Ever since last week’s Love to Learn post, I’ve been thinking about different ways that people do learn. 

Do you know people have different learning styles?

Some people are visual learners.That’s me! I love to see graphics and pictures and I really like to take notes while I learn.Some people are auditory learners. Maybe this is you. Maybe this is why a podcast is such a great way for you to learn new things. And some people are kinesthetic learners. They learn by doing. They learn with motion and movement and action. As I was thinking about kinesthetic learning, I remembered one way to take in new information is to incorporate movement and action when you want to learn or remember something.

Group Synchronized Charades

In fact, back in my corporate training days, when we outsourced to a sales training company -they came in and they had this whole learning technique where they were teaching our employees a new process that everyone was supposed to adopt. And the sales training company actually had gestures set up for every step of the process. As we learned, we all did the gestures together and repeated the steps – almost like a chant. It was a very unique way to teach and learn something. And it was very memorable and it got a few laughs of course, because we looked like we were doing Group Synchronized Charades. All of this got me thinking about how I would teach someone the five step process that I use in my coaching and in my own self-coaching. How would I teach these steps with actions or gestures? And that’s what got me onto this idea of Motion and the Model.

Whenever I have a new topic, and whenever I’m thinking about what vocabulary or what specific words I want to choose, I frequently look up the words I’m thinking about so that I can make sure I’m using them correctly, or to confirm that I understand what the word actually means. Because, sometimes we use words incorrectly or we use words, not realizing they mean something slightly different than how we’ve been using it. 

What Do I Mean by Motion?

I looked up motion and the first few definitions that I found were all about physics. I was not expecting that!

Motion is the phenomenon in which an object changes its position over time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of displacement, distance, velocity, acceleration, speed, and time.

I love this physics definition – even though it doesn’t exactly refer to what I’m talking about – because using the model has changed me over time. It has caused me to change my outlook, or position. It has caused me to displace thoughts that don’t help me

Today’s post requires you to use motion, specifically your hands- if you want! Or, don’t use your hands at all, and just imagine the motions as I describe them.

Revisiting the Model

When I say the model, I’m referring to it so casually as if we’re all on the same page and we all know what I’m talking about. But just as a quick refresher, when I say the model, I am referring to the coaching framework that I use on myself when I journal and when I do my own mental self coaching. It’s the coaching framework that I use with coaching clients. I love the simplicity of it. I love that it is so universal. I love that anything can be plugged into it. The Model really gives us a way to separate and dissect what we’re thinking, how we’re feeling, what we’re doing or not doing, and then lets us see what results we’re getting. 

I have a post about the model where I explained how and why I use the model with an example of it from early last year. And now is the perfect time to revisit this topic and dive a little bit deeper in and teach it to you again, or refresh your memory or understanding of the model with some motions so that you can mentally, or actually physically, practice it. I also want to share an example that popped up this week as was talking about it and teaching the motions.


The model is an acronym C T F A R, and each of the letters stands for one element of this framework. The C is about the circumstance. T is about the thought. F is about the feeling. A is for the actions or inaction. The R is the result. Let me tell you what each of these mean and tell you the corresponding motion you can use to act along if you have a free hand or if it won’t hurt anything if you move or wave your arms around and make hand gestures along with me.


The first part of the model is about reality. It’s about noticing what is actually happening. This is like all caps, maybe bold: IS.

This is what is happening. When we talk about reality, put your hands up above your head, with palms facing each other, but not clapped together and then open your arms in an arching way. It’s almost like you’re outlining a rainbow above your head. This is the motion that I use to describe reality. It’s like, this is what is happening. It is what’s all around us. It is what everyone can see. There’s no disputing reality. There’s no arguing with reality. (Although of course, sometimes we try to argue against reality without success.) Reality means everyone can see it and agree to it. There’s just no question. It’s also neutral. It’s not good or bad. It just is reality. The motion that goes along with reality is your palms, facing each other, and then arching down like you’re making a rainbow around yourself.

