Book notes: Take Control of Your Life with Mel Robbins

Take Control of Your Life with Mel Robbins book summary review and key ideas.

Take Control of Your Life with Mel Robbins


“Mel Robbins is back! The international best-selling phenomenon and creator of The Five Second Rule and Kick Ass with Mel Robbins returns to help you tackle the single biggest obstacle you face: fear. This life-changing Audible Original features a powerful mix of one-on-one life-coaching sessions and a personal narrative with vital take-aways that you can start using immediately.

With humor and wisdom, Mel Robbins expertly tackles the fear of change, rejection, and being alone as well as impostor syndrome and feeling trapped in the wrong career. Each session is a gold mine of discovery as Mel guides you to find your purpose, improve your relationships, and ultimately take control of your life. In these times of high anxiety, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed—that changes right now. If you want the tools to break free from fear and live to your fullest potential, this is a must listen. ” -Audible

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Opening thoughts:

I saw this book as recommended in Audible. I loved Mel Robbins in her last book Kick Ass and the one before that The 5 Second Rule, so I knew this book would also be just as good.

Key notes:

  • The author says this is a book that’s going to teach you how to win the mental game by silencing fear
  • If you can change your response to situations that make you nervous or scared, then you will change how you think
    • You will win the mental game and you will take control of your life
    • The only thing that makes you feel out of control in your life is fear
  • You have allowed fear to teach you to think in ways that keep you stuck, and that undermines your courage
  • Fear comes down to one thing: control
    • You feel nervous or afraid at any moment when you sense you’re about to lose control
    • The irony: it’s your desire to keep control that is actually screwing things up
  • Three step method that will help you change where are you were struggling
    • First, you must identify what you’re scared of
    • Second, you’ve got to see the new unique way you silence yourself or run whenever you feel nervous or afraid
  • First person is Dan, who is a teacher and his greatest fear is having regrets in his life in regards to not being able to for fill what he wants in life
  • Pick a field or area of study that you enjoy and that makes you light up
    • Don’t focus on trying to do the right thing because it gives you a false sense of control

Session 1: Dan

Teacher, greatest fear is regret not doing things he wanted by the time it’s too late
  • Mel says that she believes a lot of people get into teaching because they love learning
    • But the trap is when you’re teaching the same thing over and over, at a certain point you stop growing
  • A study showed that the number one regret people had near the end of their life was that they wished they stopped worrying so much
    • The worry comes from fear and stops them from doing what they wanted to do
    • We worry about stuff that will never happen and causes us to not do things
  • At the top of Maslow‘s hierarchy of needs is the need to grow, which is what causes a crisis in us when we are in our 30s and 40s and 50s and recognize our mortality
    • Thinking about something is very different than doing it
    • Thinking gives you a false sense of control
      • It is an illusion that you’re working on something
  • Research shows that fantasizing about your goals actually saps your energy and leads to decreased motivation in achieving them
  • 1st Takeaway: anytime you catch yourself overthinking, follow the fear
    • What am I afraid of? 
  • When you feel out of control or afraid, don’t speed up, slow down
  • Busyness gives you a false sense of control, but it’s not going to get you the results you want
  • There’s something about slowing down and tuning in that brings the truth to the surface
  • There is research that shows why long walks in nature helps your nervous system and your brain focus
    • This is explains why she has breakthroughs during walks
  • If you want your dreams to come true, it starts with the courage to state it
    • You have to be able to stain it in order to create it as your own
  • You change your life inch by inch, brick by brick, not mile by mile
    • Brick by brick helps you focus on steps rather than thinking about the huge picture
    • Every move you make forward in life is going to be valuable
  • We are obsessed with thinking about the big stuff, but you can only control the small things
    • Smaller is better. The bigger it is, the less control you have
    • Ask yourself:
      1. How will I know if I completed it?
      2. What is the biggest obstacle to doing this?
  • Passion is just energy, it’s not a destiny
    • What you are passionate about is what energizes you
    • Passion is what you feel inside about what you’re doing, about the way you’re living your life 
  • Figure out how you can grow into what you want
    • Look around and ask yourself what are the things that energize you?
      • What are the things and actually energize you?
      • What are you curious about?
      • What do you like to learn?
      • What’s a new skill you want to develop?
  • Passion is not about the thing you ultimately want to achieve
    • It’s about how you feel as you’re living your life and growing into it 
  • Start paying attention to where your energy increases and where you feel depleted
    • Passion is a feeling you get when you’re doing something you care about
    • Passion is the energy that expands inside of you and expands your life
  • Start intentionally slowing down and start aligning your life with things that energize you
  • Do this audit for everything: hobbies, food, people, type of work, topics you read about
  • Recap of 5 takeaways from Dan’s session:
    1. Always follow the fear
      • Ask: what am I afraid of?
    2. Being busy doesn’t mean you’re in control
    3. You have to state it to create it 
    4. How to take steps? Go brick by brick to make it stick
      • Break down your goals into small chunks
      • Simplify your goals into the smallest actions forward everyday and then just start working on it
    5. Passion is not a person, place or thing, and you’re not gonna find it
      • You’re gonna follow the energy and grow into the things that interest you
      • It’s all about the pursuit, not the endgame
  • Perfectionism is a defense mechanism
    • Wherever you’re focused on perfection, your life is probably out of control 

Session 2: Heather

29, New York City, Marketing, Engaged
  • Book reference: Mindset by Carol Dweck
  • She’s telling Heather that it’s important to teach kids the growth mindset where effort is more important and you have the capability to learn new things through hard work, creativity, and resilience
  • Takeaways regarding perfectionism:
    1. In order to gain control you must follow your fear
      • Ask what are you afraid of and what do you do when you are afraid?
    2. The secret to mind control his body awareness
      • Feeling out of control begins with your body, not with your mind
      • Fear triggers a physical response
      • Research and studies show that our bodies are designed to sense things around us and send signals to us about safety or threats, and our bodies are always communicating with us, even before our minds react to any perceived threats

Reader’s note: Wow, this is pretty crazy. This totally explains why I sometimes feel like I have a sixth sense because I can tell when someone is about to hit me before they do. This means that I definitely have a low-key Spidey sense right?

  • A study with rigged decks of cards prove that our bodies figure out what’s happening we faster than the conscious brains do 
  • First, slow down and slow your breathing
    • Maybe walk around, and count forwards or backwards from 90
    • You can also hug someone for 90 seconds
      • Just make sure it’s someone you know because that’ll be a long awkward hug
  • You don’t have to experience trauma to be paralyzed by fear
    • Even the seemingly little moments can have a huge impact on our lives
    • When you’re young, every failure can feel like a life or death
    • From then on you develop coping mechanisms so that you’ll never have to feel out of control again
  • Being hard on yourself and self-criticism is actually a coping mechanism to protect yourself from being hurt
    • It’s like punching yourself so that nobody else well
    • It’s bracing yourself for impact so when others criticize you, it doesn’t matter or hurt as much
    • On top of that, it becomes a destructive pattern and habit that doesn’t stop even when others aren’t being hard on you
  • How to get rid of deep rooted pattern of self criticism
    1. When you increase self-compassion, you boost your feelings of self worth and reduce fear and anxiety
    2. Create anchor thoughts – positive images that makes you happy or excited
      • Anchor yourself on something positive that you achieve in the past or something you can be happy or grateful for
    3. If you’re negative, don’t hang out with negative people
  • Fixed vs Growth mindset:
    • Fixed mindset people believe their skills and talents are fixed traits and therefore you can’t change
    • You can teach yourself how to have a growth mindset
      • What you believe is that your talents and skills can grow with time and experience
      • You have to prioritize learning, growing, and trying over seeking approval, perfecting, and succeeding
        • Focus on the process instead of the result
        • As a parent, reward the actions and effort, not the traits
  • If you want control, expect to hear “no” 
    • Kevin Hart gave a speech and told students he’s successful because he heard 3,607 “No’s” and he kept showing up and began expecting them
    • The game is showing up and facing rejection
    • It’s not about how good you are, it’s a numbers game
      • With a growth mindset, you hear a no, learn from it, and keep moving forward
  • The only thing you have in this world is your willingness to try
    • You are 1000% in control of that and you’d better get comfortable with it
  • Climbing the “ladder” doesn’t make you happy
    • It only gives you a fake sense of control 

Session 3: Rosa

Mother of 3, Secondary teacher, Canadian, Divorced
  • Once you identify and change your response to fear, you’re gonna get control of your life 
  • Stuff will never give you what you seek
    • Focusing on the things in your life will never get you the control that you want
  • Life is defined by what’s inside your head, not by what’s outside of you
    • You take what’s inside your head wherever you go
  • A therapist told her that it’s actually a good sign when your kids come home and can let it all hang out emotionally because it means they feel safe to do so with you
    • You have to worry when they bottle it up and not talk to you at all about anything that’s going on
  • It’s way more motivating to change your life for the better if you care for and love yourself first rather than making yourself wrong
    • This is why giving yourself grace and compassion is such an important first step
    • Focus on the side of it that’s about being kind to you
  • Excuses mean fear is winning
    • There are two kinds of people in the world
      1. People who see the opportunity
      2. People who see the excuse
    • You either see what you want or you see all of the obstacles in between you and what you want
  • Instead of asking yourself what’s wrong with me, ask yourself what happened to me?
  • Takeaway: Any time you got an excuse, that is fear talking
    • The excuses make you feel like you’re in control
      • But no change will happen until you break through them

