It’s been on my mind.

The events in Charlottesville stunned me. I never thought I would see white people marching in the streets with torches spewing hate. I thought that was a thing of the past. Apparently it isn’t.

How does someone believe that  marching wielding shields and bats while chanting slogans of hate against specific groups of peoples is reasonable, warranted behavior?

I have been thinking about how I would coach one of those marchers should they ever wake up and try to understand why they are behaving so badly.

But first:

I coach using a model perfected by one of my mentors, Brook Costillo. It works like this.


can trigger






which produces a


Circumstances are facts like carrots are orange.

Thoughts are where we get choose what to think about the circumstance.

Feelings are created by the thought we have about the circumstance

Actions are steps we take driven by the feelings we are having.

Results are the outcome of the actions we take.

In this model the thoughts we choose are the driver for our feelings, actions and results. We get to decide what to think and that thought will cause certain feelings, actions and results.

Putting the model to work

In an effort to help me understand how someone justifies spewing hate of any kind I thought I would try to do the model on possible thoughts a racist might have on circumstances in their life.


Circumstance: White man can’t get a job.

Thought: The Mexicans are taking the jobs I should be getting.

Feeling: Anger

Action: Find people who are angry and blaming Mexicans for their lack of a job to hang out with, commiserate with and plan marches to vent your frustration with.

Result: March with a group of white supremacists showing the world what you think of Mexicans.

In this model this white man had a choice in his thoughts, he chose to think that it was the fault of the Mexicans for his lack of a job and was able to defend his racist march with this thought.

Let’s do the model with a different thought.


Circumstance: White man can’t get a job.

Thought: I need to work on being more hirable through education or volunteer work or something.

Feeling: Creative, empowered.

Action: Volunteer at the local shelter.

Result: Discover a previously unknown passion for helping people

Same circumstance with two different thoughts and two different results.

In one model he chose the thought that blamed the Mexicans for his joblessness and that allowed him to justify marching with a bunch of white supremacists. His life is probably still stuck in neutral without a job.

In the second he chose the thought  of self-responsibility that would actually help move him in a positive direction for getting a job and discovering his passion. He has a chance to make his life better.

I get that this is all hypothetical, but it helps me to try to understand how some people can behave in such a hateful manner.

I know no one is born a racist, they are taught. That is why it is so important that you pay attention to your thoughts. Some of them, especially the unconscious ones, were planted in childhood and you have never questioned their validity in the present.

When you are blaming someone else for how you are feeling take a moment to stop and figure out what your thoughts actually are. It is amazing what you will discover.

If you would like help with your thoughts click the button to schedule a free 30 minute coaching consultation to see what we can find.

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