Event + Response = Outcome – Feeling down? Change your focus!

In a coaching session recently, I drew, without thinking about it at the time, the image below. On reflection I thought it would be interesting to share so it may help people out in future or right now.

It also comes back to taking response-ability to choose your response when times get tough rather than not having the awareness that you can do something differently. In the equation E + R = O ( Event + Response = Outcome) we can only control the Response, never the Events that happen to us. And depending on our Response, the Outcome can be better or worse. So it’s important to focus on the Responses and improving or becoming aware of these so you can choose the best one for you, rather than giving out or blaming the Events that happen.

This coaching session was focused around equipping this person with tools or a new way to think to help them feel better when they were feeling down or negative. This person wanted to RESPOND differently and so I drew the below. To explain it simply – the way I think about life is a dichotomy of ups and downs, positive and negative, happy and sad, and life keeps on keeping on during these times. Life continuum in the below diagram you could think about this as the time moving on. The Happy and Negative points are above and below this line just to give reference. You’ll also see 2 arrows to the left and right of this negative position.

When you’re feeling happy, practicing gratitude and reflecting on the good things in your life can help you embrace this time and make the most of it. This is great and encourages you in these times.

BUT – there are times when you feel sad or negative. And that’s OK too. Without feeling sad, you wouldn’t have anything to compare it to to know you’re feeling happy. Without nighttime you wouldn’t know what the opposite is as you’d have no comparison = day.

So the negative times and sad times are going to happen – how do you take response-ability for this? The way I explained it was the following based on each of the arrows – one forward looking and one past looking.

The past arrow (the one on the left) looks back at times you were proud of yourself, times you were happy and things you’re thankful for that you have in your life.

The future arrow (the one on the right) looks forward and towards your goals and ambitions and creating plans to achieve them.

So focusing on each of these in these times you’re feeling negative or down could help you feel a little bit more positive and brighten up your day – that’s my hope.


I’d love to hear what you think – if you’ve got some things that you focus on, practice or do when you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, feeling down or negative!

2 thoughts on “Event + Response = Outcome – Feeling down? Change your focus!

  1. Great update Philip. Well worth a read, and a simple process to remember when you’re in a bad place mentally.

    Love this!

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