Sunday, October 17

Adopting this weird morning habit might just transform your life

First Hand: 50% of us don’t even look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning. Think of the psychology of that self-rejection

Article content

Motivational life coach Mel Robbins is famous for her massively viewed TEDx talk, How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over, about jumping on the five-second window of inspiration before the seconds tick away. She’s back on bookshelves with The High 5 Habit, so First Hand asked how to start the day right, why mantras are crap and how high-fiving yourself — literally , seriously — in the mirror can transform your life.


Article content

FP Work: For a motivational speaker, you had a pretty rough moment in front of a mirror that inspired this book. Can you take me back there?

Mel Robbins: It was April 2020, all kinds of bad things were happening but it doesn’t even really matter what, and I was standing in front of the mirror in my underwear feeling completely overwhelmed and defeated. I caught my reflection as I brushed my teeth and thought, You look like hell. Look at those circles under your eyes and your saggy neck. The woman in the mirror looked exhausted and beaten down. I honestly felt sad for her.

Motivational life coach Mel Robbins.
Motivational life coach Mel Robbins. Photo by Supplied/Jenny Moloney

FP Work: This is all very relatable. I think I did this to myself this very morning.

Mel Robbins: Lots of us do this every morning. That woman looked like she was running a marathon, but life is a marathon and it’s long and there will be highs and lows. This was a low, and if I were running a race, I wouldn’ t need criticism like,’You’re not running fast enough, your shoes are wrong, you suck at running.’ Just like a marathon, you need to understand that encouragement is what drives you forward.


Article content

FP Work: And then just like a marathon, you gave yourself a high-five!

Mel Robbins: I did, yes. It wasn’t like lightning struck, but I did feel an energy shift. My shoulders dropped and my mood lifted and I went on with my day. The next morning, en route to the bathroom, I decided to do it again and meet myself with the same energy I’d take to meet an old friend at a cafe. I’d be as excited to meet me as I was them. But what made it profound was that I wasn’t pretending, I was really feeling it. So I did it again.

FP Work: Okay, wait, metaphorically? Or are you telling me to literally smack the mirror?

Mel Robbins: I’m dead serious and let me tell you why. Once I got interested in this, I looked into the science: Study after study proves your mood in the morning affects your productivity for at least four hours. “Emotional contagion” shows us that 10 minutes of negativity — reading awful news in the paper, for example — infuses into you and then infects those around you. Beating yourself up first thing also trains your brain’s RAS, the reticular activating system, to constantly seek other reasons that confirm you suck . No wonder fifty per cent of us don’t even look at ourselves in the mirror in the morning. Think of the psychology of that self-rejection.


Article content

FP Work: And yet all that still feels more normal than high-fiving myself, which feels silly and embarrassing. What if someone sees?

Mel Robbins: Who cares? Of course it feels weird! We’re doing the very opposite of what you usually do. It’s like if you’re right-handed but I force you to write with your left. That weirdness is your brain making a new neural pathway. It means it’s working.

FP Work: Can I skip the mirror and give myself a subtle pat on the back?


Article content

Mel Robbins: No, you can’t. Positive thinking doesn’t work and that’s not what this is. I don’t want you to say a thing when you do this because mantras don’t work. The reason you can’t stand in front of a mirror and say “I love my body” when you hate it is because your brain automatically rejects this as a lie. Your brain knows the truth and now you feel even worse because you’re a liar.

FP Work: What makes a high-five different than a fake compliment?

Mel Robbins: Get ready for me to blow your mind: Your subconscious doesn’t physiologically know the difference between a high-five from someone else and yourself. When you give yourself a high-five, even if you’re thinking you’re a piece of shit who doesn’t deserve it, you get a hit of dopamine. It’s neurologically impossible for your brain to beat itself up and accept a high-five at once. You will experience a slight energy surge, because your nervous system knows what a high -five is and the gesture itself communicates for you. You are literally reprogramming your brain.

Financial Post


For more stories about the future of work, sign up for the FP Work newsletter.




Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *