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CTFAR, The Magic Formula

Hey Athletes- I have given you this information before, but this is more detailed and I am finding the review of the CTFAR Model is worth the review.

This blog is going to be a transcript of the podcast– so if you want to hear this audio, go to Flippin’ AWesome Coaching for Athletes on iTunes.

I want to share the CTFAR model for all of you to come back to whenever you are struggling with any problem. This is just a reminder of the foundational tool I teach all my clients. I have talked about this in the past, but decided it was worth clarifying and repeating.

So, let’s take a look at the model in it’s entirety and give some examples along the way for you to consider and apply for your own models.

Remember there are 5 parts to the model and each one of these sections represents everything that exists in the world. And I know that sounds kind of crazy but it’s totally true.

Here are the 5 parts: there are circumstances, thoughts, we have feelings, actions and results. That’s it. Everything about your world can be put into one of those categories. We will talk about each component often in future podcasts and blogs, but today I want to give an overview.

So let’s start by defining each one of these words in an easy way for you to remember

Circumstances are literally the facts of the world, these are things that you don’t have any control over, these are things that are outside of you, and they are always facts. You never want to put an adjective or an adverbs or opinions in that line.  You might hear me refer to it as the “C-line” at times.

For example, some circumstances include: the beam, bars, the weather, your leotard (you can change some of the circumstance’s but many times they will be out of your control– so if your leo is bugging you, you can change that leo– and then what really changes?  

You feel better because your thoughts about the new leotard changes– kinda cool huh! It’s interesting that when we change our circumstance to feel better, we are actually just changing our thoughts, which makes us feel better).

At any rate, a meet or competition or big game– those are all neutral! Judges, the scoreboard, your teammates, your coaches, what other people say about you, what other people say to you…. Sometimes people will say words that you think hurt your feelings.

 I promise it doesn’t happen that way. Any words that people say are neutral and have no emotions attached. Even if they are yelling and crying… it’s always about them and not you. And we like to say that if it can be proven in a court of law, where everyone agrees with you, then you can probably assume its a circumstance.

There is also your past. This is so important in sports! I want to be sure you understand that anything that has happened in your past is a neutral fact– it has no hold over you. It has no power over you! You cannot go back and re-live your past. You only get to think about the past.

Whatever you think about your past will impact how you feel right now. What does this mean? Sometimes athletes will think: “I always shake on beam, I can’t help it, I don’t know what to do, it’s just who I am.” If you are agreeing with any of these types of thoughts, I want you to STOP right now. Just Stop.  Write the thoughts that resonate with you. And tell yourself the opposite!

Try it….what if the opposite was true. What if you told your lower brain, “Yes, I used to be a person who shakes on beam, but now I realize this is just all for fun anyways and there is no reason to shake, in fact, I am learning to become a person who is steady and calm, confident and powerful on beam. Beam is my best friend. Beam and I are tight and our relationship is growing solid because I choose to think of beam as a friend instead of an enemy trying to shake me off.”

Okay, so the past is a circumstance. They are the neutral things that happen in the world, the data, things we have no control over, things people say, totally void of opinion and there is no subjectivity in circumstances. And I’ve kind of gone on to the next components a bit. So let’s keep going. If circumstances are void of description, then they are meaningless…until we add meaning to them. Or, until we have a thought about them.

So, that is the second component, which are our Thoughts, or the T-line. The way that I like to think about thoughts is that they are sentences in your mind. A thought is simply a sentence that you have in your mind about your circumstance. The circumstances trigger thoughts and you decide what you will make those triggers mean about you. They are the cause of all our problems. This is the best news I give all my clients…that the thoughts they are having is what creates their problems because this IS something you are in control of! 100% in control of. Our thoughts give meaning to every circumstance. They give meaning to our world. When you are going through models, you will want to limit your thoughts to one sentence in order to for the models to be very clear and useful. If you add lots of thoughts to your models, then you will have a hard time knowing which one is most problematic or which one you really want to change. You won’t know which thought is causing the feelings.

