Mel Robbins & my self-help epiphany

Coffee cup with smiley face drawn on lid

I’m not exaggerating when I say that listening to the Mel Robbins podcast changed my life. 

18 months after losing mum, I was floating along in a cloud of depression and felt completely detached from the world. I had developed some pretty bad habits during this time – I was overeating and overspending (though the latter has perhaps been a lifelong problem!).

During this time, my internal monologue was pretty bleak and would unhelpfully respond to most situations with – “what’s the point?”. This was my answer to anything I thought to do in order to help me feel better – the gym, housework, making plans – what’s the point? This pretty much stopped most “helpful” thoughts dead in their tracks, and just led to more shopping, more eating, and more sadness. 

I’ve always been open to self-help – I’ve tried meditation and I’ve attempted to journal – but I felt like I couldn’t get started. I was completely in a rut and felt like a failure because I couldn’t break the cycle on my own. 

I had a mini epiphany (epiphanette?!) during a therapy session. I explained that I was struggling with the self-defeating question of “what’s the point?” My therapist looked at me and said “well, you need to ANSWER that question.”

Only a few days after this therapy session my friends Rachel and Sarah recommended the Mel Robbins podcast. I had no idea what to expect or what it was about, but the title of the first episode I stumbled across could have been written for me. It was – “Feel like giving up? Before you say f*** it, listen to this.” 

Alright, Mel, let’s go. 

I listened to most of the episode on the train to work, and I LOVED it, and I loved Mel. She says it how it is, no rubbish and no fluff. I had spent a long while making excuses for myself and my bad habits and bad mood – I just needed someone to break through all of the noise and help me see a way forward.

Mel was talking to a caller about their alcohol problem and so I thought her advice couldn’t possibly apply to me (aaaah ignorance is bliss!). But then, as I plodded my way past St Paul’s cathedral on the way to the office, Mel said something that fundamentally shifted how I had been thinking for the past 18 months:

“Most addictions, most unhealthy habits are triggered by really uncomfortable feelings and negative emotional states and our inability to tolerate it. What was that core feeling? Maybe it was sadness… the [shopping/spending/eating] becomes a way to say f*** it, to numb it.”

BINGO. My epiphany! My bad habits (and my failure to break the cycle) was all inextricably linked with the grief of losing mum. As Mel explained, the dopamine hit I got from shopping or eating was numbing the sadness, and was giving me a moment of relief from my grief. 

I was genuinely overwhelmed and, for the first time since mum died, I felt like my eyes were opening and I could see the light (imagine a tortoise coming out of their shell after an unusually long hibernation..). What was the point? The point was that these habits weren’t serving me anymore, and I needed to change my habits in order to change how I was feeling. 

One of the final things Mel said on the episode was “I think there is a whole new life on the other side of this for you.” It sounded like she was talking to me – my heart was beating so fast, and I felt so light. So free. It’s okay that I had been stuck in a rut because I was grieving, but now was the time for change. I didn’t HAVE to act the ways I had been, I had a choice. 

From that point forward, I started to find my own happiness in my every day. I took Buddy on longer walks, and started choosing healthier lunch options. I went to the gym when I could and I kicked the Pringle habit (yes, it was that serious guys). I started to make more of an effort with friends, more effort with myself.

Building new habits is a process, and I don’t think I’m quite there yet. But I see the value in changing, and I’m working on it everyday. This knowledge has changed my life.

Mel Robbins – thank you for helping me find my way into a whole new life. I’m so grateful for you, your podcast, and my new found happiness.

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