A few months ago I discovered The Life Coach School podcast and its host, Brooke Castillo. I carefully listened for a while, just processing the information passively. She talks about weight loss, relationships, business and pretty much any topic you can think of. Things started to make sense and I started to apply what Brooke was teaching.
My results so far? My anxiety has decreased and I’m finally losing weight in a sustainable way, not by dieting but by learning how to feel my feelings instead of eating them.
Here’s a quick overview of the model and a few examples from what I dealt with myself.
The Self Coaching Model
- Circumstances trigger
- Thoughts that cause
- Feelings that cause
- Actions that cause
Circumstances are always neutral until you have thoughts about them.
Thoughts are sentences in your mind that you believe – or beliefs if you want to call them that way.
Feelings are vibrations in your body and they are described by one word – sad, happy, excited, afraid, etc. And based on how you feel, you take or don’t take a specific action.
Let’s take an example, same circumstance, different thoughts and different results.
- Circumstance: Your partner says “that dress doesn’t look great”
- Thought: “That’s so rude of him!”
- Feeling: Possibly angry
- Action: Your turn your back on him and go to dinner by yourself
- Result: You don’t have a great time at dinner
What if someone else says the same thing?
- Circumstance: Someone on the street says “that dress doesn’t look great”
- Thought: “Yes it does, and I look fabulous”
- Feeling: Confident
- Action: You go to dinner happy with your dress choice
- Result: You have a great time at dinner.
The circumstance was the same. Someone said that the dress doesn’t look good, but because your thoughts about it were different, the results were completely different.
Did you ever make yourself angry and punched the wall (or something less aggressive) just by remembering something someone said to you? The event had happened already, the person is not there, you just THOUGHT about it. And that triggered the rest.
So thoughts are very powerful, we have to be aware of them, before trying to change anything. And once you see the jungle of thoughts that lives in your brain, you’ll realise that’s no surprise that life isn’t what you want it to be.
How to get started
I started watching my thoughts in a very simple way. I set an alarm on my phone at 3 pm, when I knew I might be on a break, that asked me “What are you thinking about?”. It was an opportunity for me to catch my thoughts, just to be aware of what’s going on in there. I sometimes found myself judging someone or thinking I hated what I was doing at the moment. I also analysed how I felt thinking those things and I didn’t like it.
So it was time to take action.
I started journaling in the morning. For 10 minutes straight (sometimes more if there is something on my mind), I write whatever I can think of. When the time is up, I look back on what I wrote and try to find a sentence that causes me emotional pain. I fill in the model and then try to replace the thought with something that I can believe and that can cause a different feeling. I want to emphasise “a thought I can believe” because the feeling won’t change otherwise. Ever tried affirmations and had no results? That’s why.
Examples of applying the model
I was writing about the fact that I left my office job and now we rely on Alin’s salary and what I make from teaching yoga. I was freaking out about not having enough. Here’s how I filled in the model.
- Circumstance: Money
- Thought: The money will run out fast
- Feeling: Fear
- Action: Not spending on anything
- Result: Living a very disappointing life
I don’t want that! So I replaced the thought with something that I believe and can make me take action!
- Circumstance: Money
- Thought: I can always make more money
- Feeling: Freaking excited!
- Action: Take on a few more classes and create an online course
- Result: More money and live the life I want
That’s what I’m talking about!!!
I planned my Easter lunch and had some chocolate on the plan. I felt really guilty about it. I knew that my relationship with food is something I need to fix so I kept writing until I got to something I can live with.
- Circumstance: Chocolate on plan
- Thought: Chocolate is bad
- Feeling: Guilty
- Action: Eat with guilt and feel worse afterwards
- Result: A bad relationship with food
And here’s where I needed to work some more. I had to change the thought that chocolate is bad, but for someone who knows nutrition, it’s hard to convince myself that there are no good or bad foods. Some foods create unwanted results in the body and don’t serve you well, except for offering some pleasure at the moment. So by my definition – they’re bad. But I also know that if you eat plenty of fruit and vegetables, some of the negative effects go away. And chocolate has some positives too, so its net effect is neutral (depending on quantity).
My model became:
- Thought: Chocolate is neutral (not good! see, if you don’t believe the positive thought, make it neutral)
- Feeling: Excited to eat in on plan
- Action: Eat the planned amount and enjoy it
- Result: A healthy relationship with food
We covered money and food, so let’s talk about work! I didn’t have any private clients and I was trying to get to the bottom of it. Was there a thought that was keeping me stuck? Of course, it was…
- Circumstance: Private clients
- Initial thought: I’m not good enough to train privately
- Feeling: Afraid, shy, guilty
- Action: Not creating any offers or look for opportunities
- Result: No private clients
This is another model where I didn’t believe the positive replacement thought. “I’m the best teacher” didn’t create a good feeling for me. So here’s what I came up with:
- Replacement thought: I am trained and capable of solving problems
- Feeling: Proud
- Action: Offer and look for opportunities
- Result: Private clients
And I have to tell you: it worked! I offered to train two of my friends and they’re very happy, so that gave me the confidence to go out and look for more opportunities.
Do you need to write it down? You can do the thought switch in your mind during the day, as events happen. But I do recommend the morning journaling because writing creates a deeper bond between you and the new thought. And unloading your brain is good to do anyway, it frees up space in your mind!
Want to learn more about this? I recommend listening to Brooke’s podcast, The Life Coach School or Natalie Bacon’s podcast, Design Your Dream Life. Natalie’s a coach trained by Brooke, so she uses the same concepts and she’s lovely to listen to.
Want some help to get started? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll happily answer your questions.