Me: I just had a brilliant idea!
Close friend: Oh no you don’t! You can’t do that. Let me explain to you all the ways this can go so horribly wrong…
Have you ever had a conversation like that—someone who shoots down your dreams and trips you up so you never manage to achieve the success you want? Some “friend.”
Well…guess what? We all have a friend like this and this relationship has been with us our entire lives: it is the unconscious mind.
While the unconscious has many excellent qualities, there is a part that many call the Trickster, because it is known for causing problems. Most of us have no clue just how tricky the Trickster can be because these conversations happen so fast that we never register what just occurred, even though the entire event takes place inside our mind.
Mel Robbins, in her latest book The 5 Second Rule: Transform your life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage (2017) tells us:
“…the moment you want to change, break a habit, or do something hard or scary, your brain goes to work to stop you.
Basically, your mind tricks you into thinking things through.
And the moment you get tricked into doing this, you’ll get trapped by your thoughts.
Your mind has a million ways to talk you out of acting.
That’s the neurological reason why it’s so hard to change….change requires you to do things that are uncertain, scary, or new, so it will do whatever it can to talk you out of doing those things.
It is part of your hard-wiring, and this hesitation happens really fast. That is why you have to act even faster to beat it.”
First: acknowledge that your inner Trickster is a part of you that is trying to help you in the only way it knows how. It wants you to be safe and happy. Trickster just thinks that worry and over-thinking are excellent ways to do this.
Second: do not assume that your Trickster always offers the best, highest-level advice. The default position for the Trickster is: use the least amount of energy possible for any given task. In general, this is a good thing. Our lives are better for the labour-saving technologies we now have.
But the internet-surfing-TV-watching-cookie-eating behaviour that the Trickster talks us into that feels good in the moment, causes more problems in the long run. Sometimes, Trickster even advises us to engage in behaviour that is downright dangerous (i.e. addictions).
Robbins suggests that when we need to get started on something we know we should do, but the Trickster is madly spinning its wheels to ensure we do not (I am tired, It is too late, I will start that tomorrow…have you ever heard your inner mind complain like this?), pretend you are a rocket about to be launched into space: count down starting at 5 and make sure you have started your task (get out of bed, return that phone call, start that project) before you reach the number 1.
Robbins calls this the #5SecondRule.
It’s simple. It costs nothing and the more you use it, the easier it gets because the brain starts to rewire itself.
Whenever worry and over-thinking happen, stop the thoughts by counting 5-4-3-2-1 and then immediately launch into a positive image or thought instead. Robbins has an entire book on how to do this principle—check it out. Her section on handling panic and anxiety was super easy to understand, yet very profound.
How the 5 Second Rule can help the Spleen
Coincidentally, this is the time of year that Traditional Chinese Medicine calls late summer where the body focuses on spleen energy. TCM teaches us that worry and over-thinking disturb the spleen, leading to digestive problems and stagnant Qi, and other health issues.
As you redirect your focus, you are helping your spleen replenish during this time of the year as we move into winter: re-train your Trickster into new habits of confidence and courage with the #5SecondRule.
Also, the spleen loves stretching and gentle movement: take breaks, get up from your computer at regular intervals, roll your head, stretch out your arms and legs.
This is the season for foods that have been cooked for long stretches on low temps (slow-cooker and Instant Pot, anyone?). The spleen lights up when we eat root vegetables that are naturally sweet because this helps our body make the transition into winter. Add spices like cardamom, cinnamon, nutmeg, black pepper and ginger to aid digestion and remind the spleen you are grateful for the hard work it does for you. (For those without a spleen, the energetic structure is still there—love and gratitude go a long way towards health and balance for missing body parts.)
These are turbulent times and our Mother Earth is going through much upheaval. In Toronto, I feel so fortunate to have had a wonderful summer when so many around the world did not. Reassure your Trickster that you recognize the importance of being safe: perhaps by keeping a gratitude journal, sprucing up your home, taking a walk in nature, sacred music, soothing aromatherapy, and/or spending special time with friends and family, and giving thanks for the blessings we do have.
As you retrain your unconscious mind, your body will thank you and your naturally cautious Trickster will start to feel more confident and happier to support you achieve your personal, health, relationship and career goals.