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Episode 201 - Mind Management (Replay)

Updated: Jun 4

We're almost at the end of summer and of the Basics Playlist! Before you get back to school, you can re-school yourself in the fundamentals of thought work with Kayla's introduction to mind management.


This week we're diving deep into managing your mind.

While it feels like we should be able to "set it and forget it," really our brains are always at work and if left unsupervised, they can get into a little bit of trouble.

This week we'll be talking about how often to do thought work and why, and how this is going to benefit not just your marriage but your entire life.

This is where self-improvement and self-development kick into super-speed and your marriage truly transforms.


  1. When it comes to thought work, keep going back to basics 

  2. Fundamental understanding of the power of our thoughts

  3. Brain Dump exercise

  4. The Model

  5. Rinse and Repeat


  1. Want to take this work further? I would love to coach you inside my coaching program, How to Glow. It's a no-commitment monthly program where you can get coached every week and be part of an amazing community of women. Ready to give it a try? Join today at ⁠

00:01 Episode 12, Mind Management.

00:16 Welcome to the First Year Married Podcast, where we get real about building the marriage of your dreams. I'm marriage coach Kayla Levin and I take newly married and engaged women from anxious and insecure to confident and connected with practical tips, real life inspiration and more than a little self awareness along the way.

00:40 Hey there everyone. Welcome back to the podcast. I'm really excited to talk to you about this because I have just been seeing it come up a lot. I've been a little bit on a soapbox lately to be perfectly honest. Where this came up is that I just did a bonus class for my coaching program, specifically dealing with boundaries and in laws. And one of the things that I did is I asked people to send in their questions in advance so that I could sort of structure the class around the real things that they were dealing with in real time. And when the questions came in it really reminded me how important it is that we just keep going back to the basics when it comes to our thought work.

01:17 The way that my course is scheduled, is structured is that it's carefully paced and carefully organized so that in the beginning they're really, really focusing on what we're going to be talking about today, on really making the distinction between our circumstances and our thoughts and it isn't until two weeks in where we're working on other parts of the relationship dynamic that we come back and we start talking about changing models. And the reason that we have it worked out that way, even though it can be really frustrating to be in that space sometimes, is that it's so important that we really, really get it into our bones how powerful our thoughts are and how much of our life is coming from our thoughts, not from the circumstances that are going on in our life and not from other people.

02:01 I really just think it's something that I always say, I want it to be in your bones. You know, once it's really in your bones, then you can go onto the next level. You can start changing thoughts, you can start finding new thoughts. But we have to have that basic fundamental understanding on a really deep level of what our thoughts are really doing.

02:20 I actually see the opposite of this sometimes, right? So for people who don't work with me or don't work with other coaches who are trained similar to me, then they'll often have a very different relationship to their thoughts. And what can happen, this is actually, it might sound nice, but it can actually put you in a very vulnerable position, is that the relationship to their thoughts is I had a thought and that is an insight into myself.

02:47 I'm not saying that your thought can't be an insight into yourself, but when we come at our thoughts with this assumption that every time I have a thought, I have now uncovered something that is true for me, well, now we don't get to question our thoughts. We don't have any choice in what thoughts come up or how we're going to approach those thoughts.

03:08 What I like to do is to notice what's going on with my thoughts and to observe them almost as if it's a third party, right? I've said before in the past that I've had conversations with my husband saying to him you'll never believe what my brain was telling me today. This is what was going on in my brain. And it gives me the opportunity to observe, again, as an outsider, which means that I have a choice about my thoughts. Anyone who's done meditation in any serious way, or honestly even in a not so serious way, has had that experience of being able to sort of notice your thoughts is something that is outside of you. Something that can pass.

03:46 The visualization that I like the most is like you're lying in a field of grass and you're watching your thoughts like clouds floating across the sky. They're there. They're not they're not nothing. There are thoughts there, but you don't have to be so attached to them.

04:02 I was recently working with a client who towards the end of our session said something in a very offhanded way. You know, we were really diving into her thoughts and seeing a lot about what her thoughts were creating for her in her life and why it was really coming more from her thoughts and what she thought, which is the situation she was in. And towards the end of the session she said something very offhanded like I don't know what's wrong with me. I've done work like this before. A couple of years ago I was working with a therapist and we did a lot of really similar stuff and I really got it. I think I must just be broken because it's just out the window and here I am doing this work all over again.

04:37 And it broke my heart to hear her say that because here she has a thought about her thoughts. And her thought about her thoughts is that if her thoughts don't stay in line without any maintenance basically, then that means there's something wrong with her.

