Introduction: Coming up on this episode of the Doctor’s Farmacy.
Mel Robbins: You don’t have to go somewhere exotic. If you just get out of your environment, and you give yourself a little bit of space to think, new opportunities hit you because you’re not getting all the input from the environment that you’re used to.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Welcome to the Doctor’s Farmacy. I’m Dr. Mark Hyman, and that’s farmacy with an F, a place for conversations that matter. If you’ve ever struggled with the voice in your head or loving yourself, you might want to listen up, because we have a pretty good guest to talk about this, who knows the inside of her own crazy head, and is going to tell us all about how she fixed it, Mel Robbins.
Mel Robbins: Did you just say pretty good? Do not understand that you need to sell the episode, Dr. Hyman.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, let’s see how it goes.
Mel Robbins: Oh, wow. Wow. He is already questioning whether or not… Thank God I have tremendous confidence, and I know that this is going to be a game changer.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s good. Well, it’s all about how we get to self-love, actualizing what matters to us, doing the things that we care about in a way that is without struggle, and beating ourselves up, and getting control of the monkey mind we have, which really runs most of our lives. Mel Robbins has become one of the most trusted experts in the world on confidence and motivation the hard way by screwing up her own life. I actually become a medical expert by screwing up my own body, so I get it. She’s in a category on her own. She’s one of the most widely booked, followed podcast hosts and authors in the world.
She’s sought after by leading brands and medical professionals, and has all these amazing research-backed tools on motivation. At the same time, she’s amassed millions of followers, has great online advice, and she’s going gangbusters. She’s a New York Times bestselling author, High 5 Habit, The 5 Second Rule, and the number one ranking Mel Robbins podcast, which is awesome. Go listen to it. She’s got a female-led company, which is amazing, and produces really provocative life-changing content, which we’re going to hear today.
She’s got one of the most viewed TEDx talks in the world, billions of views on her stuff, translated into 41 languages, and on and on and on. Most importantly, she just cares about people.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: She cares about people getting out of their own way.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I once heard you say, Mel… Welcome to the Doctor’s Farmacy podcast.
Mel Robbins: Thank you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I once heard you say that if you took a speaker, and you attached it to the inner dialogue in your head, and you broadcast it, you would not have any friends because they… Did you talk to other people like you talk to yourself? You wouldn’t have any friends, and people would think you’re crazy and wouldn’t want to be friends with you.
Mel Robbins: You’d be on the seventh floor of Mass General.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s right, which is a psych ward.
Mel Robbins: Yes. Yes. Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: How do you know that? Anyway.
Mel Robbins: That’s all right. That’s a topic for another day.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I have struggled personally with my own inner dialogue and getting in my own way in many ways around love, around parental stuff from my childhood. I’ve talked a lot about it on the podcast, and I find that if you can actually master your mind, and get out of your own way, and deal with this crazy inner dialogue that most of us have, that you can get free. What I figured out at 63 years old is that the purpose of life is to get your soul free, kind of like Joni Mitchell sang in that Woodstock song, “Let’s get your soul free.”
It’s not easy because most of us don’t learn how to do that. Just as we don’t learn how to take care of our bodies, we don’t learn how to take care of our minds. So, we know maybe how to do exercise, but how do we do innercise?
Mel Robbins: Innercise, is that a word you made up?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Kind of.
Mel Robbins: I think Dr. Hyman just discovered a word for his next book, the Innercise Program, the ultimate wellness solution. I can already see this. You talk a lot about how to heal from the neck down, and I agree with you. I personally have come to believe after 54 years of torturing myself, unnecessarily in many cases, that it does begin with the neck down. That if you follow a lot of the protocols that you talk about, whether it is toning the vagus nerve, or it’s getting your diet right, or it is resetting your hormones, or it’s cold exposure, or the habits that settle you and free your soul, but you also have to develop habits around your own mind.
That’s an area where like you and like everybody listening, I have struggled profoundly. There are a couple key insights that have really helped me change the default setting that is in my mind, and so the way that I would get into this is that self-love is the goal. You talked about the fact that you’ve come to realize that it’s really a journey your adult life of setting your soul free. I look at it like it is a journey of coming back home to yourself, and learning how to love yourself for exactly who you are and exactly who you aren’t. You have a opinion medically that our bodies have this intelligent design, and that our bodies have this intelligent design that if you have the proper inputs, your body can heal itself.
Your body is designed to grow. It is designed to help you. It is designed to be vibrant. I believe the same is true about your experience mentally, and that if you stop and think about the fact that when you are born into this world, you come into this world needing, of course, other human beings in order to survive. I mean, as a species, we cannot just pop out like a deer, and get up on our hind legs, and start running around and figuring things out. We need human connection. But at our core, when you think about the intelligent design of a human being, we are curious. We’re loving. We are seeking connection. We are self-expressed.
You as a baby, you would laugh. You’d smile. You would crawl towards a mirror if you saw your own reflection. You would crawl towards things that were interesting to you. You were not editing yourself. You were not questioning what people around you would think about you jiggling your booty, or smashing your face into a plate of spaghetti.
Dr. Mark Hyman: No.
Mel Robbins: At your core. You are a loving, curious, confident human being. That’s who you are. That’s why we miss feeling that way, because you can only miss something that you know. So, what happens to all of us, and this is no fault, this is just part of the human journey, is that we now know, and you talk about this on your show, that part of your core memories and your imprint mentally in terms of your mental patterns happen between zero and five when your brain is in a theta state, and you are largely nonverbal, and your little brain is absorbing everything at hyper speed. What it absorbs are the speaking patterns, and the emotional patterns, and the emotional tone of the household that you grew up in.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Ooh, that’s a scary thought.
Mel Robbins: Well, it’s true. It’s true. So by the time that you start to be able to attach words to your reality, you have adults correcting you. You also have a biological demand, which is, “I need food. I need to be part of this family in order to survive. I need love,” and so you start to figure out how to survive or thrive in the environment you grew up in. So, these core coping skills start to develop. You don’t even realize what’s happening, these opinions that you have about yourself that are largely coming from other people. So, most of us did not receive the love that we needed in the way that we could really process it as love, right?
It’s not necessarily a function of abuse or trauma or any of this other stuff. There’s this term that I love called parental mismatch, parental mismatch. Your parents may have been absolutely awesome human beings, but when it comes to what you needed, there was a mismatch. What happens in human design is that when you as a child don’t get what you need, or you get yelled at or something bad happens to you, which happens to everybody, we are not wired in a way to say, “My parents are fucking screwed up.” We’re not wired that way.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Do you know what parents are?
Mel Robbins: What?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Parents are people who have kids.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: They have no training, no experience. They’re trying to figure it out.
Mel Robbins: Yes, and they’re just repeating the patterns that were repeated on them largely without even realizing it.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Very true.
Mel Robbins: If you get bullied at school, if you experience racism, if you experience some abuse or neglect or emotional whatever in your home, you don’t go, “Those people have a problem.” You go, “There must be something wrong with me.” That’s where it begins, Dr. Hyman, and it happens to everybody where you prioritize the need to fit in-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Or survive in any way in your family if it screwed up, which most of our families are not perfect.
Mel Robbins: Yup, or to keep the peace, or to not get hurt, or to please the people around you, you figure out how to adapt very quickly based on the environment that you’re in. For almost all of us, that means I got to put other people’s expectations, other people’s opinions about what’s going on, everybody else’s emotional reactions above what I need, because remember who you are at your core. You are a loving, self-expressed, curious person who wants to connect with people, and wants to share yourself. That’s who you are at your core. At some point during your childhood, it happens to all of us. We internalize a message that there’s something wrong with who we are.
In order to fit in or survive or be accepted or get the love or the praise that we are seeking, we have to be somebody other than who we are. That’s where the mindset shit goes sideways, because you start to actively tell yourself, “I don’t fit in there. That person’s pissed at me. I got to be like this. There must be something wrong with me if nobody’s asking me out on a date. My mom’s always criticizing the way that I look. Why do I look different than other people? Why am I the only black kid in the class? Why am I… My family immigrated here, and there’s nobody else in the…”
You start to see all the places that you’re not a part of. All of these things compound, and it traps us in a narrative in our own minds, where we beat the shit out of ourselves. We pick apart the things that are wrong. We’re constantly relentlessly just focused on what we’re not doing, and it’s a very dark place that most people live in.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s really true. I mean, and often, people don’t realize it. I thought I was in my shit together.
Mel Robbins: When did you realize you didn’t?
Dr. Mark Hyman: I know over the years. I realized I needed work to do, because I understood that my family origin was problematic, that my stepfather was a rageaholic, that my father was absent, abandoned us, that my mother was depressed. I mean, I had to navigate a very unsafe environment, and be a people pleaser and take care of broken people. I mean, all these habits and patterns that be around people who were failures, and wanted to not be a failure. So, I had all these things that were driving me unconsciously or consciously, but when I really woke up was when I realized that I struggled with love. I’d been married three times, divorced three times.
I’m like, “Wait a minute, what is going on in there?” In many areas of my life, I have success, and things were great. I have great community and great friends and so much is great. But in this one area, I was like, “What? Why is this such a problem?” I really… Until I took the time to investigate, I call it soul archeology, to investigate what was going on, and to unpack my inner dialogue, and to write it down. I literally wrote down all the stupid shit my head was saying every minute.
Mel Robbins: What were you saying to yourself?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Oh my God, I’m very-
Mel Robbins: That’s why I want you to say it. What were the stuff you were saying?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wait, is this me interviewing you, or you’re interviewing me? Basically, I had this belief that I think that was underlying it, that I wasn’t worthy, that I didn’t really deserve to have love, and I had this needy inner dialogue that was filling a lack and scarcity, that I felt this emptiness in this hole that I was trying to fill, and that I wasn’t ever going to be able to fill it. So, I was constantly doing that. I realized it was because… Again, this sins of our fathers are visited upon their children, right? It’s like my mother was the child of deaf parents, and she had to take care of them from a very early age, and she took care of them.
They were beautiful people and very loving, but she thought that love was taken care of somebody broken. Then my mom was depressed, and she used me as her therapist as a little kid. Then I thought love was taking care of broken people, or people pleasing, and doing all these things that really weren’t serving me. Once I began to realize that, I began to call in my higher self, whatever that you want to call it is, but there’s some part of your soul being that knows what the truth is.
Mel Robbins: Well, I think it’s a part of you when you’re born. It’s actually who you are.
Dr. Mark Hyman: But most of that is not what’s running our inner dialogue.
Mel Robbins: Correct.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, that was not running my inner dialogue, so I began to do this practice where I would write down all this stupid shit my head would say, and then I would write back to myself from my higher self.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It was really effective. I did this for months and months and months, and I was able to really unpack some of this stuff. Once I realized also what this wounding was as a kid and why I felt emptiness, and it actually was, in part, because of this movie called Coda that was about this young girl who was hearing, and grew up in a deaf family just like my mother. That just broke me open. I was literally on the floor sobbing for days, and I got to release a lot of it. Then I reset my nervous system. It was almost like a real reset, but I’ve struggled with some of that.
Going through that process, I realized each of us has to be on our own journey. Each of us has to look at where are the areas where we don’t love ourself. I was like, I thought, “Oh, I love myself. I’m feeling good. I feel good about myself. I’m successful, blah, blah, blah,” but the truth was there was a part that I really didn’t, and I didn’t really fully accept and love myself. That’s what was creating this constant pattern of choosing the wrong people. My friends said I had a broken picker. It wasn’t the problem of the people I was with. It was me.
Mel Robbins: You had a broken pattern of belief in your head, and that made you feel broken. The good news is when you can identify what the broken pattern of thinking or behavior is, you can replace it with something else. See, the good news is at any moment in your life, you can decide who you want to become. It’s never too early or too late to decide that you want to become a different you. You want to go back to who you know you truly are, a loving, curious, confident, connected, self-expressed person. What I want to just add to your story is that that wasn’t a lie you were telling yourself, because your experience was one where you did not get the love you needed as a child. That happened.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It did.
Mel Robbins: That happened, and it was because of this mismatch. Nobody intentionally set out to damage you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: No, my parents are good people. They just screwed up themselves.
Mel Robbins: Yes. Yes, so I think one of the mistakes that we make when we start to do this work to reclaim our lives, and to change our mindsets, and to become a different version of ourselves is that we shy away from telling the truth to ourselves like, “That should happen.” The reason why I believe that is because my lived experience was everybody else’s needs came first. I did not get the love that I needed. In order to even get the attention that I needed from the adults around me, I had to twist myself in knots. I literally had to forget about myself, and that was real.
My husband, for example, we’ve been married 26 years, and have been in really awesome intense therapy for the last two years. One of the things that has come out of it is that Chris has a lot of trauma from his childhood, had an absent father. His mom was always working. He was a latchkey kid. He had no physical abuse, but nobody was ever there.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Neglect is a form of abuse.
