There come moments in life when fear engulfs our soul and we feel drowned with emotions and overwhelmed by remorse. Everything in life does not make any sense and getting out of your bed seems like the most difficult task of your day. We do not feel like continuously following our mundane routine and even thinking about doing our office work, school assignments and kitchen work is tiresome. There are times when we feel like giving up on our dreams and we feel emotionally detached from almost everyone. Nothing makes sense anymore and we are just breathing, not living the ‘Great Life’ we have always dreamt of.
This is how life is like for most of the people out there and a lot of those who will read this article are going to relate to all that I have just said, very much. But, it is okay to feel discouraged and disheartened thoroughly. It is normal and those who think they can’t change this because they procrastinate too much, or all they can see around is despair, or they feel lethargic and all they want to do is take a nap, I want them to know that you can and you will change your life in five seconds! Yes, you heard it right!
A very famous personality, as a motivational speaker, trusted by global brands and looked upon as someone who has the ability, the experience and the knowledge to deliver the goods, for audiences in all shapes and sizes, whether men or women, old or young, she is currently one of the best speakers whose words tend to encourage people and organizations to discover their hidden talents and accelerate the potential of growth and development in their lives. The five second rule that I am about to introduce you to was created by Mel Robbins. Before I introduce you to the famous and most effective rule, it is crucial for me to introduce you to Mel because she has a story that many of us can relate to and will ultimately give us the guts to change our lives within five seconds!
She started her career as a criminal defense attorney and went on to launch and sell a retail and internet technology company. Mel has led multi-year coaching programs at Johnson&Johnson, AG Edwards, Bear Stearns and Partners Healthcare. The media has tapped Mel to host award-winning shows for FOX, A&E, Cox Media Group and now CNN. However, before becoming emblematic to success and greatness, she faced many daunting obstacles which made her life miserable as she got unemployed. Her husband opened a restaurant in which they invested all of their life’s savings but unfortunately that plan did not work and the restaurant got closed with an $800,000 loss. As Mel says, their phone kept on ringing as there were collection calls from those who had invested their money in the business, which they thought would flourish and so they cut off the phone to avoid trouble. Their children’s college savings went down with it and all of this happened when she lost her FOX show and became unemployed.
At Lewis Howes show, “the School of Greatness”, Mel Robbins said some lines from which we can see the way she felt helpless and sorrowful in that period of her life and I would quote her lines here:
‘‘I remember two things from that period of my life that were really painful and one was having to call to town and tell them that we could not afford 175 bugs for our sixth grader to play soccer, so we needed to pull her out. There were times when I was so afraid to look at the checking account that I would stand at the grocery store and items would scan and I would be able to feel that wave of anxiety rising, thinking that ‘I don’t think that the check card is going to go through’ and so I stood there and I always had an excuse and that was to look at the person and say that ‘Oh that is strange. It just worked at the gas station.’’
She herself explains how she was filled with shame and anxiety all the time. She felt like giving up and had such a poor relation with her husband that they were heading for a divorce. She felt like a loser and a complete failure. That was when she started to hit the snooze button in the morning to let go of her responsibilities and lethargy took control of her life. She felt she could no longer deal with their problems, everything seemed so impossible and she never felt like doing anything at all. She drowned her sorrows with alcohol and drank too much. Each day she would plan to change herself and to start her ‘new’ life in a better way by ‘tomorrow’. She would really mean it when she would plan such things for the next day, but when she would wake up, she wouldn’t feel any of those things and this is what we can relate to in a lot of ways!
So, she used to hit the snooze button and the alarm would go off for a while. She would keep on repeating that and the reason behind it was fear. The fear of not being able to complete her plans. The fear of failure and the main reason why she was not able to do things she planned to do was because we do not make decisions with our goals, we don’t make decisions with our prefrontal cortex, we don’t make decisions with logic but we make decisions with our feelings. Like Mel said that 95% of the decisions are made by the way we feel in the moment and that is when we have to use our power to execute our goals by physically moving to achieve them before our brain takes control of our feelings and make us lethargic, again. The problem we face all the time, just like Mel did, is that we consider whether we feel like doing it or not. Instead of this we should tell ourselves that we should do that for a better day.
Mel felt stuck and imprisoned in her own life but things changed when she discovered and created the five second rule by watching a commercial. In the commercial, she saw a rocket ship launching and at that very moment she had this instinct that this is how she would get up in the morning. Fast, just like the rocket ship in the commercial. The next day in the morning nothing changed in life but one thing did. She counted like 5, 4, 3, 2, 1… and stood up. She did not know how she did that, but yes it actually happened. In the words of Mel,
“Something I figured out was that you actually have a five second window of the instincts, shoulds, the urges, your inner wisdom, and the things that can change your life, if you listen to them. You have got a five second window from the moment you actually feel to do something, to move and if you don’t, then your brain is actually designed to kill it.”
Our brain is designed in such a way that it protects us from scary things, something that isn’t our habit, our daily routine, something out of our comfort zone which does not make us feel comfortable or easy, so it will ultimately stop us from doing extraordinary things which is the reason why few people become success stories, because they do not listen to their inner wisdom when they should.
The neuroscience behind the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Technique is that when you count backwards before doing something, it requires focus and it isn’t your habit yet. However, if you hesitate, you decide to pull back and your mind magnifies it and goes into the cognitive bias called the spotlight affect where it magnifies whatever you wanted to do at the moment when you hesitated. Your mind in reaction tries to protect you as you hesitated because you have built a habit of hesitating. So, you have got five seconds to make a decision. You can go on auto-pilot (a state of mind in which you get trapped and don’t do something because you don’t feel like it) or you can do 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and awaken your prefrontal cortex. In the words of Mel,
“I started to use this rule when I realized that every day I have moments of inner wisdom, when I know that I should pick up the phone and stop isolating myself, when I know that I should start calling a bunch of media companies to start auditioning for radio show hosting gigs, when I know I should get out of bed on time, when I know that I should stop myself before I snap to Chris, when I know that I should not let frustration be the thing that drives me and so I started to use this rule all day long. Whenever I felt like I should do something, I did 5,4,3,2,1 and slowly, five seconds at a time, my life started changing.’’
Every one of you can change your life tremendously with this five second rule and you will, because you should. There is greatness trapped within you which you need to release, to realize that you are limitless and you deserve the right to live the great, amazing and wonderful life that you have always dreamed of. Like Mel said,
“I don’t care what you are facing or how low you get. Your inner wisdom is always there.”
You have control over yourself and your life so 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 and here you go Pal!
Written by: Areeha Ijaz