Since it is competition season for many of you right now, you might be having thoughts such as, “I have to win,” “I hope I don’t fall,” “I really need that all-around score so I can move to the next level,” “I really hope my ankle doesn’t hurt on my vault or landings,” “There are so many people coming to watch me, I hope I can show them my good routines and not the bad ones,” “I just want to do better than I did last week,” or “I don’t want to disappoint my coach this time.” These are actual sentences that I have heard from many gymnasts recently. What kind of emotions might be coming from these kinds of thoughts? Probably not very useful ones.

If you feel like you can’t take a deep breath, then maybe try on a thought such as, “This is all for fun,” “I WANT to show my routines to my family” (just changing shoulds and have to’s to WANT to changes the feeling), or how about “I am learning at each meet what I need to work on to prepare for the next meet,” “Competition is another day that I get to love this sport,” or “I am capable of focusing on one thing at a time, my cue words, and that is all I choose to do when I am at the meet this weekend, the rest is up to the judges, who are outside my control.”

Those kinds of sentences might give you a bit more useful emotion that will drive the actions you want. You want to be sure not to put questions in this line of the model. When you write a question, just answer it and rephrase it as a statement

The third thing is the feelings. The way I like to think about feelings is that they are a vibration in the body caused by a thought in the mind. They are a product of our thoughts. They are the reason for EVERYTHING we do. Life is about feelings or emotions. All we work for, all we aspire to be, all we dream about is because of a feeling we hope to feel when we get there. And the best part of this is that EVERY feeling is available to you right now. You never have to wait to feel those desired feelings, they are all optional and waiting for you to enjoy right now! They are all driven by our thoughts. That’s all. So cool right?!

This is one of my favorite tools to help clients apply as the concepts are easy, the application takes time, practice, and effort– but the net positive results are so, so worth the work…I am still enjoying the process of applying this tool fully in my own life with the help of a few other coaches that I get the privilege of being coached by weekly. Generating any feeling at any time is a skill– just like learning the perfect tckatchev on bars or yurcheko vault or flic lay lay on beam or triple full on floor…it feels amazing to perfect those skills– I know what each of those feels like, I was blessed with that opportunity to be able to do all of those when I was a gymnast.

But, this capability is beyond any of those skills that I used to do. It’s the power behind every single skill you are all working on everyday– its the fuel that drives those skills! It’s everything we want in life! A feeling. We always limit our models to just one feeling per sentence in order to clearly illustrate the interaction between our thoughts, our feelings, our actions and our results. We always want to know why we are getting the results we are getting. This way we know how to change it and we know where our power is. Always choose one feeling attached to one thought.

Ok so whenever you are identifying a feeling, you want to think of 1 word that accurately describes a vibration in your body. For example, courage is one of the greatest emotions that I teach athletes to generate– it takes courage to be willing to try something knowing you might fail, it takes courage to get up again after having tried something 100 times, it takes courage to get the confidence every athlete so desires. I teach you how to create courage anytime you need it in order to be willing to take the action you will have to take if you want to win that gold medal or championship competition.

Ok, let’s go on. The fourth component is action. That is our behaviour or what we do and what we don’t do. It’s what we do when we are feeling a feeling. It can be what we do or the inaction because of a feeling. Maybe we don’t do something that we normally do– because of a feeling. This is like a gymnast balking or hesitating on a skill that she has mastered, but just suddenly stops going for it. This action line, or the A-line, is what most athletes believe will make them feel good enough. I hear athlete say, “If I just work harder, then I feel happier.” If you look at this model, that is not the correct order. That is backwards.

You can never DO enough things, practice enough hours, flip enough series on beam, or win enough medals at competitions to FEEL good enough. You want to feel good enough, and that feeling will DRIVE the action you need to be successful. However, having said that, the A-line is the biggest part of this model. You want to write as many things as you can that are coming from the feelings. If you want results, you will need to write down as many actions as you can try to obtain those results. This is the bulkiest section of the model. We call this area ‘Massive Action’, which means you Do whatever you need to Do to get the Result you want– you add more actions until you get the result.

