How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over: A Recap of Mel Robbins' TED Talk

Mel Robbins, author, speaker, host and coach

Mel Robbins, author, speaker, host and coach

Did you know that 1/3 of Americans are dissatisfied with their lives? That’s 100 million human beings.

Based on conversations I have with people about their jobs, relationships, parenting, weight, finances, etc. I knew it was common to feel this way, but that is a lot of people!

This is our one and only life - this is it - and for that many people to identify as being dissatisfied is a little heartbreaking, but I’ve been there too.

In her TED Talk, Mel Robbins, says that getting what we want out of life is simple, not easy, but simple and that it all comes down to one 4-letter word:

F*© #.

And it’s not what you think it is…


She says that we use this word as an excuse to explain why we don’t have what we want.

And that it all starts when we say it others. For example, if we’re feeling crappy we say we’re fine because we don’t want to bring others down, but we really should say that we’re feeling crappy.

Or if we’re feeling amazing, we don’t want to make others who may not feel amazing feel bad, so we say we’re doing fine.

None of this is a big deal in of itself, but the problem is that we say this to ourselves as well and then we believe that it is fine that we’re not living our best life.

All day long we humans have ideas that bubble up that could change our lives, our thoughts, other people’s lives, the world…

But we don’t do anything about them.

Instead, we hit, what Mel calls, the “Inner Snooze” button and keep on being “fine.”

When she asked the crowd TEDx about the first decision most of us make everyday, it is likely that we hit the snooze button and go back to sleep because we don’t feel like getting up.

If there’s any area in our life we want to change, though, we are never going to feel like it.

Does someone who wants to lose weight ever feel like it? Does that person want to eat chicken and green beans and go outside for a walk, at least at first?

Probably, no.

So, we need this concept called, “Activation Energy” for anything we don’t want to do. It’s needed to make ourselves do the crappy things we don’t want to do, to be able to be everything we were meant to be.

There is research that says that the likelihood of us being born is 400,000,000,000 or even more according to other sources. So, when you put this miracle that we are into perspective like that, there’s no way we should be snoozing through life being dissatisfied.

Mel argues that it’s actually unnatural to feel like that for a long period of time. When we need food, we feel hungry. When we need water, we feel thirsty. When we need rest, we feel tired.

And similarly when we feel dissatisfied, it’s a signal - not that our life is broken, but that one of our most basic needs isn’t being met - the need for exploration and growth.

Everything about us grows - our hair, our nails, our cells - and our soul needs the same.

But the only way, we’ll get it is if we get out of our comfort zone.

Dave Hollis has a really good keynote on this topic of growth that was shared on the Rise Together podcast he does with his wife, Rachel Hollis (author of Girl, Wash Your Face). He reiterates the importance of this point and says that there is absolutely a tie between growth and fulfillment…

“You can short-term create happiness, but if you are not growing you will not feel fulfilled.”

That’s sometimes scary though. Our brain tries to keep us safe by shying away from anything outside of our comfort zone. Which is why Mel says that our feelings are screwing us over. We need to worry less about how we feel and more about what we want. We can’t listen to that voice and wait for the perfect time when we feel like it.

A better idea isn’t going to come along and move us into action either - ideas aren’t the problem. The problem is we don’t act on those ideas.

Her advice for getting yourself to act is this - If you have an impulse, do something about it within 5 seconds. Otherwise, it won’t happen.

Get out of bed within 5 seconds when your alarm goes off. Put an event you feel compelled about in your calendar within 5 seconds. Write a note in your journal about an idea you want to follow up on within 5 seconds of hearing about it or having it.

We are never going to feel like stepping out of our comfort zone, but unless we do, we will also never be able to grow and feel truly fulfilled.

We need to take a leap of faith in the direction of growth and fulfillment and know that we will either win or learn, not fail and go ahead and act like that miracle creation that we are and live this one life in the best version of ourselves.

What’s something you’ve done lately to help you grow in an area of your life? I’d love to hear from you about this topic in the comments below!

You can watch Mel’s full 21-minute TED Talk video here: