Do you feel happy when you surround by happy people? Do you get sad or depressed around negative and pessimistic people? This is due to the emotional contagion produced by the mirror neurons.
Mirror neurons cause you to reflect another person’s emotions. There has been exciting research in the area of neuroscience — the science of the brain. What researchers have found is that our brains connect — there’s a brain-to-brain linkage. We do catch each other’s emotions. Imitation has always been a powerful learning tool. The human brain is enabled by different mechanisms that allow us to imitate actions. Babies are capable of reproducing facial expressions, and as adults, we imitate basic behavior. Laughter can be spread; we can cry while watching a sad movie… It seems like we have the capacity to feel what others feel, empathize with them, and understand their feelings.
Emotions are contagious. You have to understand, that what you see in front of you and what other people are doing physically and emotionally are impacting you at a conscious and unconscious level they are influencing you. So by having an understanding of that, you can help counterbalance.
Happiness is more contagious than sadness. Surrounding yourself with happy people will light you up and encourage you to improve your state of being happy. Why? Because we’re constantly looking at people around us; we’re learning and gleaning information that impacts our lives, whether it is physical or emotional.
However, how do deal with contagious negative emotions? Dealing with negativity can be quite a downer. How many times have you had to deal with a person whose negative energy would wash over your day? Some people can be extremely cynical about others, judgemental, or complaint about everything. Around them, you feel disturbed and depressed. They drain you with their negative energy, and if you don’t take action to protect your mindset, you may find your mood infected with hostility.
What should you do when faced with a negative friend, co-worker, family member, or partner?
1. Don’t catch the other person’s negative emotional virus. Do not allow yourself to become infected with toxic negativity. You have to maintain your emotional distance. If you feel someone shutting down, don’t mirror that behavior. Instead, stay relaxed, focus, and use your positive energy not to imitate them. You can’t change their personality, but you might neutralize their toxic outlook.
2. Pay attention to how your thoughts change when you’re faced with negative people. Don’t spend time dreading, fretting, worrying, and rehashing, but instead, make a conscious effort to reduce and interrupt unhealthy thoughts. Identify the negative thought and flip it to a positive statement. Spread positivity and uplift those who are negative!
3. Make a conscious effort to choose your attitude.
Remember, attitude produces certain behavior; attitude is a product of the belief system. Once you adopt a positive attitude, you adopt a positive thinking process, and so a positive mindset. So take a deep breath and decide to get a positive state of mind no matter what the situation. Don’t let negative people’s thoughts dominate your mind.
"You are the conductor of your own attitude! Nobody else can compose your thoughts for you" — Lee. J. Colan
4. Don’t allow negative people to steal your time and energy. You have the right to set boundaries and limit your exposure to toxic people. Don’t let negative people impact your thoughts, and feelings, and affects your attitude. Why? Because focusing too much of your time on your negative friend’s or co-worker’s problems will affect your own positive journey through life. Your mind is a magnet: If you think of problems and negativity, you will attract more problems and negativity. Spending time with negative people can be the fastest way to ruin a good mood. Their pessimistic outlook and gloomy attitude can decrease our motivation and change the way we feel. But allowing a negative person to dictate your emotions gives them too much power in your life.
5. Seek out positive people to keep you balanced.
The environment you surround yourself with will influence your mood. Just like negative people can rub off on you, a positive person can brighten your spirit. Spend time with people who are good for your mental health. Surround yourself with inspiring and motivated people.
"Our social networks affect our neurological systems. We have specialized brain cells called mirror neutrons that allow us to learn to empathize by observing the actions of another person. It’s one of the reasons over time we adopt the attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors of those consistently around us. This explains the common phrase: Who we spend time with is who we become. Positivity and performance are contagious. Fill your mind with good stuff, surround yourself with good people, and do good work and good things will happen". Jim Kwik
So ask yourself, who are you mimicking? Who are you copying in your life? Who is influencing you? Who do you interact with frequently? What emotions are you following? What emotional state do they tend to be in? What can you do to limit your exposure to those who may negatively influence your emotions? How can you surround yourself with more people that will mirror an emotional state that you want to experience more of?
Once you have awareness, you’ll be able to make changes in your life consciously and unconsciously.