There’s an order to things and how things work, including how we process the world around us. Today, I’m going to teach you a portion of the MODEL and why getting the first few things out of order or mixed up is a huge problem and why getting them mixed up is causing us pain.
I’m Hannah Coles and you are listening to LOVE AT HOME, episode number 2: “The Mix-Up”
What’s up, my friends?! What a fabulous week it has been albeit HOT but good.
Today I want to share with you something that comes up a lot with my clients and something that before I learned these tools I used to do pretty often as well. We’re going to talk about something that I call, “The Mix-up”. This Mix-Up creates a lot of problems for us and we’re left feeling confused, frustrated, and disempowered when we continue to operate from this place. But when I finally learned and figured out that all I was doing was mixing things up my world changed, my client’s world’s change, and your’s can too.
So let’s dive in. I’m going to teach you just a portion of “The Model”. This is THE foundational tool I use for all my coaching. It’s what every other tool stems from and where it all begins. It’s also in this first half of the model that I’m going to show you that majority of us, myself included for so long get’s mixed up.
Let me explain, in life we’re presented with CIRCUMSTANCES. Circumstances are anything that’s out of our control. They’re factual. Everyone would agree on them. Some examples are: your high school class list, the other people in your class, traffic, the weather, the current number on a scale, people; what they do or say – they’re all circumstances because we can’t control them.
Now by themselves circumstances don’t mean anything yet – they’re not good or bad they just are, they’re neutral UNTIL the next step in the model, which is OUR THOUGHTS.
Those circumstances trigger THOUGHTS within us and it’s here that we label them, that we decide whether they’re good or bad and what we want to think about them. This is why so many people can be in the same place, like a movie theater watching the same movie and leave with varying opinions and experiences about watching the movie. The movie itself is a circumstance, right? We can’t change what’s on the screen. It could be proven that this movie was shown, this is what happened, but they we have thoughts about it that make it good or bad for each of us.
To one person that could have been the best movie ever but someone else, seeing the exact same thing could also judge that movie as the worst movie ever, right?
So these thoughts, how we think about the circumstance is important because those thoughts then generate how we FEEL. Which is also why in that same movie theater some people can think the movie was excellent and they leave feeling rather happy. Whereas the other people didn’t like the film and they leave feeling annoyed that they just wasted their money and time to see it.
Here’s where we’re going to pause. Let’s review the first three foundational components of the model: In life we have circumstances, these circumstances trigger thoughts, and our thoughts generate how we feel.
Makes perfect sense right? But it’s also these three things that so many of us get out of order or mixed up. Generally, we assume the order goes like this: Circumstances, FEELINGS, then Thoughts about those feelings. Let me give you some examples:
When you go home after a long day and you just want to crash. You walk in your house and see dishes piled up in the sink, food on the counter, shoes on the floor, and general things out and about. Then you immediately feel frustrated, angry even, and annoyed because you’ve told your family again and again to pick up after themselves.
Notice the order: There were circumstances – There are dishes in the sink – Factual, everyone would agree. When you saw them you felt: angry, frustrated, annoyed. Then you thought: haven’t I told my family…
Here’s another example:
You’re having a great day, feeling good and you walk into the living room to a family member that’s visibly upset. They yell at you for whatever they’re mad about and now you’re mad and defensive. Then you think, “what the heck, you can’t just yell at me”.
Again, circumstances: Family member yelled – can be proven, factual – yes they’re yelling or they yelled – You felt mad. Then you had thoughts about that: You can’t just yell at me.
I’m going to give you another example – this one was very significant in my life:
This happened years ago and while it was devastating at the time, it’s turned into a blessing since.
So I had a calling for a long time, years and years even, that I just loved. I really, really, really loved this calling. I felt like I magnified it to the best of my ability. I spent so much time thinking, preparing, and carrying out this calling.
I also knew the day would come when I’d have to part ways with it, that’s the deal with most callings, right? But each week I’d count my many blessings that I was able to work in this capacity for so long.
I remember being at our ward Halloween activity and my bishop hinting at a new calling for me. He just said something vague like, I think they may have something else in mind for me.
