It's Only 90 Seconds

I read an article about the neurology of human emotion. I was surprised to discover that the duration of emotion at the occurrence of an event is only 90 seconds. We use our imagination and our storytelling skills to keep the emotion alive or increase its intensity. I first experimented with this idea when I was trying to stop eating sugar. I thought, “If I only crave sugar for 90 seconds, maybe I can just wait it out.” To my amazement it was true, the reason I kept craving sugar was because I whipped up a good reason to eat it or I imagined something that sounded irresistible. If I directed my attention somewhere else, I stopped craving it. Soon, I expanded this to other emotions and began to experience a sense of not being dominated by my emotions. I felt them for 90 seconds and then went on with what I was doing, if they came up again I noticed them for another 90 seconds and carried on again. Soon, I discovered that even intense emotions didn’t last long and I didn’t need to fear them.

Strong emotions don’t need to be feared or removed. When I finally allowed myself to feel my feelings, I discovered that they passed quickly and, even if I cried or screamed aloud, they weren’t harmful. I also found that people around me were able to handle my emotions. My old thinking was that if I expressed my feelings, especially negative ones, people wouldn’t like me. It is true that some people will not like my feelings but generally the people who really love and support me are able to make space for my anger, anxiety and sadness. If you don’t feel there are people who are able to support you and allow the breadth of your emotions, make a conscious effort to find people who will. There are enlightened, gentle, loving people everywhere if you aspire to bring them into your life you will find them or they will find you. By offering others the freedom to feel and express the full spectrum of their feelings without judgment you will discover a new richness and depth in your relationship to others.     

There are some things that are not feelings. Women often say “I feel fat”, but fat is not a feeling. What they mean is that they don’t feel well, strong or in control of my diet. Try to be specific about how you feel and avoid these kinds of general descriptions. Instead of feeling fat you can say that you ate too much or that you feel like you need a walk. Another example is feeling like a fraud. Fraud isn’t a feeling. Instead you may feel insecure, afraid or ashamed. If you can’t locate where you feel the feeling in your body you may need to dig deeper until you can.   

I encourage you to explore all the dimensions of your feelings. Notice the wealth of experience available through your physical and emotional feelings and embrace yourself as you are.