Use the 5 x 5 Method to Center Yourself When Things Don’t Go Your Way

Elissa Teal Watson
2 min readDec 9, 2021

We all know how frustrating it can feel when reality doesn’t meet your expectations.

Your planned vacation right before the pandemic has to be canceled.

The project at work that you have spent dozens of hours on gets scrapped.

Your spouse/partner changes their mind about something that you had previously agreed upon.

The new diet plan that seems to work for everyone else makes you miserable so you are back to square one.

Your teenager tells you half way to the athletic event that he forgot an important piece of equipment and now you will be late because you have to turn around to go get it.

The oven malfunctions while you are baking a dessert to bring to the big family Thanksgiving and ruins the dessert.

There are endless examples that we all can think of when we got emotionally derailed because of other people’s behavior, our own behavior, or events.

There is a tool that I find helps me to calm my emotions, center myself, and gain a big picture perspective so that I can move forward without feeling resentment — in general or toward the other person.

I call it the 5 by 5 method.

I ask myself the following questions and pause after each one.

  1. Will this matter in 5 hours?
  2. Will this matter in 5 days?
  3. Will this matter in 5 weeks?
  4. Will this matter in 5 years?
  5. Will this matter in 5 decades when I’m on my deathbed?

By the time I get to the 5th question, I realize that, in the long run, that frustrating thing that happened doesn’t really matter.

But what does matter are my mental / emotional health and the relationships with those people.

Do you do something similar to center yourself when you are frustrated?

If so, I’d love to hear your method and an example from your life.

If not, I encourage you to incorporate this method into your self management and emotional intelligence practice tool kit. Let me know how it goes!

If you’re new to my writing, I encourage you to follow me here and also check out my past posts/series on emotional intelligence, productivity, and work life balance.



Elissa Teal Watson

I write about mindset, emotional intelligence, self-care, productivity, habits, career, and relationship management.