04:54 But the thing is our brains are not something that we need to fix. And you are most definitely not broken. This is totally normal. It's kind of like saying my fridge must be broken because I bought groceries last month and now my fridge is empty, right? We use our brain all day long. It's working really hard for you, right? It's doing lots for you. It just needs a little love. It needs a little attention coming from us so that we're really being intentional and focused about what is going on in our brain and we're a little bit more tuned in.

05:27 So I wanted to offer you an exercise today that would help you with exactly this, with taking a moment to realize what's really going on in my brain and hopefully to give you that experience of seeing it from that outsider perspective.

05:43 So here's what I want you to do. I want you to identify some areas of your life that you'd like to improve. You can definitely apply this material, by the way, with things that are going really well. I think that's a very powerful exercise. But for today we're going to just focus on this.

05:56 So I would say start with three and just write them out, like really label them. So it could be something like my husband and I don't talk as much anymore. Or it could be my weight or it could be my house or it could be my job, my boss. Any area that's going on in your life that you'd like to improve. So again, I would suggest you start with three, but you can always go beyond that.

06:18 What I want you to do next is I want you to pick one of those areas and do a brain dump. So if you haven't heard one of my episodes in the past about this, this is a very awesome coaching tool. A lot, I think a lot of coaches use it. I've definitely heard it from several different trainings. I use it all the time with my clients, which is you just take a piece of paper and you write without any editing, any censoring, any questioning, no one else is gonna see this, whatever pops into your head about that thought.

06:46 So if I put at the top of my page my husband and I don't talk, I might write about how we used to talk and how we don't anymore and the reasons that pop into my head about maybe why that's happening. And as I'm writing it down I might disagree with it and that's fine. I can keep it there. I can cross it out, do whatever I want, right? It's just getting it out of your brain and onto paper because then it's much easier to take a look at it from a more objective place.

07:09 So you want to just, you can give yourself let's say 10 to 15 minutes to do that. You could also just give yourself the exercise of filling a piece of paper, whichever one is sort of more motivating for you.

07:19 Then you're going to take a moment to look at that. And some people, this is a good time to go take a break and come back to it a little bit later. But if you're ready, you take a look at that sheet of paper and identify one thought, because everything you wrote down there is a thought. So you're going to identify a thought that you have on there that seems to be a driving factor in where you are. It could be that somewhere on that paper I have the thought we've become very distant, because I'm talking about my husband and I not talking. So one of the things on there as we've become very distant. So now what I'm going to do is I'm going to run a model on the thought we've become distant.

07:56 So we're going to back up and do a little model review. I'm going to go quickly because I know some of you already know this. The person to go to for the model is Brooke Castillo. This is who I learned this from. She also has a podcast called The Life Coach School. Highly, highly recommend. And if you want to get deeper into the model work, that's the place to go.

08:15 So basically for purposes of today, what the model includes is the circumstance, thought, feeling action and results. Okay, so she writes it out vertically like C, T, F, A, R. So let's say I'm taking that thought we've become distant. That is a thought, that's going to go in the T line. That's my second line down. I'm going to look up a little bit at the C line, circumstances, and I'm going to try and figure out what is the circumstance that's happening. So that's I'm having the thought we've become distant. The circumstance is probably simply I'm married to my husband.

08:50 The crucial part about the circumstance is that it's very literal. So if you had to prove this in a court of law, you can prove I'm married to my husband. You can't prove I'm distant from my husband. Different people have different interpretations of what distant means. You can prove you have a mother in law. You cannot prove you have a difficult mother in law. I don't care how many of your girlfriends have agreed with you on that. So you're going to write out I'm married to my husband and my thought about that is we've become distant.

09:16 Now you're going to step your way down the model. How am I feeling because I have this thought that we've become distant? So I might be feeling depressed, like really low energy and sad. And how am I acting because of that? Well, when I'm low energy and sad, I reach for food and Netflix and I kind of just try to do those, what feel like self care activities even though maybe they're not because I'm just feeling sad and down. And so that's sort of what I, maybe go to bed a little bit earlier. And what's the result? Well, if I am busy eating and watching Netflix and going to bed, I am definitely more distant from my husband.

09:59 But the crucial thing to see, and hopefully you can re-listen to this and do the model for yourself with your thought, but the crucial thing to see is that the result is always going to prove that thought correct. So my circumstance is just that I'm married to my husband. That in itself does not create, engender any feelings, right?

10:17 But once I interpret that marriage as we've become distant, so now I've sent myself down this path of feeling depressed, acting a certain way, and effectively distancing myself more from my husband. When you have a thought about a difficult person, often that will engender feelings and actions that actually make the relationship objectively more difficult. Maybe you stopped talking to them, maybe you start fighting with them. Maybe you start complaining to somebody else about them. Those actions actually do create it, but it's not happening because of the fact that that person exists or the way that that person's acting. It's happening because of the thoughts that you're having.

