Exercising your mental muscles is one of the best things you can do for yourself, your marriage, your family, and your relationships as a military wife. The more you become aware of what you’re thinking and how it’s impacting you, the more you can make adjustments that bring joy and less strife into your life. As a life coach for military wives, I wholeheartedly believe in the CTFAR self-coaching model. Not sure what that is or how to use it? Keep reading to learn more about self-coaching and how to use the CTFAR model to uncover and understand your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
What is Self-Coaching & Why is Self-Coaching Important?
Your lower brain–also known as your “toddler brain” or “primitive brain”–is responsible for keeping you safe and alive. It works to identify “dangers” and helps you make fast decisions to survive. This was very helpful when humans lived in caves and had to fight off wild animals daily. These days, however, our lower brain often misidentifies “danger” and offers solutions (i.e., “fight or flight”) that do us more harm than good. If you’ve ever felt yourself or your thoughts “spiraling,” it’s because your lower brain is thinking irrationally.
Your lower brain wants to believe that your circumstances create your feelings. But the truth is that your thoughts about a circumstance create your feelings. And self-coaching helps show your lower brain the truth by dissecting your thoughts and becoming aware of what you’re thinking and why you’re thinking it.
Self-coaching can help you build greater self-awareness, develop better problem-solving skills, and make healthier choices moving forward, leading to increased confidence, deeper understanding, and better relationships. Want to give it a try? Keep reading to learn how to put the CTFAR self-coaching model into practice.
How to Self-Coach Yourself Using the CTFAR Model
The CTFAR self-coaching model stands for Circumstances, Thoughts, Feelings, Actions, and Results. Here is how to do a self-coaching session: (Are you an audio-learner? Listen to the podcast episode instead):
1. Start with a Thought Download or “Brain Dump”
Start your self-coaching session by identifying a problem you want to work through. Perhaps you recently got into an argument with your spouse, or your kids are driving you crazy today. Whatever situation you want to dissect, start by writing down everything you’re thinking about that problem. Get it all out of your head and onto paper. My best advice is to write about it as if you’re telling someone who doesn’t know anything about the problem. That way, you don’t miss any details.
2. Build Your CTFAR Model
Once you know what problem you want to work through and have “dumped” all your thoughts about it onto paper, it’s time to build your CTFAR self-coaching model.
In your “Circumstance” line, write down what happened. Be as neutral and impartial as possible. Don’t write down your opinions, thoughts, or feelings about what happened. Just the facts. For example, “John sent me a text message that said he wouldn’t be home until late.” You’re not writing down what you think it means; you’re just writing down what happened. Another example is, “My kids are fighting today.” You’re not saying that your kids are driving you crazy or being rude; you’re just writing down the facts: they’re fighting.
If you’re having a hard time writing your circumstance, try writing down just one or two words, like someone’s name or “the elections.” Even one word representing the problem is enough to work through the self-coaching model.
In your “Thoughts” line, write down your thoughts about the circumstance. To help you identify your thoughts, ask yourself:
- “What am I making this mean?”
- “Why is this a problem?”
- “But why?”
- “But why?”
Challenge your brain to get specific and highlight the thought that’s really troubling you. When you ask yourself these questions, your brain might offer you, “I don’t know,” or a question in return. Encourage your brain to try again or turn the question into a statement. For example, you can restate the thought, “How could he do that?” into a statement: “I can’t believe he did that.”
In your “Feelings” line, write down two to three feelings you experience because of the thought. From those two to three, choose one feeling that you’ll use for this exercise. Having multiple feelings is okay, but it’s easier to self-coach yourself by focusing on one feeling at a time. You might be feeling “stressed” about something that happened at work or “annoyed” by your kids’ behavior.
In your “Actions” line, fill it up! Build up a nice, solid action line to get a clear picture of what this thought looks like in your life. How is it showing up? To help with this, complete the sentence: “When I take action from [your feeling], it looks like [your action].”
- “When I take action from stress, it looks like snapping at my husband.”
- “When I take action from sadness, it looks like shutting down when my kids need me.”
- “When I take action from fear, it looks like blaming others for my insecurities.”
Make sure the actions you’re describing directly result from the feeling stated earlier.
In your “Results” line, write what this all has created in your life. The results should be directly linked to the thought line in some way.
An Example of the CTFAR Model in Action Based on a Real-Life Situation
Quick backstory: I created a chore chart for my kids. Each week one kid was solely responsible for helping with dishes, and the other kids got the week off. I found this worked well for my kids, and the dishes were getting done. One night, my husband told me he didn’t like that model and thought all the kids should help with the dishes daily. We had a disagreement, and I wanted to talk about it for much longer than he did.
- Circumstance: “Brad said our kids should be doing dishes every day.”
- Thought: “He shouldn’t get angry that I still want to talk about this.”
- Feeling: Angry
- Action: Brad stops talking about the issue, and I spend a lot of time thinking about the argument and how he needs to change and be different
- Result: I’m getting angry at Brad
Once you work through the CTFAR self-coaching model, you have two options:
- Accept, own, and come to terms with what happened
- Create an intentional model for how to deal with a similar situation next time
Sometimes awareness alone is enough to make a change. Other times, it helps to get clear on what you’ll do better next time.
Resilience Coaching for Military Wives to Work Through All Your Thoughts and Problems
Strengthening your mental muscles by practicing self-coaching will prove extremely beneficial in your life. I know it has for me. You may also be dealing with some bigger issues that you find challenging to navigate on your own. As a military wife, you know certain aspects of life can be difficult to manage. With frequent moves and ever-changing situations, it can be hard to stay focused on the big picture and make sure your mental health is taken care of. If that resonates with you, I encourage you to book a free coaching session to learn how resiliency coaching can help you thrive as a military wife!
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