Ready to double your business? Click here to get started.
Brooke Castillo talking into a microphone
Model Mistakes podcast episode cover The Life Coach School

Ep #83: Model Mistakes

As you may already know, I just recently finished our in-person coach training. One of the things that came as a surprise for me during the training was that a lot of the people who have been using The Self-Coaching Model have been making a lot of mistakes. And these mistakes seem to have been affecting their ability to make progress in their self-development.

Today, for those who haven’t attended our in-person training, I decided to address the common mistakes people make when applying The Model (download the worksheet). Listen in as we review that amazing system for analyzing your thoughts and take a look how to properly apply it to any situation in your life. Believe me…you won't want to miss out on this opportunity and discover how The Model can provide you with brilliant insight into what’s going on with you and your mind, and help you obtain a much more intimate relationship with yourself!

If you have any questions about The Self-Coaching Model or if you would like to post your model and get feedback on it, please leave it in the comments below this post.

Grab your copy of our new Wisdom From The Life Coach School Podcast book. It covers a decade worth of research, on life-changing topics from the podcast, distilled into only 200 pages. It's the truest shortcut to self-development we have ever created!

Listen to the show

What You will discover

  • The review of The Model.
  • How to properly fill it out.
  • The common mistakes people make.
  • The magical benefits of The Model.
  • The importance of continuously practicing The Model.
  • How to solve any problem.

Get the Full Episode Transcript:

download the transcript

Episode Transcript:

Welcome to The Life Coach School podcast, where it’s all about real clients, real problems, and real coaching. Now, your host, master coach instructor Brooke Castillo.

Hey everyone. How are you guys today? I'm doing so well. I just met with…one of my best girlfriends is an interior designer and I’m moving offices. I'm moving into a bigger office so I can do more. I can set up a video studio so I can just have that ready to go to record videos. I'm doing about a video a week for my Stop Overeating Masterclass. I create a content video for them. Then, I also do my video streams with them. In order to get those videos done in a way that … it’s easy for me. It’s nice to just have a studio set up so I don’t have to just keep setting it up.

I told you how excited I am about that Stop Overeating. I am having so much fun with it. I'm so excited with the people that we have in that course. We’re learning and I'm so excited with the people I've already been working with and to the success they’re having. I just feel like, “Oh my God, I'm so blessed to have all these wonderful people in my life and the knowledge that I have.” It’s so interesting because something then I thought was so horrible. My son is suffering with the insulin resistance and the weight gain. The issues he was dealing with were such a horrible thing has turned into such a huge blessing, not just for him but for me and for everyone that will benefit from the knowledge that I got from his work. You just never know when something happens, what it could end up meaning for the world. When I talk about the world, of course I'm talking about my small little world that I deal with.

Anyway, today, we are going to talk about model mistakes. The reason why we’re going to talk about this is because I just did an in-person training and so many of the people from that training are just like you. You’ve listened to the podcast, you’ve applied what you’ve learned, and then we get into that classroom and they're like, “Oh, I thought I really knew how to do the model but there, I’ve been making a lot of mistakes and those mistakes have really affected truly whether I'm able to make progress in my self-development or not.” I want to make sure that you, my friendly listener who maybe haven't attended and in-person training, what? Come on. Let’s do this, even if you don’t want to be a coach, come, do it. We have a lot of people that come just for their own self-development. It’s really powerful that if you're making the same mistakes, that we can clear them up right away. Let’s get started.

Let me start with a quick review of the model. If you have no idea what I'm talking about, if you are a brand new listener, you need to go back to the first episodes where I teach the model and really get the basics. I'm going to talk about them again here but I have a whole episode just on the model. Another thing that a lot of the in-person students told me was they're surprised how often I use it. I practice the model all the time. It’s always running in the background of my mind. It’s always there when I'm coaching people but it’s especially powerful in my own sell-coaching work.

The model, the way that we write it is downward. You basically write circumstances. Then, you put dot, dot, a colon. Then, you'd write the circumstance there. Then on the next line, you write thoughts, dot, dot. Then, you write the thought there. On the next line, you write feelings, dot, dot. Then you write the feeling there. Then underneath that, you write the action, dot, dot. You write the action there. Then underneath that, you write the results, dot, dot. Then, the result there. That’s how you write the model. I will attach to the show notes a visual of the model so you can see what it looks like if you're having a hard time visualizing it.

When you are doing the model, a lot of times, we just put, instead of writing out circumstance, we would just write CTFAR. We just put it down the left side of a piece of paper. Whenever I'm working on my board, if you haven't ever joined me on one of my hangouts, that’s one of the things that I do as I just put it down the left side of a board. Remember that what you write in there looks like this. The first thing … Whatever your problem is, whatever you're dealing with, whatever thought you're dealing with, it goes in the model. One of the things that I suggest that you do is a thought download every morning, or anytime that you're not feeling amazing. You sit down and you just write down all your thoughts on a piece of paper. They can be negative. They can be positive. They can be anything you want. Five to 10 minutes, just write down everything. It’s a great way to start a session with a client. It’s also a great way for you to start your own self-coaching session.
Once you have that written down, pick any thought off of there. It doesn’t matter which one. You guys don’t train to get the most important thought. It doesn’t have to be the most important one. Just pick one and put that thought in the T line. That’s in the thought line. In the circumstance line, you want to put the facts, the circumstance. One of the mistakes that I see a lot of people doing is in that C line, they're putting opinions. They are putting thoughts. The way that you test it is that a circumstance can be proven in a court of law. It shouldn’t have any adjectives that are ambiguous. You can't say, “Kinda.” You can't say, “Sort of,” or, “Ugly,” or, “Stupid,” or, “Angry,” or any swear words probably shouldn’t go in the C line, any kind of judgment or descriptive.

If you're going to say, “The beautiful blue dog,” if that’s what you wanted to say, in the C line, you will just put, “The dog.” There's no descriptors in there. Narrow it down. What are just the facts of this situation? That’s what you put in the C line. In that T line, you're going to put all your thoughts about those facts. The dog was blue. The dog was beautiful. Blue, if everyone would agree that the dog is blue and it’s a pretty verifiable descriptor, that would be fine in there. I just, as a rule of thumb, try to keep anything that can't be proven in the court of law out of there. Beautiful is very subjective. We’re not sure if everyone would agree that the dog is beautiful.

Then, in the F line, you're going to write one emotion, just one word that describes an emotion in that F line. Then, in the A line, which is the action line, you're going to put what happens or what you do when you feel that way. That feeling is going to fuel that action. Then, the result is the result or the effect of taking that action. The mistake I see made most of the time is that the C line, which is circumstance, has more than just facts. Just because something seems to be true to you, that doesn’t make it a fact. You can't say, “No, my mother is angry all the time.” That is not a fact. Even if 25 people agree with you, it’s still not a fact. There are times where she can't be verifiably angry. She would probably disagree that she's angry all the time. The point isn’t to debate those little facts. The point is to just put in that C line what is verifiable. My mom.

The next mistake I see a lot of people making is they put a question in that T line. In that thought line, they have put a question. See, you want to make sure that if you have a question in your T line, that you simply answer the question and that becomes your new thought. The F line, try and summarize it down to one word. Remember, when you're describing what a feeling is, you want to ask it this way. When you think the thoughts and then the thought that you are thinking, that’s in the T line, how does that thought cause you to feel? Make sure that those two are really close together. The circumstance may be, “My mom.” The thought may be, “She's always angry.” The feeling that you have when you think the thought, “My mom is always angry,” maybe something like, “Disappointment.” It’s the feeling you have because of the thought you are thinking.

Then, you ask yourself, “When you feel disappointed, what do you do? How do you act towards your mom, with your mom, when you talk about your mom? What do you do when you're disappointed because you're having the thought that she's angry all the time?” That’s how you get to that question. You want to make sure that the feeling is attributed to the thought. You want to make sure the feeling is attributed to the action. A lot of the mistakes I’ll see are people mixing models. For example, if we stay with the missing model, you may say, “When I think that my mom is angry all the time, I feel disappointed.” The action you may say is, “I go and talk to her about her being angry all the time.”

Disappointment does not drive you to go have a conversation with her, especially if it’s thoughtful conversation with her about it. What drives you to go have a conversation with her about it is being hopeful or maybe thinking that you can change it, or maybe feeling vulnerable in wanting to talk to her about it, something like that. Disappointment doesn’t drive that action. Disappointment may cause you to yell at her or tell her to be different in a disappointed way. You want to make sure that you don’t jump to a new model. I want to fix this. I want her to be less angry. Then, you jump to a new model to try and fix it. Just be clear. When I'm disappointed around my mom, what do I do? What have I done? That’s really clear. In that way, you won’t be mixing models.

Then, when I do that, when I'm disappointed, and a lot of people, when they're disappointed with other people, they usually withdraw or maybe they’ll go talk to their sister about it, maybe they’ll complain about it, when you complain, what does that do? The result is, if your mom finds out, she's probably going to get angry, like just perfect, because then it proves that original thought. The way to test whether you're doing your model accurately is look in that result line. Is the result evidence for that initial thought? If it is, then you know that you have a correct model. If you’ve switched models, for example, I went and talked to my mom about how I was feeling in her and not wanting her to be angry all the time, and the result maybe a closer relationship with my mom, that’s not going to prove the thought that she's angry all the time. You know you’ve mixed models there. The way to check is just ask yourself, “Does that result proved that T line?”

Here's something really important. This model is magic. This model will help you understand what's going on in your mind, why you act the way you do, why you feel the way you do, why you're getting the result you're getting. Understanding that is so powerful. It’s worth-taking the time to really learn it. Remember that your brain is the most powerful tool that you have. One of the ways to manage your mind, to manage your brain is by understanding this model and utilizing it as a tool. It’s now one of those things that you're going to get in five minutes. You need to practice the model. You need to be willing to make mistakes at it so you can get better at it. I want to encourage you that as I'm going through this and talking to you about it, that you’ll be willing to sit down and write out a model and do one for yourself. The more you do, the better.

I want to offer you to do it this right now. Think about something in your life that you don’t think is working, something that’s not great. You're either going to think about that in terms of a circumstance which is you're going to think about the facts, or a thought or a judgment or an opinion will come to mind, or you’ll bring up a feeling that your feeling, or you’ll bring up a behavior or a non-behavior that you're doing or not doing, or you’ll bring up a result. However you answer the question to whether you're struggling within your life, you will be able to put it in the model. What's wrong, love, is something I say to myself all the time. Whatever my answer is, it will able to fit in the model. I’ll either answer with a thought, a feeling, and action, or a result, or a circumstance, which is just the facts of the situation.
Put that into the model. Decide what it is. If it’s a feeling, put it in the F line. If it’s a thought, put it in the T line. If it’s a behavior or non-behavior, action or reaction, put it in that A line. Then, fill in the rest of the model. If you're starting with the circumstance, the facts about something, I'm getting a divorce, for example, that’s factual. You can prove it. You have the paperwork. Here's how the questions go from there. What are your thoughts about this circumstance? Once you write that down, how do you feel when you think this thought? When you feel that way, what do you do or not do in relation to the circumstance? When you do that, what happens? What is the effect? Then, you have your complete model.

When you look at that, you will understand the cause of all your problems. It all starts with the T line. The best news ever is that that T line is a choice. One of the main issues that I see with people is they try to use the model to, what I call, thought-swap. They uncover a negative thought or a negative emotion and negative behavior or a negative result and they want to change it immediately. There's absolutely nothing wrong with doing that at all, but it just won’t be as long-lasting as if you truly allow yourself to have the paradigm shift from the first model. Once you do a model based on a problem that you're having, you want to make sure that you understand that the only reason that it is a problem for you is because of what's in that T line, because of what you are deciding to think. What your sister did isn’t a problem. What your husband did isn’t a problem. What you even do isn’t a problem. It’s what you think that is always the problem.

Once you’ve done a model, a great thing for you to do is to ask yourself, “Why do I feel the way I do?” The answer is always because of the thought I'm thinking. Why do I feel the way I do? Because of the thought I'm thinking. Do not try and change the way you're feeling. Allow yourself to feel it because what's the big deal. There isn’t a feeling you can't feel. Remind yourself, the reason you're feeling that way is because of the thought you're thinking. It doesn’t mean you have to change that thought just to understand how those are related. When you truly understand that, and it will be a paradigm shift to understand that in every new situation it is, I still go through this all the time myself, understanding the reason I feel the way I do is because of the thought I'm thinking, not because of anything external that’s happening.

