Monthly Archives: November 2015

What You Think Is Not My Business

Even if it’s about me.

My business is what I can do something about. I can’t control what you think.

All I can really control in this moment is what I think. And I can’t really even control that. Sometimes I can influence it. I can decide which thoughts to believe and which to let go of as they arise unbidden. I can’t control what my next thought will be, I can only watch for it and decide whether to believe it when it gets here.

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Posted by on 2015/11/30 in Uncategorized


The Feeling is the Payoff


What do you want? A new car? A new house? A new job? More money?

Whatever it is, it’s not really what you want. What you really want is the feeling you think those things will give you. All we ever really want is a feeling.

Consider: if you had the feeling already, would you care about actually acquiring the thing? If you felt the security and abundance of wealth, would you care what the number on your bank account actually was? And if you don’t feel wealthy, even if you have ten million dollars in the bank, it’s not enough.

So where do feelings come from? They come from our thoughts — the ideas that we consistently hold and believe over time. My thoughts tell me what events mean and my feelings automatically flow from those assumed meanings.

If I think bedtime means I have to stop playing, I’ll feel sad and angry and I may throw a temper tantrum.

If I think bedtime means I get to rest when I’m tired, I’ll feel grateful and happy and go to bed without resistance. Same circumstance, different thoughts, different feelings, different behaviors, different outcomes.

If I think money in the bank means I can go shopping, I’ll feel excited and happy. I’ll go to the store and spend the money. Then I may have thoughts and feelings about having no money in the bank.

If I think money in the bank means I’m building my wealth, I’ll feel happy, I’ll avoid spending money unnecessarily, and over time I’ll have more money in the bank. Same circumstance, different thoughts, different feelings, different outcomes.

If I go to visit my parents thinking, “They’re so old and out of touch. They don’t understand me. They have nothing to do with me. They’re boring,” I’ll feel bored and alienated. I won’t want to listen to them while I’m with them. I’ll leave as soon as I can. My relationship with my parents will be weakened.

If I go to visit my parents thinking, “I wonder what they’re up to these days. I wonder what I can do to help them. I hope they’re healthy and happy,” I’ll feel interested and curious to see them, hear them tell me their stories about their doings, share my stories with them, and do what I can to help them out. We’ll have a nice visit and our relationship will be strengthened. Same circumstance, different thoughts, different feelings, different outcomes.

In each case, it’s the thinking that makes the difference.

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Posted by on 2015/11/29 in Uncategorized


Think. Feel. Act. Have.

The first person I heard put those words together was Byron Katie. At the time, I failed to appreciate the full significance of this model of how life works. It wasn’t until I recently read Brooke Castillo’s explication of the idea in her book Self Coaching 101 that the full potential of the model became clear to me. Thanks, Brooke!

Actually, Brooke precedes “Think” with “Circumstance” because it’s often the circumstances of our lives that provoke thoughts. And often those thoughts are punitive or painful, leading to feelings we don’t like, actions (behavior) that don’t serve us, and outcomes we regret.

Brooke defines circumstance as “something you cannot directly control in this moment.” (emphasis in original)

I notice that the only think I have any influence over at all in this moment is what I think about whatever is going on. With the right thoughts now, I might be able to affect future moments, but this one now is already “in the can” as it were, out of my reach. It is what it is. So I have no leverage over current circumstance.

Feelings are automatic. I have tried to manufacture feelings before with a complete lack of success. I can’t make myself feel an emotion simply by trying. I have noticed, when feeling angry, that if I focus on the feeling, it fades. If I focus on what I’m feeling angry about (a thought), the feeling persists. So I can’t produce feelings directly, but thinking the right thought will generate a feeling.

It seems like I choose my actions, so it seems like I should have some leverage at “Act”. Maybe I do. But I notice that my past efforts to achieve outcomes by controlling my behavior have by and large not been successful. Sooner or later, I have to let go of my rigid control because I get tired or my feelings of deprivation overwhelm the willpower I’m exerting to avoid an undesired behavior or force myself into some activity that doesn’t interest me.

“Have” is the outcome that flows from my actions, my behavior. It turns into my circumstance for the next iteration of the model. It triggers more thoughts which, negative or positive, helpful or painful, lead to more feelings, more behavior, and further outcomes. The outcome is an automatic consequence of the behavior.

So the only place I have a real chance to affect the flow and generate lasting change is at “Think”. To do so, I have to watch my thoughts closely and notice how they condition and shape the downstream feelings, how the feelings generate the behaviors, and how the behaviors produce the outcomes. Then I need to consider which thoughts will lead to feelings, behaviors, and outcomes I like better than the ones I’m getting.

If I’m happy with how I feel, what I’m doing, and the outcomes I’m getting, I’m already done. Nothing more is needed. In any situation, the feeling is the payoff. The only reason for ever changing anything is because I don’t like how what I’ve got feels.

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Posted by on 2015/11/28 in Uncategorized