The Self-Coaching Model

Take responsibility.

The Life Coach School, where I received one of my coaching certifications from, teaches the Self-Coaching Model. It looks like this:

Circumstances are neutral and factual. They’re things that are mostly not under our control, like the weather and traffic. Circumstances also include what people say/don’t say and do/don’t do.

Thoughts are phrases that our minds produce about the Circumstances.

Feelings are one-word vibrations in our bodies, like scared, angry, happy, sad, nervous, excited, etc. that come from our Thoughts.

Actions are what we do or don’t do based on our Feelings.

Results are what we create for ourselves in our lives regarding the Circumstance when we take/don’t take Actions.

Our Results usually provide evidence for our Thoughts.

We’ve been conditioned to think that our Feelings come from the Circumstances. But there’s a space between the Circumstance and the Feeling, which is our Thought about the Circumstance. Circumstances are all neutral until we apply a Thought to them. When we apply a Thought to our Circumstance, we judge the Circumstance as “good” or “bad” and everything in between.

To read more about how this can play out in terms of how we feel, see below.


When we think other people cause our feelings, it looks like this:

Me: I’m going to a 75-minute yoga class today.

Mom: I really need your help with something today. Do you have to go to the yoga class?

Me: Feels guilty. (Thinks it’s because Mom said what she said. In reality, it’s because I’m thinking “I should stay home and help Mom” or “I’m selfish for going to yoga when Mom needs help”)

Mom isn’t “making” me feel guilty. I’m thinking a thought (or multiple thoughts) that are creating the feeling of guilt for myself. I’m responsible for my feeling of guilt. Mom is responsible for what she says. She is not responsible for me feeling guilty, even if that’s her intention. It’s whether I agree with her or not that I’ll feel guilty. And I may WANT to feel guilty.

From the feeling of guilt, one option of an action I take–likely an automatic response–is that I don’t go to the yoga class and help Mom. But that likely creates resentment, even if I agreed to do it. It wasn’t what I really wanted to do for myself.

When I recognize that I don’t have to think a thought that makes me feel guilty, another option–one that takes a bit more effort–is that I communicate with Mom and find a solution that works for both of us. For example, “I hear that you need help with something and I do want to help you. I also want to go to this yoga class. Would it work for you to do the task later today so that I can help you then?”

Or if the truth is that I know the task is something that I’ll have to take time to figure out and I don’t have time to do it, I can tell the truth to Mom, “Mom, I’m sorry, I don’t know how to do that and it’ll take too long to figure out. Would you be able to ask ____ / call a ____ to help you do it instead?”

These are just a few options and only one of them come from the feeling of guilt. There are multiple possibilities of responses that might work in this situation. We just have to recognize our automatic responses and take some time to communicate and find other creative solutions instead.

The Unintentional Model (automatic response) looks like:

C – Mom says “I need help with something. Do you have to go to the yoga class?”

T – I’m selfish for going to yoga when Mom needs help

F – Guilty

A – I don’t go to the yoga class, I stay home and help Mom, I don’t stick with my plan of going to yoga, I do something I’d rather not do

R – I don’t allow myself to take time for myself; OR I create resentment for myself

The Intentional Model looks like:

C – Mom says “I need help with something. Do you have to go to the yoga class?”

T – It’s possible for me to do both things

F – Empowered

A – let Mom know I want to help, ask if she can do the task later so I can help her then

R – I find a solution that works for both of us

If we’re willing to slow down a bit, we’re likely able to find solutions that work best for us while staying connected with others.

2 thoughts on “The Self-Coaching Model

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