So it shouldn’t have been such a surprise when a couple weeks later I was asked by a counselor to chat. We sat down and he called me to another calling and at first it didn’t quite sink in that I’d have to be released from my current calling. It wasn’t too abnormal to hold multiple callings so I just assumed that I could do both and then I can’t remember what he said but it finally hit me that, “Oh…I can’t keep this calling, you’re going to release me from this one.”
I was still processing and putting pieces together so the look on my face must have been disbelief or something because he said, “I know, I know…I told the bishop, who are we going to get to fill it? and the bishop said, ‘don’t worry, she’ll be easy to replace’”. And he said it with a chuckle, so I know he meant it lightheartedly and I don’t think he realized how that came out but let me tell you I couldn’t breathe. I felt like I had just gotten the wind knocked out of me.
Again, I will say that I KNOW without a doubt he did NOT mean it that way. I know that, truly. He meant absolutely no ill will or for it to come across as calloused as it sounded. Nor do I think the bishop meant it that way either. I think the delivery was a little off and I’m sure I missed majority of that conversation.
But at the time I really felt like something major in my world had just collapsed. I left the building holding my breath because I knew that when I finally did breathe a lot of tears were going to come with it…and they did…for like, two weeks straight they did.
I felt helpless to this pain that I was feeling. I was so deeply offended and hurt and in my mind I kept thinking about all the things that I’d done to magnify this calling. All the great sacrifices I’d made, the time I so freely gave, how much of me I put into this calling for years and years and I just kept hearing those words in my head, “you’ll be easy to replace”.
I was so offended and crushed. Then to make matters worse, I felt so much guilt because I’d remember things like, Elder Bednar saying, “Choose not to be offended” and “Be ye therefore perfect” (Matthew).
And I just struggled with that because at that time I didn’t know how to not choose to be offended. I prayed constantly for relief for comfort, for forgiveness and by divine design I’m absolutely sure of it, He gave me life coaching – which goes so beautifully hand in hand with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
I had my model out of order:
Circumstance: The counselor said words
I FELT shocked, hurt, offended, and so sad.
Then I had a bunch of thoughts about those feelings: I can’t believe he said that. Don’t they know how hard I worked? Didn’t anything I did matter or make any difference? How could they so easily say, I’ll be easily replaced.
Then I thought, I shouldn’t be sad, it’s a calling, they don’t last forever. I SHOULD know they didn’t really mean it that way, I SHOULDN’T feel offended…but they really shouldn’t have said such words to me, that was wrong…hence the offense kept circulating.
This mix up causes all kinds of problems because if you listened to last weeks episode on the bucket – I was basically handing over my emotional bucket to them, watching them dump a ton out and then watching and waiting and waiting and waiting for them to fix it, to fill it back up again, for them to do something about it and they weren’t…and they didn’t because they didn’t know what had just happened to me.
I wasn’t until I learned the right order of things that I was creating and prolonging this suffering.
He said words – circumstance
I then CHOSE to think thoughts – to interpret those words – so many misunderstandings happen this way.
And then those thoughts, “didn’t anything I did for all those years mean anything?” created how I felt: hurt, sad, and offended.
I was stuck in this loop because when you get your model mixed up you put yourself in the victim category. You make yourself an agent to be acted upon – that your circumstance can hurt you or that you lose all your rights to how you’re feeling and where your thoughts go.
Viktor Frankl, holocaust survivor, neurologist, psychiatrist, and one of my heroes once said:
“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”
When I was operating from the mixed up model I surrendered my freedoms – my ability to choose what to think about the circumstance, to choose how I wanted to feel about that circumstance. I felt powerless and that was scary.
I blamed them for how I was feeling, for the turmoil that I felt for weeks. I didn’t realize that I was creating and causing that pain for myself. It lasted weeks because I kept thinking and finding more “evidence” to prove why I mattered and each time I’d think like that I’d just create more and more suffering.
I also didn’t realize that I was indeed still operating from the correct model. We all do, we just don’t realize it. We have circumstances that trigger thoughts, that generate how we feel.
They said words, I interpreted them as negative – aka – I thought, they shouldn’t say that. Then I felt offended. But I didn’t register that my thoughts about them, about what was said was causing me pain.