What I Make It Mean

The next motion is the motion for what I am making reality mean. It is what I am thinking about what’s happening. It’s the sentence in my mind. And since it is like a sentence that my brain is telling me, I use air quotes. 

To do this motion, use two fingers on each hand – your pointer and your index fingers. You have them up, on either side of your face, parallel to your eyes and you curl your fingers down and then back up at the same time. You do that a few times to make air quotes. 

Hopefully you’re doing this with me right now. It’s very fun. Hopefully you recognize what I mean by air quotes.

And really, that is kind of just a way of saying, that’s your thought, that’s what you think. That’s what you’re saying, but it’s not necessarily reality. I think sometimes we use air quotes in conversation to mean “apparently” when we don’t necessarily agree with what we’re quoting. So whatever thought you have about reality, that’s what you think but everyone wouldn’t necessarily agree with it. So that’s why it gets air quotes. 

How I’m Feeling

The next motion is for how I’m feeling. For feeling, I put both of my hands, one on top of the other, with my palms flat against my body on my chest. If you were to demonstrate a strong feeling about something, you might put a hand to your chest. 

Try it now. Maybe you can even feel your heartbeat, or you can feel your breath up going up and down in your chest. And then if necessary, you could even slide your hands, maybe outward towards your arms so that your hands have crossed over onto your upper arms or maybe even your shoulders. And you’re almost giving yourself a little hug here, which goes along with feelings. 

Breathe and Notice

This is a good opportunity to take a breath. When I ask myself asking what am I feeling? I instinctively close my eyes and exhale while I go inward to really scan my body to notice what am I feeling?

Sometimes I just notice a sensation first. Like, I feel tight or I feel heavy, but sometimes I can immediately say an emotion. Like I feel sad or I feel angry.

Sometimes, I’ll ask someone “so what’s the feeling?”. And they will say another sentence.  Maybe they’ll say “she shouldn’t have done that.” Okay. So that’s another air quote sentence – a thought. “She shouldn’t have done that.” Then I’ll ask again, So how do you feel when you think she shouldn’t have done that?

Maybe scared. or hurt? 

The feeling should usually just be a one word emotion. If you aren’t able to come up with the emotion at this point, you just know it’s not good. Maybe the feeling is bad or terrible. Okay, We can get a little bit more specific and descriptive. Maybe as you check in more with your body and as you deepen into that feeling and allow that feeling to be there instead of resisting it. But if the feeling really is simply bad – we can work with that and move on to the next motion in the model. 

 So far, we’ve done three of the gestures. Do them again with me if your hands are available. We’ve done the rainbow gesture, which represents reality. We’ve done the air-quotes gesture, which represents what you are making it mean. And we’ve done the feeling gesture, which is just your hands on your chest. Maybe your eyes are closed, and you’re just tuning into your own body to notice how you’re feeling.

Action Grid

The fourth gesture is actually four in one. You make a cross or a plus sign right in front of your chest. You have one hand going straight up and down. And the other hand is crossing it in the middle so that the two hands look like a plus sign. This represents the action grid. If you look at that plus sign, you have four different corners or four different sections in that action grid. 

What you Do or Don’t Do

This motion reminds you to think of four different things: what you do and don’t do, both internally and externally. You’re going to think of what do you do when you’re feeling that emotion and what don’t you do when you’re feeling that way that you would normally do? This part of the model is asking how you show up. If I were watching you on a video camera or from a distance, this is what I would see you doing and not doing. 

What Would I See?

Would I see you smiling? Would I see you hanging your head down? Would I see you talking to other people or not talking to anyone? Would I see you hiding and retreating? 

The two parts of the external, or how you’re showing up, is what you do and don’t do. 

What’s Happening in Your Head?

Then the other part are what you do and don’t do internally in your own head. So do you think of other options? Do you give grace? Do you think of more problems? 