Mel Robbins: Yes, but you feel… But, he is forever kind of, “Oh, they were great. We were all…” The truth is no, they weren’t, and that’s okay. When you claim for real that you didn’t get what you needed, and that created years, decades of an experience where that was your lived experience, but what you’re talking about by writing that down… Writing it down is critical, because part of the issue is we try to change the default patterns of thinking that come from your lived experience. So, they may have been true in the past, because of the way you got treated or what people said to you. That is your lived experience, just like trauma is your lived experience.
When we don’t really call that out for what it is, we unconsciously carry it forward. So, when you start to write down-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Name it.
Mel Robbins: These are the crazy-ass things that I think, because this is how I fucking felt, and based on my lived experience, this makes a lot of sense. But here’s where consciousness alignment choice, the wake-up call, I call it, comes into play. You get to choose if you want to keep thinking this shit moving forward. Now, when it comes to mindset, what is profoundly complicated about it, and what I got wrong for years is that I thought that changing your mindset began with changing your thoughts. It does not. It does not. You change your mindset the same way you change the health of your body from the neck down, from the outside-in.
Let me give you what I’m talking about. The act of writing things down, that is not doing the internal work of your thinking. That is getting that shit out of your head and in daylight and on paper and in the real world, so you can look at it objectively. That is doing work outside of your mind. The second thing is everything that you talk about, Dr. Hyman, from especially the stuff related to nervous system regulation, cold exposure, warm baths at night, the five breaths that you talk about, learning how to tone your vagus nerves so that you flip off the fight or flight, which continues all of those thoughts from your past to spin on repeat.
Your thinking has so much to do with your nervous system’s state that learning how to regulate your nervous system using all of the tools that Dr. Hyman or that I write about or all the amazing… Put that shit into place, because a calm nervous system facilitates calm thinking. The third thing is-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, I just want to stop you there, because that’s such an important point is you can change your physiologic state with practices that don’t involve your thinking that change your mind, and change the way you feel, and change your mood.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That is such a powerful insight that most people have no idea about. People feel stuck in the state that they’re in, and they don’t know there’s a pattern break.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: For example, yesterday, I podcast all day day preparing for my book, and I had one that I didn’t record. I was like… I didn’t hit the record button. Long story, and I was like… I was just tired. My partner or fiance, she basically set the alarm stupid early, and forgot to turn it off, and I didn’t get some sleep. So, I was feeling a little bit fried. So, I could tell myself, my body, my mind was just doing bad stuff. I said, “I’m going to meditate,” so I meditated for 20 minutes, and I have a steam shower. I put that on, went in the steam hot as it could be for 20 minutes, went in an ice bath, winter, very cold in the Berkshires for two, three minutes.
I got out of that, and literally felt completely different, my mood, my energy, my focus, my brain.
Mel Robbins: Of course.
Dr. Mark Hyman: We have these doorways into our mind and our mood that are not internal. They’re external.
Mel Robbins: Yes. Yes. Well, one of the things that I don’t think any of us realize is that you’re thinking patterns don’t begin with a thought.
Dr. Mark Hyman: What do they begin with?
Mel Robbins: It’s triggered by a feeling or an emotion. So, your body reacts to something first. You feel the stress first, or you feel the trigger related to past trauma first. You feel something happening in your body first. The mistake that we make is we then immediately race up to our heads, and we assess with our minds, “What does that mean? Oh, something must be wrong. Oh, I’m really stressed out. This isn’t working.” Then your thoughts, usually negative when it comes to some stress response, then dictate what you do next, which is yell, or be frustrated, or feel frazzled. So, what I’m going to tell you to do is to reverse that chain of events, because everything begins with a sensation in the body.
Your nervous system picks up on the cues around you first. Then it goes up into your mind, and your mind tries to make sense of the sensation. That making sense of which is usually a negative interpretation, that then triggers a negative response. Let me give you an example just for those of you that don’t have a steam shower, or don’t have time to jump in a cold punch. Have you ever noticed-
Dr. Mark Hyman: I just had a cold bath. I just filled it up with cold water, or take a cold shower.
Mel Robbins: Cold bath. Yes, and either work, but have you ever noticed that you can be super frustrated or feeling really low energy or depressed or anxious? If you go outside for a walk alone, that within 10 minutes you feel different.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Totally.
Mel Robbins: It’s because you have shifted your physiological state, and when you shift or relax your physiological state, it relaxes your mind. I think a lot of us… Talk therapy is a fabulous thing if you can afford to do it, but what happens in talk therapy is you talk through all this stuff, and you’re in a calm state when you’re in therapy, aren’t you? So, you’re utilizing a part of your brain to talk through the issues in your life when you are in a calm, non-reactive state. Then if you ever noticed, you can talk for an hour with your therapist, but then you get out into your life, and you get into the situation with your spouse or your kids or your colleague that you just processed with your therapist.
You know that it is related to your trauma from childhood. You know that you’re working on not being a yeller. You know you’re working on all these patterns, and yet you get into the situation.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You’re triggered.
Mel Robbins: You’re triggered. Well, the reason… Then all of a sudden, you lose control again. The reason why that happens is because it’s not about your thinking first. It’s about the fact that all of the triggers are stored in your nervous system and in your body, and you in therapy are using a part of the brain, your prefrontal cortex, which is present when you’re calm. But when you get triggered in life, your kids are frustrating. The traffic is terrible. You’re exhausted, and you didn’t record the fourth podcast in the day. You’re now in a different part of the brain, and your nervous system is now flipped on.
That’s why you have to attack your mindset from your physiological state, and you’ve got to use these tools. Now, a second thing that I want to say is this. I said that you can choose to become who you want to become at any moment. I subscribe to the whole body of research around behavioral activation therapy.
Dr. Mark Hyman: What’s that?
Mel Robbins: Behavioral activation therapy is act like the person you want to become now.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, act into the feeling instead of feeling into the acting.
Mel Robbins: Yes. Let’s just say that you are somebody who wants to be… I don’t know. We’ll just use an example. You want to be somebody. Part of your bucket list because you’ve read Young Forever, and you want to be a marathon runner, and you’re going to get back in shape, right? Instead of thinking about it, instead of being the you today that’s 20 pounds over shape, and the last place that you’ve run is to the car to try to beat the parking meter person. That’s the last time you ever took a run. In order to become the new version of yourself, start to act like a marathon runner would today. What do they do? Well, they have tennis shoes.
They typically go outside every day. They might have different ways of eating. They probably follow different social media accounts than you do. They probably wake up at a different time. So, if you start acting like who you want to be today, an interesting thing happens with your mindset. You see, when your brain sees you doing something new, it starts to relate to you as that new person. If you… This is why mantras often are bullshit, because people will want to learn how to love themselves, Dr. Hyman, and they will stand in front of a mirror.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Affirmations, you mean?
Mel Robbins: Yeah. After 40 years of beating themselves up, “I hate my body. I hate this. I’m a loser. I’m unlovable. Nobody’s ever going to love you. You failed at this. You failed at that. Now, look at the bags under your eyes, and one boobs hanging lower and this, that, and the other thing.” You’ve been saying that for decades. You cannot stand in front of that mirror, and say the affirmation, “I love myself,” because your brain’s like, “Bitch, no, you don’t. Did you see how you talk to yourself? I don’t believe that.”
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s true.
Mel Robbins: So, you have to take the actions first before you feel like it. Because if you see yourself following Dr. Hyman’s protocol, and eating in a way that actually activates the healing part of your body, your brain looks at you, and goes, “Oh, look at you. You actually do care about your health.” Your brain starts to change the things it’s telling you. It begins with your actions first.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Then what about the excuses that we all make? “Oh, I can’t because this. I don’t have time, or I’m too tired, or I don’t have money, or I don’t…” Whatever the excuses are, how do you navigate that? Because I think the idea of acting into the feeling is a brilliant one. I often tell people that just try it, and then you don’t have to actually decide you’re going to do it. You just have to try it, and then see how you feel.
Mel Robbins: Here’s the thing about feelings. It’s interesting. I think you should ignore your feelings.
Dr. Mark Hyman: What?
Mel Robbins: Yeah, I do.
Dr. Mark Hyman: We should talk about our feelings. Express our feelings.
Mel Robbins: No, you should ignore… When it comes to change, you’re going to have to ignore how you feel, because you are never going to feel like doing something that is different than what you always done. Your brain is not wired that way. Your brain is wired for certainty. Your nervous system is wired for safety. Your entire body is predisposed to keep you in the patterns that you’re in, because it knows them.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I see.
Mel Robbins: Even though it sucks, Dr. Hyman, for you to tell yourself forever that you’re unlovable, or you’re unworthy, or you’re only… You’re always going to be with broken people. Even though it sucks, it’s familiar, and so it doesn’t make any sense that you would tell yourself things over and over and over that continue to make you feel broken, but it’s familiar. Anytime you try to change a thinking pattern, or you try to change a behavior pattern, your own body will shove resistance in your way, because your body is biased towards wanting you to continue to eat what you eat, continue to think-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Autopilot.
Mel Robbins: Yeah, it’s just on autopilot. So, number one, expect to never feel like it. Motivation’s garbage. It’s not going to be there when you need it. Expect to not feel like eating what Dr. Hyman tells you to eat. Expect to not feel like interrupting the bullshit thoughts that you don’t want to take with you in the future. Expect to not feel like it. So, that leaves you with only one thing. You have to force yourself to do it. There is no other way. This is not easy. If it were, everybody would have six-pack abs. Everyone would have a million dollars in the bank, and so your excuses are always going to be there.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s true.
Mel Robbins: When you realize that there’s nothing wrong with you, you don’t lack the willpower or discipline, that’s not the issue. The issue is you’ve been waiting to feel like doing it, and you’re never going to feel like doing it, because this is what you’ve always done. So, expect the resistance to be there. You can use the five-second rule. That’s why I invented the thing.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Tell us about that. What’s the five-second rule? You wrote a book about it.
Mel Robbins: The five-second rule… I did. I did. The five-second rule is a brain hack that I created in a moment of desperation because like everybody, I didn’t feel like doing the things I needed to do to address the problems in my life. It was 2007. My husband and I were 800 grand in debt. His restaurant business was failing. I had lost my job. Our entire life was what we put on the line to start the restaurant business. We had three kids under the age of 10. We were living in a fancy suburb outside of Boston, Massachusetts, and we were about to lose everything. Checks were bouncing left and right. I was unemployed. Chris had not been paid in six months.
Friends and family had invested in the business, so we couldn’t really tell anybody how bad it was. At 41, Dr. Hyman, I found myself in a situation where I didn’t even recognize myself. I never thought that this would be what happened to my life. I faced my issues and our problems by drinking myself into the ground, screaming at Chris, and blaming everything on him, and basically sleeping in, hitting the snooze button five times. The kids were missing the bus. It was… Here’s the irony is that even when you’re in a crisis, you know what you should do.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, there’s some part of yourself that knew.
Mel Robbins: Of course. I mean, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that you should get your ass out of bed, and get a job.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Get the kids breakfast, and send the school bus.
Mel Robbins: The drinking isn’t helping. Maybe you should tell somebody what’s going on. Maybe you should ask for help. Maybe you should get outside and take a walk. This isn’t PhD material level crap that you need to do, but I couldn’t make myself do it. Why? Because I didn’t feel like it. When you start to blow off the little things like getting up on time, eating healthy, practicing kindness to yourself, staying connected, asking for help, when you start to get the little things wrong, it just snowballs into everything being wrong. The good news is the way that you get back on track, and this is also what you believe and what your research and your work demonstrates, is that you get your life back on track.
You get your health back on track. You reset your mind in the default ways that you think the exact same way by getting the little things right, because when you get up when the alarm rings, your brain sees a human being that has the willpower to get up. When you make your bed in the morning, your brain sees a human being that completes things. When you walk into the bathroom, and you look in the mirror, and you don’t criticize yourself, but you give yourself a high five in the mirror, which is something I call the high-five habit-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Another book is the High 5 Habit.
Mel Robbins: You literally activates neural pathways in your brain around positive encouragement towards self. When you journal, when you meditate, when you move your body, your brain sees a human being that prioritizes themselves. So, it’s through the actions, the teeny, teeny little actions that snowball into massive transformation. One night, it was Tuesday. It was a… No, it was a Monday night in 2008. I mean, it was bad. We were a week away from a bankruptcy proceeding. Leans on the house, Chris and I fighting like cats and dogs. I’m sitting in my living room, and I’m like, “Mel, you got to pull your shit together. Tomorrow, it’s a new you, woman. You got to get up. You got to be nice to Chris. You got to look for a job. You got to get out. Get those kids on the bus. You got to do it all.”
What happened is I all of a sudden saw a rocket ship launch across the television screen, and I thought, “That’s it. That’s the answer.”
Dr. Mark Hyman: I literally watched it.
