Our emotions are caused by our thoughts but are experienced as physical sensations in the body.  For instance, when we become angry, our heart rate increases, body temperature rises, and we might clench our fists.

Or when we become anxious or fearful, we might experience “butterflies in the stomach” with rapid breathing or shortness of breath.

But did you know that emotions don’t last longer than 90 seconds?

According to Harvard brain scientist Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, ninety seconds is all it takes to identify an emotion and allow it to dissipate while you simply notice it.  Think of emotions like waves in the ocean.

What keeps emotions lingering are our thoughts and our stories about why we’re feeling what we’re feeling.  Like telling ourselves that something or someone should be different than what is.

So, when you’re feeling stressed, fearful, or angry, you can detach from the emotion and simply observe how it feels as if you were an outside observer.  It is essential to suspend all thoughts about what caused you to feel angry or frustrated or hurt.  That will only strengthen these emotions.

In other words, without trying to push away the emotion, make an effort to observe it and to label your body’s physiological reaction to it.  For instance, “I’m feeling angry and I feel my heart beating faster and feel tense in my chest.”  Continue labeling until the negative emotion dissipates.  This enables us to focus on observing the emotion instead of identifying with it.

“Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.” – Haruki Murakami

I’m not saying it will be easy, and it takes practice, but it will be worth it to be in control of your emotions, especially before you say or do something you might later regret.

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