So there’s this productivity trick known as the “just 5 minutes” trick. It’s a fantastic trick if used properly, but the way it’s commonly taught is violent, harmful, and dangerous.
I’ll describe the trick, explain why it’s harmful, then show you its safe, peaceful twin brother.
The “just 5 minutes” trick
When you don’t feel like doing something, but you know you’d be happier if you did it anyway, trick yourself past your resistance by saying, “I’ll do it for just 5 minutes.”
After 5 minutes, if you’re still not into it, stop. But if you find yourself enjoying it, allow yourself to keep going!
Why the “just 5 minutes” trick is violent, harmful, and dangerous
It’s violent if you force yourself to do something you don’t want to do.
It’s harmful because that creates an adversarial relationship between you and your resistance – which is part of you.
It’s dangerous because if you continue that adversarial relationship, you can become your own worst enemy.
Your resistance digs its heels in even deeper, because it knows that you’re about to bring out bigger and bigger hammers with which to smash it into little bits. You end up spinning around in circles, constantly second-guessing yourself, paralyzed by anxiety because you’re at war with yourself.
But here’s the thing:
Your resistance is not your enemy.
Your resistance is part of you, and it’s trying to help you. It’s a part of you that’s not getting its needs met, and it learned – probably at a young age – a very specific strategy for getting its needs met. That strategy is probably not working very well for you, but that doesn’t mean that your resistance wishes you harm.
Your resistance loves you and is trying to keep you safe.
It’s just doing so in a not-so-helpful way.
The peaceful version of the “just 5 minutes” trick
Instead of trying to fight your resistance, or force your way past it, or sneak around it… talk to it. Bargain with it like you would compromise with a loved one. Say to it, “I know you’re trying to keep me safe. I appreciate you. I promise that we’ll be safe for just 5 minutes. After that I’ll check in with you again and see if we’re okay.”
Ask yourself for permission.
Ask yourself for permission to experiment with the “just 5 minutes” trick. Then give yourself that permission. Later, when you try out the trick, you won’t be forcing it upon yourself, you’ll be doing something that you have permission to do.
Permission changes everything. You’ll be doing the exact same thing – it will look the same from the outside – but it will feel completely different on the inside. It will feel peaceful instead of violent.
This is how we create a world full of peace instead of violence – by first treating ourselves with peace instead of violence. By being the change we wish to see in the world.
And the first step to treating yourself with peace is to ask yourself for permission.