How to calm your anger in just 90-seconds
Go from rage to reason in just 90 seconds.
So here’s an interesting fact. Did you know that our emotions have a shelf life of only 90 seconds? This means that in the time it takes to brush your teeth, your brain can effectively rid itself of heated emotions like anger, if left uninterrupted by thoughts.
In 2006, Dr Jill Bolte Taylor published an insight called, The 90 Second Rule. Here’s how she explains it: “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.”
If we understand our emotions as biochemical events, we see that our experience of anger is a feedback loop between mind and body.
Let’s say a co-worker criticizes us in a way we feel is hypocritical. Naturally, we become angry. But then we stew in angry thoughts, keeping that anger alive. Those spiralling, irate ruminations only serve to re-stimulate the physiological response of anger.
Just as we can intensify anger with our thoughts, we can ease it by silencing those thoughts. As long as we don’t fuel our fury, in 90 seconds that anger has the opportunity to dissolve.
The idea is to step back, and create some space between our anger and our thoughts. By cutting off the cycle of furious thoughts, our anger softens.
Of course, this approach isn’t a magic fix. At times, it will take longer to cool our anger. But ultimately, within 90 seconds, if we don’t add thoughts to our experience, our emotions can soften.