When you understand that, you know that you can solve every single one of your problems by solving what's going on in your brain. You have access to so much wisdom within the brain, within your intuition, within your inspiration. If you're thinking a thought that’s blocking it, all you need to do is understand that before you try and change it. One of the main mistakes I see is that thought-swapping, trying to jump to a new model, trying to jump to a new thought before you're truly ready. Be willing to drop into the truth about why you're feeling the way you do. When you understand that you are the cause of all your problems, it may be tempting to start beating yourself up. That’s another huge mistake that I see a lot of new students doing. They see that they're having a lot of negative thinking. They see that they're having a lot of negative emotion. They realize that they are the one causing it. They think that’s the worst news ever and they start blaming themselves and beating themselves up for it.

It’s very important, when you start understanding your mind, when you start paying attention to your mind, that you allow yourself to know that you are doing what you're doing for very good reason. There's a reason why your brain is thinking that thought. If you can approach it with curiosity and fascination, you will get so much more insight and such a more intimate relationship with yourself versus if you're constantly beating yourself up. One of the main things that I think that the model can do is increase your relationship with yourself. All it does is allow you to be heard and understood.

Let me give you an example. If you are talking to somebody and they're telling you their problems, they're telling you how they feel, they're telling you why they feel the way they do, and all you're doing is trying to fix it and make them think better thoughts and telling them to stop thinking what they're thinking and try to make it better, they're not going to feel heard. If you just allow them to share what they're thinking and what they're going through, there will be so much insight just from that. That’s what the model can do. The model can provide you with brilliant insight as to what is going on with you, your relationship to yourself and your brain. That, in and of itself, is so much more powerful than just trying to fix it or thought-swap it.
When you're doing the model and the biggest mistake you can make, I think, is not writing it down. Write down the model when you're first learning it. Write down as many as you can if you really want to get good at it. I teach my students all the time that you don’t have to teach your clients the model, but you have to be so familiar with it that it’s in the back of your mind at all times so you're able to help your clients coach themselves and you're able to coach them because you have that model so ingrained. The best way to do that is by doing multiple models all of the time. You don’t have to wait until you weren’t feeling good. Do a model on a happy thought. I'm feeling awesome today. That feels exciting. What I do when I'm excited, I create more content for my podcast. What is the result? More people hear it. More people are excited too. That makes me more excited which proves that original thought.

Go through, and if you need more on this, I have a three-part video on the model on If you go to and go to videos, you can go to those three videos that I've done on the model. Then, you can write them down and practice them. Make sure you go over to the show notes and make sure you look at the model. If you haven't practice and you don’t really … This is more of the advanced podcast, if you aren’t clear what I'm talking about, make sure you go back to one of those previous podcast episodes where I talk about the model and how to do it so you can become proficient at it before …

You have to start trying it and know the basics of it before you can start making mistakes. This is something that you want to be able to listen to once you even practicing it for a while. Again, if you guys have any questions about the model or if you want to post the model and have me give you feedback on that model, I’d be happy to do that here on episode 83. You want to go to Put your model there and I will give you feedback on it. All right everybody, I hope you have an amazing awesome week. I will talk to you next week. Take care. Bye-bye.

Thank you for listening to The Life Coach School podcast. It would be incredibly awesome if you would take a moment to write a quick review on iTunes. For any questions, comments, or coaching issues you would like to hear on the show, please visit us at


  1. Hi, Brooke! It was so helpful to get this podcast today as I have been practicing coaching and get wobbly mid-way through the coaching session. By wobbly, I mean that it’s so apparent how much my clients believe their story and really do not get the connection between the feeling and the thought that is causing this feeling. One of the things I’ve done is to take the Model in reverse. What Results do you want…what Actions do you need to get those results … what do you need to Feel in order to take those actions … what Thought do you have to have in order to Feel that way. And from there, make a goal plan. I’ve had them write the Thought that will create the Feeling, etc. My question is … by doing this, am I spoon-feeding a thought to them in order to get Rainbows and Daisies? Is this an ineffective way to help them get permanent shifts?

    1. Would the reverse model be something good to do once you do a model on the current thoughts? I completed my model and am not sure what to do next. Thanks!

