Late last year, I came across Dr. Jeffery Martin’s work on fundamental wellbeing. He interviewed over 1,000 people who said they felt fundamental wellbeing most of the time, to study what they did and how they showed up in the world. His research is solid and important, as his programs are teaching people how to create a greater sense of peace in their worlds.
Since January, I have been on a quest to settle into a deeper sense of wellbeing and each month this year, I want to use this space to reflect on the experiment with you.
This is month nine! This month, as we move into the fall mode, I am noticing that I am arriving at a place I started at so many years ago.
About 10 years ago, I stumbled across this stress and anxiety management method called Emotional Brain Training (EBT). I fell in love with the method, as the tools were so practical and easy to implement and they worked! When I was using the tools in EBT, my life felt better!
Best of all, I met one of EBT’s Master Trainers, Judy Zehr. Judy was fascinated by my field of conflict resolution and I was also equally fascinated by the application of stress management to the filed of conflict resolution. That results in us co-authoring a book together called Hold On To Yourself – How To Stay Cool in Hot Conversations.
The book pulled together the top learnings at the time from both Judy and I for how to manage conflict and keep yourself resilient.
Little did I know, fast forward a decade, and strengthening our capacity to hold on to ourselves has become more important than ever!
In fact, so far this fall, two different organizations have asked for workshops based on my book! What’s absolutely delightful for me is that the opportunities to teach are leading me back to these powerful practices and – bonus – I’ve got an excuse to reach out to Judy again! And when that happens, we all benefit!
In fact, in chatting with Judy this morning, she mentioned Jill Bolte Taylor’s new book and how Jill’s neuroscience research is confirming the wise science behind EBT as well. Judy recommended I check out Jill’s new book – so I dived in and here’s a gem for all of us.
One tool Jill talks about is her “90 second rule” to help us deal with our emotions. Jill explains that when you are feeling an unwanted emotion, the physiological reaction of that emotion, caused by your thought, only lasts up to 90 seconds. The implications of that brain-based fact is that any unwanted emotions you have that last longer than 90 seconds, are a product of you thinking a thought repetitively, thereby keeping the emotional and physiological reactions alive.
So, Jill suggests when you first feel an unwanted emotion in your body, whether it’s fear, anxiety, anger, sadness, unplug from the repetitive thoughts by immediately moving your awareness to observing yourself instead. That is, step 1 is to unplug from identifying so closely to your thoughts and pay attention to your body instead. See if you can notice that the bodily sensations will pass in 90 seconds or less.
Once you unplug, then you can ask yourself: “What am I thinking that is causing this feeling?”
This question allows you to move even more into observer mode about yourself and to break the repeating circuit.
So, the practice becomes:
- Every time you notice yourself becoming anxious or any other unwanted emotion, observe yourself engaging in the thoughts and emotions. Notice what your body feels like and see if you can notice the sensations passing in 90 seconds or less. You can label the emotion if you want (“I’m feeling anxious”) and notice the physiological reaction leave your body in less than 90 seconds.
- Create even more mindfulness by asking yourself what you are thinking that might be prompting the bodily reactions.
Try this two step process to unplug from your own anxieties (or other stuck emotion) and let me know how it goes!
If you want a more detailed look at Jill’s book, check out the introduction to her 90 second rule here.
“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.” … Jill Bolte Taylor