EPISODE 15: How to solve any problem: 5 key elements

Dec 30, 2019

Artwork for podcast Overcome Pornography: The Self Mastery Podcast

How to solve any problem: 5 key elements.

I love all the great feedback I am getting about the podcast, thank you.

Some of you make it the first thing you listen to each Monday morning to start your week out right.


Somebody reached out to me about this week about the podcast from two weeks ago about falling forward and asked how they can get better at that. 


And said, they were feeling stuck and didn’t know how to put that into play in their life. So, let me just take a moment here to remind you that you can hop online at and set up a free mini session. I will help you out, let me hook you up. There is a link for the work with me button so you can just take advantage of that. I’ll also talk to you about options that you have if you want to keep working with me if you choose.


My spots are filling fast, so I am thinking about opening up a group coaching program as well so more people can get better at the self mastery that we all are striving to work on. 


It is gonna be amazing


Whether you are interested in working with me or not, I’d love to do a mini session with you and help you out, so don’t hesitate to go there.


So, today, we are going to talk about how to solve any problem by understanding 5 key elements. 


All of the coaching I do stems from the model, which was developed by my mentor brooke Castillo, the owner of the life coach school


She is a woman who I really respect for her work in helping people others work on how to become a better person and better at being the person that you want to be.


I also work with a really amazing coach jody moore. Who is my friend and a coach who brought me the model before I knew really anything about being a coach and is now my instructor at the life coach school.


I have yet to find a problem that this model will not work on. 


So, if you think you have one that this model doesn’t apply to, then, sign up for a mini session and let’s give a test run and see.


The idea of the model is that everything we deal with in life, pain, suffering, negative emotions, all come from something other than our circumstances. 


The traditional way of thinking is that circumstances make us feel bad. 


The model shows us that our feelings come not from our circumstances, but from what we think. That our thoughts generate our feelings. 


So let’s start at the beginning of the model. The “circumstance” of our model. Let’s just define that. 


a circumstance is a fact, it is what we consider the indisputable facts of the case. They are things that we don’t control and cannot change directly.


Some examples of this are, the weather, other peoples, behavior, our past. 


What do I mean that it is a fact, so this is something that is not up to interpretation and everyone can agree on. 


For example, if you said to me, ‘I’m addicted to pornography’ that would not be a circumstance. That is a thought. 


If you say to me, “at 2 pm I looked at pictures” that is a circumstance. It can be, essentially, proven.


It isn’t subjective or someone’s opinion. Everyone would agree with it.


Your car is a circumstance. weather is a circumstance. Other people’s behavior is a circumstance.


You can’t control them. 


The second part of the model is your thinking, your thoughts.


I want to define what I mean by your thoughts, because I use this in my coaching a lot. This is a pivotal point in your ability to understand not only who you are, but also how you can change what you believe and think to become who you want to be.


Firstly, thoughts are sentences that are constantly running through our minds. This is essentially the conversation we are having with ourselves. 


Sometimes we are aware of our thoughts, but often, because of how powerful and fast our brains are, we are not really aware of all the thoughts that we have going on in our minds. 


For example, if you said to me, ‘I’m addicted to pornography’ that would not be a circumstance. That is a thought. 


Thoughts are really interesting because they are the things that, I believe, create the world around us. All of the technology and all of the comfort and all of the things that we spend our time with that aren’t other people (and sometimes other people like our kids) first started out as thoughts in someone’s mind. 


This makes our thoughts very powerful, perhaps the most powerful thing we have the ability to influence in the world. 


I think you could make an argument that the saying, the pen is mightier than the sword, is an expression of how powerful our thoughts can be, especially when we write them down.


Some of us have thoughts that build us up and help us create, like, “I want to study to be a doctor” or “I know I’m a great dad”.


Other thoughts we have can reduce our ability to be our best version of who we are trying to be, like, “no one will know if I do this just one time” or “I can’t stop looking at pornography”


Those thoughts that reduce our abilities are harmful and cause us unnecessary pain and suffering.


