I once heard of a story of a young woman. She was in desperate need of love as she was from an uncaring family. Her parents were divorced, and her mother occasionally beat her. Her father didn’t care for her that much and often disrespected her in public. So, her role models were dysfunctional. This young lady desperately needed love.

Befittingly, she started a relationship with an older man who acted as a father figure. This was something she craved. He took her out, bought her gifts and started to become erotic with her.

A couple of weeks into the relationship, he started to take videos and pictures of her having intercourse with him. It did not take her long to realize his ulterior motive. He was grooming her to work for him.

He threatened her with the pictures and told her that he would tell her family, paste them around her school and put them on the internet. He then proceeded to make her sleep with some other men.

Once she sought help, without hesitation her therapist told her to write a diary of everything that was happening. She fought against the diary at first because she just wanted security. She needed to get out of her head even if she felt safe there, she knew it was time to recall the events and get emotional, and allow her defense mechanisms to appear.

She documented all the events and wrote them down in chronological order. When it was time, the police and social services took over. She informed them of everything without overreacting. Thank God she was able to present facts through her diary.

The days that followed meant getting the exact people and help she needed to get rid of the relationship. The diary also made her aware of the abuse. She then had to take the responsibility to make the changes in her life. She needed to rid her bad habits and begin new self-serving habits.

She gave up security for freedom the security of having someone to “care” for her, which in this case was a boyfriend/ manipulator/ groomer who was controlling her. She chose freedom and got professional help and decided she wasn’t going to be controlled anymore.

Change is difficult and willingness to change is scary

So how can this 17 year old break the chains of the past and learn a new functional way of living to have fulfillment? To begin with, being scared is just an emotion, and it must be managed to aid the process of change, like in the example above. Under Mel Robbin’s theory, she believes we all have a secret science known as “activation energy.”

Mel Robbins says the brain has two sides. She compares it to the autopilot and the emergency brake. When you do something different from your normal routine, it goes on the emergency brake. So, you immediately feel scared and go back to habits of doing what you are used to. This is where willpower doesn’t work, because you will go back to the old habit, which is the autopilot.

When autopilot takes over, the brain doesn’t want you to do anything that causes you to step out of your comfort zone. Changing your habits is hard work. The brain thinks it is protecting you. The brain can’t tell the difference between what is good for you and what is bad for you. Consequently, the young 17-year-old had to have the courage to act and not pull the emergency break.

She acted from outside her comfort zone and did not give in to her normal routine by reason of being programmed to work on autopilot with abusive patterns. She had been sleeping around for years with different men and was oblivious to her behavior.

She finally accepted that for a habit to change, she needed an action plan.

“However, when you’re stuck, the major task is deciding if you’re going to change at all. The challenge is finding the ability, in the face of an overwhelming amount of resistance, to create a small change in your life and build on it.” Mel Robbins

Writing in a diary is what triggered the change. She became conscious of her actions. She was now going to pass working from security and being on autopilot to becoming aware that she was contributing to the abuse and not choosing freedom.

This scared her.

She needed to come face to face with the actual abuser. This also meant facing the memories of the abuse that she hadn’t dealt with. She had to decide should she put on her emergency brake and refuse to play the victim role for the abuser/ manipulator, or should she go on autopilot like her life before? She chose to put on the emergency brake and get out of her comfort zone.

This is a pure example of choosing freedom over security. She managed to get out of her head, with the help of her journaling and therapists. Her head was where the enemy was. She used to think it was God talking, but it wasn’t! With the therapist, she worked through her fears. She faced a little part of them daily until she overcame being afraid and then was truly free.

She stopped negotiating and acted!

When you fear change, you are not broken in any way. Your brain is wired to be comfortable and not challenge change. For instance, the young lady felt fearful of the possibility of the pictures and videos going viral. She could have procrastinated and never spoke up, but she saw an escape and acted on it.

The issue is not that you are incapable of achieving, but that you do not act upon your situation. This ultimately stops you from getting you what you want. Robbins claims the first 5 seconds that you have an impulse of doing something positive, act on it. The emergency brake gets pulled if you do not act.

Changing bad habits is not easy. It means going past your fears and habits of all your past programming. You must force the “activation energy” or the new belief to kick you into being who you want to be.

Mel Robbins uses the skill of the 5-second rule, which uses the activation energy to count down from 5 to 1 and act upon impulses before they are lost. It changes your habits, and the brain kicks into a new way of doing things and achieving more. It is like a rocket ship being launched: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. You must act because after 1, there is nothing but action.

Mel Robbins says, “Sometimes, amid the storm of life, the biggest accomplishment you can make is to count, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, take a deep breath, then approach your situation from a balanced place. That sense of balance is your superpower.”

The scientific reason why the 5-second rule works is you control the events in your life. Amy Arnsten states the part of the brain that helps in decision making and goal setting is the prefrontal cortex.

Prefrontal cortex is the biggest part of the brain and is situated in front of it.

The counting down from 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 is a conscious activity. It pushes you from autopilot to being in control of the prefrontal cortex. If you have an impulse and do not marry it with a physical action within 5 seconds, you will pull the emergency brake and kill the idea.

I challenge you to try this technique you will be amazed.