Maybe, you don’t remember that the situation is temporary? You don’t remind yourself there are plenty of solutions. You don’t give someone the benefit of the doubt. These are all examples of things that you do and don’t do that I wouldn’t be able to see because it’s all happening inside your head. 

Now we are starting to get some awareness. We are making a list of actions you do (or don’t do) because of how you’re feeling, because of what you’re thinking. 

What  I Create for Myself 

This brings us to the final motion of the model, which is your hands, both open, palms facing up, almost like you’re serving something on a tray and what you are serving is your results. These are the results that you get from the things that you do and the things that you don’t do both internally and externally. It’s what you create for yourself with your actions. 

That’s the entire model all acted out in motion.

Real Life Example

Earlier this week I was describing these motions and the model to a few different people. I asked for an example from someone in the group. I put her on the spot a little bit. I said, “Hey, just tell me about, you know, something you’ve been thinking about recently,either good or bad, just tell me something that’s been on your mind.” 

She said, “well, I got fired.” Whew. Wow. What a strong, interesting example to use, to plug into this model so that we can see what results are created from thinking the thought “I got fired.” Now, just pause here and notice some people might say, “well, I got fired” is a fact. It is reality that everyone would agree with. 

Dig Deeper to Check for Thoughts

But, I also just want to give the reminder and the encouragement that it’s always okay to dig deeper and really check to see if something is a sentence in your brain, in air quotes, or if it is a neutral fact that it’s part of reality, that rainbow.

Reality is what everyone sees and agrees on, it doesn’t have any adjectives or charged language. It is a neutral description of the actual event or the actual thing that happened. When I probed a little deeper into what had happened in this real life example, it turns out she is a service provider and a client she was working with decided to discontinue the relationship. That’s the reality.

If we ask the client, Hey, did you decide to discontinue the relationship? She would say yes. If we ask my volunteer, Hey, did your client decide to discontinue the relationship? Yes, everyone would agree on it and it’s not charged, it’s not good or bad. It’s completely neutral. It is just the bare bones of what happened.

But when I asked the volunteer in this description what was on her mind. She gave the thought (I’m adding) air quotes, “I got fired.” 

How You Feel After Being Fired

When you think of someone getting fired or when you think, what, if you got fired, what emotion would that bring up for you? 

Now we can put our hands on our chest as the next motion and the next part of the model. We can all probably imagine different reactions or different emotions, but the one that came up in this example was that she felt rejected.

Yeah. It makes sense. If you’re thinking (in air quotes) “I got fired.” Of course, a feeling that could go along with that thought is rejection. So now we have our one word emotion. Rejection. 

Now, let’s go to the action grid. But before we do – I just want to acknowledge that humans are complex. Our brains are sophisticated and have the ability to think multiple thoughts at once and feel lots of emotions simultaneously. I point this out to remind you to stay in one specific model at a time. You can do as many models as you want about any given situation to get awareness around all the various thoughts and feelings and actions – but to use the model most effectively,do each model on it’s own for each individual thought.

Back to the Action Grid

So back to our example – where our volunteer started talking about all the things she did after finding out she would no longer be working with that client. We got very specific to only ask about what she did and didn’t do when she was feeling rejected.

First I asked what I would be able to see either on a close circuit camera or if I was sitting across the room or across the street from, what actions would I be able to see? Since she’s feeling rejected, she’s going to withdraw. She’s not going to put herself out there. She’s not going to be her normal, upbeat self. That’s something that she doesn’t do. She doesn’t smile. She doesn’t reach out to other people. She doesn’t approach new clients and new possible business relationships while she’s feeling rejected. Those are things that we can see.

The 2nd half of the action grid is about things that she does and things that she doesn’t do internally. The things that we cannot see, but are definitely happening in the brain.

The things that she’s doing are she’s feeling sorry for herself. She’s blaming the client. She’s playing the situation over and over and replaying it in her mind and kind of spinning on it. What is she not doing? She’s not dropping it. She’s not moving on. She’s not thinking of other possibilities. 

