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90 seconds of emotion

Posted Aug 25 2009 9:00pm

KarenKeonig, psychotherapist and author of the Rules of Normal Eating, recently wrote a post about what Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor calls the " 90 second emotion rule." The idea is that it takes 90 seconds or less for each emotion to be automatically triggered, surge through the body, and dissipated. Once the emotion (chemical component) is gone physiologically, it then becomes a choice to continue as she puts it the " neurocircuitry" to run or not. In this sense, we become more attuned to the emotion in the current moment versus continuously cruising on autopilot. We become aware to what we are feeling, learning to yes, choose whether to take it, leave it , or change it.

Now, of course, I don't want to go all cognitive-behavioral on everyone as there is sometimes a tendency to feel skeptical (even by me at times), but I think this kind of awareness is important, especially with eating disorders. I think once in a nutritionally stable state, this can be something to work towards. Too often than not, most of us want to shoo away the bad feelings, to pound down whatever it is we are feeling period. I certainly remember those times when I'd tell my therapist, "Why do I have to feel? What's the point? Can't I be a human without emotions?" But that's the thing, the essence of humanity is to have high functioning feelings. It's what distinguishes us from other species, though of course animals do feel and have emotions too.

So do you let yourself sit with an emotion for 90 seconds? If not, maybe it is something to try?

If you're unaware of who Dr. JillBolteTaylor is, take a look at her TED presentation about her insight s into her own stroke. She wrote a book called My Stroke of Insight about her stroke and her recovery in 2006. It is an amazing book which I found quite relatable to eating disorder recovery.

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