But know that your actions are always coming from the way you feel about your circumstances. This line is where you learn the value of failing (or learning). Become a master at failing– it’s the fastest way to success that I know. We talk about failing often with the athletes I work with. It’s important to understand what it is and why it’s so important and how to learn to love the value of failures, which is just a missed expectation or required action.

Okay, the last component to the model is our results. Results are always the effects of our actions. It’s what happened in our world, in our life because we took action. It cannot have anyone else in this line because it’s never about anyone else. We cannot create the results for other people. Sometimes we wish we could think thoughts for others or feel for others or take action for other, and especially as parents of athletes, we wish we could get (or even buy) results for others. right?!

We watch you athlete compete and are in the stands praying that you will not only be safe, but will perform for the win that you have worked so hard and dreamed about achieving. We all feel a desire to live someone else’s life for them at times. Or some of us do. We root for the ones that work hard and have been the underdog- we want them to win and are sending all our positive thoughts and energy their way hoping it will make the difference for their success.

Now I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we believe that we can pray and fast and DO something for the benefit of others. I have had many instances where I found that to happen in my own life because of the faith, prays and fasts of others– I have felt added power and strength because of those people in my life. At least those are my thoughts and beliefs.

However, in the CTFAR model that we are talking about here, and for this purpose, I want you to not put anyone else in your R-line ever. You are creating your own results. Nobody else will be living your life. Nobody else will be on that podium wearing that medal for you. Nobody will be generating the thoughts to create the courage required to take the massive action, especially when you have thoughts that make you want to give up and quit, and nobody will be realizing your dreams for you.

Now once you have filled in your model, if you have limited it to one sentence, one feeling, the actions from those feelings, and your results from those actions, then the result will always be proof of your thoughts. The result is evidence for your thoughts. Its the self-fulling prophecy that we are taught in psychology classes. The clearer your model, the easier it will be to see how all the pieces align and it will make so much sense how you are always creating your own results in your life.

Remember each component by their definition and then you will be able to take anything that is happening in your life and plug it into the correct spot in the model. The circumstance are the facts, thoughts are sentences, feelings are vibrations, actions are our behaviour, and results are the effect of our actions, and the results always prove our thoughts.

Then you can see how these things interact with each other.

That is the CTFAR Model that was created by my master coach, Brooke Castillo. Just start with the simple question, “What is the problem?” Then you can start filling in the model from there.

So let’s just quickly say you are feeling really frustrated.

You would put that in the feeling line.

In order to get the thought that is causing it, you will ask yourself why you are feeling this? Why are you frustrated? Your answer to the question will give you your thought.

Then whatever that thought is about will be the fact you put in your circumstance line.

Then you’re going to fill in the action, so you ask yourself, “When I feel this way what do I do?” What is it you’re doing when you feel frustrated?

That is what you will put in the action line and then when you do that thing, what do you create? What happens?

And then once you have all of those questions asked and answered, you will see what the cause is of your frustration. The cause will always be a Thought, which is always optional. You have 100% control over your thoughts. And the results will prove your thoughts. You are thinking, feeling and creating your current results.

There’s a lot of stuff in this podcast– its powerful and can change your life.

Applying this model changes your experience in life.

I teach my clients how to apply this model to every area of their like as they go through my program. When you insert a new thought, you’re whole experience changes and the results in your life changes.

So whether you feel stuck or frustrated, confused, upset or discontent– whatever it is that you want to change, go to this model and make sure you put the information in the right places and ask yourself the questions to fill in the entire model. You will see that you are creating your result and how you can change it to be ANYTHING you want.

Next step is to practice it. Just like anything worth doing, you will have to take some time and practice this model to see the difference in your life and in your athletic career.

You want some help becoming emotionally independent and learning how to manage your mind this season? Schedule a quick free call at  let’s get you competing at the level you’ve prepared for and reaching for so much more!

Have a Flippin’ Awesome Week,

Amy Twiggs