If you know anything about me, you’ll know that I consume self-help books like pizza. I’ve always got one on the go. Most recently, I became aware of a self-help guru who speaks my language. Mel Robbins is direct, authentic and has an utterly no-nonsense approach to life, which is inspiring, refreshing and contagious.
Her bestseller, ‘The 5 Second Rule’ is simple both in theory and practice, and the book itself recounts numerous examples of how people all over the world have used the rule to transform their life’s and circumstances.
The premise is simple. Your brain will do everything it can to protect you, meaning that whenever you try to do something different or challenging, it will instantly kick in and flood you with reasons as to why it’s not a good idea. If you can override your brain by counting 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and then acting, you’ll slowly learn to accomplish more and push past primitive survival strategies that fear and anxiety provoke in us.
Here are some pivotal lessons from ‘The 5 Second Rule’ that truly resonated with me.
You’ll never feel like it
We like to assume that the people around us accomplish things because they always feel confident, calm and capable. Some people just can. We then put ourselves in a category of people who cannot. We aren’t confident, calm or capable. Truthfully, very rarely will you ever feel like going to the gym, writing a chapter of your book or studying. You might have occasional moments of motivation or energy, but generally we always have to push ourselves to do things. This is true for ALL of us! Isn’t that reassuring?
Mel reminds us that there is never a right time or moment. There’s never going to be a magical day when you will feel like initiating that breakup, asking someone out or cleaning your house, you have to take action regardless. It’s okay to feel anxious, terrified, doubtful or any other negative emotion before undertaking anything new – it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be following through!
Courage is an every day act
We tend to look at courage as something that only a handful of heroes possess. They may exist in fiction, think Harry Potter, Lara Croft or Frodo Baggins. They may exist in our societies as firefighters or nurses. But every day is sprinkled with courage, and we have to harness courage every day.
Courage is being able to stand up for ourselves, or someone else, to say no, to walk away from a bad situation, to go into that interview, to present to an audience, to go to the dentist, to ask for what you want. Sometimes courage is just getting out of bed and getting dressed. Courage is not a word that we bring out in only monumental situations, we need courage every day in one way or another and if we can cultivate courage in our daily life’s, we can accrue more courage for situations that really call for it.
Also, courage is not the absence of fear. It’s not courageous to do something you aren’t afraid of. Courage is doing something in SPITE of being terrified.
Don’t procrastinate, be productive
Procrastination has been linked to everything from low self-esteem to perfectionism. We often know what we need to do, but we delay doing it. It can even be a form of self-sabotage (if you don’t try, you can’t fail and there’s safety in that.) Procrastination causes us to delay our dreams and flat line our fantasies. Instead of putting things off, we need to be productive. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and do something small that contributes to moving you in a positive direction.
You can use the 5 second rule to undercut anxiety
Anxiety is so endemic to modern life. We have so many stressors attacking us from every angle. Anxiety is also a large part of why so many of us fail to go after what we want. The five second rule can be used to intercept ruminative thoughts. If you find yourself going down a dark path of self-criticism, self-loathing, envy, regret or doubt, simply say 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and intercept the process. There is no doubt that our thoughts and emotions can be useful tools in terms of gauging where we are in life, and certainly they have their place, but when you are needlessly ruminating and not getting anywhere, the rule severs the rambling mind, enabling you to take a break from your relentless thoughts and perhaps take some small action.
The rule can be used in all areas of life
Whether you are trying to improve your relationships, career, pursue a passion or get yourself out of bed, the rule can be implemented in absolutely all areas. Mel reiterates that when we get a thought to act on something, if we don’t take action quickly, our mind will bog us down with excuses, preventing us from taking any action at all. The thought then becomes a ‘passing fancy’ when it might have been something more.
The one person who can change your life is you
We so often offshore our ability to be happy to other people. There’s no denying that quality friendships and relationships enrich us, and we should be in pursuit of these, but hanging your happiness hat on others is a recipe for disappointment. The only person who can make you happy, fulfilled and who can illicit change in your life is YOU. Others can support you, respect you and make you laugh, but they can’t MAKE you be or do anything. This must come from you.
All my love