My colleague, friend and mentor extraordinaire, Brooke Castillo published a fantastic book entitled Self Coaching 101. The book explains very simply, in language your seven year old can understand, how your thoughts create results in your life. Brooke believes that thoughts don’t happen to you, but they are actually a choice you make and when you choose what to think. And when you choose what to think, you can have everything you say you want in your life and more! She believes that we adopt our parents’ thought patterns without question and that it’s time to start thinking for ourselves. This is her definition on emotional adulthood: thinking for ourselves.
Brooke shares her quick and easy method for becoming more aware of your thoughts, dissolving the thoughts that cause you to suffer, and creating better feeling thoughts. It’s not about changing our actions, which is why diets don’t work; or trying to change the circumstances, which is why the divorce rate is higher in second marriages; it’s way better. It’s all about controlling what YOU think. Brooke once said to me, “I never think a negative thought unless I give it permission to enter my mind.” I love that!
Okay, enough about the book, you’ll just have to read it yourself so you can be as excited as I am. Let’s get to the juicy stuff … how the model worked with me! Although I have used this tool quite a bit with my clients, I recently used it on myself and my husband. I had such a profound experience that I just had to share it with you.
My husband and I own an automobile dealership, and you know what the news has been saying about that industry. Not too long ago, my husband sat me down and explained just how awful business has been and what it might mean for us. He gave me the worst-case scenarios from losing our business to potentially losing our home. I was devastated. Later that evening, I cried my eyes out. My biggest fear was coming to fruition. I woke up the next morning with swollen eyes, a stuffy nose, and a pounding headache. I sat outside on our deck, and right in the middle of my pity party, I quietly decided that I no longer wanted to feel like crap. What I wanted to feel was happy, at peace, and hopeful. I said goodbye to my drama, and decided it was time to coach the coach using Brooke’s self-coaching model. This is what it looked like:
Circumstance: Our business is losing money. (These are facts, things that happen in the world that you have no control over.)
My Thought: We will lose everything, including our nest egg, our home, and our savings. (This is what I think about the circumstance.)
My Feelings: Scared, depressed, desperate. (What I feel when I think this thought.)
My Actions/Behavior: Cry, undermine my husband, micromanage his business by telling him how he should handle things, sometimes just do nothing. (What I do when I feel this way.)
Result: A husband who doesn’t want to talk to his wife, which creates a poor relationship between the two of us. (What happens as a result of the actions.)
In summary, there are circumstances in our lives over which we have no or little control. These circumstances trigger us to think a thought. This thought creates our feelings, which causes us to act or behave in certain ways. These actions create the results in our lives.
Write down your current problem and plug it into the model. Is it a circumstance, a thought, or a feeling? For me, “Our business is losing money” is the circumstance and this triggered my thought, “We will lose everything.” When I think this thought, I feel scared, desperate, and depressed. When I feel this way, I cry, undermine my husband by questioning his decisions, and tell him how he should handle things and micromanage his every move. When I do this, the result is a husband who not only doesn’t want to talk to me but probably wants to run away from me. I will for sure lose everything, including him.
What’s fascinating about this model is that the result is always proof for the original thought. Yes, I will lose everything if I continue to believe this thought. In other words, I am creating the very scenario that I fear.
We become our own saboteurs by the thoughts we think.
Remember how I said I wanted to feel hopeful, peaceful, and happy again? Here’s how I went from a scared, needy, desperate, depressed feeling state, to one of hope, happiness and peace in a matter of just a few hours. Nothing external to me changed, it was just my thoughts I shifted.
First, I very consciously decided that I didn’t want to feel bad anymore. How did I do this? I sat on the sofa very quietly and without judgment. I simply noticed how sad I was feeling. I also became aware of my compulsion to call my friends and tell them just how crappy I felt. They should know how bad it’s been for me. I knew I could get my best friend, my mother, and my sister to jump right into my story with me. I fantasized how the conversation would go, how I would feel, and what the results would be. I knew I would feel no better than how crappy I felt now, and nothing would change except the ticking of the clock. I would waste a whole lot of time telling my story and further cement my thoughts by garnering others to feel sorry for me.
This was all starting to sound very manipulative. Time to work toward a better feeling state.
What do I want to feel? Peaceful, hopeful, happy, and inspired.
What thought would I need to have to feel this way? We will not lose everything.
How would I behave if I had this thought? I would write articles, market my business more aggressively, and sign up for an art class.
What would the results be if I took these actions? Articles published (this happened the next week!), more business (I signed a new client the next day), and I’m ready for my art class.
Remember how I said that the results are always evidence that the thought is true? Well, the same concept is also applied with a better feeling thought. If my articles get published, if I increase my profits by signing more clients, and If I continue to expand the right side of my brain, it would be impossible to lose everything.
This exercise so inspired me that I decided to compile a list of more thoughts that I wanted to believe. Here are a few:
I will gain something way bigger regardless of what happens.
Creating something for myself is in alignment with my essential self.
The universe is telling me to be bigger than I am.
Everything I need, I have.
I don’t have to work harder; I just have to trust what I know.
Next time you find yourself wallowing in misery, write out your circumstance, thoughts, feelings, actions, and results. Then decide how you want to feel and what you would have to believe to feel that way. You’re bound to find better actions and results when you find better thoughts.