• Dr. Mario

TFAM—The Way to Tame Your Brain for Online Learning

Updated: Oct 26, 2020

In this post, I introduce a key component of the thought management framework: The Think-Feel-Act Model (TFAM). We can use the model to help identify thought patterns that don’t serve us well and identify where we need to do more work to change those patterns and produce desired outcomes. Once you understand the model, it can serve as your GPS, helping you to decipher and navigate the thought work process. In the next section, I’ll explain each of the model’s factors and how you can bring awareness to the process and begin achieving your academic and professional goals. When you put the TFAM into practice, you will be able to get things done with less of the mental noise that decreases your motivation and self-confidence.

Credit: Thinking Mistakes Worksheet (Herbert, 2005)

You can also view the model as a cycle in that each element can initiate the sequence. In other words, you may first notice yourself feeling a certain way. That feeling influences your thoughts and causes you to behave in a particular way. However, for the purpose of this post, we will stick with the idea that thoughts trigger our feelings and actions. Later in the blog, we will work up to more advanced interpretations of the model.

First, let’s look at each factor in more detail.

*Thoughts: The ideas and beliefs we choose to hold about ourselves, other peoples, or situations

*Feelings: The positive and negative emotions we experience, which result from the thoughts we choose to think

*Actions: The outcomes or results of our thoughts and feelings we choose, which dictate how the cycle repeats itself

Notice that in the descriptions I provided, I emphasized the words “we choose.” To use the model properly, we must acknowledge that thoughts are voluntary and that we have agency over what we think.

Now, that’s a concept that might be difficult to digest at first. But I challenge you to think about times in your daily life where you deliberately focused on a thought because you wanted to relish the positive emotions it created. Maybe it was a gift you received, the time you spent with someone special, or a vacation you really enjoyed. With a little focus and effort, you can find examples in your personal life that demonstrates intentionality in your thoughts.

If we can choose what we want to think (which implies that we can choose how we want to feel, based on the model), then why do we have negative emotions? Who would choose to believe a thought that resulted in crappy feelings? Yet all of us do this. Once you begin to bring awareness to what you think and how it makes you feel and behave, you’ll discover that much of our mental anguish is self-inflicted. This realization becomes influential as students begin to explore the thought patterns that hold them back from achieving

the academic results they desire.

The answer to this self-inflicted anguish and limiting thought patterns lies directly in how we think about the circumstances that occur in our lives. Here’s where it gets real. You’re probably going to scratch your head at first. Brace yourself. To initiate the TFAM model, you need to accept the belief that the circumstances that arise in your life are neutral.

In a follow-up post, I’ll tell you why the circumstances in your life are neutral. So, be sure to subscribe to the blog so you don’t miss this vital piece of the TFAM equation.

The Bottom Line

Now that we have a model to work with, we can start applying it to the academic challenges that are sure to arise as you work towards earning your degree and graduating on time. The TFAM introduces us to strategies we need to avoid getting bogged down in self-defeating thoughts. As you’ve probably noticed already, you can use this approach in a variety of circumstances in your personal and professional life. My goal is to help you establish a practice that enables you to move beyond distracting mental chatter that decreases your motivation.

I’m going to share some of my personal struggles as a student and a professor in this blog. I’m excited to help you along this journey because I genuinely think it’s going to change your life! I can tell you that learning about the principles of thought work, including the TFAM, is changing my life. Since l discovered thought work, I created this blog, started a business, and re-framed the way I view life. It has been a life-altering experience so far, and I’m so excited to share my experiences with you here in the blog.

So, sign up for my monthly blog and follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter. I can’t wait to teach you more about thought work so you can graduate on time with less stress.


One-on-One & Group Coaching Sessions are available! Now, you can book me to help you manage your mind and graduate on time. Learning how to choose the thoughts that produce the outcomes you want in your studies is the most valuable gift you can give yourself. I truly believe the techniques I will teach you will change your life and help you reach your goals. So head on over to www.officehoursdrmario and select the Book Online tab to schedule your FREE consultation today! I can’t wait to help you learn how to manage your mind so you can graduate on time!

Endnote: If you want to know more about managing your mind and the Think-Feel-Act Model, I highly recommend the podcasts listed below. As a disclaimer, the Office Hours blog is not affiliated with any of the podcasts described. However, I use a similar approach in this blog, with academic success serving as the context. Each of these amazing coaches explains the concept in-depth, and I relied heavily on their perspectives to write this post.

Brooke Castillo’s The Life Coach School: ( The episode provides an overview of thought work, which is the cornerstone of my coaching practice.

Kara Loewentheil’s Unf*ck Your Brain: ( The podcast episode delves into the process of how we can choose new thoughts, an essential component of practicing thought work.

Rachel Hart Coaching: ( This episode explains how to implement the Think-Feel-Act Cycle. The cycle is similar to the TFAM concept described here in the Office Hours blog.

Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

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