Many of us don’t. We don’t think it’s our thoughts causing it. This is why we teach others, “If you take that toy from Sally, you’re going to hurt her feelings.” – Taking that toy – the circumstance – cannot hurt Sally. Sally can hurt Sally by thinking thoughts like, “He shouldn’t have taken that toy from me!” Then Sally feels hurt because of Sally’s thoughts about it. The circumstance didn’t hurt Sally.
When I realized this beautiful truth it was liberating. I was a challenge for me to take responsibly for and own my own thoughts and that I was the cause – not the other person – that created weeks of turmoil. It’s not an easy thing to hear. It’s easier and feels better in the moment to blame our pain on the other person. But it’s also disempowering because thinking like that means that I can’t fix it. I’m stuck there until THEY fix it and like episode #1 – they can’t. It’s your bucket, only you can do that.
Learning this really changed my life because I finally grasped that I truly have agency to choose what I want to think about my circumstances and how I want to feel about my circumstances. It’s liberating and so beautiful.
I realized that if I didn’t want to be offended anymore or feel like a victim, I could. I had the power to do so and the best part of all this is that the other people don’t have to change a single thing about themselves.
Other people can say, do, or act however they choose to and they cannot hurt, offend, or disappoint you without you choosing that.
Another person was called to that calling shortly after and a few month later they were released and when they were released they felt so happy and grateful! They thought things like, yes, there are so many other people that can replace me! Hallelujah!
HUGE contrast to my reaction. But they didn’t enjoy it. Their thoughts of, “Finally!” created feelings of relief and gratitude.
It’s important to get our models in the correct order. To take responsibility for how we experience the world. Byron Katie once said,
“The world is nothing but my perception of it. I see only through myself. I hear only through the filter of my story.”
We’re all given circumstances, everyday, all day. It’s how we choose, how we use our agency to choose how we want to interpret those circumstances that create our world. It’s through the story we tell ourselves, the filter we use to see ourselves that create how we feel.
This is great news because you don’t ever have to be a victim anymore if you chose not to be. Nothing in the world has to change for you to feel better now IF that’s really what you want.
I will say that looking back, even knowing this, I don’t think I would want to feel happy about my experience. Knowing that we CAN feel happy, we CAN create that for ourselves doesn’t mean we always want to choose that. I still may have chosen to be sad about it. Super sad even because I did love doing that and I would want to feel sad saying goodbye to something so precious.
Grief, sadness they’re all part of our mortal journey. We want to feel that way sometimes. It helps us feel and discover the full spectrum of our humanity. But I do think I would pass on the needless suffering, the non-productive pain I put myself through. I say non-productive because it keeps you stuck and wallowing. You’re not moving forward, progressing, becoming, being productive. It just keeps you circling again and again in a very non-productive state.
So even though you still may choose to allow yourself to feel these negative emotions it is still helping you to move forward and experience all of this mortal life. But knowing that you’re choosing it. That you WANT to feel grief, sadness, pain even is a good thing because when you’re done feeling that you can move forward. You’re not waiting for anything to change or anyone to change so you can feel better.
You’re in control of that.
Remember, to stay in the correct order of things. Keep your responsibility and ownership for your story, for the filter you’re choosing to see your world through. No one can make you sad, upset, hurt, frustrated, angry, or anything else. You choose that.
You’re given circumstances -things outside of your control and then you have THOUGHTS about them which generate your feelings. So if you don’t like how you’re feeling you need to check in with yourself and what you’re thinking. Stop for a minute and ask yourself what’s going on. What am I believing about this that’s creating this?
