If you read the last post, you know one of the people who has changed my life, Brooke Castillo. She introduced me to self-coaching and pulled a bunch of different concepts and teachings and methods together to create The Model

I love the model because it’s easy to remember and it gives a starting place to organizing what’s going on in my brain- and you know.. I love organizing things! The model has given me so much awareness, and therefore power, over my own brain. Having a memorable structure makes it easy to use, share and talk about. 

Whenever I get coaching by someone trained by Brooke, our conversation is centered around the model – but it really just feels like a normal conversation with talking and questions and answers and going back to what we said a minute ago, and refining what I meant. 

And, whenever I coach someone using the model (because I went through Brooke’s coach training) I love having an easy to remember “agenda” and road map for what I want to ask, dig deeper on, point out, and review. It is so simple, but it is so amazing. 

So, what is this model I’m gushing about? It’s 5 letters. Each letter represents a word and every problem in the world, every issue you’re dealing with, every situation I’ve ever had to make my way through can be plugged into the model. 

The Model

The 5 letters are C, T, F, A and R. and those letters stand for Circumstance, Thought, Feeling, Action and Result. 

So, let’s plug a problem in to see how it works.  First, I’ll give you the context of the problem, then we’ll pull all the pieces out to match them with each of the letters of the Model. 

Here’s the situation- I get invited to a work event  with some of the VIPs in the company.  

My thoughts are: I never know how to act in these situations. I’m awkward at work events. So, I go into the event thinking: I don’t know what to do, I’m usually awkward at these things. I feel unsure of myself. 

When I get to the event, I’m not my usual, relaxed, normal self, instead, first I stand by myself in a weird pose. Then I mentally talk myself into joining a group so I try to inch my way in unnoticed, then creepily smile and listen while everyone else is talking normally. 

Finally, I’m thinking, I’ve been standing here for too long without saying anything so I have to add to the conversation otherwise they’ll think I’m weird, so I blurt out some random statement that I don’t even really agree with. 

And what’s the result- I’ve had a supremely awkward time. 

Putting a problem into the Model

The circumstance is that I’ve been invited to an event. – this is completely neutral. It’s not good or bad. And it’s indisputably true- if anyone asked, I could show them the invitation.. Or show the event on my calendar.  

The thought I had is “I’m awkward at work events.”When I think that specific thought:  “I’m awkward at work events” it makes me feel unsure of myself. That was my feeling because of the thought. 

So- just to recap so far- I told you the model is CTFAR – and then I told you the story. And from that story, we now know the Circumstance (invited to an event), my thought (I’m awkward at events) and my feeling “unsure.”

When I feel unsure about myself – I second guess myself and try things that aren’t my usual behavior – so I hold myself differently, I don’t speak up, in fact, I’m busy having a dialogue in my head about what I should or shouldn’t do instead of just being involved in the real life dialogue with other people – so those are my Actions that are driven by the feeling of being unsure that I felt because of my thought. 

And what’s the result when I second guess myself and try to act in a way that’s not my usual style? I show up as completely awkward! 

Isn’t that so interesting! The thought I had is exactly the reality I created for myself. My result is exactly what I told myself I think I am. 

And, guess what! I don’t ever want that result. I’m a cool person. I like talking to people. I like listening to people – so why did I get that result? 

Not because I was invited to a work event – but because of my thought about myself at work events. 

If you’ve ever read or followed the work of Byron Katie, the model might sound familiar to you. She asks, is it true, is it really true, how do you react when you believe that thought, who would you be without that thought and then she has you turn it around. 

So I look at the R, the result of the model, as the Turn Around in Byron Katie’s work. 

So, how did learning and using the model change my life?  

Because I realized that the only reason I’m feeling any emotion is because of what I’m thinking.. And I’m the one who chooses my thinking! 

If a thought makes me feel a way I don’t want to feel.. I can change the thought!  If thinking “I’m awkward” makes me feel unsure of myself, and I’d rather feel confident, I can change the thought “I’m awkward” to something else, a thought that makes me feel confident.

Thoughts are optional. But, we assume they are true and obvious. 

I think this is so funny when I’m being coached and my coach will ask me “what did you think when that happened” and I’ll be like “What?!? Of course I thought …..” as if there was only one possible thing to think and didn’t she know what that was because that is the obvious response to what happened!

Think about that for one minute- there isn’t only one thing to think in response to something- there are a million possible thoughts.. And you might be in the habit of believing the first one that pops into your mind. 

And you might immediately believe it as if its a fact that you know for sure. Have you ever stopped to wonder.. What else could I think about this situation?

Another thing I now know because of the model – and use it to my advantage as much as possible- is our thoughts create our results. 

So, in the example I gave you my thought about how I show up at work events and that thought resulted in me showing up that way at a work event. 

Another way to look at this is like a self-fulfilling prophecy. 

Sometimes just being aware of my thinking can snap me out of it because I know that my thoughts equal my results, so if I notice a less than desirable thought, I know it will lead to a less than desirable result. 

Or, I’ll notice my thinking and realize I don’t want to be the kind of person who thinks that, and I’ll try on a different thought to see if that works for me instead. 

Discarding Thoughts

Did you know you can discard thoughts? You don’t have to keep thinking thoughts you don’t like. What happens to thoughts we discard? I think the answer is nothing. 

You’ve probably discarded billions of thoughts over the course of your life, and literally never gave them another thought once you discarded them. 

How do we discard thoughts?

                    • We dismiss them
                    • We ignore them
                    • We forget them
                    • We refute them

And when we do any of these things, we have no resistance to the thoughts at all. Those thoughts have zero power. They don’t produce any feelings and don’t drive any actions. It’s like they’re just gone! (but maybe not forever, we can talk more about thinking patterns and thought habits and neural pathways later).

