Be. U. TY Podcast is Here! The podcast that will help you unveil your authentic self so you can show the world who you are confidently. In today’s episode, our host Adozie Duffy talks about the concept of thinking on purpose and how to incorporate it into our lives.
“ Our circumstances do not cause our feelings. Other people do not cause our feelings. The only thing that can make us feel is our own thoughts.”
“ Every circumstance we have in life is neutral.”
“We always have the option to control how we feel.”
“The only way to change your results in anything you do in life is to first change your thinking.”
What to watch for:
1:21 – Where she learned this concept of thinking on purpose.
2:03 – The Model. Circumstances are entirely neutral.
5:40 – The only thing that determines our feelings are our own thoughts.
6:03 – We always have the option to control how we feel.
8:15 – Real life examples & the exercise.
10:35 -We always have a choice.
13:45 – Having specific neutral statements about what took place is as good as you can get.
17:14 – The Circumstance, The Thought, The Feeling, & The Action.
18:29 – The Result. What are the results you get from the actions that you take.
Connect with Adozie
Oh hey girlies! Welcome to episode 4 of the podcast. I want to dive right in, because this is a concept that I truly feel makes everything make sense. Not just everything when it comes to coaching, but I mean like everything, everything. Like, life everything.
This concept is not something I came up with, it was created by a woman named Brooke Castillo, and her work is truly amazing and has changed my life. I feel like I would not be doing my job as a coach if I did not tell you all about the concept, & explain to you how to incorporate it into your life. That being said, I would like to introduce you to the model. It is the way I get through life, and I highly encourage you all to give it a try.
It is all based off of this original premise. Our circumstances do not cause our feelings. Other people, do not cause our feelings. The only thing that can make us feel is our own thoughts.
Let me say that again. The circumstance of losing your job, doesn’t cause your feelings. The thought you have about losing your job is the thing that causes your feelings.
The circumstance of being broken up with, does not cause your feelings. The thoughts you have about your break up, cause your feelings.
The circumstance of buying a new house, does not cause your feelings. The thoughts you have about buying a new house, are things that that cause your feelings.
Circumstances are entirely neutral. Circumstances are neither good nor bad. Circumstances just exist. It is our thoughts, and perspectives that we put onto circumstances that make them positive or negative.
Are you following what I’m saying here?
I want you to really sit with this idea for a minute. Every circumstance we have in life is neutral. (Well what about murder? What about rape? What about the things that are obviously negative, and horrible & no good?) Nope, these are also neutral. & let me tell you why, don’t come for me, lol. Because even though we believe things like this are wrong and fucked up, there are people out there that would disagree with us. There are people that could argue in favor of rape, or murder, or abuse. I’m not saying you have to think these things are great, or not a problem, I’m just saying that the mere fact, that people can have differing views on them, means the circumstance of rape, or murder are not innately negative. Because the circumstance is nothing until we put our thoughts on them, until we draw a meaning from it. So the circumstance just exists, & then us, with our human minds, and our human values, put meaning on them, and we turn those circumstances either positive or negative.
Now our thoughts, or interpretation of these varying circumstances in life, are the things that cause our feelings. Not the circumstances themselves, but our thoughts about the circumstances.
Two people can experience the same exact event, or circumstance and walk away with two very different perspectives, therefore they can experience two very different feelings. The circumstance was exactly the same for them, how can this be? Well, because the only thing that determines our feelings, are our own thoughts.
So let me say it again, our circumstances do not cause our feelings. Our thoughts cause our feelings. & this is actually very great news gals! Because it means, that no matter what our circumstances are, we always have the option to control how we feel. We always have the option, & power to decide how we want to show up, & who we want to be.
Now, there’s another layer to this concept I want you to understand.
Our feelings are the motivators, behind any & every action we take.
We always take action, out of how we feel. Now mind you, the action of inaction, of doing nothing, is still an action.
* These actions we take are a direct cause of the way that we feel. *
So if I feel anxious, the action I might take is avoidance of a task I want to complete. I might scroll through Instagram, or take a nap, out of this feeling of anxiousness.
If I feel motivated about a new idea I have, I’m going to immediately hop on the computer & get started on the project solely because I’m so psyched about.
