Sometimes your thoughts can be confusing. Especially in midlife.
You feel stuck and know that you want to thrive in midlife.
But before you know it, you’re reacting to something.
Or you’re having trouble making a decision.
Maybe you just don’t feel clear about what to do.
You might even wonder if you’re having a midlife crisis. Sometimes…it’s hard to figure out exactly why you’re feeling a certain way.
Yes, my friends.
Not only are your thoughts confusing; life’s also confusing in midlife. Just a little, lol.
So I ask you this.
Do you want get unstuck? Have you been curious about mindfulness?
Do you even know what mindfulness is?
To get on the same page, Merriam-Webster defines mindfulness as: 1. the quality or state of being mindful. 2 : the practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis; also : such a state of awareness.
I actually think this definition sums it up quite nicely. Wouldn’t it be great if you could walk around and maintain a nonjudgmental state of heightened and complete awareness of what’s going on in your brain?
It’s really about being more aware of your thinking and becoming more intentional.
- You can learn how to be more aware of your thoughts and the results they create in your world.
- You can learn to manage your emotions better.
- You can learn to live more intentionally.
Why? How? What next?
The bottom line is that it’s a skill. You can learn to think more intentionally.
It’s common to have to learn this because most of us walk around believing lots of things that we’re not actually thinking or living intentionally.
A great example is something your parents believe. Your parents have been sharing their thoughts and beliefs with you for decades and as kids, we automatically believed them.
The thing is though that we STILL believe a lot of it automatically. Even now…in midlife.
A simple example would be that you should finish everything on your plate. So many of us just do that automatically without even questioning the thought. I’m sure you can think of lots of examples of how you’ve just borrowed your parents thought patterns and are just on autopilot.
Now that you’re older, I’m sure you’ve also caught yourself sounding like your mom on occasion. It can be pretty funny….but….it’s also a reflection of what I’m talking about here.
You’re probably familiar with many self-development and mindfulness authors; I was trained on this extremely accessible 5 step tool that breaks down these universal truths in a way that is super easy to understand and apply. It’s taught by The Life Coach School.
This simple mindfulness tool is called “The Model”.
The Model is a self-coaching tool that can increase your awareness and skill to such a degree that you can become a rock star with managing your mind.
It’s an incredibly useful way for you to see what’s going on up there.
It can help you feel better.
Here’s the framework.
When you think a thought, you feel a feeling.
When you feel a feeling, you take action or not because of how you feel.
Your actions, or behaviors, create your experience in the world and ultimately what your life looks like – your results.
It all starts with something that happens in the world. Something that’s said. Something that’s done.
We like to call this a circumstance. This circumstance triggers the thought that gets the whole thought cycle started.
Then there’s a thought about the circumstance. The thought, which leads to feelings, then actions, then a result. The result is caused by the original thought, which is now evidence for the thought and actually strengthens its hold on our brain patterns, and so the cycle continues. The spin continues – it gets stronger and feels more factual. What eventually happens is that you experience more pain in your life.
This approach isn’t about waving your magic wand and fixing things right away. Instead, it’s all about becoming more conscious of the thinking causing the unwanted results in your life.
You can take any result in your life and use the model to figure out the thought that’s creating that result.
This is mind-blowing, right?
The model is a super logical way to take a look at what’s going on up there in your mind.
The Model also offers a logical way to make improvements so you feel better and create the results you want.
So, how does this Thought Model work?
It’s made of of five parts and they relate to each other.
In a vertical line, write down these letters:
The C should be at the top, and the R at the bottom, just like this.
That’s the framework for the thought model. Here’s how it works. I like to say that it’s really the secret sauce of the universe because, like I said, you can pretty much get to the bottom of any problem you’re having by using this simple tool.
When you use the thought model, you need to remember this: you are NOT your thoughts. You are a watcher of your thoughts.
STEP 1: Identify the circumstance. That’s what the C stands for. Circumstances are things that happen in the world that we can’t control. Circumstances are neutral. They are facts in that they are black and white. If 10 people were in a room, all 10 people would agree on the fact. Let’s take an example: You went to the gym twice last week. That’s a fact. Easy to prove. It’s neutral.
STEP 2: Identify your thoughts. Circumstances trigger thoughts. Thoughts are the second step in the model. A thought can be described as a sentence in your mind. It’s what you think about a circumstance. The thought here is: I suck at exercise.
STEP 3: Identify how your thoughts make you feel. When you think the thought that, “I suck at exercise,” you feel a feeling. That goes in the F line.The feeling may be unmotivated. It’s a vibration in your body.
STEP 4: Identify how you act when you feel that way. The “A” stands for behaviour. It’s what we do in the world. It can be an action, an inaction or a reaction. Basically, an action is what you either do or don’t do. Remember, actions are caused by feelings, but determined by thoughts. The action in this example? You don’t go to the gym when you plan to.
STEP 5: What happens to you when you act this way? This is the “R” line, or Results. This is what we see in our lives as an effect of our actions. The result is your personal result and it always proves your thought. Guess what happens here? You continue to ignore your exercise schedule, which proves your thought that you suck at exercise.
C: Went to gym twice last week
T: I suck at exercise
A: Don’t go to gym when you plan to go
R: Continue to ignore exercise schedule
You get to decide how you want to feel, now that you know that it’s your thoughts creating your feelings.
You don’t have to change your thoughts.
But with this increased awareness you can see that you can if you want.
And this is the biggie: it’s not the circumstances that make you feel certain ways and create your results. It’s your thoughts about the circumstances.
The bottom line is that being more aware and actually choosing your thoughts is how you actually feel better.
We can’t just let our thoughts be out there running amok.
We need to reign them in.
We need to manage them.
For sure, we need to supervise them.
All kinds of things in our life need supervision, so it’s ok to think of your brain this way too!
What do you think your mind is doing without YOUR permission?
Remember to practice using the Thought Model to get perspective on your thinking.
Circumstances can trigger thoughts. Thoughts cause feelings, feelings cause actions and actions cause results. Results always prove your thoughts, so remember that if you don’t like a specific result in your life, you can do something about it. Thoughts, my friends, are optional. Using the Model takes a lot of practice and feedback but once you “get it,” it can change your life. For real.
Want to get a better handle on your thoughts?
Download this FREE worksheet to help with your awareness about what’s going on up there so you can start to make some important changes as soon as possible.
The best news is that it’s not too late to learn this amazing new skill either. You deserve to be happier!
The Thought Model Framework is reprinted with Permission from the Author, Brooke Castillo: Self Coaching 101: Use your Mind – Don’t Let It Use You, 2009.