And, consider this: discarding thoughts can work both in and against our favor. 

For example, one day I was dancing in Zumba, and a man walked in. I noticed him because I was in the back row and he was heading toward my general area.  I noticed myself thinking “ what if he’s coming to abduct me?”, and then immediately I thought, “that’s ridiculous!” and the thought was dismissed. 

And then I saw him walk to the stack of exercise mats behind me and grab one and walk out. See how I had a thought (which was actually an immediate thought of threat when I saw an unknown person in an unexpected place) and I immediately dismissed it without any work or drama on my part? I just told myself “that’s ridiculous” as soon as I thought it.

Or, on the other hand, I know I’ve gotten a thought like a hunch or a warning – and I’ve ignored it – so then the thought is gone.. And later I realized “Oh, I did think about it, but I ignored it!”

And, if you’re like me, I know you’ve had amazing world-saving ideas in the shower, or in the middle of a conversation while someone else was talking, or while you were driving.. And then you forgot it- and you don’t even have a hint of it left – it’s totally absent from your brain. If I offered you a million dollars right now to recall one of those forgotten ideas, you’d remember that you had a great idea – but you wouldn’t be able to tell me what it was. There was a thought that you forgot. 

And sometimes we refute our own thoughts- we argue with ourselves- at least I do. It might go like this: Bex, you should do xyz – you would be really good at it it. No, that would be too hard. And the original thought – that I should do xyz – refuted! And gone.

This post may be straying too far from the original topic which was to tell how you how the model changed my life- but this all goes into it!

The model gave me a framework, a way to organize all the different elements of a situation and see it clearly laid out in front of me. And when I say “see it” I don’t mean in my mind as a visualization. I actually write these models out while I’m journaling, or if I’m out and about, I might record a model in my phone on a notes app.

The model pauses me in the middle of it and let’s me remember that the circumstance is neutral. And it causes me to ask myself “what am I making this mean?”

If it starts raining, and I feel disappointed – I’m not disappointed because it’s raining. I’m disappointed because of my thoughts about the rain. If Im disappointed, I’m probably making the fact that it’s raining mean something – like, “now I have to change my plans.”  That statement isn’t necessarily true: I certainly don’t have to change my plans, I don’t know how long it’s going to be raining. 

Maybe my plans are still possible despite the rain … there are so many other thoughts I could think in the moment. But in this example, I’m making the rain mean something disappointing to me.

The model reminds me that my thoughts are optional. In the example I just gave about the rain- the thought “I have to change my plans” isn’t the only thought available to me when it starts raining. 

The model illustrates to me that my thoughts create my results. I’m creating a closed feedback loop for myself with my thinking- a self fulfilling prophecy every time. 

Isn’t that powerful, knowing that? Because now that I know that, I can choose to think thoughts that give me the results I want! And the more I use this technique, the more I see it working for me.. And the more I love it!

Sometimes, I used to go into a task or a project or a chore thinking “that’s going to take so much time!”  And guess how much time it would take (or would feel like it took) – so. Much. time! Blah!

Now that I know thinking the thought “that’s going to take so much time” results in tasks feeling dreadful and boring and infinite, I try to catch myself when I think that and refute the thought – thereby interrupting the model. So, if I catch myself thinking “that’s going to take so much time” I might instantly refute it with “I don’t know how long it will take.” 

That thought actually makes me feel a little curious rather than dread, and I have much less resistance to starting the task when I’m feeling curious – and do you know what happens when you start a task with less resistance? It takes less time to complete! 

Thought Download

Before we go any further, I do need to tell you the prerequisite to doing the model. It’s called a Thought Download. 

It is so valuable – but sometimes I have so much resistance to doing it. 

So, when I find myself totally stressing about a situation and playing it over and over in my mind and getting myself all wrapped up about what happened and why and what I should have done or what I might do and why she shouldn’t have done what she did and how I should react, etc – you get the idea .. instead of just continuing to swirl that all up in my brain and letting it get more and more mixed up and intertwined, I need to just write each thought down on paper. 

Sometimes, I’m thinking so many thoughts that I can’t write fast enough and I can’t keep up with my brain.

I’ve found another very effective way to do a thought download is just to get out my phone, open my notes app and start dictating all my thoughts – that way I can get it all out, without judgement, without editing- and then go back and look at the list that I created. Then, I can see if there’s a running thread through the thoughts – like fear, or scarcity or worrying what other people think. 

I can also immediately notice if some thoughts aren’t true or if I couldn’t possibly know them. For example, if one of my thoughts is “she thinks I don’t know what I’m doing.” I can notice that I don’t know what she thinks.. So that thought isn’t necessarily true.

Even though doing a thought download is hard to do when I’m in the thick of my whipped up emotion It is so helpful because it gives me a break from all the thinking and lets me notice my thoughts from an outside perspective. 

The key here is NO EDITING during downloading- just get them all out of your brain onto paper as is to be able to see them and be aware of them. 

Then, once I can see all the thoughts, I can choose one of them and plug it into the model to see what result it is creating for me.  I can see the circumstance as a neutral situation that’s not good or bad. I can see the thought I have about the situation. I can see what feeling is created when I think that thought and what action is driven by that feeling, and then of course, I can see the result. 

And from there I can decide if that’s the result that I want for myself (usually it’s not) and then I have the awareness to keep thinking and believing the thought.. Or discard it or refute it or ignore it.. And replace it with a thought that does give me the result I want. 

And that’s how the model has changed my life! And that is it for today. I just wanted to describe what the Model is and how I use it to get better results for myself. 

How about you?

I want to know your thoughts and your reactions. What questions do you have about doing models, or doing thought downloads?

Do you have a situation in your life that you think wouldn’t fit into a model? Or have you used the model and found it life changing for yourself as well?

The Model Changed My Life