The 5 Second Rule – It could stop you overthinking too

The 5 Second Rule has become synonymous with Mel Robbins.

She has written a book about it and made a global career from talking about this very simple tool.

There are also numerous videos of her like this one here –

I have started to adopt the 5 Second principle in my own life because it’s such a simple concept…..

Mel promotes the 5 Second Rule as a simple and effective tool for doing the tasks people procrastinate over. But it can also be so useful in those moments when fear arises too.

She talks about the 5 Second Rule in relation to courage and getting past our psychological tendencies to avoid those things that spark a stress response.

Hesitation is the mind’s response to anything that it believes is going to cause us harm or stress. The minds natural response is to back away, to keep us safe and in territory we know really well. This is what is happening when we procrastinate or avoid something.

What we are avoiding isn’t the task but rather the stress that we are associating with the task.

And the simple principle being when you feel that you’re going hesitate (that moment when you’re likely to stall or look for a distraction) you stop it in its tracks my counting down 5,4,3,2,1 and on 1 commit to doing the thing you need or want to do…..

The five seconds is critical in both triggering the fast-acting part of your brain (the impulse part) as well as limiting the influence of the slow acting part of your brain (the analysis bit), as Robbins describes. So don’t stretch it out to more than that. Decide and act.

Robbins calls this a decision of courage: “When you act with courage, your brain is not involved. Your heart speaks first, and you listen.”

It’s not even a new trick! It’s something we do with children all the time…. I witnessed it only the other day when we were out with friends and their little girl playing in the water. Everyone was encouraging 3-year-old Darcie to jump in the water by counting her down, particularly when she was hesitating.

Darcie generally has now fear when it comes to the water so we knew she’d just started to overthink it.

And I remember my parents doing it to me too. “Come on now, let’s go on 1! We’ll count down…. 3,2,1 and go!”

The 5 Second principle is simple. And honestly, we don’t need things that are overly complex. Simple works just as well.

Just recently I have used it to get me around the high wire obstacle course, Go Ape. I am pretty freaked out by heights so at the top of each zip wire or jump I would count myself down so that I didn’t have time to think about it, otherwise, I’d have been scurrying back down the ladder again!

I counted myself in the first time I went for an open water swim. I waded in the as far as I could and then had to get my head in the water….. so 5,4,3,2,1 in I went.

I count myself down when I do a video for social media. Being in front of the camera again is not something I’m comfortable doing but these days it’s pretty crucial for an online business.

And I count myself in to stand up at a networking meeting and introduce myself. I still wonder if I’ll ever not fear public speaking 😂

And I’ve been using it to get me out of bed on time to get to my early morning gym classes, rather than continuing to hit snooze.

It is simple!

But like anything else that changes a fundamental behaviour, it takes time to build this new habit. It has to be practised. And the key is to activate and then do, not activate and then think about doing.

The 5-Second Rule isn’t the ultimate remedy, but the simple realisation that fear, procrastination and avoidance is a natural and valid response to any stress, and the knowledge that you’re always just five seconds away from action, is hugely empowering.

Tie this is in with the sense of achievement after completing whatever task and you’re on to a winning formula for all those good feelings we all love.

So where could you use the 5 Second Rule in your life?

XO  💕


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