Emotional Mirror (n.) - When you smile at a baby, the baby smiles back. When you scowl, the baby scowls back. The mirror system in the baby's brain is what creates this effect. We see this in adults when we react to another person's pain by feeling a sympathy pain of our own or unconsciously reflect back another's facial expression or mood. We naturally mirror what is presented to us.
We know through emotional contagion studies that the strongest emotion within a group often has the power to sway the entirety of the group to it. Bad moods and good moods alike are "contagious." The intensely negative person will often bring out that dynamic in those around them. The intensely upbeat or optimistic person can also have this ability on others when their emotion is the strongest in the group. The moods of the people around you can often directly impact and even change your own internal state.
Researchers have successfully shown that consciously holding a positive or calm state when confronted with a negative one can negate this impact. You can keep yourself from being pulled into another's mood. In long-term meditators, the ability to counteract and change another's negative state was also shown to be possible.
Being aware of this effect can help you move from seeing your emotions as passive responses to the world around you and, instead, as actively created states. This knowledge can help in owning your ability to stay centered and not be swayed by the moods of the people around you.
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