There’s something I teach all my clients and my kids and everyone because it’s really helpful. Sometimes you can’t figure out what you’re thinking because the feeling just seems so strong or you’re just not used to thinking about your thinking. You’ve been on so called, “Auto-pilot” for so long and you’re used to reacting that it’s going to take some practice to figure out what you’re thinking. So try this:
Grab a piece of paper or several actually. Then sit down with a timer and just write, write, write, write. You’re going to look at that paper and write anything that comes to mind. Start with the feeling if you have to. I’m feeling MAD. I’m feeling MAD because my sister broke my Harry Potter funko Pop and she shouldn’t have even touched it. It was on the top shelf next to Dobby. She knows she shouldn’t touch my things. I’ve asked her not to before…etc. You just start writing. Write like you’re telling your friend. Don’t edit anything, write it all out. This process is called, the brain dump. If you picture dumping out your purse or your backpack after a while and you just have to take everything out and then when you think it’s all out you shake it upside down to get all those remaining crumbs out of it to clean it up and then decide what you want to put back in, organized, and clean.
It’s the same thing here. You have to dump it all out first. You don’t want to keep crumbs in there just because you don’t want to look at them, you still know they’re there. This is what I mean when I say, don’t edit. No one has to see this brain dump – ever. You can burn it, tear it up, throw it away later but it’s the most effective when you get all your thoughts out – even the so called, ugly ones.
So just sit down and write. Then you’ll want to walk away for a bit. Get some space from it. Maybe that’s an hour, a few hours, the next day even just so you can come back and look at it with fresh eyes.
Now you can go through it and find all the circumstances – highlight them or re-write them on a different sheet of paper. Remember, the circumstances are factual. They also don’t contain adjectives. So when you’re separating your circumstances from thoughts make sure your circumstances are kind of bland, very factual, no form of opinion in there at all.
Ex: My teacher made me finish this lame assignment.
To some they might think that’s a circumstance but it’s a thought. It’s a thought because she can’t make you do anything. It’s also not lame. Can’t prove that. You may THINK it’s lame but that’s a thought.
So the circumstance really would be: My teacher assigned homework.
Then you have thoughts like: She’s making me do my homework. This homework is lame. I don’t want to do this assignment.
Separate all your circumstances or facts from your thoughts. I will say that your columns will be way out of balance. We have way more thoughts about our circumstances than we do circumstances. So if both sides are kind of long you should go back and double check that circumstance column.
When you’ve finished with this you can see all the thoughts that are causing you to feel how you’re currently feeling. Then you can decide if keeping those thoughts are serving you. You can challenge those thoughts. You can see if there’s something else that you might want to think instead.
Maybe it’s: I’m choosing to do this assignment because I want to get a good grade.
Instead of “I HAVE to…”
See how differently having these two thoughts would make you feel. “Having to” takes away your power. But when you change it to “I’m choosing to do this because I want to get a good grade.” You have all your power. It’s not a burden but a want. Maybe you even feel good or excited about it.
Just notice how much power you have in your life. We really love the film, “The Greatest Showman”. I think we were like the last people to finally see it. All our friends were telling us over and over to go see it and when we finally did watch it, we like, this is amazing! Why didn’t we see this sooner?! But so I love the song, “A million dreams” – the song that starts when Barnum is a young boy. There’s a line from it that says, “We could live in a world that we design”
There’s so much truth in that. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are. Your circumstances don’t design your world, your thoughts do. Your circumstances don’t need to change for you to feel how you want to feel. You don’t need a perfect house to feel happy. You don’t need a ton of friends or followers on instagram to feel good or important.
So many people chase the idea of happy – when I lose the weight, I’ll be happy. When I get through chemistry class, I’ll be happy. When I become rich and famous, I’ll be happy. When they apologize and justice is served, then I’ll be happy.
Happy isn’t a place – it isn’t somewhere we have to go to. We don’t have to change our circumstances to get there.
Happy comes from your thoughts. You can access happy right now if you want to. You can live in a world that you design. Notice the words, “A world that YOU DESIGN” – design the kind of life you want to live by choosing how you want to think and feel and become.
Remember to always keep your model in the right order and to not get those things mixed up. It’s circumstances
What kind of world are you going to design today?
Okay, my friends, more on this topic on another episode. Like I mentioned earlier, this is only the first half of the model, I’ll talk about the rest soon.
I have a freebie in the show notes for todays episode – hop on over to thecatalystcoaching.com and snag that. While you’re there don’t forget to schedule a mini session and I’ll walk you through this model and give you personalize instruction on how to apply the model and create the world that you want to design.
See you next week!