  2. Hello Brooke. Thanks again for another great podcast. While thinking about the model, I began to realize many of my thoughts that lead to negative feelings derive from “all or nothing” thinking. Is there a way to generally work on this problem, or is the model done with each thought that reflects the “all or nothing” thinking?

    1. Great question, Melissa! Brooke will answer this for you in an upcoming Questions & Answers podcast. Stay tuned!

      Carina | The Life Coach School

  3. Hello Brooke:
    I have been listening to you ever since you were on the Jess Lively Show in August. I am practicing your Model and think it is wonderful, it makes soooo much sense to me. . I think that I already have done it in my mind at times just because I get it. I feel you have put it all together in my head for me. I love anything that has to do with mindfulness, and this is spot on. Okay so I have worked the model on a thought I have that I know is not supporting my desires as a wife. I worked this in my head a few years ago, it worked, but now it’s not. So now with the model I want to try again.

    C – (I can’t figure out what to slable this.) I am thinking; husbands self-esteem. But I am not sure as I am not sure I can prove where his selfesteem is, in a court of law.
    T – I want a strong husband, he seems so unsure. He seems so passive in this . . .
    F – Disappointed, let down
    A – I try to be his conscience and tell him many things he is doing wrong.
    R – Lower self esteem for him and for myself as I know that it does not serve him or me.

    1. Hi Julie,

      Thank you for sharing your Model with us. Brooke will go over it in an upcoming podcast. Stay tuned!

      Carina | The Life Coach School

  4. Here is my model. I’m not sure what to do once I go through the model. What are the next steps?

    C – My weight
    T – It’s too high, I’m fat, ugly and I will never lose weight, i’m a failure at weight loss
    F – disappointment, frustration
    A – eat more, sit around & avoid doing anything, try things once & it doesn’t work so it’s not worth trying again, very mean self talk
    R – gain more weight, unable to see another way out of my problem, prove my thoughts right

    1. Hi Tiffanie,

      Thank you for sharing your Model with us. Brooke will go over it in an upcoming podcast. Stay tuned!

      Carina | The Life Coach School

  5. Hey Brooke,

    Guess what? I’ve found myself using the model to justify staying where I’m at. It’s not entirely a negative: I’m happy with my job, and where I’m at with my academic career. I’ve used the model to sift through some tough belief systems that were holding me back. I understand that it’s from a better feeling place that I can best reach where I’d eventually like to be. However, now I’m worried! I’m so blissed out! But I want to strive for more than where I’m at, and I’m worried that enjoying myself will keep me complacent.

    In some way, I understand that the emotions that I feel are trigged by the thoughts that I have. But at the same time, I also understand that my emotions are not only indicators of what I’m thinking, but also can be intuitive pick-ups that show me that I’m not where I want to be in life. Can the model be used to justify a less-than-ideal circumstance? And how do I use the model to keep me moving toward greatness?

    1. Great question, J.A. Brooke will address this for you in an upcoming Questions & Answers podcast. Stay tuned!

      Carina | The Life Coach School

      1. That’s awesome! I’ll be looking forward to listening to the podcast, and hearing her thoughts. Appreciate the work that you do, Carina!

  6. Hi Brooke,

    Thank you for producing such great content on the podcast. I’ve been listening every morning for the last few months while walking my dog. I’ve just now caught up to recent episodes. I heard about your work on the Love Being Boss podcast. Kathleen Shannon often talks about your self coaching book and I’ve now added it to my reading list. I really loved this episode because it helped me find more clarity in my thoughts. Before when I was doing the model I think my thoughts, feelings and actions were overly complicated and I wasn’t really feeling a connection with the model and it made more confused. I’ve just worked on two models and I think they have a connection.

    C: I live in Ottawa with my husband and son
    T: We live in Ottawa and not in the city where my family lives because of my husbands job and he is unwilling to move
    F: Unloved
    A: I critisize my husband and pick fights
    R: We argue and both say mean things and I confirm that he doesn’t truly love me

    C: My boss sends me an email with an action
    T: She doesn’t need to send me an email to take this action. I know what do. Why does she think I don’t already know what I’m doing.
    F: insecure
    A: I start to tell my self that I’m unqualified, not cable and not good enough
    R: I become unmotivated to work and I stop being productive and prove that I’m not good enough

    I have more of almost the same model.

