2019-10-27

The Life Coach School and how it’s helped me to do better

I remember exactly where I was the first time I stumbled upon The Life Coach School podcast. I was in Bali, getting a pedicure, and even though it sounds great I was pretty miserable. I wasn’t happy with where I was in life and I couldn’t see a way forward. Many things happened during my two weeks in Bali. My current boss reached out and asked if I’d potentially be interested in joining the mindblowing company I’m now working at (more about that in another post) and, although I didn’t know it at the time, that in itself turned out to be very life-changing. Encountering the Life Coach School podcast was another life-changing event. I realise it sounds pretty melodramatic, but the impact it’s had on how I organise my thoughts, how I pursue my relationships, and how I tend to my mental health is difficult to understate.

I didn’t exactly dive deep into The Life Coach School when I first found it. I listened to a single episode, thought ”huh, that’s interesting”, and only picked it back up a few weeks later. I listened to another episode, then a third, then a fourth… The school of thought they’re pursuing made a great deal of sense to me and I had several aha moments in the first few months of listening to the podcast. I started identifying my victim mentality and how I—in spite of thinking that I was very emotionally mature—put my happiness down to circumstance and the behaviour of other(!) people. I now know that there are many things you can control in life, including your thoughts and feelings, but circumstance and other people’s behaviour is not it.

The Life Coach School, The Model, and how it’s helped me to do better
The foundation of The Life Coach School is The Model. It’s a five-step model that goes like this:

1. Circumstance
Circumstances are completely neutral. No circumstance is ever good or bad, it just is. Circumstances are facts, things that can be proven in a court of law.

2. Thoughts
We have thoughts about circumstances, and it’s our thoughts that make us perceive or decide that a circumstance is positive or negative, constructive or destructive. Thoughts are sentences in your head, and what’s great is that you can choose your thoughts. As human beings, we have the wonderful ability to think about our thoughts and decide whether we want the thoughts we’re thinking.

3. Feelings
Feelings are sensations in our body that come as a direct result of our thoughts. This is non-negotiable in The Model. Every feeling you have comes from a thought. It doesn’t matter if you’re feeling happy, sad, disappointed, ecstatic, mellow—that feeling comes from a thought that you’re thinking, deliberately or not.

4. Actions
All your actions come from a feeling. This is what you do or don’t do, the actions you take or don’t take.

5. Results
Every result we have in life comes directly from our actions or, indeed, our inactions.

So, it goes like this: Circumstances are neutral -> We have thoughts about circumstances -> Our thoughts determine our feelings -> Our feelings determine our actions -> Our actions drive our results. You can use this model for every ”problem” or circumstance you have in life to help you to think, feel, and act more constructively. Now! It’s easy to point at disasters and say, for instance, ”well my partner left me and I’m feeling pretty upset about that, if I could choose my feelings I would surely just not feel upset”. That’s not what The Model is suggesting. It is suggesting that you can look at the thoughts you have that cause your distress and choose whether you want to think that it is sad that your partner left you. Let’s look at two different models around our partner leaving us and how we want that to determine our future.

Unintentional Model:
C: My partner broke up with me
T: This is horrible and I will never feel this sort of love again
F: Sadness, despondency
A: Withdrawal, inaction
R: Loneliness

Instead, an intentional model might look like this:
C: My partner broke up with me
T: This means it wasn’t the right fit
F: Relief
A: Go out and meet new people
R: Make new friends/lovers/etc

The circumstance is completely neutral and remains the same—but how we think about it changes our results in remarkable ways. What’s great about the model is that regardless of the circumstance, you can ask yourself ”How do I want to feel? What do I need to think to feel that? Is that thought available to me right now?”. It might not be—the thought you need might not be believable to you yet. And then you need what is called a bridge thought. A bridge thought is a thought that is available to you now, that will train your mind to believe the thought you need to get the feeling you want. Let’s go back to the partner leaving us. The C-line is still that ”My partner left me”. If you want the thought ”I will find my love one day” and that isn’t believable to you yet, you need to find a thought that is. Perhaps ”I know that others have gone through breakups and then found love” could work. That could then transition to ”Other people have found love after a breakup, and it could happen to me too”, etc etera.

I have done many, many models to work through everything from insignificant bickering with my love to significant childhood traumas. It has helped me to separate out facts (circumstances), which I cannot control, to my thoughts and feelings about the facts, which only I can control. It has helped me to identify thoughts I wasn’t even aware that I was thinking (a great way of doing this is doing a Thought Download—take a piece of paper and write down all the thoughts you have about a certain situation/circumstance). It has helped me to redefine success and failure and made me realise that I can choose whether I want to think that something is a success or a failure.

The Model and the belief that I can control how I think, feel, and act, and thus the results in my life, has become the core of my belief system. This doesn’t mean that life is amazing all the time, or that I feel great all the time. There are many more things to say about this, like the idea that life is always 50% great and 50% not great and it will always be that way and it’s your thoughts that decide how you will experience the 50%-not-great-part, but I think this is enough for one post. Frida asked me to list my favourite Life Coach School podcast episodes and, if this is entirely new to you, I would recommend you to listen to the following (on 1.5 speed!):

If you think any of this sounds even vaguely interesting, give The Life Coach School podcast a listen. It might not be for you, but it might also change many, many things for the better.

Me, that week in Bali
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