10:58 And this is the thing that we have to get into our bones. Just noticing our models, not trying to change them. Not going for a mantra or an affirmation or a positive thought. We can go there. Those are fine, but they're only effective when you see how what's happening for you right now is also because of your thoughts. And when I really internalize that, then that other person isn't my problem anymore. My problem is what's going on in my head about that other person.

11:30 So here's the thing, it's a little bit of work. It doesn't come naturally to us. It's much easier to just assume that that person is the reason that I'm frustrated, that thing outside of me, right? The amount of money that I have or the house that I'm living in or the child that I have or my job, that that is the reason that I feel the way that I do. That is our default. And that is definitely what is accepted socially as a reality. So you're not going to have a lot of friends questioning you. When you go to them to say how difficult your your mother in law is, a lot of friends are not going to then say to you well is that her really or is it your thoughts about her? That's not going to happen, right?

12:09 But that's what coaching is about. What coaching is about is offering you another way of looking at it and noticing how much of this is coming internally and we're creating it for ourselves. And when we start to run these models, and again with your exercise, your homework, what I want you to do is to run a model on at least one thought from each of those areas or choose three thoughts from one area. Run for yourself three models. Don't worry about changing them. Don't worry about a new thought. Just find out how is what's happening in this relationship or this situation or whatever it is, how is what's happening coming from the thought that I have about it?

12:50 Once you have that, there are things you can do. We can work on questioning the thought. We can work on flipping the thought, baby stepping to a slightly more useful thought. Those are all things that we can get into in future episodes, that we get into in my coaching program. For now, again, what we want is to really, really get it into our bones that what I'm experiencing is coming from my thoughts. It's not coming from what's outside of me.

13:17 And again, this is really, really good news because you can't change what's outside of you. I was recently teaching this to a different group in a group coaching program and someone said to me well, what do you mean? If I change my thoughts, aren't I just letting them be? Like letting them continue with what they're doing? And we were talking about someone cheating on their girlfriend. If I just decide that I choose a thought that doesn't get me upset, am I just allowing that person to cheat on their girlfriend?

13:46 And I said to her look, if the alternative is you find a way to control the other person, and that's great. If you find a way to control another person, please share with me. You and I can go into business, we'll become billionaires. It'll be fabulous because up until this point, I don't think anyone's really had success figuring out how to control other people, right? So other people, those are outside of us. We can't do anything about that. But our thoughts we can change, which means my experience of that person is totally up to me.

14:17 What do we do next? We've got this exercise, we're looking at it, we're starting to see it. We're breaking sort of our heads open on this, right? And looking inside and seeing what's going on and how what's going on for us and what we're experiencing in our feelings and our reality is really coming so much from the thoughts. And again, I'm not saying that everything is coming from thoughts and nothing is real, right? There are things, the circumstance line are the things that are real. If you're married, you're married. If you're not, you're not right. That's a circumstance. Your experience of your marriage, that's where your thoughts are coming in.

14:48 But here's the piece that I wanted so much to share with this person for my coaching session, which is the next step is rinse and repeat because your brain is too important an organ to just leave it on autopilot. And you're too smart and your brain is going to do all sorts of fascinating, interesting things and get itself into trouble and get you into trouble and that's okay. That's fine. But this is the kind of thing that we have to come back to.

15:19 It's not a broken brain that once you fix it, you'll never have negative emotions are frustration or you'll never get yourself into one of these situations where your thoughts are causing a situation you don't like or that isn't working for you or isn't how you want to show up in the world. That's just not true, right? Our brains are constantly working and running. And if we're not directing them, it's kind of like just putting your foot on the gas pedal and keeping your hands off the steering wheel. It's kind of like not drinking water and thinking that somehow you'll still have energy. Not that that's something I do like on a daily basis, but it's just something that needs maintenance.

15:57 And everything in your life, every feeling you're having, the way you're showing up, what you're creating in this world, it's directly tied to what's going on in your head. So isn't that important enough to give it some attention?

16:08 And the great thing is it's fun to do and it becomes very motivating once you start because once you start seeing those results, you're going to have a lot less patience for just feeling like a victim to all of these outside circumstances. It's extremely empowering work. It's been life changing for me. It has been so powerful for my clients. I'm so excited to share it with you.

16:28 Again, if you want to dive into it even deeper, Brooke Castillo's podcasts is the next place to go. Or if you haven't subscribed over here, please do subscribe because we're going to continue working on how these thoughts show up with all of the different challenges that are unique to us in our marriages. And I'm really excited to continue to do that work for you, so please make sure you've subscribed. If you have a friends that is in a similar situation in life than you, please share this with them and encourage them to subscribe also. And I will hear, see you, listen to you talk to you, I guess, I'll talk to you back here against next week on the podcast. Have a fantastic week. Bye Bye.

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