    In both I have feelings of insecurity. With my husband I’m feeling unloved and at work I’m feeling unqualified. I know that I can’t jump and try to change the thoughts that are making feel insecure and that I need to be compassionate with myself and truly understand my thoughts but I don’t know how do be compassionate. What should I be telling myself? How do I sit with these thought and understand them. Where do I go from here?

    1. Hi Steph,

      Thank you so much for sharing your two models here. Brooke will address your questions in an upcoming Questions & Answers episode, so stay tuned!

      Carina | The Life Coach School

  7. Hi Brooke, Thank you so much for your invaluable work and generosity in sharing your knowledge and guidance. I am using the model with my client an I think I observed a “model switch” though I couldn’t guide it to a more consistent place where the result proved the thought. What might you do if you got this information?

    C: I am 30 lbs overweight from my previous comfortable weight.
    T: I haven’t done enough exercise . I should do more. I’m bad. I have to increase exercise and do more about my diet.
    F: “shame” ( then she changed it because she said she didn’t really know what shame was despite that she offered that word as her feeling. She changed it to somewhere between tired want to give up and despair ( but not exactly despair)
    A; Introsepection/ talk to myself and ask is it useful to think this way
    R: get a little depressed

    I get the sense that the FEELING She expressed does not generate the action she takes– there seems to be a disconnect there. As we explored I sensed a lot of resistance around both the feeling and action , but took a different tact through a visualization exercise since I felt we got to an impasse. Just wondering how you would approach this model what questions might u ask. Many thanks for all your Help and generosity.

    1. Thank you for your question, Tsgoyna. Brooke will address this in an upcoming Questions & Answers podcast. Stay tuned!

      Carina | The Life Coach School

  8. You have talked about the importance of using a single word in the F line. I am wondering if you suggest also limiting the T line to a single thought (like one phrase or sentence).

    To use one of the examples above, should each of these thoughts be in a separate model? “[my weight] is too high,” “I’m fat, ugly, and I will never lose weight,” and “I’m a failure at weight loss.” OR if all of the thoughts seem to be producing the same one-word emotion, is it OK if there are several in the T line?

    I find that when I do models, I end up doing more of a thought download in the T line. When you do thought downloads, do you then pick a single thought to do a model on?

    Thanks so much!

  9. Hi Brooke,

    Would love to get your opinion on this model:

    C – I created a painting and posted it on Instagram.

    T – This is going to get a lot of likes and I’m going to become a successful artist.

    F – Excited. (Am I mixing up excited with anxious?)

    A – Check Instagram often to see how many likes the painting got.

    R – Depressed if it doesn’t get much likes, proving that I’m not a successful artist.

    I feel like there is a mistake in there somewhere. I thought this was interesting because it created a possibly positive emotion, or I really am mixing up anxious and excited? Can anxious feel two different ways? The other kind that isn’t paired with excited feels like a mix of panic and worry.


    1. Thank you for your question. Brooke will be responding to questions in an upcoming Questions and Answers episode. Stay tuned! –Brecklyn

  10. Hi Brooke, love love love your podcasts. Thank you. I have signed up for Certification starting in April and I am thrilled. I have been practising using the model and was wondering if I could get some advice please.
    C – 10 items to accomplish
    T – Too much I would like to do and not enough time.
    F – Overwhelmed
    A – Read my “could do” list and start chipping away at it.
    R – Items get worked on and in time, accomplished.
    I am having a difficult time with the Action and Result section of the model. Because I have some great tools and strategies to use when I am feeling as though I have too many things to do and not enough time, I use them (make a list, schedule time to complete parts of tasks, break it down into smaller chunks, choosing which words I wish to use (want vs need, have to vs want to, etc) The problem is, I don’t feel that I am getting to the bottom of this thought. I think this thought all the time and it does not serve me at all. Any advice?

    1. Thank you, Carly! Brooke appreciates that. We are so excited to have you join us in Certification. You will have so many opportunities to get help on your models in Certification and Self Coaching Scholars. In your model, what do you do in the moment when you feel overwhelmed? Usually the feeling of overwhelm does not produce productive action. That may be coming from a different thought and feeling. We will dive much deeper into this in your Certification class. See you then! –Felicia