I recently listened to a Ted Talk from Mel Robbins – TV & radio show host, life coach, author, and motivational speaker – called, “How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over.”
In a time where the constant self-absorbed fixation on getting what we want seems all too prevalent in all walks of life, this provocative title stood out to me. The talk is from 4 years ago but the message is still highly relevant.
Mrs. Robbins begins her talk by asking the audience how they’re doing. After the lackluster response from the crowd she says in a jokingly annoyed tone, “You’re fine?! Oh my gosh.”
I’ve always hated that. “How are you?” “How’s it going?” What’s up?!” Most of the time, these are not real questions; they are simply greetings between acquaintances. My doorman and I have had a great working relationship for 2 years and all I know about him is that sometimes he’s “chillin, chillin” and sometimes he’s “all good brutha.”
The worst is that F-word that Mrs. Robbins got so upset about during her talk – FINE. When someone responds to “How are you?” with “Fine,” it’s never a good sign.
Her message was essentially that by continuously saying we are “fine,” we are convincing ourselves that we are content with the way things are going. And when we are content with being content, we are subconsciously depriving ourselves of what we really want by living our lives on autopilot, stuck in a never ending routine.
I hear people complaining about their jobs all the time. Sometimes I feel like it’s so commonplace, that actually being happy with what you are doing is a strange way to make yourself an outcast. It’s easy to fit in when you’re job makes you miserable.
Mrs. Robbins goes on to explain that the reason many of us live our lives on autopilot is because of the way our brains are wired. Whenever we have an impulse to do something that’s outside of our routine, the brain pulls a psychological emergency break.
Have you ever been at a bar and seen someone you are instantly attracted to? You have that immediate impulse to go over and try to strike up a conversation. But something holds you back. That’s your brain’s e-break. Your brain knows it’s much EASIER to just finish your drink and go home. But your brain doesn’t always have your best wishes in mind, because the easy, conventional way out is rarely what’s best for you.
To overcome the brain’s emergency break, you literally have to FORCE yourself to do things that you wouldn’t normally do.
Mrs. Robbins makes a great analogy when she talks about parenting. When you’re a kid, you never want to eat your vegetables, but your parents force you to do it because they know it’s good for you. But when you become an adult, there is no one there to force you to do things that are in your best interest. Sure, your boss will probably ask you to do a lot of things you don’t want to do, but those things are usually in the best interests of your company, not you as an individual. So as an adult, you need to parent yourself and force yourself to do things that you don’t feel like doing, but you know deep down are in your best interest.
It all sounded so simple, but it’s certainly not easy. Since listening to this Ted talk, I’ve tried to make a more conscious effort to step out of my routine at least once a day. I challenge you to do the same.
Go for a run even though you’re tired. Go to that meet up that you don’t feel like going to. Talk to that girl at the bar. Tell someone how you really feel.
Get out of your own head. Get out of your comfort zone. Stop saying you’re fine and be awesome.
Image credit: CC by Archangel12