Mel Robbins: Yeah. It was the dumbest story. I was for Bourbon Manhattans into the evening, so it was probably the alcohol that made me make the connection, but I was like, “That’s it. Tomorrow morning when the alarm goes off, you’re going to launch yourself out of bed so fast, just like NASA launches a rocket that you’re not going to be in that bed, Mel, when the anxiety and the depression hit,” because I was having cascading panic attacks generalized at this point. The next morning, the alarm rings, and all I did was count backwards, five, four, three, two, one. I stood up. That one decision changed the trajectory of my life.
What I had discovered by mistake during one of the worst moments of my life is the single most powerful starting ritual, which is what habit researchers and neuroscientists call a technique metacognition that you can use to interrupt old habit loops stored in the basal ganglia.
Dr. Mark Hyman: What’s that?
Mel Robbins: Five, four, three, two, one, interrupts that encoded pattern, and it draws your focus to the prefrontal cortex, giving you a manual way to switch gears between autopilot, subconscious, trauma patterns, all of it, and activate the part of the brain that helps you change, that helps you learn new behavior, that helps you take control. The five-second rule has now spread.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It sounds like a holy grail.
Mel Robbins: Oh, it is a holy grail. It’s now being used in clinical settings with pediatricians. It’s profoundly effective with OCD and PTSD. I had an entire inpatient wing, the medical staff in a Philadelphia hospital, come and tell us that of all the things that they can give somebody on discharge after an inpatient commit, the five-second rule is probably the most effective thing because-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Break it down. What is the five-second rule?
Mel Robbins: The five-second rule is any moment where you know what you should do, but you feel the feeling come up, hesitation, anxiety, fear, heaviness, trauma, whatever it may be that causes that momentary hesitation. If you don’t physically move within five seconds of that moment of hesitation, the subconscious part of your brain takes over.
Dr. Mark Hyman: To physically move.
Mel Robbins: You got to physically move. So, there’s this window, this five-second window. Psychologists call this the difference between a bias toward thinking versus a bias toward action. Many of us, especially if we’re analytical, or we’re introverted, or we struggle with anxiety or ADHD or depression or a whole trauma, we have a bias towards stopping to think and consider what to do versus doing what we need to do. I’m talking about these windows of time where you’re sitting in a meeting at work. You have an idea to share.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah, and you don’t say it.
Mel Robbins: Correct, and you wonder why you’re getting passed over at work. You wonder why you’re not getting promoted. It’s because you’re not visible. It comes down to these moments. Same thing at home, there’s things you want to say. There’s hard conversations to have, or what about exercise? The hardest part is getting out the door.
Dr. Mark Hyman: My mother used to say, “The minute I get the urge to exercise, I lie down till it goes away.”
Mel Robbins: Yes. Yes. Well, you don’t even have to lie down, because it goes away if you don’t move within five seconds.
Dr. Mark Hyman: She was an expert at that.
Mel Robbins: So, how you use it is in these moments, or like addiction, it’s profoundly effective with addiction because you feel yourself drawn towards something. Five, four, three, two, one, count backwards, physically move away from the thing.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, just literally just say five, four, three, two, one, and then get your body up and go to your room.
Mel Robbins: Yeah, and here’s the cool trick.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You don’t have to do jumping jacks, put down on your head or anything.
Mel Robbins: No. No. No. Here’s the cool trick. Counting backwards is an action. So, it’s like a Trojan horse, because let’s face it, putting down the alcohol’s difficult. It feels hard. You don’t want to. You have this neurochemical draw to it. When you start counting backwards, five, four, three, two, one, you’ve actually made a decision not to do it. So, the counting is like the first domino that falls, and then you turn, and now you’re moving in a different direction. So, the five-second rule became a tool that I used to push myself through the feelings and anxiety and depression and sadness and anger and grief, and all the bullshit feelings that are very real, that dictate what you do.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You were in a really tough situation, and it’s understandable why you felt how you felt.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You could choose one of two things, either to just go back into bed, and not deal with it, or wake up and deal with it.
Mel Robbins: Yeah, but we make 30,000 decisions a day, and the vast majority of them we make with our subconscious. If you want to become a different person, you have to make intentional decisions that are aligned with the kind of person that you want to become. If you want to follow all of Dr. Hyman’s advice, you have to make different decisions. So, counting backwards, five, four, three, two, one is a tool that you can use to activate the part of the brain that you need to consciously make different decisions. There’s even more involved here, because there’s this famous researcher, Dr. Judith Willis out at UCLA.
She has studied the impact that the nervous system has on decision making. What she has discovered is that when your fight or flight sympathetic nervous system is activated, so in situations where you’re procrastinating, that’s a fight or flight nervous system, because procrastination is a freeze.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Interesting.
Mel Robbins: Alert.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Freeze, freeze, right?
Mel Robbins: Yeah.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Fight or flight, freeze, right?
Mel Robbins: Freeze, yes, and anxiety or nerves or nervousness or depression, or just even worrying and overthinking, your sympathetic nervous system is now flipped on. Your prefrontal cortex, according to the research at UCLA, Dr. Judith Willis, your prefrontal cortex does not function in its full capacity when your alarm state is triggered.
Dr. Mark Hyman: No, it can’t.
Mel Robbins: No, it can’t, and so-
Dr. Mark Hyman: There’s often a disconnect between the limbic system, which is a reptile, lizard main stress response, and the frontal lane, which is the adult in the room. So, you see, “This person’s an adult, but why are they acting like a lizard?”
Mel Robbins: Yes. Yes, and so when you count backwards, five, four, three, two, one, the decision to count backwards is a moment of taking control. The counting itself is what activates the prefrontal cortex so that you make the choice to go walk outside so that you then lower your nervous system stress, and then you could come back to what you need to do. So, it’s profoundly effective with addiction, with suicidal ideation, with procrastination, with making more money, because you’re not going to make more money if you’re not willing to make the sales calls.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wow.
Mel Robbins: You can sit there, and think about making them all day long, and so it’s changed the lives of millions of people. It’s just… I love it because it’s free. Anybody at any age can use it. Anybody in any language. Just don’t count up one, two, three, four, five. It doesn’t work.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You have to count down.
Mel Robbins: You have to, because we have been taught to count up since we were little, so the act of counting up already happens in your subconscious. Counting backwards in the beginning, five, four, three, two, one-
Dr. Mark Hyman: You have to think about it.
Mel Robbins: Correct. The more you use it, you are encoding a habit of taking action, a habit of courage, a habit of confidence, a habit of betting on yourself, and so it becomes innate.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I think a lot of your work is about motivation and helping people with self-love, and breaking these patterns, and shifting yourself. We do get stuck. We get stuck on these repetitive patterns of thinking, and there’s a part of our brain that actually is involved with that.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You talked about the reticular activating system.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Can you talk about how that plays a role in the repetitive nature of our thinking, whether it’s good or bad?
