lesson for Us All | The Mental Toughness Coach - Chris Dorris

Tiger Woods’ Lesson for Us All

Since the whole Tiger drama initiated last month, I’ve been getting countless emails , text messages, and hearing jokes and criticisms about him and what’s gone on. With such world-wide fame comes enormous public scrutiny, and his decisions and behaviors have resulted in, among other things, a lot of finger-pointing. A lot of judgment.

I was amazed at how quickly people went to the effort of creating Photoshoped images and posting  condescending YouTube videos about Tiger Woods and the drama he created. Tiger has given us an infinitely convenient opportunity to practice something here that it simply not useful – aligning through negativity. More specifically, his story has given us the opportunity to pretend that we , ourselves, are beyond transgression.

That’s not to say that each of has broken our marital or relationship agreements and had affairs. I have heard jokes and criticisms, however, offered by folks who have. The hypocrisy seems ironic. But when I think about why any of us have the inclination to cast such judgments, regardless of whether or not we are guilty of the same charges, it seems that we’re just doing what we’ve been told. We have been conditioned to believe that there’s something inadequate about us, something not good enough, or that we should be better in many ways than we are, or that we’re just flat out bad. And what accompanies that conditioning is the unconscious desire to deny ourselves any acknowledgment of our own dark sides. And instead, to cast judgment outwardly.


Why is it so much easier to point the finger at someone like Tiger and cast judgment than it is to turn my attention inward and ask myself questions like, “How am I breaking my word in my own life?” Or, “How am I out of integrity right now?” Or, “How am I breaking agreements or commitments with people these days?” It’s because I’ve been taught over the course of my lifetime to be ashamed of myself for my bad decisions and behaviors. I’ve been taught that there is something inadequate about me and my truth. So now I have the incentive to deny it. And instead to cast judgment outward. When I do this, I’m missing out on an opportunity for potentially tremendous growth.

I was working with a healer a few years ago, with the intention of examining my own decisions and behaviors within relationships. He taught me something profound called Radical Acceptance. He taught me that when I can stop judging myself for my bad decisions, my undesirable qualities or behaviors, and instead can practice literally LOVING them, by “radically accepting” every single part of myself completely, only then am I free to transform. As long as I put effort into defending, shaming or denying my “dark side” then I am incapable of growth.

Carl Jung, one of my favorite teachers in history, spoke about the “dark side” as that equally perfect side of our selves that simply has yet to have the light of consciousness shined upon it. Much like the dark side of the moon. Since our moon is locked in synchronous orbit around the Earth, we only get to see one side of it. The other side, the side in the “shadow” is dark. But that doesn’t mean that evil is occurring over there. It’s simply in the shadows. And so it is with our own selves. We have the lightness (consciousness) and the darkness (the unconscious). Both are beautiful. And as Alan Watts said, “Each of us is an aperture through which the universe observes itself. Only the game that we’re playing is to not know that.” Which conversely means that the game we get to play in life is to gradually come to know that each of us is the entire universe pretending to be human; to shine more and more light upon on own dark sides and bring more of the unconscious into the conscious. To grow. And we can never do that if we’re denying ourselves our dark sides as if they were bad, or evil, or inadequate.

By radically accepting ourselves as expressions of Divine Grace in human form, with human fallibility, and practicing loving the parts of ourselves that we’ve historically hated, we are free to grow beyond them and to transform. To move toward God Consciousness and Unity Consciousness.


It is said that all human suffering arises from the illusion of the separate self. Suffering originates from the belief that we are disconnected from source and from each other. So when I say to someone, “How the hell could Tiger Woods do something like that?!” The answer is simply, because he did. And hopefully he’ll experience great growth and transformation as a result of it. But it does me, nor anyone else, any service to engage in judging him for it. Nothing of value comes from that. No growth. No expansion. I’m just making it easier for us to experience separateness amongst ourselves versus sameness or connectedness. And it’s that separateness that leads to hurt, crime and war.

In the ancient language Sanskrit, there is a phrase, Tat Tvam Asi. Loosely translated, it means That Thou Are. Another way of saying that is, “That’s me.” The useful alternative to acknowledging separateness (through criticism, condemnation and judgment) is, of course, to practice acknowledging sameness.

Each of us contains the seeds of everything within us: compassion, hatred, generosity, greed, appreciation, resentment, honesty, deceit, etc. That’s not to say we are acting on each of those qualities. But in order for me to even make observation of something in another, I must also contain that something within myself. So the alternative practice is this:

Whenever you feel emotionally affected by someone else, in either a pleasant or an unpleasant way, recite the phrase to yourself, “Tat Tvam Asi”, or, “That’s me, and thank you God for making me exactly like that.” When you hear a criticism or a joke about Tiger’s infidelity, silently say to yourself, Tat Tvam Asi. Because you too contain the seed of in-congruence or unfaithfulness within you. And love that seed. When you witness a young boy unconditionally offering an elderly woman assistance with her groceries at the store, say Tat Tvam Asi. Because you too contain that seed of unconditional love and support within you. And love that seed. When someone cuts you off and flips you off on the highway, say to yourself, Tat Tvam Asi. Because you too contain the seeds of urgency and anger. And love those seeds. And when you hear a story about a woman giving her rent money to her neighbors so they can buy their children food, say to yourself, Tat Tvam Asi. Because you too contain the seeds of abundance, generosity, non-attachment and compassion. And love them.

When we remove the resistance to who and what we are, and instead radically accept and love all parts of ourselves, we are free to grow. When we replace the practice of recognizing how different we are with the practice of recognizing sameness, we are free to grow together.


  1. Kim Bennett says:

    Thanks Chris…you definitely have a gift for making us stop and think about what we are doing in our lives and if there is a better way!

  2. amya says:

    Her wipe board at home says……TAT TVAM ASI
    and…..”How did I kick butt today”

  3. Dan Sawyer says:

    Chris, that was really cool, yes I am one of those who have judged etc…possibly I need to re-think things and show some humility and compassion

  4. Mica Lee says:

    There are so many variables at play when a celebrity falls from grace in the eyes of the public: the crumbling of the illusion of perfection, a sense of betrayal, fear of the implications for others placed in similar celebrity pedestals…and all for the same reason; because we have to look at the imperfection of ourselves. You are so right on. In this case, I think race plays a huge role in how America reacted. Woods dominated a predominately white sport in a country that still doesn’t allow people of color in some country clubs. There are many, I’m sure, celebrating his public embarrassment, and a lot who feel let down. I think we place an unreasonable expectation of perfection on our celebrities, but especially our athletes. I’ve been saying this for a long time. I call it the “hypocrisy of shame.” Public expectations are so high, it’s almost inevitable that someone in this light will fail to meet them; then the public publicly shames them for not being perfect. It’s a distasteful dynamic. I can’t say I don’t have a little schadenfreude when a politician that accuses others of being immoral is caught having an affair or in the immoral act itself — I’m not perfect either. I’m human! But I do try to be more compassionate than to just follow the popular judgment “just because.” In the case of Woods, I think the crime is the punishment. He has to be incredibly humbled right now. What could I say or know that could possibly change or enhance that? These are his lessons, and he is inevitable learning from them.

  5. Kashmira says:

    So beautifully explained. 🙂

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