Before I go any further, I have to explain The Model. It is the most basic piece to this work. The Model was developed by Brooke Castillo, founder of The Life Coach School, but she is pretty quick to say that she did not make this up. She studied psychology and noticed themes and put them all together into a way that made them practical to use.
The premise is that we all live in circumstances (C) and we don’t always have control over those. Circumstances are facts with no drama. I have a body. It’s gravitational pull to the earth is currently (a number). I have a husband and children. My husband or child said, “(fill in the exact specific words)”. My child has been diagnosed with (specific diagnosis). I have a bank account. It has (this exact amount of money) in it. No drama, just boring facts.
Then, our brain goes CRAZY providing all kinds meaning for those circumstances in our thoughts (T). We have so many automatic thoughts that we don’t even notice them all. For me, I sometimes think thoughts “out loud” inside my brain. As in, I think in sentences that I’m consciously forming and paying attention to. But what I’ve noticed over the last year and a half is that MOST of my thoughts are buried in my subconscious (or at least my barely conscious).
Thoughts are so interesting to me because given any set of circumstances every person will have a completely different set of thoughts! For instance if I tell my kids, “Hey! We’re going out for burgers tonight!” I will get all of these responses:
“Woohoo! Thank you, you’re the best mom EVER!”
“Ugh, I don’t like burgers, can we have Chick-fil-a instead?”
“Mom, I’m vegetarian. We have to go somewhere with veggie burgers at least.”
“Can I just stay home, I’m not really hungry and restaurants are too loud and crowded.”
Same circumstance, so many different thoughts!
I’ve gone over this in greater detail here, but when we have thoughts, it triggers electrical impulses that release chemicals in our bodies that we register as emotions or feelings (F). Feelings are one word. Sad. Elated. Confused. Worried. Irate. I talked about feelings and how important it is to let ourselves experience them fully here.
The way we feel fuels our actions (A). For example, when I feel overwhelmed the action I tend to take is doing nothing, HA! Not useful for sure. When I’m feeling excited about something, I hop right to it and when I feel capable it gets done way more efficiently than when I’m feeling inadequate.
It’s not rocket science to move on to the last section in the model, our actions create our results (R). It’s just common sense, right?
When I first heard the model I was not excited. It means that all of the results in my life that I’m not pleased with are caused by…myself. Specifically, they all started with my thoughts. Ugh. Then my coach explained why this is actually really great news. I can’t always (or even usually) control my circumstances. That includes other people. Humans have free will, period. And that means I only control myself. But wait! If all of my personal results are caused by me, that means I have all the power to change them and I’m not dependent on anyone or anything else to make it happen.
Let’s dive into an example.
C: There are dishes in the sink and 648 pieces of laundry in the living room waiting to be folded. (See how I was specific and factual. Ok, I didn’t actually count the laundry. But those statements could be proven in a court of law. I avoided the common simplification “My house is a mess” because that is actually a thought. Ever been to someone’s house and they were like, “my house is so messy”, and you were like, “um, no. I wish my house was this clean”? That’s how you can tell it’s a thought.)
T: I’ll never get it done. (You probably have a TON of thoughts here that you may or may not see immediately. It’s a good idea to do a thought download and just jot them all down where you can see them. Mine would look something like this: It’s a wreck. It should be clean. I’m a terrible homemaker. I hope no one comes over today but it’ll probably be the day everyone drops by. The kids didn’t even WEAR a third of those clothes. And a bunch of them are potty training messes. I hate potty training. And laundry. And dishes. It never ends. As soon as I get it all done, people have put more dishes in the sink and worn more clothes. Ugh, I’m going to die buried in a mountain of laundry with dirty dishes in the sink. *This happens mostly subconsciously for me and is over in a matter of seconds. Notice that I’m not necessarily dwelling on these thoughts, but they are what triggers the feeling that comes next* Just pick one of the thoughts you dig up to put in your model)
F: Overwhelm. (One word, what do you feel when you think this thought.)
A: I stare at the mess and decide to read a book or take the toddlers on a walk to get away from it telling myself I’ll do it later. OR, I start tackling it but I’m slow and sloppy. (Maybe you’re different, but I never do my best work from overwhelm, what can I say?)
R: I don’t get it finished (or maybe even started!). (Remember how we had a jillion thoughts going on all at once? You have many models going on at once. Maybe you think and feel differently about dishes than you do laundry. Maybe you’ve also got work on your mind or that parent teacher conference coming up. It is easy to mix up models, putting the result from a separate model into the one you’re working on. It takes practice to see it, but an easy trick is that your result will always prove the original thought.)
Doing a model is like laying the workings of my brain out on the table in front of me so I can get a clear picture of what’s going on. Sometimes, I’m so surprised at what I find. Many times, I’m just in a thought rut that I don’t even want to have. Once I’ve seen what my automatic response to the circumstance is, I have the power to change that if I decide that’s what I want to do! I just change the automatic thought that my brain wants to offer me with an intentional thought of my choosing. Here’s what that might look like with the example above:
C: There are dishes in the sink and 648 pieces of laundry in the living room waiting to be folded.
T: I can make a noticeable dent in this before I leave. (I never have just one thought, HA, so here’s the train: I may not be able to finish the whole job, but I have two hours before I leave to pick up the kids and I bet I can make a sizable dent! That’s better than nothing!)
A: I get started and work hard. I wash all the dishes and get the laundry sorted by who they belong to and fold towels, adult clothes and toddler/baby clothes.
R: Big dent. (Bonus! The rest is sorted, ie: easily accessible for the big kids to fold their own later.)
You guys, this happens all the time. One train of thought is the difference between laundry that sits in the living room for
weeks days and even as much as 7 or 8 loads (I mean, there are a lot of clothes-wearing humans in my house) getting folded fairly quickly.
So try it out! I’m super curious what circumstances you will put into your model, what automatic thoughts your amazing, efficient brain generates and what intentional thoughts you’ll use to change your results! Let me know!!