Session 4: KC

28 years old, Detroit, Michigan, Recently engaged, Real estate agent
  • His greatest fear: being labeled and separated from the pack
  • Sometimes we have imposter syndrome because we haven’t fully embraced who we’ve become
  • When you own your story in a different way, it becomes something powerful for you, not done to you
  • Mel said one of her all time favorite lines she’s ever heard anyone say:
    • Who I was does not dictate who I am and who I’m becoming
    • Own the fact that all the change is gonna come from you
  • The hardest thing for most of us is to just be ourselves and not try so hard to fit in
  • Have a learning disability can be a struggle in school, but it is an advantage in life
    • It’s an advantage to learn differently because your learning style forces you to be a creative thinker and problem solver
      • You can see things other people can’t see because your brain thinks differently
    • Your learning difference can make you more resilient in the long run
    • It’s a struggle, but you get used to failing
      • You get used to trying over and over
      • You get used to understanding that you have to work a little bit harder and differently than everyone else
        • That will pay dividends in your adult life
          1. If your child has a learning difference, you must be the safe place for them when they get home
          2. Always praise the effort they’re putting in
            • Growth vs fixed mindset
            • Reward the work and focus on creating a growth mindset
          3. Be their advocate by utilizing tools and resources to help them adapt, but more importantly to being their advocate for doing more of what they’re good at
          4. Remember that it will get better
  • Takeaway: Introverted vs Isolating yourself
    • It’s all about energy
    • Studies even show that introverts tend to be better leaders 
  • Authenticity limbo: you know you’re not the old version of you, yet you haven’t fully embraced the new version of you
  • Communicate your change through your actions, not your words

Session 5: Amy

46 Years old, Michigan, Married, 4 Kids, Insurance
  • Being a social chameleon is a psychological term that means you change your personality in order to fit in
    • Lies always catch up to you, and so does blending in
  • Learn how to trust the guidance system that’s inside of you rather than waiting for somebody else to figure it out for you
  • Your internal compass always points in the direction of things that you’re interested in, curious about, or energized by
  • Takeaways:
    1. You can feel out of control and still take control
    2. Recognize when you’re being a chameleon and hiding in plain sight
    3. Unresolved issues follow you

Session 6: Cassandra

Washington, Not married, 3 kids
  • Her biggest fear is that she doesn’t know how to have a functional, committed relationship with a man
  • You don’t hurt people because you love them
    • People’s actions say they don’t love you because they can’t
    • Some people are not capable of giving love or being in love
  • Love is getting control of your anger
    • Love is treating people with respect, dignity, and kindness
  • Some people are so broken, they are incapable of loving others
    • Victims of abuse mistakenly categorize the trauma these people caused as love
  • Be aware of your own emotional landmines
  • It is hard to see the patterns in your own life until you follow the fear and your response to it
  • Your judgements are created by your own perception, not the truth 
  • Takeaway: Judgement comes as a result of hurt
  • Decades of distance can be erased with one phone call

Main ideas / Themes:

  1. Always follow the fear by asking “What am I afraid of?
  2. You change your life inch by inch, brick by brick, not mile by mile
  3. What you are passionate about is what energizes you
  4. Perfectionism is a defense mechanism
  5. Being hard on yourself and self criticism is actually a coping mechanism to protect yourself from being hurt
  6. Fixed vs growth mindset: Focus on the process instead of the result
  7. Excuses mean fear is winning
  8. Who I was does not dictate who I am and who I’m becoming
  9. Communicate your change through your actions, not your words
  10. Learn how to trust the guidance system that’s inside of you 
  11. Some people are not capable of giving love or being in love
  12. Love is treating people with respect, dignity, and kindness
  13. Judgement comes as a result of hurt

Closing thoughts:

Once again, Mel has done it. I absolutely LOVED these coaching sessions. It really reminded me of the last one she did Kick Ass with Mel Robbins but I loved how the focus for this one was how to take control of your life when fear stops you.

I really enjoy Mel’s mastery of being able to dig deep into what the true problem each of her clients are facing and giving them a perspective they needed in order to make a lasting change. And I believe in all cases, they follow through and are able to make a change in the right direction.

These sessions really inspire me because I also want to be like a life coach one day. I believe my ability to listen and understand, but also to dig in and help find the solution for people would be invaluable for those who need it. But of course I have to start somewhere!

Overall, this is another great audio program I highly recommend. I’m a Mel Robbins fan so you can bet I’ll pick up anything else she puts out in the future.

One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

This was a hard choice (sorta) but I figured since it was repeated the most times, it must be the most valuable:

  • Follow the fear and ask: “What am I afraid of?

I think if I can just implement this concept, it’ll dramatically change my life by helping me push through the challenges and boundaries that I allow to stop me from making progress towards my goals. There are a few things in mind that I’m putting off this month because of fear, so i’ll get to it!


Mel Robbins takes us inside 6 of her live coaching sessions and shows us how to take back control of our lives.



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