All of these actions and inactions are all because she’s feeling rejected. The reason why she’s feeling rejected is not because the client decided to discontinue the relationship. No, no. The reason why she’s feeling rejected is because she’s thinking the thought (in air quotes) “I just got fired”. Interesting. Isn’t it? 

Reviewing the Complete Model

Let’s review this complete model. We talked about reality. The client discontinued the relationship. We talked about, the air quotes, what she made it mean: I just got fired. Her feeling is rejected. Then we talked about what she’s doing and not doing both internally and externally.

As we list out all those actions and inactions, we cans what are you creating when you don’t put yourself out there? You don’t smile. You don’t seek out new business. You retreat, you spin on what happened. You blame your clients for their decision. What happens when you do or don’t do all of those things? What do you create for yourself? 

 In a way we could summarize a little bit and say, you cut yourself off from other clients.Because you’re not putting yourself out there. You’re not being hopeful. You’re not seeing possible business relationships. So you cut yourself off from other possible clients. Wow. So the original thought in air quotes was I just got fired. And the result that she creates when we go through that model is I cut myself off from clients.

She Has the Power

Very good to know, because that reminds her that the results are in her power. She has power here. I’m not saying she can reverse time and have power over the client not ending the relationship. It might feel like the client had the power because the client is the one who discontinued the relationship. 

But really, the feeling of rejection came from her thought “I got fired.” The action stemming from that feeling of rejection and then the result of cutting herself off from other possible clients is all based on the thought “I just got fired.” 

She has so many options to think when a client ends a relationship. She could think “I just got fired.” She might also think, “okay, I accept the clients decision.” She could also think “We were there not a good fit to work together.” She could also think “this frees up my time to work with someone who’s a better fit.” There are so many things she could think .

If she chooses to think “this frees up my time” and then she checks in with herself, she may notice her feeling is relief, or acceptance, or hopeful.

What would the action grid look like coming from acceptance or hope?

We might see her doing things like reaching out to other clients. Making a new marking plan. 

Internally she might be noticing the valuable lesson she just learned. Internally what she wouldn’t be doing is spinning on the last conversation with the previous client.

Don’t you love how this awareness by plugging the situation into the model (and using the fun motions) can remind you to be intentional about your thinking?!

Actually, It’s a Thought

I love how it reminds me that something by brain thinks is 100% fact is actually an optional thought that I can choose to continue thinking, or just drop or replace with something more helpful. 

And I love using motions to remember the model because you can start anywhere in the motions!

So, if you catch yourself thinking “why do I do this all the time?” “Do” is an action so it goes in the Action Grid. Then you can work backwards from there.

What’s the Feeling?

How am I feeling that’s making me do this?

Or, if you catch yourself thinking something and you notice the sentence you are thinking – remember to put it in air quotes to designate to yourself you know that’s what YOU are saying- it’s a sentence in YOUR mind. 

You can go backwards or forwards – either find the neutral situation that doesn’t have any descriptors or charged language that everyone would agree with – even just defining the neutral situation can be so helpful. 

Or you could go to the next gesture, the hands on your chest – to notice how you feel when you think that thought in air quotes. Then keep going through the rest of the motions to see what results are created when you do think that air quotes thought. 

Going Through the Motions

And one last fun comment about motions before we wrap up today. I just said “going through the motions” which is a common expression and usually it describes when we do something rotely without thinking about  – but now you have specific motions to go through that will encourage you to pause, slow down and get intentional about what you’re thinking, feeling, doing and creating. 

So, moving forward, I really hope you DO decide to go through the motions all the time!

I give you full permission and encouragement to do this in public and around other people. Who cares how you look! Let them think and wonder what they will! You’ll know the benefit of what you’re doing! And – it will probably be fun.. And could lead to some really interesting conversations!