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The 90 second secret

Discussion in 'Community Off Topic' started by Eric "Herbie" Watson, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. Eric "Herbie" Watson

    Eric "Herbie" Watson Beloved Grand Eagle

    Although we may not want to admit it we are responsible for creating all of our own emotions. Every thought that we think causes a chemical reaction and that reaction causes a physical response.
    How severe this response is comes down to our perception of the situation. We carelessly repeat words in our minds that add a running dialogue to our thoughts. We then add visuals to the mix and together this creates our own unique illustrated storybook.
    This storybook is then repeatedly read over and again until it causes the smallest spark in our minds to explode out of control until it significantly affects our bodies.
    We have all behaved in ways that we aren’t too proud of and we have all got caught up in the moment. When we allow our emotions to temporarily overwhelm us we react impulsively, irrationally and out of character.

    I first heard about 90-second emotions through Pema Chödrön when she explained that if you allow an emotion to exist for 90 seconds without judging it will disappear. Chödrön describes this feeling as “the hook” as our thoughts hook, line and sink us. Chödrön’s recommendations led me to discover brain researcher Jill Bolte Taylor’s book, A Brain Scientist’s Personal Journey.

    Taylor describes the 90-second rule as, “Once triggered, the chemical released by my brain surges through my body and I have a physiological experience. Within 90 seconds from the initial trigger, the chemical component of my anger has completely dissipated from my blood and my automatic response is over. If, however, I remain angry after those 90 seconds have passed, then it is because I have chosen to let that circuit continue to run.”

    All emotions last for less than 90 seconds, Taylor explains. If anything continues after that it is because we have added our own story and chosen to hold on to the emotion. Therefore, we are causing our emotions to escalate further and we are also ensuring they last longer. The more often we replay the memory, that is attached to a thought, or repeat one of our old painful stories, we remain caught in the cycle and it will get more and more difficult to disconnect.

    According to Taylor, if we are aware that emotions take 90 seconds to surge through our systems we can simply allow them to naturally pass and flush out. If we choose to fight the emotion we will emphasize it further and then we will need to fight it again and again, and by then the emotion will then have the power to control us.

    When we have awareness that all emotions initially last for 90 seconds we can allow them to ripple through us, causing a wave without any resistance; we can let them go without causing further reaction. If we allow emotions to naturally pass through us we can really look at what story we might have attached to the emotion to heighten its effects and trigger us to respond.
    This process will allow us to look at why we repeat similar patterns of behavior and what exactly is causing us to escalate our emotions.

    We can make a conscious choice about what to do with our emotions so that we are empowered and override an emotion when it takes a hold of us, rather than subconsciously reacting due to the red mist or rose tint that alters our perception.

    It is our choice whether we master and assert self-control and patiently wait out the 90 seconds while the emotion intensifies, dissolves and then passes. Or, whether we allow it to cause an inferno in our minds so that it powerfully gains momentum until it eventually rages inside us.

    To override our emotions we must first pay attention to the physical changes that take place just as the emotion is engaged. We will experience sensations, such as, our muscles tensing, an increased pulse, shortness of breath, our face flushing and our vocal cords tightening. When all of this takes place we should remain alert so that we are consciously aware that our emotions are at risk of escalating and we can remain in control as to what happens next.

    At this stage if we remain calm, grounded, fully present and balanced, we can then try to remove any irrational thoughts that occur and begin to inhale and exhale deeply for around 90 seconds, thus giving the chemical surge the opportunity to pass.

    As the emotions rise up it is essential to look at how we are feeling and what emotions are evoked. Remind ourselves that the moment will pass and any emotional response after that is one that we choose.

    If we can name the emotions as they occur and look at how they are powerful enough to ignite a physical reaction, we will weaken the risk of them becoming further strengthened and taking control.

    Then we can look with clarity at how we would normally perceive it. We can then rewire our thinking, so rather than fueling the emotion we can soothe it with kind and loving words. If we might normally berate ourselves and feel frustrated by noisily saying things like, “I’m such a fool,” we can instead show ourselves compassion by choosing caring expressions such as, “I’m constantly learning and I forgive myself.”

    When we become enraged or our emotions surge and heighten we can show understanding and be compassionate to ourselves and others so that our emotions will dissipate as quickly as they began.

    By paying attention and incorporating the 90 second rule into our lives we can not only take accountability for how we are behaving, we can alter the patterns of behavior we display. We can then avoid being triggered by age-old irritations that sneak up on us momentarily and grip hold of us not just for a moment or two, but recite themselves over and over so they control us for years.

    Recycling pain is known in the Buddhist tradition as samsara. With a very simple concept, we can choose whether we escape the pain or whether we suffer with it for a lifetime. When we understand what lies beneath each of our emotions and we have succeeded in mastering them, we can trust ourselves entirely.

    “Pay attention to what you are thinking, and then decide if those are thoughts that are creating the kind of life you want created,” she says. “And if it’s not, then change your thoughts. It’s really that easy.” ~ Jill Bolte Taylor

    daniebama, Cheryl, BloodMoon and 5 others like this.
  2. mike2014

    mike2014 Beloved Grand Eagle

    Thanks for posting this Eric, I'm always been appreciative of your great post.

    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  3. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    Yes! Pema and her teacher, Rimpoche, teach "shenpa" - the sticky place. The pattern. Jung's and Freud's complexes. Buddha's enlightenment was seeing the ego and not buying it. "I see you, Mara," he said to 40,000 arrows of doubt.
    I see me. Not always so pretty. Best to look but not stare, huh?

    Thanks for the precious reminder!!

  4. Lainey

    Lainey Well known member

    What a great post. I have read some of Pema's books and found her advice solid and her humor inspiring. I have, many years past, suffered from serious depression. I have, as an older adult, not fallen into this abyss, due to my ability to recognize "depression" as it descends upon me, and ponder it for approximately 90 seconds and release it. It has always faded away when I have done this. I did not know the research behind this and am happy to learn of Taylor's research/book on the subject. It is always helpful to put our anger, fear, painful stories, aside, quickly if possible. Being compassionate, letting go of our hurts, sooner than later, all good advice.
    Thanks for posting this.
  5. mugwump

    mugwump Well known member

    Great post! something to think about
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  6. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    Revisiting this today, sticky mind, tired mind, anxious mind, waiting for symptoms. Breaking the trance before it gets traction.
    Thank you, again.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  7. mugwump

    mugwump Well known member

    Happy to have read this today, just in time. thank you for sharing
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  8. nancy

    nancy Well known member

    Great help, already working on it!
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  9. Bodhigirl

    Bodhigirl Well known member

    This may be my most visited page outside of the structured program... I am SCARING MYSELF a lot right now. Seems to be worse in the morning and the more I meditate, do yoga, exercise and connect to the present moments' needs, the better it is. Welcoming the unwanted, naming the fear, is all I can do. Staying open helps. Anxiety makes me want to constrict, to disappear and numb out and that's where I find the tipping point to getting physical symptoms. I have to stay awake enough to catch these things, say hello, give them a hug, let them go and smile. Smiling breaks the trance of "oh, no, I'm going to feel like this - or worse - forever." ...which clearly isn't true. Ever.
    Again, and again, many thanks to all.
    Eric "Herbie" Watson likes this.
  10. johnreaper

    johnreaper Newcomer

    Has anyone tried it? Does it works?

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