Would you like to become emotionally invincible and limit negative emotions in your life? Using and living by The 5 Minute Rule is one of the easiest steps you can take for letting go of negative emotions and start moving forward in your life.
What Is The 5 Minute Rule?
The 5 minute rule is a technique that you can use to free yourself of emotional pain. It consists of 3 steps:
- Time yourself for 5 minutes and feel the negative emotions about whatever is causing you emotional pain.
- Tell yourself 3 powerful words: Can’t change it.
- Unconditionally accept past events/or events outside your control.
Not to be confused with the 5 minute rule used for self-motivation and overcoming procrastination, this 5 minute rule is something that I learned from Hal Elrod, author of The Miracle Morning.
Hal originally learned the 5 minute rule from his manager when he had a career in direct sales.
Things can go bad in sales. You deal with daily rejection, you miss sales targets, customers cancel orders… you deal with a lot of stuff.
Hal’s manager gave him the 5 minute rule: It’s okay to be negative but not for more than five minutes.
You set the timer on your phone and you can bitch, moan and complain, cry, vent, punch a wall… feel the negative emotions, whatever, and after five minutes take a deep breath and say three really powerful words: Can’t Change It.
Acknowledge that there is no value in feeling bad about something that you can’t change.
A year and a half later, Hal actually died at age 20. Hit head-on by a drunk driver at 70 miles per hour, his heart stopped for 6 minutes, broke 11 bones, and eventually woke from a coma to be told by doctors that he would never walk again.
After 2 weeks of feeling depressed and almost suicidal, Hal used the 5 minute rule to regulate his emotions, get back on track and push forward.
He accepted that he can’t change that he was hit by a drunk driver, that he had broken bones, or that he may never walk again.
Hal Elrod On How To Use The 5 Minute Rule
Why You Should Use The 5 Minute Rule
The most important reason to use the 5 minute rule is that it reminds you that intellectually, as an intelligent human being, there’s no value in dwelling on something outside of your control.
And newsflash – Everything that has ever happened is outside of your control, unless you have a time machine to go back and change things. You can change things “in the now, in the present“, but you can’t go back to the past.
So whether something happened 5 minutes ago, 5 days ago or 5 years ago, it’s now outside of your control so there is no value in feeling bad about it.
This is why you are only allowed to feel bad for 5 minutes. After that put your attention and focus on the future you want to create because that is in your control.
Take Responsibility For Your Emotions
Every negative emotion that you’ve ever felt in your life, that you are feeling right now, or that you could ever feel in the future is self-created and 100% optional. In other words, you don’t have to feel it.
“Every negative emotion that we ever feel is self-created. Every negative emotion is self-created by our level of resistance to our reality. So think about that. When something bad happens, to the degree that we wish and want it were different is the degree that we create emotional pain for ourselves.” – Hal Elrod
Here’s what you have to understand: What causes every negative emotion isn’t the thing that we think is causing it. It’s always one word, resistance.
To the degree that we resist reality and wish it were different, is the degree that we create emotional pain. The solution is unconditional acceptance. If something happens and you can’t go back and change it. The only intelligent choice we have is to accept it fully.
Hal Elrod says, “Doesn’t mean you’re happy about it. If something happened that wasn’t great, you might be upset, you might not be happy about it but in between happiness and sadness is peace and that’s what you’re after. It’s a neutral emotional state.”
Free Yourself From Emotional Pain
What is the experience in your life, either happening now or from your childhood or anywhere in between that causes emotional pain for you?
Most of the time we don’t want to accept what happened in the past because it wasn’t right, it wasn’t just and we didn’t deserve it.
We think that accepting things, especially if someone else did it to us, we mistakenly think that if we accept it, it lets them off the hook.
You want justice and so you don’t want to let them off the hook. The truth is by accepting what happened it doesn’t let them off the hook. They’re already off the hook.
Acceptance of what’s happened lets us off the hook.
“When we accept the things we can’t change, it frees us from emotional pain.” – Hal Elrod
What in your life is causing you pain? Make a decision to accept it. Write it down in your journal. I accept this because I can’t change it. I’m going to make the best of it. I’m going to move forward in my life. You’ll find that you can be free from the negative or destructive emotions that have held you back in the past, that might be holding you down right now, so that you can go out and create the life and future that you ultimately want.
The 5 Minute Rule And Stoicism
Stoicism is a philosophy for life that was founded by the Greek scholar Zeno
Stoicism can be summarized as follows: Stay calm and serene regardless of what life throws at you.
“If you are pained by any external thing, it is not this that disturbs you, but your own judgement about it.” – Marcus Aurelius
Some have called stoicism the ultimate self-improvement philosophy and the five minute rule is very much in line with stoic thinking. The 5 minute rule is something Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius would have adhered to.
Summary – The 5 Minute Rule
The 5 minute rule is a great technique to free yourself from emotional pain in five minutes. It gives a structure to remind us of two very important things:
- Every negative emotion we feel is of our own self-creation. To the degree that we resist reality is the degree that we create emotional pain.
- Intellectually, as an intelligent human being, there is no value in dwelling on things that are outside of our control.
Bad things happen, injustices happen, accidents happen, loved ones are lost and it’s okay and even healthy to feel emotional pain, just not to live there.
I know of people still feeling bad, depressed, suicidal… drowning themselves in drug addictions because someone else did something or said something over 20 years ago.
What you resist persists. The more you resist your past, the longer it will continue to haunt you.
“You have power over your mind – not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength.” – Marcus Aurelius
You can decide live in misery or you can decide to live in peace. You always have a choice. There is great power in acceptance. Start using the 5 minute rule today, find your strength and create the life you ultimately want.