The 90 Second Rule

 In Blog

What can you do in 90 seconds?

Walk to the mailbox?

Put on your shoes and tie them?

How about feel the full range/cycle of an emotion?

Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor is a Harvard Trained doctor of neuroanatomy and a master at knowing how the brain works. In her book, My Stroke of Insight she talks about this 90 second principle. Here is an excerpt:

“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.

That 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.”

90 seconds really isn’t that long. Emotions have a short shelf life…90 seconds. For 90 seconds can you feel it, experience it, watch it, and then you have a choice to make; do I want to keep this?

If we hold that emotion longer than 90 seconds, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor says it’s because of a CHOICE we make. A choice that we decide to think a thought that will RE-STIMULATE those cells and trigger that cycle all over again.

“We are capable of capable of growing new neurons particularly in response to trauma…We are capable of changing our thoughts and changing our brain. We have the ability to pick and choose what’s going on inside of our heads. So we typically run three types of neuro-circuitry; We THINK thoughts, we stimulate EMOTIONS, and FEEL emotions, and we run physiological responses to what we are thinking and what we are feeling. I have the ability to think a thought, stimulate an emotional circuit, and then run a physiological response to WHAT I AM THINKING…the bottom line is that I am neuro-circuitry. We are neuro-circuitry and MY neuro-circuitry is my neuro-circuitry and you do not have the ability to stimulate and trigger my circuitry WITHOUT my permission.”

This is GREAT NEWS because you really do have the power to decide what thoughts you want to keep and what thoughts you’re going to run with and those thoughts will create HOW YOU FEEL. Which again, is brilliant and such a gift because if you don’t want to stay angry, YOU DON’T HAVE TO. You can choose to experience that anger for the 90 second cycle and then decide that you don’t like how that feels in your body and then you can MOVE on.

“We do have the POWER to CHOOSE who and what we want to be in the world.”

-Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor

If you want to learn more about Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor and her work here are two TED talks she appeared on:

My Stroke Of Insight

The Neuroanatomical transformation of the brain 





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