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Mirror Neurons and How They affect Us and Our Feelings

Updated on July 6, 2012

Mirroring of Others Emotions

A mirror neuron is a neuron that fires both when an animal acts and when the animal observes the same action performed by another. The neuron "mirrors" the behavior of the other, as though the observer were itself acting. *Wikipedia Definition*

In other words a mirror neuron is when you feel what another person is feeling. Ex. Sadness, happiness, anger, etc...

Mother-Child Mirroring

The best example I can give regarding mirroring emotions is with the bond of a mother and her child. When the child is upset, the mother tends to become upset. Also it works backwards, if the mother is upset, the child tends to become upset. They are both mirroring each others neurons making them feel each others emotions.

I know there are times for myself and others when a quiet house with children playing nicely can quickly turn into a chaotic house with children bouncing off of the walls in a matter of seconds. Did you ever wonder if you or someone else in the home caused this to happen? Were you ever on the phone receiving upsetting news, or hearing about something very stressful that concerns you? I know I can answer yes to these questions. But it wasn't until it was explained to me by a professional that I fully understood this. Here is what she said to me:

A mother and her child can connect to each other on a subconscious level. The strength of the connection is determined by the bond between the two of them. When you get upset the emotion carries through your body and your child will pick up on these vibes right away. The child will then feel your emotion. Now even though you are feeling upset your child might not have the same response to it as you, instead maybe they just get nervous, worried, upset, or they may just start acting out.

A child can do the same to the mother. If a child is upset, angry, etc., the mother will tend to mirror the child. If the child is angry, the mother tends to feel angry and so on.

In a house with multiple children this can be a great challenge. If you are having strong emotions your children are going to pick up on this and start to deal with it in their own ways. Or in some instances, one child's emotions can affect the other children and the mother and so on.

Adult Mirroring

Women are more prone to mirroring than men. Fathers can mirror their children, but it is more difficult for them to mirror other's children or other people. Women are able to mirror other people's children as well as other people. Don't get me wrong, there are exceptions to this, some women do not mirror easily and some men are able to mirror others very well. Everyone is different, so there are no exacts to this science.

My example for adult mirroring is what happens to a large group of people all in one area. For the purpose of this example I will use a large crowd at some sort of outdoor meeting. Everyone is calm listening to what is going on around them and having a good time. One person or a few people begin to get angry. The anger begins to spread over the crowd. In a few moments the calm crowd turns into an angry mob. What happened? Well other people mirrored the emotion of the angry people and so on and so on...angry mob is the ending effect.

Calming Chaos

 So whether you are up against some crazy emotional kids or an angry mob there is a trick to calm down chaos.  First you need to calm yourself down, next you need to pick one other person to calm down, handle more than one child or person, one at a time.  With children pick the child you mirror and who mirrors you the most.  Once you have someone calm with you it is easier to start to calm down others. 

Just always remember, sometimes the root or children misbehaving isn't something you can see, but it may just be an emotion radiating from you or others that is causing them to act out or just become unruly.  So stay calm, or try to become calm and then work on the rest one by one.  This technique worked for me and I hope it works for you!!!


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    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Angela_1973 - Thanks for the comment and I am glad you liked it...I know when I realized how one's emotions effect others it made sense why my kids act out when they feel stresses. Now that I can better control myself the house tends to be more peaceful.

    • Angela_1973 profile image

      Angela_1973 7 years ago

      I really liked this hub, thank you for putting this together, it is very helpful.

      There are these people that never get upset and is always a pleasure to be around them, I wish we were all like this.

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      pennyofheaven--You are right!! It is when you are within a group of people and you are wondering why you might be so angry or sad, etc. It could just be someone else's emotions affecting your own.

    • pennyofheaven profile image

      pennyofheaven 7 years ago from New Zealand

      Discerning whether it is you or another is often the hardest when you are in a group situation. Excellent hub, enjoyed it immensely!

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      I discovered it one day when my oldest, now 28 was three. I recognized that what I was getting upset with her for was exactly what I was doing myself. I could have talked to her until I was blue and nothing would have changed her behaviour. Once I adjusted my behaviour and my attitude - presto - it's magic! From that point forward with all three of my children when I found something they did or did not do was tromping on my buttons, I rewired. I am a far better person for having three beautiful mirrors in my life.

    • JillKostow profile image

      Jill Kostowskie 7 years ago from Pennsylvania

      Thank you raisingme, I wanted to share this with others because when I was facing chaos in my home under stressful situations someone had told me about this. It made a lot of sense, I put the rules to the test to calm myself and then one child at a time, and I was completely surprised to see how quickly it had worked.

    • raisingme profile image

      raisingme 7 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      You speak nothing but the truth in this hub. Well done. It takes courage to put something like this out here and you have done an awesome job of it.