Have you ever experienced a “when the student is ready the teacher will appear” moment?
This happened to me a couple of days ago while trying my damnedest to manage a couple of weeks of feeling unusually sad, stressed and anxious. An emotional triple threat.
While trolling the Internet, I found this article about a study done at the University of Leuven in Belgium. The study investigated why sadness is the longest-lasting emotion.
The article talked about how when compared to other intense emotions like shame, guilt, fear and even boredom – sadness has a longer emotional shelf life.
I was so intrigued that I kept on digging and that’s when my teacher, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and the 90-second rule appeared.
Dr. Taylor’s 90-second rule completely flipped the way I think about and deal with emotions. Her rule made me realize that with the right mind set, I have the power to keep my emotions in check.
So if you’re an ACOA like me, and you can be easily overwhelmed or sidelined by emotions like – sadness, depression, anxiety, frustration and hypervigilance – you’ve got to check out today’s post.
Even if you’ve tried everything (therapy, steps, gratitude lists, journaling) what I’ve got to share with you today could be the missing piece that could have the biggest, positive impact on your emotional world.
After you’re done reading, I’d love to know…
Where could you apply Dr. Taylor’s – 90-second rule in your emotional life?
Share what’s going on in that beautiful brain of yours in the comment section;)
Just so you know, salesy or promotional links posted in the comment section will be deleted.
Remember your voice, experiences and insights are vital to this community. And what you have to share is not only unique but it may be exactly what someone else needs to read. And that someone could be you.
As always, thank you for reading, sharing and commenting.
You. Are. Awesome!
Until Next Tuesday,
P.S. Got a friend, coworker or family member that could use a fresh perspective on their emotional world? Share this post with them. It could really help lighten their emotional load!
Who Is Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor?
Dr. Taylor is a Harvard – trained neuroanatomist and author of the New York Times best selling memoir – My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.
The title of her memoir has special significance because back in 1996 Dr. Taylor experienced a massive hemorrhage (aka a stroke) in the left hemisphere of her brain.
In 2008, Dr. Taylor gave a TED talk in Monterey, California – about her experience as a brain scientist who ended up having a stroke – that became the first Ted talk ever to go viral.
I highly recommend, after you’re done reading today’s post, that you check out her talk on YouTube. I watched it and it literally had me in tears.
What Is The 90-Second Rule?
So this is how Dr. Taylor explains the 90-Second rule:
When a person has a reaction to something in their environment, there’s a 90 second chemical process that happens in the body; after that, any remaining emotional response is just the person choosing to stay in that emotional loop.
Something happens in the external world and chemicals are flushed through your body which puts it on full alert. For those chemicals to totally flush out of the body it takes less than 90 seconds.
This means that for 90 seconds you can watch the process happening, you can feel it happening, and then you can watch it go away. After that, if you continue to feel fear, anger, and so on, you need to look at the thoughts that you’re thinking – that are re-stimulating the circuitry – that is resulting in you having this physiological response over and over again.
What Does This Mean?
Simply put, the 90-second rule says that after the chemical reaction we experience in our bodies runs its course, if we’re still feeling fear, anger or sadness it’s because we’re engaging a loop of thoughts that continue to feed those feelings.
Which brings me back to that study I mentioned at the University of Leuven in Belgium. Remember it found that sadness has a longer shelf life than other emotions.
Well that’s because when we’re sad, we tend to ruminate and obsess over what we’re sad about long after that sad event is dust in the wind.
This suggests that with some awareness and dedicated practice, we can control the amount of time we spend in painful emotional states.
What Can This Rule Do For You?
It’s important to know where the 90-second rule can work in your life.
So if you’re an ACOA, a person in recovery or someone who’s recovering from an abusive relationship or childhood, this rule may not apply to all of your recovery work right now.
In order to move on from devastating, painful events in our past or present we need to give ourselves space to full-on process and mourn. In other words, traumatic life events can not be resolved in 90 seconds. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. As I always say your recovery and the speed at which that happens is determined by you.
However, the 90-second rule is an amazing tool and habit that can keep you focused on your real-time reactions to the world around you. It’s something that can build confidence, self-esteem and bring peace and happiness to your life and inner world.
For example, I’ve shared about my struggles with depression and anxiety. I’ve grown in my recovery to understand that it’s up to me to do what I need to do to manage these emotional states.
I’ll be the first to admit that I can easily obsess over sad events and relive conversations with people that made me angry to the point where it feels like I’ve been frozen in emotional time.
Once I get caught up in that loop it can lead me right into a space where I’m feeling sad and funky for days and I can’t make sense of where the funk is coming from.
I can easily start to believe that there’s something wrong with me and from there the thoughts only get darker.
But with the 90-second rule, I can keep tabs on my emotional world. I can stop the spiral before it starts to spin out of control.
How Can You Put The 90-Second Rule To Work?
The 90-second rule is something that I’ve been working on a lot lately. And I’m telling you right now, it hasn’t been an easy tool or mindset for me to implement. So, don’t linger too long in frustration if this turns out to be challenging for you. Remember it’s not about perfectiont it’s about progress.
And here are 2 tips you can use to start using the 90-second rule right now.
#1 Take The 90-Second Test
This first tip is really simple. All you need to do is take out your phone and set the timer for 90 seconds and sit still until the timer goes off. This will help you get an idea of what 90 seconds actually feels like.
So the next time you’re in a sticky situation and something or someone sets you off you’ll be better prepared, aware and focused to let those 90 seconds pass.
#2 Ask Yourself If You Want To Be A Prisoner Or A Pioneer?
It was Deepak Chopra who said,
Every time you are tempted to react in the same old way, ask if you want to be a prisoner of the past or a pioneer of the future.
Remember, after your body is done reacting it’s up to you whether or not you keep that reaction alive. And you can make that choice through your thoughts.
You can choose thoughts that will keep that moment burning or thoughts that will keep you moving forward.
Here’s a simple example that will tie this all together.
So this past Sunday, I was curled up on my couch with a cup of hot coffee steaming away on the table in front of me.
My husband walked over and accidentally kicked the rug under the table hard enough that my coffee spilled.
This pissed me off. I mean it really pissed me off. All I could think about was how a minute ago I was relaxing and cozy on the couch and now I’m having to get up to grab the bottle of cleaner and a wad of paper towels to clean up the mess.
Long after 90 seconds passed, I was still thinking about how pissed I was about my coffee and my husband kicking the rug.
My mood kept getting ruder and ruder because I kept indulging the thoughts that kept that moment alive.
But then I remembered the 90-second rule. And so in the midst of my mental tantrum, I stopped and asked whether or not I wanted to let this incident ruin the rest of my day. I asked myself if I really wanted to be a prisoner of this one moment that was beyond 90 seconds old or did I want to try something new.
I have to tell you even though I chose to move on, it was hard to shift my focus away from those thoughts. I had to stop and really make a mental effort to let go.
Even though the transition wasn’t an easy one, I proved to myself that I’m completely capable of implementing the 90-second rule. And I can only imagine that the more I practice the easier it will become.
So how about you? Where can you put the 90-second rule to work in your life?