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.

I wish I learned this in school

Who’s responsible?

We’ve all likely heard the saying that “You’re responsible for your own happiness.” It likely makes sense on an intellectual level, but how many of us actually embrace this?

If we’re responsible for our own happiness, that means we take responsibility for how we’re feeling–with any emotion. 

We learn the opposite from adults and sometimes even in school. We hear adults say, “You hurt Jimmy’s feelings. Say sorry!” or “Did she hurt your feelings by doing that?” And we’d likely think that “Yes, she hurt my feelings by doing that.”

Eleanor Roosevelt is quoted as saying, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” 

What’s really going on is that we’re making what someone else says or does mean something about ourselves. We’re basically agreeing with what they said or did, which is the only way something can hurt us–if we let it. If we think it’s somehow true about us or if we somehow deserve it. 

Again, intellectually, this may make some sense. Living it and practicing it can be harder though, because we’ve been conditioned to believe that we cause other people’s feelings and that other people cause ours. 

But we know from the Model that our thoughts create our feelings. Always. It’s not the external circumstance that creates our feelings, even though it’s so easy to think that the circumstance is causing us to feel something. It’s what we’re thinking about the circumstance that creates our feelings. Our thinking creates our feelings. 

So in that sense, we can see how we are responsible for what we feel. Once we really become aware that this is how it works, we can be intentional about how we want to feel. Which means being intentional about how we are thinking.

I think some of us have a misconception that someone else is supposed to help our lives be great. When we abdicate ourselves from taking this responsibility, who do we think it belongs to? 

I used to want someone to come save me from my life when I was feeling dissatisfied, like things were missing from my life. 

You know what was missing from my life? ME. I wanted someone else to take the responsibility that is mine, to help my life become better than it was. To create more income for me, to find opportunities for me, to find a partner for me, to find a place for me to live, to help me eat healthy meals, to take care of me. How could someone else do this if I wasn’t willing to do it for myself? 

No one is going to do it for us. No one is going to live our lives for us. That’s our responsibility. We get to take care of ourselves and our lives. Intentionally. 

We have everything we need within us to take responsibility.

And that is great news. Because then we realize we can have the exact life we want when we take responsibility for creating it and caring for ourselves along the way. Intentionally.  

Your turn: What have you been giving responsibility to someone or something else to fulfill for you? Are you willing to take responsibility for this? How might your life be different if you started taking even more responsibility for what you want? How might your life be different if you practiced intentional self-care?

Dive Deeper: Do you feel any resistance to the idea of taking responsibility in this way? If yes, why? What if those thoughts are just limiting beliefs about what’s possible for you?

Want to learn more about the Model and how your thoughts create your feelings? Sign-up for an exploratory session here.

Subscribe if you want to receive this content directly in your inbox.

Work with me: Want to see how self-care is transformative and can help create a more meaningful life in which you start committing to yourself and show up the way you want? I can show you how. I offer first-time seekers a complimentary 45-minute exploratory session. Sign up here.

What’s on your mind? It can be powerful to learn from each other and our common struggles when it comes to our practice of self-care–or just being a human being. If you have something you’re struggling with and would like some perspective, share it here. Your issue may be chosen and addressed in the next post–it’ll be totally anonymous.