In the early stages of my divorce I was so deep in my trauma that my response was to over explain and/or justify my behaviors. It was something my therapist and I worked on a great deal. She wanted me to learn to count to 10 before responding to my kids, a text, an email….. I tried it……
The whole counting to 10 thing did nothing but frustrate me.
10… 9…..8….
I’m done.
By the time I got to three I had inevitably done something or said something I would later regret.
I was reading everything given to my by my therapist and others. I was trying all the suggestions. I was depressed, overwhelmed, anxious, abused and deep in trauma.
I was on the couch one day flipping through the channels and stopped on Mel Robbin’s talk show. I felt like she was talking to me. So I pulled out my phone and googled her. The 5 Second Rule came up with a link to her Ted Talk. I clicked the link and watched.
The 5-second rule is simple. If you have an instinct to act on a goal, you must physically move within 5 seconds or your brain will kill it. …. Hesitation is the kiss of death. You might hesitate for a just nanosecond, but that’s all it takes. That one small hesitation triggers a mental system that’s designed to stop you. And it happens in less than—you guessed it—five seconds.
5 Second Rule by Mel Robbins
That was it…..I didn’t need 10 seconds. I needed 5. I needed 5 seconds to change my thoughts, take action, make a move, maybe even not respond at all.
Therefore I adopted the Five Second Rule. I counted down from five when I could not get off the couch or out of bed. I counted down from five before responding to emails, texts or comments. I counted down from five when I needed to make a choice. I counted down from five over and over……
I realized that counting down from 5 offered me to allow myself, and others, grace. I could take action or slow my responses. So I started saying the word “grace” five times before taking action. It was working. And then I realized that the word ‘grace” has five letters. So I started spelling out the word grace. Slow and steady. That gave me time to think and not get frustrated. I had time to chose my next step…or just force myself to take a step. I could choose how I wanted to respond, or not respond at all.
Grace. I was now giving myself, and others, grace. Even when others did not or do not respond with grace, I could and did.
I have learned a great deal about myself and others over the past few years. But one of the most important things I have learned is grace…..with myself and others.
Next time you are tempted to respond out of emotion, the next time you feel paralyzed, take 5 seconds and spell the word grace. You will realize that you are able respond from a place of understanding and grace.