All of our actions come directly from the emotions we are experiencing. If we are having a positive emotion, we are going to take positive action. If we are having a negative emotion, we are going to take negative action.
The point is, our feelings are the direct link to what we do, or don’t do. Every action we take comes directly from the way we are feeling in any given moment.
So now, let’s tie those two concepts together.
A circumstance takes place. I have a thought about that circumstance. That thought causes me to have a feeling. From that feeling I take an action.
So let’s frame this in a real life example.
My dog pees on the floor. I have the thought ‘This shouldn’t be happening’. This thought causes me to feel frustrated
I have a paper due on Friday. I have the thought ‘I don’t have enough time to finish this! Or Why was this assigned in the first place?” This thought causes me to feel anxious. From this feeling of anxiety, I avoid opening my assignment. I distract myself by scrolling through Twitter. I stare at the clock and tell myself how I should be doing my assignment, & that I’m a bad student. Ultimately, I don’t do the assignment until the very last minute, or maybe I don’t even do it at all (this has totally been me before…).
Do you notice how my actions, were directly linked to the thoughts that I was experiencing?
My thoughts are the only reason why I am feeling anxious about this paper. Having a paper due on Friday is an entirely neutral circumstance. This is because some people could look at that circumstance and say Friday? Wow, that’s so much time, no problem. While other’s could look at that and say Only until Friday? How does anyone expect me to get this done with everything else on my plate?
The paper itself is not a problem. It’s neither positive, or negative, it just is.
This is the important first step we want to focus on when it comes to deciphering our thoughts and trying to help us come up with better ones.
This is because most of us believe our thoughts are circumstances. Most of us don’t even realize that we are putting a story, or a judgment, or an opinion on a circumstance, and calling it fact. Most of us just believe the things our brain tells us as fact. So we have a hard time separating out what is our circumstance, and what is our thought.
Now I want to give you a couple of examples so you can see how we often let our brain intertwine these two concepts, and we ultimately cause ourselves a lot of suffering by doing so. Because we think a lot of our facts are just circumstances, we think the way that we feel is the only possible way anyone could/would feel about a circumstance that has taken place, when in reality, we always have a choice.
I’m not saying you have to always feel positive, and that in every circumstance it is objectively better to think positively so that you can have a positive feeling about it. No, literally as people, we might not want to have a positive feeling in every circumstance. For me, if someone dies, I don’t want to try to look at that positively, and force myself to have a positive perspective on it. The point in this practice though, is to give ourselves the choice. To choose something on purpose, to be intentional about our thoughts and our emotions, and to not just be being dragged around by beliefs we may not even be connected to, we’ve just been exposed to them the longest.
So let’s look at a possible thought you could be having, and mistaking it for a circumstance. See if you can guess whether it is a thought, or a circumstance.
My husband and I got into a big fight.
That’s a thought. Just as a hint, usually if your circumstance includes an adjective, that shows that you are putting judgement on the situation. What’s big to you, might be small to someone else. So this is not an objective fact about what took place. Remember, we want to get as neutral as possible, something that no one could dispute. The reason for this, is so we can get some room from it, and look at it more clearly, so we have the opportunity to think about it differently. If it is still covered in our perspective of it, it is much harder for us to change how we see it, because we are just feeding back to ourselves what we already think, which is what we are trying to get away from in the first place.
So instead you might say:
My husband and I disagreed about the laundry.
My husband exists.
You want a circumstance that isn’t sticky, and doesn’t evoke any emotion just by looking at. That’s how you know a circumstance is neutral, when you don’t feel anything automatically just by reading it back to yourself. I know the second example seems far from the original set of events, but sometimes that is where we need to get to in order to best examine our situation.
Let’s try another one:
Circumstance or thought? My mom won’t stop talking about my weight.
“Won’t stop” is a bit of an exaggeration, right? I mean it’s not like your mom is literally only ever talking about your weight, even though it may feel that way right now, can you see how that one statement is laced with an opinion? Objectively speaking, someone else looking at it would at least be able to point out that she also talks about other things.
So we would try instead then: My mom said “You’ve gained weight”
My mom said words about my weight
Putting direct quotes works because it is factual. But it has to be verbatim. Where that if someone else was looking at the situation from the outside they can confirm that it actually took place. If not direct quotes, then just *specific neutral statements about what took place.
Okay let’s try one more:
My best friend is screening my phone calls.
Circumstance or thought?
Yeah it’s another thought.
This is because screening is an opinion. You don’t know for a fact that she is purposely not picking up the phone when you call. & by framing it in this way, you are suggesting that it is a fact that she isn’t answering on purpose.
Instead, I would go with something like:
I called Laura and she didn’t answer.
Laura didn’t answer my phone call 6 times.
Something that takes the judgement out of the situation, and can allow you to look at neutrally. Remember we are doing this to help us shift our narrative, or at least to get down to the bottom of how we really feel. If we frame our circumstance in a way that is already lending itself to encourage us to think about it in a particular way, we are missing the true potential of this exercise.
So, from here, you want to figure out the thought that you are having about the circumstance. & what’s important to remember in this instance, is that you only do one thought per model. Meaning if you are having 5 different thoughts about a situation, you want to break it down in 5 different models, because each of those thoughts leads to its own feeling.
So, to start, let’s look at the first example I gave.
Circumstance is: My husband and I disagree about the laundry
My Thought might be: I shouldn’t always be the one to do it, he should help out too.
The feeling I get from this is: justified, even self-righteous.
Now the fun part. How do I act when I am feeling justified & self-righteous around doing the laundry? Oh girly, it’s a mess.
I’m in a huff when I do it. I think about all the ways I’m the only one who cleans around the house. I list off in my head all the times I do things around the house. I minimize the things my husband does do around the house. I tell myself stories like ‘I don’t deserve this’ and I fantasize about a life with a man who doesn’t make me do things I hate.
Overall, I throw a tantrum & make my problems everybody’s problem.
Now, we have come very far with the model. We have the Circumstance, which is the neutral event that took place. We have the Thought: which is just the sentence in my mind I have about that neutral circumstance. We have the Feeling, which is just the name of the physical sensations I get in my body when I have that thought. And then we have the Actions, which are all the things I do because of the thought & therefore feeling that I have.
Now here is the part, that takes a second to fully learn and comprehend. But I’m going to teach it to you now, and you can always come back and re-listen to this once you feel you have the hang of it this all. But I’m going to teach it to you so you have the full picture, but don’t worry if it doesn’t exactly click at this time. That is totally fine, and you can still successfully use the model even if you are unsure about this part.
So this final part of the model, is called your Results.
What are the results you get from the actions that you take?
Now there is a very important fact about the results line. & it is this. Your Results will ALWAYS = your THOUGHTS. Let me say that again, the answer you have in your Results line of the model, will always be the same as the answer you have in your THOUGHT line.
So in this instance of the example I gave you. My results are: I act as though I shouldn’t be doing the laundry, solely because I think that I shouldn’t be.
Now this seems confusing at first. But over time it will totally make sense. But the reason we do the model all the way down to the results line, is to show to ourselves how it is ONLY & SOLELY our thinking that give us any results we have in our lives. & that if we want to change the results, we have to start by changing our thinking.
Let me say that again for the people in the back. The only way to change your results in anything in life, is to first change your thinking. Because our Results line is always = to our Thought line. So we can only produce in the world what is already taking place in our mind. There is no way around this* You can’t produce results you aren’t already thinking about. You can’t create something out in the world, that you haven’t first created in your mind. It’s that one to one.
This concept is a little tricky, but it is worth the try. Even if you aren’t always entirely sure of what your results are, you should still give it a try with the knowledge that your R line is always going to be = to your T line. & even if in the beginning you don’t see the connection, just keep modeling and it will click with time.
Now, that is all I want to cover with you today, as I think that is more than enough information to sit with & think over. I hope you guys try out this exercise, and let me know how it goes.
The model is a genius, because it works in every single aspect of our lives. There is nothing in the world that can’t be solved with the model, & that is why this work is so important, & is life changing.
If you have questions, or just want to share your experience with me, you can send me an email over at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can connect more there. I love hearing about your guys’ journey, and it helps give me an idea of what topics to cover in my upcoming episodes. Thanks so much for listening, & I’ll speak to you all next week!