Today, I’m going to be talking about the five-second rule (and no, I’m not talking about the one where it becomes permissible to eat germ-infested food that has fallen on a dirty surface if you pick it up in under five seconds). The new version of the five-second rule is a scientific method of thinking developed by life coach Mel Robbins that claims to “enrich your life and destroy doubt” in five seconds. She claims that during the critical moments in your life when things could either go uphill or completely downhill, the first five seconds are crucial in determining which direction your mind will take, and the good news is that it is entirely in your control by the thoughts you think and actions you take. As soon as a situation is recognized, counting backwards from five to one immediately activates the pre-frontal cortex where your judgment and decision-making capacities take place, and it actually signals to the mind that you are now in control.
A popular example Robbins uses to demonstrate how this technique is proven to be successful is by turning procrastination into motivational action in achieving your goals. Let’s use the situation of someone whose goal it is to get in shape by going to the gym daily and sticking to the plan no matter what. Well, when you wake up in the morning, especially if you’re a beginner and have not yet developed the habit of daily workouts, your mind will not want to get out of bed and go to the gym. That’s normal, and unfortunately, there’s literally no purpose in denying that that is a natural reaction for someone who is prone to laziness. However, during the first five seconds your brain begins to hesitate, counting backwards from five to one will activate you pre-frontal cortex and give you the ideal window of time to change your thoughts. The idea is that the emotion is there and cannot be changed- except by your active efforts to take control of your mind and change those thoughts, and create action that eventually becomes habit.
My favorite usage of the five-second rule, by far, is that of turning anxiety into excitement. There are two parts to creating this change: first, to recognize that fear and excitement are exactly the same emotion and reaction in the body. The only difference is what your brain calls it. Second is the use of an anchor thought, or image that will keep you grounded and focused on your end goal. Examples of this can include picturing the outcome of facing the fear, or simply imagining how you will feel once you’ve conquered that fear. The example that Robbins uses is the fear of flying. If you’re scared to death of stepping foot on an aircraft, you can easily begin the process of using the five-second rule to change this anxiety into excitement by counting down from five to one within five seconds of recognizing the fear. Then, keeping in mind that fear and excitement are exactly one and the same inside your body, you can tell your brain that what you’re feeling is actually excitement. This can be accompanied by the anchor thought of the image when you land in your destination. In this way, you will have managed to turn your greatest fear into an unsurmountable excitement and can continue to reap the benefits of the five-second rule in every aspect of your life.
Here are a couple of links to Robbins’ videos on YouTube as well as to purchase her best-selling book, so that next time you’re feeling overtaken by fear, you can try to change it into excitement and watch it transform your mind.
“If you have an impulse to act on goal, you must physically move in five seconds- or your brain will kill the idea.” -Mel Robbins