On this episode of The School of Greatness, Lewis sits down with award-winning author, motivational speaker, and former talk show host Mel Robbins to talk about what we can learn about our mindset, our confidence, and the outside world, during this pause caused by the pandemic. She says that when we break bad habits, build our confidence, and help others out, we can come out of this situation as better people.
Read this if...
- Your life plans have been cancelled because of the pandemic
- You feel apprehensive about trying out a new hobby
- You want to know why you have bad habits
Mel Robbins is a former public defense lawyer, an award-winning author, and a motivational speaker. She is known for her work in CNN as a legal analyst, her TEDx Talk, How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over, and her award-winning book, The 5-Second Rule.
the distilld lessons (extended)
The pandemic has put our lives on hold. Our lives seemed to have changed drastically, forcing us to adapt fast. It can sometimes feel like we’re stuck in place, with our lives on pause and isolated with our growing anxiety.
We can achieve better days, even during this pandemic. This can also be applied to current problems we are facing. We can do this by confronting old wounds, breaking bad habits, and helping those in need.
On this episode of The School of Greatness, Lewis sits down with award-winning author, motivational speaker, and former talk show host Mel Robbins to talk about what we can learn about our mindset, our confidence, and the outside world, during this pause caused by the pandemic.
Here are the distilld lessons inspired by “The ‘Secret’ Mindset” episode of the School of Greatness podcast:
1. Sources of trauma are not immediately obvious.
It’s possible that we’re still nursing wounds that continue to affect us without us knowing it. When we don’t see these wounds, we don’t treat them. We must recognize our wounds and the trauma they came from. This is the first step towards healing.
Mel defines trauma as experiences we go through or witness that put our nervous systems on alarm. They can be caused even by little experiences, like parents inexplicably mad at us growing up. There is a definite link between childhood experiences and trauma. These little things add up, and our trauma stems from patterns of little traumatic incidents that our nervous system can be triggered by. This is why even things we have no memory of experiencing trigger us. Trauma doesn’t live in the brain; it lives in our nervous system.
When we experience trauma as children—such as abuse, neglect, and dysfunction—it can stunt our development. Childhood traumas are even linked to serious illnesses like heart, lung, and liver disease. It can even affect our hormone regulation that can lead to behavioral issues.
When we feel like we’ve developed bad patterns, we should recall our childhood. Investigating the moments that might have caused our patterns will help us address them. When we identify and recognize these traumatic moments, we are one step closer to healing from them.
2. The mind defaults to the negative.
We may uncover past trauma from our childhood, but they’re not our entire childhood. Mel says the mind defaults to negative. It’s easy for us to define our past by our pain, so we have to actively prioritize thinking positive thoughts.
When we’re in the process of uncovering our trauma to heal, it becomes even more important to remind ourselves of positive experiences too. Our upbringing may have caused some damage, but we can also acknowledge when our parents meant well.
3. Breaking old patterns mean replacing them with positive versions.
We’ve acknowledged our trauma and identified our bad patterns. How do we begin breaking them? Mel suggests applying her 5-Second Rule. When we start to feel tense, we can count from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. This is enough time to refocus our minds. Then, we can take a quick breath and put our pattern in perspective, ponder on the trauma, acknowledge its presence, then let it go.
What this does is disrupt our bad patterns. When we disrupt them enough times, we can rewire our nervous systems to detect their onset and finally break them. Once they’re broken, positive ones can replace them. If you have a bad habit of drinking every night, once you break this habit, you can replace it with an afternoon jog instead.
4. Confidence follows action, not the other way around.
Mel also talked about improving our confidence. She suggests we start by rewiring our perception of confidence. Confidence isn’t the secret to taking action, it’s the byproduct of it. We are not confident because we don’t have fear, we gain confidence by doing something in spite of fear. The more action you take, the more experienced you become. When you become experienced at something, you get better at it and eventually gain confidence.
We can also apply the 5-Second Rule here. If we feel like we have no confidence to do an action, we can count down from 5 again. We can talk ourselves into action in that time, take a breath, muster our confidence and follow through. According to Mel, repeating even displays of confidence builds it the same way we build muscles to become stronger.
6. There is such a thing as over preparation.
It’s true that preparation gives us confidence, but there’s also such a thing as over preparation. When we research a new hobby or skill, we can become overwhelmed by how much there’s left to learn. We become paralyzed because we think that to start something, we must know everything about it. This is analysis-paralysis
Analysis-paralysis is an anti-pattern. This means that our own learning and preparation can cause us to fail at our goal because learning prevents us from even doing it. A person who experiences analysis-paralysis becomes enamored with the process of analyzing and processing information to make decisions that they often end up not deciding at all.
Mel says that even if after preparing, and we still don’t feel prepared, do it anyway. Preparation is important for base-level understanding. Anything more advanced, we’re better off learning through experience. If it’s not perfect, it doesn’t matter. Imperfection is better than inaction and we can always improve. Once we take that first step, improvement will follow.
7. There is power in taking up new hobbies.
Mel calls our experience in this pandemic ‘The Great Pause’. Before the pandemic, our lives have become so fast-paced because of technology. We’re often on our devices, building networks or working on projects. We always had something to do. We couldn’t stay put.
The pandemic has pulled the plug on many of our plans, but we can take this time to focus on the new life we can create. Mel believes emotional resilience is a person’s greatest skill. When the world is turned upside down, we have the power to endure it and to make it right.
One of the ways we can cope is by taking up new hobbies which can improve our mental health. They allow us to expand the neural connections in our brain facilitating the release of our “feel good” hormone—dopamine--in a productive way. These hobbies can sustain our emotional stability while serving as good distractions from the negative things happening around us.
8. The pandemic is no excuse for justice to take a back seat.
Just because there’s a pandemic doesn’t mean the world’s other ills are also on pause. Injustices are still being committed. State violence and day-to-day discrimination are still problems for many marginalized communities.
When Mel was working as a CNN analyst, she would come across the cases of police brutality against the Black community. The experience taught her to seek out the difficult conversations. She also learned that justice requires a lifetime of work, learning, listening, and speaking out.
The pandemic is not a reason for us to stop the great work we’ve been doing. We can still fight injustice by lending our voice to victims. We can learn more about these issues and finally take a stand against things we find reprehensible.
This is not the time to be silent. When we are silent, when we don’t take action against injustice, we allow injustices to go on. Vulnerable communities are even more vulnerable now. Our plans may have been put on hold, but we now have the time to get involved.
We can experience better things and improve on ourselves even in the face of this pandemic. In fact, this may be a good time to start working on ourselves and helping our communities. By working through our trauma, taking action to build confidence, finding ways of bettering ourselves, and getting involved with social justice issues, The Great Pause could also usher our new beginning.
For a shorter conversation, the distilld lessons summary are here.