As a life coach, one of the first things you learn about is the coaching framework. The coaching framework, is simple in theory and makes intuitive sense as you learn about it.
It starts with the Facts. We all face them and unique circumstances each day, the mantra “it is what it is,” comes from these facts. You can’t change them and everyone can agree to the truth of a fact or circumstance.
These facts then drive thoughts or judgments. Creating our feelings and resulting in certain actions and results. Negative circumstances or facts will often lead to thoughts that make us feel sad or depressed, which is totally fine. Self-help, coaching, therapy etc. is NOT about forcing positive thoughts when something really bad has happened.
Rather, it is about understanding the ability you have to choose different thoughts when the appropriate amount of time has passed for you to process the circumstance. Said in another way, crappy things will happen in life and its o.k. to sulk in the yucky-ness temporarily. It’s when you continue to hold on to those thoughts and make them “mean something more” that you start to feel bad more often and build beliefs that hold you back.
To best illustrate the impact of this framework I put it to the test while traveling last week in New Orleans. Honestly, there is no better time to test your ability to challenge yourself than while relying on public transportation and the whims of fate, to experience a vacation.
First of all, having the luxury to spend 6 days in New Orleans enjoying a great time with my mom was fantastic. We saw all the sites we wanted to explore, learned a ton about New Orleans history and cooking and had many great conversations over wonderful meals. I didn’t need the coaching model to fully appreciate how special those memories were. Yet, it did come in handy when I was riding a shuttle for 90 minutes, on a ride that should have taken 20 minutes.
The circumstance: I took an airport shuttle instead of an Uber to save $9 and it resulted in a miserably long ride to get to our accommodations. Initial thoughts: How could I let my cheap-ness create such a miserable experience? Public transportation sucks. I will never get there; I’m killing special vacation time. Feelings: Frustration, anger toward myself/situation, annoyed. Action: I didn’t talk to anyone, huffed and puffed and got furious inside.
Then I stopped myself, I felt inside that I was creating an unnecessary inner turmoil that would have me arriving in a foul mood. I plugged my head phones in and started listening to a great podcast. I thought, what a great moment to sit back and take in some fun information before I see my mom. I cooled down, processed and realized my own power.
From that moment on, whenever we experienced hardship in getting somewhere, I stopped and asked myself, what am I making this mean? Is it really that bad? What can I do or think differently to alleviate feelings I don’t want to have?
With these thoughts, things went smoothly, until our last day when we stopped into Marie Laveau’s Voo doo shop to get a voo doo doll. It was the last hour my mom and I had together and I was feeling a little sad that our trip was over. In an effort to have fun with the last hour, I was talking to my mom about the voo doo doll she wanted to purchase; how it had lovely straw hair, a fun dress and spunk.
I then picked up a Marie Laveau statue and said “or you could have thee Queen of Voo Doo.” I had a smile when I said it because we had learned on a tour that Mrs. Laveau was a hair dresser, who knew all the gossip in town, which some say offered her powers of influence rather than spiritual power. I didn’t speak this out loud, but I share it because it may have created undertones in my speech.
These undertones, created an explosive response from the retail shop salesperson. He berated me, for what felt like 10 minutes, for not being respectful in the home of a spiritual entity and for completely demeaning the value of his beliefs.
The anger he had was palpable and stung me like a hive full of bees. I never intended to demean his beliefs or be disrespectful, nonetheless it was how he felt. I walked out of the store with an intense circumstance on my shoulders. My thoughts about it were: how could I be so insensitive; now I have a voo doo hex. Wait, how did that even happen? I should never speak a word in public again. My feelings: confused, sad, anxious, disturbed. My action: I let its pain flow through me.
In coaching, we are instructed that the “clean” pain from a negative experience should only last 90 seconds to 3 minutes. After that it is dirty pain that is caused by “story fondling” our own thoughts.
That said, I experienced pain from this occurrence for a couple hours. It lasted longer than necessary, but I was glad I sat with it, felt it and moved on. I then consciously decided to let go of the thoughts that were causing me pain and refused to let this “mean” more than just an unfortunate incident.
The incident…two unique operating models for existence had clashed and one felt the need to assert their modality with severe language.
I share this story because it reminded me of how many of my clients struggle in relating to other people, when they expect them to act differently than they actually do. The struggle becomes more challenging when we resist “what is” rather than looking at what is happening inside of us.
When we take the time to look inside rather than out, we realize our power and ability to feel good despite circumstance. This week I challenge you to look inside to solve an issue you may be facing.
How can you change your thoughts instead of changing something on the outside?