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5 Takeaways from Mel Robbins’ The High 5 Habit

It all started one morning when a stressed and exhausted Mel Robbins looked in the mirror, decided she had had enough of feeling down on herself, and chose to put herself first. By simply giving herself a high five in the mirror and posting about it on social media, she catapulted her journey of self-discovery that culminated in the best-selling book The High 5 Habit. Now, I think we’ve all been there. Staring at ourselves in the bathroom mirror, picking apart our insecurities (that usually only we can see, by the way!), and just generally speaking to ourselves negatively. I am a major culprit for this; I will fully support my family and friends, but I fall short in many areas when it comes to supporting myself. Now, finally, it’s time to work on changing that! Remember, small actions build up over time, and that kindness starts with yourself, so by working to remove negative blocks in your life, you can begin to manifest your dreams and become the best version of yourself. So, today, let’s take a look at 5 takeaways from Mel Robbins’ The High 5 Habit so that you can begin to “fire” your “old self” to create your “new self” and “live your best life”.

1. small actions build over time

To begin, the whole basis of The High 5 Habit revolves around creating small, positive actions that build over time into useful self-development tools. For example, Mel spends the first part of her book explaining the science behind why giving yourself a high five works so well. Basically, our brains have been trained to recognize that giving out a high five is positive reinforcement (high fives are usually automatically paired with a smile as well!), but typically the high five and, therefore, the positive reinforcement is being given to someone else. So, what happens when you trick your brain into giving that positive reinforcement to yourself by high fiving yourself in the mirror? Well, as Mel has shown – you should expect amazing things. By doing The High 5 Habit over time, you can begin to re-situate yourself as the most important player in your life while also bestowing this positive recognition on yourself. It might seem silly or even ridiculous to high-five yourself in the mirror, and trust me, it can feel awkward at first, but it’s a crucial way to easily show your brain that you are making yourself a priority. Your brain always wants to reinforce the things you think are important. So, if each morning you stand there looking at yourself thinking about all the things you need to change, it signals that those things are important to you, and your brain will make sure you see more of that (whether you want to or not). Whereas, if you wake up in a positive mindset with the confidence to crush the day, your brain will make way for all the opportunities to easily flow to you – if you keep an open mind and can recognize the opportunity when it is sent your way. Ultimately, taking a moment each day to high-five yourself in the mirror, will train your brain to re-situate yourself as the most important thing, meaning you can begin to mold yourself into the best version of yourself.

2. kindness starts with yourself

So other than giving yourself a high five every morning, how do you actually start evoking positive changes in your life? Well, Mel reminds us that kindness starts with yourself, and to get what you want out of life, you need to flip the narrative and utilize it to your advantage. Personally, a narrative I have been working hard to flip in my head is how I view myself and my body. As I’ve discussed in previous articles (Check out “Body Dysmorphia and Firing Myself”), I am prone to Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD) which essentially means I struggle with viewing my body through a distorted and negative lens. This type of negative self-thought is obviously the exact opposite of the love I should be showing myself, so Mel’s advice has really helped me start to work on this. For example, instead of looking at myself in the mirror and thinking about all the bad food I’ve eaten or workouts I’ve missed, I need to take a moment to appreciate how far my body has brought me, how far it can take me in the future, and the fact that it has supported me every step of the way. Maybe it’s silly to say, but without my body, where would I be? This alone should be enough for me to show kindness to myself, but it’s not always easy. Mel straight-up asks us: “How frequently do you cheer for yourself?” Ponder this for a moment. It’s not asking about the last time you celebrated a milestone like getting a promotion or buying a new home. She’s asking you when was the last time you were your own biggest supporter ALONG THE WAY. Anyone can celebrate the win afterward with you, but Mel is saying that we need to be our own biggest cheerleader along this rollercoaster ride that is life. Having this mindset will not only help you to be kinder to yourself, but it also allows for new opportunities to present themselves to you along your journey, meaning you can truly fire your old self to make way for your new, best self.

3. remove negative blocks

Besides flipping the everyday narrative that you have running in your head about yourself, another important thing to truly become your best self is to remove negative blocks that are currently in your way. Mel writes: “If you want to have an open mind and flip these negative thoughts, you have to remove what is preventing you from taking action in your life. Skepticism, doubt, and cynicism are like lint in a dryer. They block you.” This part, specifically about the dryer lint build-up, resonated with me so deeply I have not stopped thinking about it since. The idea that negative roadblocks become built up in your mind over time makes so much sense that it has forced me to start taking a hard look at things from my past that still hold me back. It can be difficult to work on removing negative blocks at the end of each day, but it’s even more challenging to remove negative blocks from a decade ago. One tactic I have started doing at night before bed, inspired by this idea of removing lint from the dryer, is erasing the blacked-out whiteboard. You’re probably thinking, “What?” but let me explain further. As a chronic over-thinker, when it’s time to settle into bed for the night, my head is almost always racing at a million miles a minute. So, to combat this and prepare me for sleep, I envision a whiteboard completely covered by all these obstacles or concerns and imagine slowly erasing the board with my mind. Some nights it’s harder to erase the board than others, but I always force myself to focus on the eraser removing the dark ink on the board to reveal the shiny white surface underneath. With this method, I am telling my brain to let go of these limiting beliefs or things holding me back and release them into the universe instead. Simply imagining the act of erasing the negative blockages from my day helps me settle in for rest and has become an integral facet of my journey to fire my old self while I mold my new, best self.