Mel Robbins: There’s a super cool thing. I can’t believe I didn’t learn about this sooner. They should teach this in school, because it’s so cool. There’s this-
Dr. Mark Hyman: You mean like how to eat and take care of your body among other things?
Mel Robbins: Oh yeah, balance a checkbook, pay your taxes, all that stuff that nobody wants to learn. There’s this super cool thing in your brain called the reticular activating system. I always get the middle word wrong. Who cares? I call it the RAS.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s right.
Mel Robbins: This thing is so freaking cool. This is a filter on your brain. I think about it like… Think about… You know when people wear a hairnet? Imagine if you have a hairnet on your brain, but it is lit up. It is electric. It is alive, and it constantly lights up and changes in real time depending upon what it thinks is important to you. You can use this sucker to your advantage. I’m going to give you an example of how you’ve experienced this. Think about when you’ve either bought a new car, or you’ve liked a new car, and all of a sudden, you’re like, “Oh, that new Bronco, that new Bronco design, that thing’s pretty cool.”
The second that you latch onto something that you’re interested in, what do you see everywhere, Dr. Hyman?
Dr. Mark Hyman: The same car.
Mel Robbins: Everywhere.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Yeah.
Mel Robbins: Now, here’s what’s interesting. Those cars had always been there.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s right.
Mel Robbins: It’s not like they magically appeared. What happened magically is the RAS, this electronic or this electric alive filter on your brain, once you got excited about something, it was like, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa. Dr. Hyman is interested in the Broncos. Shift the filter. Block out the Mercedes. Everybody, let in the Broncos because he wants to see those.”
Dr. Mark Hyman: I love the new Ford Bronco. It’s an awesome car.
Mel Robbins: It is an awesome car. That’s what you drive?
Dr. Mark Hyman: No, I have rented it though, and I love it.
Mel Robbins: What’s fascinating… Look, if you’ve never had this happen with a car, you’ve had it happen with a college. If you’ve ever applied to college, you all of a sudden go, “Wait a minute, does everybody go to USC? Does everybody go to Wittenberg? Why does it… I thought I discovered this school.” That’s your RAS changing in real time. Why? Because it’s trying to help you. It’s trying to help you see more of what you want, and so you can do a little exercise. It sounds schmaltzy and cheesy as hell, but I want you to do it today. I want you to tell your brain that you want to find one naturally occurring heart shape somewhere in the world.
Wake up or leave this podcast, and be like, “All right, that’s it. I’m not going to go to bed until I see one naturally occurring heart shape.” I swear to God, you will see a cloud. You will see a leaf. You will see a stain on the floor. You will see something on the sidewalk. You will see a spot on somebody’s shirt. I just noticed something I’d never seen before. Right there on that lower wood shelf, there is a dark thing under my YouTube award that looks like a dark heart in the middle of the shelf right there. Why? Because I tell my brain to do this.
Now, why on earth would I play this game of looking for hearts every single day? Because I am actively training my mind to change in real time to show me what I want to see. See, the reason why this is important is because unless I give you an experience, Dr. Hyman, where you experience your own brain changing and showing you something, because you’ll see right there on the sidewalk, you’ve been walking past this thing for a year. It was there.
Dr. Mark Hyman: How do we use that understanding of the RAS to actually change our behavior, make our lives better?
Mel Robbins: I’ll tell you how. You have to first try the game, because unless you experience it, you won’t believe that this is possible. Because if you can find hearts, you can actually start telling yourself, “It is important to me to start seeing evidence that I’m worthy of love.”
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s a good one.
Mel Robbins: It is important to me to start seeing all the people in my life that care about me. It is important to me to start seeing these acts of eating healthy as acts of being worthy of self-love. Because if you just were to tell yourself, “Okay, I’m going to love myself now,” your brain’s like, “Nope.” Why? Because the RAS also works in the negative. So, one of the reasons why-
Dr. Mark Hyman: It keeps you looping.
Mel Robbins: Yes. One of the reasons why so many of us have such a hard time shaking and breaking the beliefs from our childhood is if you’re an adult who believes that you’re not worthy of love, that belief is real because of your lived experience, and you now act in congruence with that lived experience.
Dr. Mark Hyman: You pay attention to things, and filter the things that confirm that experience.
Mel Robbins: Correct. Why? Because your electronic hairnet on your brain, your RAS, thinks this is important to you, because you put so much energy into being like, “I’m fat. I’m unworthy. See, that person said that. My boss, he hates me. I always get everything wrong.” Your RAS is like, “Oh, okay. Okay. I’ll show you more things you did wrong.” If I can get you to start seeing a heart every day for five days in a row, and then-
Dr. Mark Hyman: I’m going to do it. Everybody, you should do it.
Mel Robbins: Do it. You should do it, because you’re going to be like, “Shit, this is right. Oh, this is weird.” Then if you want to supersize it, if it’s a rock or a leaf, pick it up, and be like, “This sucker right here, this is evidence that my brain can help me.” Then get serious about doing the exercise you talked about, writing down the stuff that was true in your childhood, and now write down the stuff you want to believe. Then challenge your RAS, “Show me that I have friends,” and start seeing every inbound text from somebody that is evidence, not that people are using you, or they don’t…
Dr. Mark Hyman: So true. It’s so true, Mel. We always accumulate evidence to support our existing beliefs and our existing ways of thinking, and everything else we ignore.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Once a friend said, “Stop looking for ways to be offended,” because you can easily look at everything as in… My mother used to say when someone honk, and I would look around, they go, “Well, what makes you think that’s for you?” I think we do that so much.
Mel Robbins: Yes.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Constantly looking for evidence to support our beliefs unconsciously, and that reinforces our way of living, our way of being, our actions, our everything.
Mel Robbins: Yes. Yes. Yes. A couple more things about that, mindset is critical because right now, your mindset was programmed by the adults and the experiences of your childhood. You are largely trapped in thinking patterns that are probably the patterns that you had when you were between six and 12 years old.
Dr. Mark Hyman: For sure.
Mel Robbins: So, you are basically an elementary school or middle schooler living in an adult body, and you have the opportunity to get serious about the person you want to become now. So, if you were to write down… Take out a piece of paper, and write down all the things that you want another person in your life to bring into your life, so the partner that you’re with. All of the things that you want her to bring into your life, what are some of those things?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, actually, I did that. I actually wrote down what my partner would be. I wrote down a… It’s like… I call it the love that I dream into being. What were the criteria and the qualities?
Mel Robbins: What are they?
