What was the last thing that made you angry? The bad driver cutting you off? Your kids not picking up their toys? You were passed over for a promotion?
How long did you stay angry? An hour? A day? A week?
According to Harvard-trained and published neuroanatomist, Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, your anger should only last for ninety seconds.
To feel an emotion we need to think a thought which then stimulates an emotional circuit in our brain which in turn creates a physiological response in our bodies. The time from thought to triggering the brain to a physical response to releasing the response is less than ninety seconds.
If you have anger for more than a minute and a half it is because you are replaying the story in your mind. Every time you replay the story you retrigger the circuit and the response. Every time you choose to think painful thoughts, you create a physical response in your body. By replaying the story, you not only keep your mind in a negative space, but your body experiences the pain created by the anger again and again.
Another awesome point Dr. Jill makes in the video below is that no one can make you angry. No one is able to stimulate our emotional neuro-circuitry without our permission. The brain is stimulated by our thoughts, not someone else’s. No one can make you angry without your permission. No one is able to get into your brain and make you feel anything.
Check out your life.
Where are you holding on to anger?
Where are you blaming others for your anger?
How would your life improve if you changed your thoughts?
Notice when anger stays for longer than ninety seconds. What is the story you are replaying? What do you gain by replaying the story? How would your experience of life change if you let go of the story?
Here is the great video about the teenage brain by Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor where she touches on our anger response. Listen in or wait for my next blog post which will explore more of her amazing research.