Are Emotions Contagious?
Yes, emotions are contagious. Theories vary as to why and how emotions transfer from a scientific perspective. Some feel it has to do with neurons in our brain that fire to mirror other peoples emotions. So it may not be within our control but if we’re aware we can be such a force for good! Imagine how cold a world it would be if we were not able to understand others emotions and others weren't able to connect to us in a meaningful way.

We automatically mimic others facial expressions, body language and tone of voice and detect possible emotions behind them. That, in turn, creates a cascade, a ripple effect in us. The body / hormone / emotion connection is real. If you're all by yourself and smile, a signal to produce happy hormones triggers in the brain and we feel lifted. Go ahead, smile! Observe and notice the effect on your mood. Pretty amazing, huh?

You can change your own mood by just a smile or a frown. So if we "pick up" or mimic the physical expression of others, our body then creates the mood to match the physical expression. Does that make sense?

Emotions are also transferred through social media, phone calls and video chat through what we see and hear.

Both positive and negative emotions can be transferred. That’s really good news! Our association can lift our mood and we can lift others. Since we want to be there for others when they’re down or in need, how do we show true empathy? Is empathy simply absorbing others emotions? Or is there more to it?

One study observed children mimic the emotions of others around them. For example, if the facilitator of the study cried the child might cry, simply absorbing the emotions of the facilitator. Other children in the study would comfort the facilitator of the study. Emotional intelligence and emotional regulation dictates that move beyond simply absorbing  the emotions of others but that we are able to process the emotions, recognize the other person is separate and take positive action to offer genuine comfort.

In scripture this is called brotherly affection. There’s no actual word in the Bible for empathy but the concept and principle is brotherly affection and love. So real love is not just absorbing the emotions of others. In reality that doesn’t do much for the other person anyway does it? It doesn’t do much for us either. We pretty much shut down, now stuck in a quagmire of emotion.

Real empathy is  much deeper and beyond just feeling the emotion of another person. It’s understanding what that other person might be feeling but takes it further in finding out what that other person needs and offering what we can to comfort a person. It goes beyond assuming what the person needs but actually finding out the need. It doesn’t break our boundaries or push us beyond our capacity. Rather it allows room for us to fulfill a need for someone else in brotherly love. Someone with good boundaries will receive with gratitude and appreciation what comfort we have within our capacity to offer. 

How exactly we absorb emotions may be up for debate but since there is no debate that we are influenced by others moods and emotions, choose associates wisely! Good internal boundaries supports the ability to empathize and offer comfort without “losing yourself” in the pain of others. 

That’s one of the key concepts in my complimentary 21 day challenge
I took one of my best live workshops and broke it down into manageable bites

Bonus Video

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  1. Beautifully expressed, Dee. Thank you for tying in the Bible principles that support what real empathy is. My physical reaction to reading the blog and watching the video, were to stop and take a deep breathe and then feeling my whole body relax from the inside out. I am going to keep working through the 21-day Boundaries challenge, which is turning into a 21-week challenge. Ha ha! Little by little… with grace.
    Dee Castelli AUTHOR  07/27/2021 04:23 PM Central
    So so glad it resonated and was helpful ❤️
  2. I was certain that what you have written was the case in my life on more than one occasion but especially during the end of my marriage as the influence in my home for a long time just so dark, dreary and zapped of energy. No matter what I tried it just wouldn’t leave. Then the atmosphere left! The person dragging the house down had left. Within a week the house suddenly felt light airy and bright ( mind you some of that could have been a different reason altogether), once my shattered heart began to heal, the heaviness was gone and my positivity was once again prominent. As well speaking to a friend about loosing her parents within months of each other, I could feel her pain, the tears flow for her. I am a very intuitive empath. Yes, I very much agree with all you have said here. ☺️
    Dee Castelli AUTHOR  07/21/2021 09:12 PM Central
    Wow that’s amazing and I’m glad you had such a positive change!

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