Dr. Mark Hyman: There’s a lot. They have to love themselves. They have to be playful. They have to be willing to come back always to love. I mean, a whole list thing. They want to go to the jungle and mountaintop to hang out with anybody, to just be on that magic carpet ride.
Mel Robbins: So, you want to know the secret to self-love. Be those things for yourself. Be those things for yourself. What’s going to happen though is you can make that list. It’s going to be right there, stick it somewhere that you see it every day, is you will resist doing those things, because you don’t currently do those things. That’s why you need the five-second rule to punch through the resistance that’s going to be there, to help you plow the new neural pathways and the new behavior patterns. It’s through the actions. You see yourself coming back to love.
You see yourself climbing the mountain. You see yourself doing all these things. Your entire mind and the default wiring will change because of the actions that you’re taking.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s so true. I mean, it just reminds me of these studies where they literally had people change the way they did things in a study of longevity where they took people who were born and lived in the ’50s. They put them in a model house that everything was like the ’50s with the magazines, the newspapers, everything, the TV all the same, and had them just act that way. What happened was that they literally changed their physiology. Their grip strength changed. Their fitness changed. All these biomarkers of longevity changed simply by them having these different ways of acting in the moment.
Mel Robbins: It’s so true. It’s so true, and so think about the fact that your physical inputs, the way you get conscious about your thinking, the physical activities that you take, they change the way that you think. So, I think the biggest single message that I have is that-
Dr. Mark Hyman: They change your biology.
Mel Robbins: Oh, of course. Of course. So, the single biggest message that I have is that you’re not stuck with the patterns of thinking that you have. They’re probably your mothers or your fathers, and they’re not yours to carry forward. If you can identify, just like you did, Mark, the things that you said to yourself about love, and you say and you honor the fact that, “Wow, that sucks,” and that was my experience, and now I want a different one. Your body and your brain will be so fast to fall into line, and think completely different thoughts. One of the reasons why so many people go away on a vacation, and you feel like a different person, and you have all these different thoughts, and isn’t it true?
I mean, for me personally, every major time that I’ve made a major life decision, I typically do it when I’m either on a hike, or I am on just a family vacation. You don’t have to go somewhere exotic. If you just get out of your environment, and you give yourself a little bit of space to think, new thoughts come. New opportunities hit you, because you’re not getting all the input from the environment that you’re used to day in and day out.
Dr. Mark Hyman: The autopilot.
Mel Robbins: Yes, and so what I always tell people is, “If you want to have a completely different experience of who you are, try setting the alarm a half an hour earlier tomorrow. When that alarm goes off, feet on the floor, and get up because that-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Do what?
Mel Robbins: Well, start your morning for beginners. I mean, I can tell you the five things that I do.
Dr. Mark Hyman: I mean, morning routines, they’re important. They set the day.
Mel Robbins: Well, not sort of. Let’s just start with commonsense. The alarm goes off. Tell me the difference between the day that the person’s going to have. If they roll out of bed when the alarm rings, they turn off the alarm, and they start their day, versus turning off the alarm and rolling over and going to sleep, and then coming back and turning it off again and snoozing again, and then snoozing again. Tell me the difference between the type of day those two people are going to have.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Oh, one’s probably going to not get much done. The other’s going to get plenty of stuff done.
Mel Robbins: Yeah. Why? Because that first decision that you make in the morning is the first domino that falls, and when you turn off the alarm and roll back to sleep, the first decision of your day is to procrastinate.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Right.
Mel Robbins: It’s to put your feelings first versus what you need to do to support yourself first. What’s the second decision that most people make? It’s to pick up the phone. Now, the second decision that you’ve made is to hand over your most precious commodity, which is your attention to the outside world. When you pick up that phone, your cortisol spikes, which is already high in the mornings, and if you’ve had something to drink last night, you’re also experiencing anxiety as a result of your body processing the poison and the chemicals. So, now, what are you doing? You’re putting a stressful input into your brain of either social media or email or the news, and you’ve now lost the battle with your attention, and you’re not even out of bed.
So, again, if you can set the alarm, and this is where my story begins, 2008, my life’s going to shit. I don’t feel like getting out of bed, so I don’t. I lay in bed like a human pot roast, and I stare at the ceiling. I think about our problems, and I get pissed at my husband, and I’m sad. I’m depressed, and I’m this, and I’m that. Then I hit the snooze button, because I feel like doing that. You have to win the battle with your feelings if you’re going to change your life. You have to take action first, and your feelings and your mood will follow.
I think every one of you know exactly what you should be doing. You should get up on time. You should brush your teeth. You should high five the mirror. You should move your body. You should get outside and look at the sunlight. You should eat whole foods. You should be kinder to yourself. This stuff isn’t rocket science. We want to overcomplicate it because our problems are so big. That’s how I was. The problems are so big, so the solution has to be big. Getting out of bed, how the fuck is that going to help, Mel? That’s how I felt.
Look, getting out of bed on time, taking care of yourself, it doesn’t eradicate racism and poverty and cancer and all these things. I’ll tell you what it does do. It eradicates your own resistance and self-doubt, and it helps you tap into the power inside of you to face those things. Then over time, as you start to tap into that power inside of you to change the way that you think, to change the way that you act, to become the person that you want to become, it enables you, and empowers you to make a meaningful difference in those bigger things. That’s the secret to everything.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s true. I mean, it reminds me of the Taoist notion that journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
Mel Robbins: Correct.
Dr. Mark Hyman: We often resist taking that single step. Whether it’s to countdown from five or whether it’s high-fiving or something, whatever it is, getting out of bed, there are simple actions that you have to move through those rough feelings, and not let them run your life, and that’s hard to do.
Mel Robbins: I think if you just accepted the fact that the first 10 minutes of your morning are going to suck, if you can push yourself through those, your whole life will change. I don’t like doing laundry, Dr. Hyman, but I still do it.
Dr. Mark Hyman: One of the best things to do in the morning, this is a hack, is based on a lot of longevity, science is wake up, get out of bed, and take an ice-cold shower for two minutes.
Mel Robbins: You’re now freaking me out. I’m not willing to do that. That is-
Dr. Mark Hyman: That I promise you will get you going, and it’s better than a cup of coffee. I spent a month in Vermont with myself doing nothing. No computer, phone, really, no books, a couple of maybe spiritual books like the Bhagavad Gita, and just me, myself, nature, God, whatever you want to say. The one thing I did every morning was I got up, and I took an ice-cold shower in December in Vermont. It really was a profound experience, because then I would just be awake, and then I would just go sit, and I would just be. I got to create the spaciousness that I’d never had, being busy running a million things.
It was such a revelation to me that the quality of our morning and the things that we do in the morning set us up for the whole day.
Mel Robbins: Here’s the big life-changing idea. You have a morning routine already.
Dr. Mark Hyman: It’s a shitty one, usually.
Mel Robbins: Correct. Choosing to hit the snooze button is a morning routine. Running late and your kids missing the bus is a morning routine. Not eating something healthy, that’s a morning routine. Choose to change it.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Well, that’s powerful. You see, the motivation actually has to come through in a sense. Changing your behavior first is behavior activation.
Mel Robbins: Look, motivation’s complete fucking garbage, because it’s not there when you need it. You’re going to feel motivated if you listen to Dr. Hyman or Mel Robbins, but that’s extrinsic motivation. In terms of the intrinsic motivation that you need to motivate yourself, you’re going to have to push yourself, because you’re not designed to change. You are designed to stop yourself from changing, and that’s the problem.
Dr. Mark Hyman: So, if you could summarize the things that are the most powerful to help us come back to self-love and self-acceptance, which really is the key to everything in life. It’s the key to healthy relationships. It’s the key to being successful in life. It’s the key to taking care of your own body, of eating the right thing, of exercising. Everything you can think you want to do or want to get in your life, it starts there. So, what are the… To close today, what are the take homes around how we create self-love and acceptance?
Mel Robbins: So first of all, love is an action. Write down on a piece of paper. What would you do to show a human being that you love that you love them? You would be-
Dr. Mark Hyman: What would I do?
Mel Robbins: Yeah, what would you do?
Dr. Mark Hyman: I would be nice to them. I would say nice things to them. I would bring them coffee. I would give them a kiss. I would do a lot of things.
Mel Robbins: You’d compliment them. You’d encourage them to take care of themselves. You’d support them in their goals and dreams. You’d tell them good job when they do something great. You would reassure them when they fail. You need to do that to yourself. This isn’t just some cheese ball like thing. All of the research shows that being critical of yourself, which most of us are as a default, it is demotivating. So, one of the reasons… I’ll give you two hacks. One is get your ass out of bed, five, four, three, two, one, and create a morning routine that really sets you up to feel supported and to feel encouraged and to feel clear about your own priorities.
That’s what love is. That’s number one. Number two, please add to your morning routine the high five habit. Here’s how you do it. When you stand in front of the mirror after you brush your teeth, I want you to do this right after you brush your teeth, because based on research-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Most people brush their teeth.
Mel Robbins: Yes, and if we stack this new habit with something you already do, it’s going to encode much faster. Put your toothbrush down. Look in the mirror. Based on our research, Dr. Hyman, 50% of men and women cannot do this part. We did a study where we had 164,000 people in 91 countries take what I call the high five challenge. You can just go to high5, number five, challenge.com, high5challenge.com to do this. All you’re going to do is practice the High 5 Habit five days in a row. 50% of men and women could not look at themselves in the eye. Why? They don’t like the person they see.
If you can’t look at yourself in the eye, that is a habit of self-rejection that begins your morning. All you’re going to do after you look yourself in the eyes, which is the hardest part for most people, is raise your hand and high five the human being you see in the mirror. It sounds profoundly stupid, but wait to hear the neuroscience. You have for your entire life, Dr. Hyman, high-fived other people.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s right.
Mel Robbins: What is a high five, the action?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Celebration. Celebration.
Mel Robbins: Communicate. What else does it communicate?
Dr. Mark Hyman: Fun. Love.
Mel Robbins: If you’re in a huddle, and a teammate fucks up a play, and you come back to the huddle, and you high five somebody who just screwed something up, what are you saying to them?
Dr. Mark Hyman: You love them. They’re okay. It didn’t matter.
Mel Robbins: Get back in there. I believe in you. All of that programming with the physical action of a high five is already in your brain. When you high five yourself in the mirror, guess what happens to all that programming.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That gets rewritten.
Mel Robbins: To you, to your reflection. You’ve never high-fived a human being, Dr. Hyman, and thought, “I hate your ass. You sucked.”
Dr. Mark Hyman: Definitely not.
Mel Robbins: “I hope you lose,” but that’s what we think about ourselves. How could you have done that? You’re a loser. You’re never going to be loved. You screwed up that many times. When you go to high five yourself, you’re going to notice a couple interesting things. Number one, the critic in your head shuts up, because the programming is only positive. It won’t allow the critic to speak. In less than five days, a funny thing happens. It completely changes how you view yourself. You see yourself as a teammate that you’re going through life with.
You see yourself as somebody who deserves to be encouraged and cared for and love. Then there’s all this incredible impact. Like, you get a release of dopamine. It taps into the celebratory energy of your nervous system, so it boosts your mood, which helps with productivity. It is profound, and it is a silent action that you do every morning that taps into programming, and chemicals, and all this goodness. It’s already in your mind, body, and spirit.
Dr. Mark Hyman: That’s free and take seconds.
Mel Robbins: Yes, and the results are profound. It’s all in the book, and it’s there for you to-
Dr. Mark Hyman: Wow. Wow. This is all research driven, right?
Mel Robbins: Oh yeah.
Dr. Mark Hyman: The High 5 Habit, it’s pretty awesome. Check it out. Mel, you’ve been amazing. We could talk for hours about how we have to, as a culture, get back to loving ourselves to heal so much strong with us. You’re just a gift.
Mel Robbins: Thank you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Your podcast is amazing, the Mel Robbins podcast. Everybody should listen to it. Check out her book, The High 5-
Mel Robbins: Yes, you should, everybody.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Absolutely.
Mel Robbins: Come on.
Dr. Mark Hyman: She’s on YouTube. Everywhere you can find anybody, she’s there. He’s got all kinds of great audiobooks on Audible. Mel is a force, a force for good in the world, and been grateful to have this conversation with you.
Mel Robbins: Thank you.
Dr. Mark Hyman: Anybody listening, if you’ve learned how to love yourself, tell us how, because we all want to learn. Leave a comment. Share this with your friends and family, because they need to hear it. We’ll see you next week on The Doctor’s Farmacy.
Closing: Hi, everyone. I hope you enjoyed this week’s episode. Just a reminder that this podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast is not a substitute for professional care by a doctor or other qualified medical professional. This podcast is provided on the understanding that it does not constitute medical or other professional advice or services. If you’re looking for help in your journey, seek out a qualified medical practitioner. If you’re looking for a functional medicine practitioner, you can visit ifm.org, and search their find a practitioner database.
It’s important that you have someone in your corner who’s trained, who’s a licensed healthcare practitioner, and can help you make changes, especially when it comes to your health.