I have 8 kids, that is a circumstance. Where we live, in Milwaukee Wisconsin, when I tell people that, they usually say something like, “wow, that is a lot of kids” or “you’ve got your hands full”


Where we just moved from, st George, ut a family of 8 kids is not so rare and they will often say something like, “oh, I’m the 7th of 9” or my parents had 10 kids or “nice, we wanted to have 8 but had to stop”


So you can see, the actual words they are saying are circumstances to me, but they are those peoples thoughts and they are sharing what they think. And what they are making my 8 kids mean is different depending on their thoughts and what they believe.


That brings us to the third part of the model, feelings. 


All of our feelings come from our thinking. 


We don’t tend to think about it that way, we usually attribute our feelings to our circumstances. “I lost my job, that’s why I feel like a failure”. But the truth is that you’re lack of a job is not the cause of your feelings. What you are thinking about your lack of work is the cause of your feelings. There are a lot of people who don’t work that feel great about it. Retirees are often put into that category. 


Thinking that you should have a job, or thinking that you didn’t work hard enough, or thinking that you didn’t deserve this. Those are the things that bring up the feelings of failure or overwhelm or sadness. 


So let me give you an example of how your thoughts about circumstances create your feelings. 


We just moved into a new house and I am doing some of the work because I like to work with my hands and it gives me some time to think while I work. My brother-in-law, who is a professional drywaller came over and was critiquing my work. Now, before I knew this model I might have believed that he was making me feel bad because of what he was saying about my drywall that I had just put up and was mudding. But now, I know that what he said was just words, and that my thoughts about those words are what create my feelings. 


And he wasn’t overly critical, he was just pointing out what I could do better, but before, I might have been sensitive because in the past, I have tried really hard to fit in with my wife’s brothers and it isn’t always easy, so to hear him be critical of my work would have been cause for me to think, “oh, I’m not good enough” or “he’s such a jerk”


The truth here is that his words are just words. And whether he said them to me or to someone else without me hearing them, the only thing that created my feelings was what I chose to think about the words, the meaning I gave them.


It’s important to remember here, that we are not usually fully conscious of what we are thinking. In this example, and before the model, I would certainly have thought that he hurt my feelings and that was his fault. Just like, when our spouse uses pornography and or withholds intimacy, we often think that it is their fault that we feel the way we do. That is a pretty natural and quick process to go through. But, what we think, not the circumstance, is what creates negative emotions and positive emotions.


We also like to think that if the circumstances were different, then we would feel better. “if my husband wouldn’t use pornography, I’d feel sexier” or “if my wife would meet my needs more often, I’d feel happier”. It’s easy to be tempted to think that way because changing the circumstance is so obvious. But, we can’t always change the circumstance. We can always change our thoughts.


That, by the way, is the literal definition of repentance. The Greek root of our English word repentance is to have a new mind. What is your mind if it isn’t your thoughts. So, while having new circumstances may be hard to achieve, having new thoughts isn’t.


Which means that feeling differently, if it comes from your thoughts, is just a matter of choosing thoughts that create the feelings that you want.


So what is a feeling, I define it as a vibration in your body. 


As men, maybe we’re not as good at describing our feelings, or thinking about them. Some of you listening might think that this is where I lose you, because you aren’t a big feelings person. 

But stick with me for a minute. 

Knowing what feelings are and how they impact us is key to understanding why we do what we do.


The reason I say that is, feelings are the reason we do anything we do.


I was in sales for a lot of years. 


I sold cell phones and then I worked with insurance agents and then I was one.


If you have ever sold something you know that the way to get to someone to buy something is to create the right feeling.


Turn that discussion about the latest features of the iphone and its many technical aspects into desire.


Maybe the buyer wants to feel cool, maybe they want to feel more interesting, maybe they don’t want to feel envy that their neighbor or friend has a better phone, or maybe they don’t want to feel stupid that their phone is old.


People buy, and really, do everything they do because of how they feel. 


That isn’t touchy feely, koombayah kind of talk, that is just how humans work.


So, when we think, “it won’t matter this one time if I look at pornography” our feeling may be justified.


Or when we think “my wife can’t find out that I look at pornography” we may feel overwhelmed or scared.


Those feelings drive us. But, and this is one thing that I teach my clients, you can also just feel the emotion without acting on it as well. 


And this is something that we have all done as well. If you have felt angry or upset and just sat in the emotion and done nothing. Just decided to feel upset rather than yell at your kids because they made a huge mess or tell your boss off because he was overly critical of your work.



So knowing what your feeling is, knowing and understanding how to describe and pinpoint your feeling will clue you in to the next piece of the puzzle – actions. 


The forth part of the model is action. Actions are simple. Actions are what we do, plain and simple.


So, when I feel lonely, my action might be to look at pornography.


Some of you might say, well, when I feel lonely or sad, I just get up and distract myself by keeping busy. So my emotion doesn’t affect what I do. I just power through


I want to offer to you that when you are operating from negative emotions you are not doing your best work. When you operate from the empowered emotions your actions are more effective than when you are “powering through” your sadness or loneliness or whatever emotions you are trying to distract yourself from.


What you do will always show up in the energy and tone you bring to your work because of the feelings you are feeling. Which come from the thoughts that you are thinking. 


When I make the decision to indulge my sadness by choosing to look at pornography the long term effects of that can be seen in how I ultimately feel because of my use, how I treat my spouse and kids and how I interact with the wider world. Do I withdraw, do I say mean things, do I show up as a someone other than who I want to be. Yes, all of those things, and more. 


Recognizing how my feelings impact my actions makes a huge difference in my being able to see clearly how to change and overcome my current patterns and implement new patterns that serve me better.


If what I really want is to be pornography free, understanding my emotions and the actions that they drive makes me more effective in changing my thoughts to have the feelings that I want to have.  


If what I really want to feel is love when I feel lonely, I can instead choose to think, “I am great at taking care of my family.”


That creates a different emotion than, “my wife can’t find out that I look at pornography”


Which creates different actions, which brings us to number 5 – results. 


Results always come from our actions. 


One thing that you are going to be aware of as you start to see how the model works is that when you see your thought, then discover the feelings that come from that, which create the actions and the result, you’re going to want to fix it all right away.


I just want to caution you there.


There are a couple of things you need to know,


First your thought line is the place where you have the most control


A lot of us focus on the action line more because we feel like that is where all the problems are. Or we try to change the circumstances because they seem to be big and in the way.


Now, as pornography users we have all done this.


I’m guilty of it, trying to just not look even thought our thoughts are still “my wife can’t find out that I look at pornography’.


But, if the thought doesn’t change, then, in the long run, neither will the results. 


 That’s that whole, “as a man thinketh, so is he” quote.


So when It comes to pornography use, one of my first thoughts that started me on the path of being pornography free was, “I can look at pornography, but I don’t want to right now”.


That was my way of saying, yes, I have the ability to chose pornography, but right now, in this moment I don’t want to. 


That was a thought that I could believe at almost every moment, regardless of my circumstances.


That thought makes me feel content. So I don’t have to fight with myself over whether I am going to use pornography. In choosing that thought, all the downstream feelings and actions result in net positives to my life. 


So, when we want to make a change, focus on the thought line.


And then be careful that you don’t just try to change your thought without trying to understand why you chose the previous thought that wasn’t serving you or wasn’t helping you stop using pornography. 


When you take the time to look into that and watch your brain, you will be more likely to make lasting changes to your thoughts and drive permanent change rather than flipping back to old thoughts when it gets tough.


So, just be careful as you go through that process that you aren’t just jumping to a new thought that you like better but that maybe you don’t believe or that you haven’t looked at your current thought closely enough to understand why you are choosing that thought. Because you are choosing your thoughts by the way.


Also, when you are trying to figure out what your model is, you can start anywhere in the model and work in both directions. 


So, if you know your action line, or your result line, you can start there and work up to define the other parts of the model. Just know that your thoughts always determine your feelings, your feelings always determine your actions and your actions always determine your results.


For me it is easiest to see my actions, so sometimes I start there.  For others it is easier to see their feelings so they start there. 


But no matter where you start in the model, once you have it out on paper and can see what your brain is doing, you are more likely to be able to change it and make the adjustments that you want so you can show up in your life the way you want to.


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