4. manifest your own dreams

Once you’ve mastered positive self-talk and learned tactics to remove negative blocks from your life, it’s time to start manifesting your own dreams. Upon reading The High 5 Habit, I started following Mel Robbins on LinkedIn, and one of the first posts from her I saw was: “A goal without a deadline is just a wish.” This simple quote hit me like a ton of bricks when I read it. She’s saying that it’s great to have all these goals, aspirations, and dreams, but without actually setting deadlines and putting in the work, they will only ever be hopes or wishes. I find this extremely interesting because it almost implies the opposite of manifestation; manifestation is essentially the belief that if you think about or envision something hard enough for long enough, then the universe will bring it forth to you. Now, while I am not discrediting this in any way (I actually believe in the powers of manifestation), Mel is saying that in reality, we are the entity that manifests our dreams through our hard work and determination – not some unforeseen universal force. Therefore, we are put back in the driver’s seat of steering towards our destiny. We see a crystal-clear example of this when she introduces us to Eduardo, a taxi driver with big dreams of breaking into the acting industry. Mel tells Eduardo that he needs to take the first step if he wants to begin manifesting his dreams. For him, that’s moving to California, and she tells him that if he doesn’t set a date to do it by, he will never do it. Although she couldn’t provide an update on whether or not Eduardo eventually made it to California to start auditioning, I like to think that he stuck to his deadline, made the move, and is now out there living his best life. Ultimately, Mel reminds us that we are in charge of our own destiny and that we must work to manifest our dreams if we are to become our best selves and love the life we live.  

5. just keep swimming

A final thing to remember is that manifesting your goals or your dream life won’t happen overnight. It occurs through consistency, hard work, and that “just keep swimming” mentality made famous by Dory from Finding Nemo. I’m a firm believer that what’s meant for you will eventually find you, and I also believe that the things that are meant for you can be found through focus and determination. In other words, manifestation works in mysterious ways, but you can also bring your dreams to life yourself. Another example that stuck with me from The High 5 Habit is Mel’s story about the painting. Basically, it was a painting at a local restaurant that made her stop dead in her tracks the first time she saw it. She describes it as a magnetic pull and that all other noises around her faded away, and it was just her and the painting suspended in time (until a waiter smashed glassware nearby, bringing her back to reality, that is). The reunion of Mel and that painting took over a decade, several moves, and three kids, but in her heart, from the moment she saw it, she knew that this painting would play a role in her life. And, not going to lie, when she told her readers to check the back sleeve of the book for a picture of her in front of the art piece, I had full-body chills. This is the power of taking back the control in your life! This is what happens if you just keep swimming! So, although it can be challenging, remember to find the things in your life that give you joy and work towards bringing those things closer to you so that you may truly become your best self and live your best life.  

final thoughts

Accomplishing true self-discovery and self-improvement can be a long road. But it’s a long road made up of smaller choices and actions that build up over time to mold you into who you are meant to become. Remember that along the way it’s critical to be kind to yourself and that you actively work on removing any negative blocks in your life that could be holding you back. Once you address these things, you can start manifesting your dreams and ultimately ‘keep swimming’ towards your higher purpose or destiny. One final thing I would be remiss if I didn’t mention regarding The High 5 Habit is when Mel tells us that it will all make sense one day. All the trials, tribulations, or just general shi*t that you’ve been through in your life is for a reason. It’s all building up in order to mold you into the person you’ve always meant to be. Through the power of intention, manifestation, hard work, and patience, everything you could ever want is right around the corner. In the end, integrating these 5 takeaways from Mel Robbins’ The High 5 Habit into your daily life is crucial so that we may fire our old self to create our new self while remembering Life’s Short, Love the Life You Live!

Dani VanDusen

Dani VanDusen is a freelance writer and editor located in St. Albert, Alberta, Canada. She holds a BA in English from the University of Alberta where she graduated with distinction, and has been freelancing since the middle of the pandemic. An avid mental health enthusiast, rollerblade extraordinaire, dog mama, and pizza lover, she is a self-proclaimed ‘weirdo’ and says that this helps her be relatable and open in her writing. Dani has been a writer for the Fire Yourself movement since August 2021 and is an integral part of our content team.
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