If you ever feel like you’re picking up or catching the positive or negative emotions of the people around you, you’re not alone. Even if you don’t consider yourself an empath, your natural, human empathy may kick in when you’re around someone who’s frustrated, sad, stressed — or better — grateful or excited. This could be due to what science calls mirror neurons, or special neurons that can actually lead us to mirror behaviors observed in others. So when we see someone else start to laugh, cry, or get angry, you might find yourself feeling or acting the same way.
Picking Up Negative Emotions via Energy
Of course, if you realize that everything is made of energy — even emotions — you can probably understand how that emotional energy can be physically transferred simply by being next to someone. That transfer could happen immediately, at the moment you notice your boss’ face rising in frustration (ever been there?). Or it might happen over time, like the group of college students who experienced increased depression after being around mildly depressed roomates for 3 months.
However long it takes, most of us have probably experienced this “emotional contagion” at one time or another. In a lot of cases, this can help us connect with loved ones and support them when they’re suffering. Or it might help our own mood improve when we’re around someone who’s happy. But when you start internalizing sadness, stress, or anxiousness from coworkers or friends, it can take a toll on you.
Dealing With Emotional Contagion
Emotional contagion can affect you in very real ways, but you may also be able to diminish its effects. Here are a few suggestions.
- Recognize it. When you see someone start to feel negative emotions you don’t want to catch, be mindful. Recognize what they are feeling, and be intent on not taking that on yourself. You can empathize with them if needed, but that doesn’t mean you need to start owning their feelings.
- Help cheer them up. Instead of letting the other person use you as a sounding board for their complaints, how about offering an activity or different topic that can help get their mind off their troubles?
- Care for yourself. If you need to get out of the room for a bit, meditate, or boost your own mood after being around someone who’s feeling negative emotions, do it. Play your favorite music, do a breathing exercise — whatever you need to do for an emotional detox. You could even do an Emotion Code session (on them or yourself) to clear any Trapped Emotions or negative energy you’ve picked up.
- Check yourself. Could you be the one having a negative emotional effect on others? Is your own frustration or stress rubbing off? Maybe you need to confront or forgive someone. Maybe you need to let go of some negativity before hanging out with others who might be affected by it. Going through that process yourself is great, not only for the sake of those around you, but for your own sake, too.
Try Catching a Positive Vibe
Thankfully, negative emotions aren’t the only feelings that tend to travel. You could just as easily pick up on positivity! If you need to find a more positive group of friends for your own emotional health, seek it out. Or you could take it upon yourself to be the positive energy you hope to see in others. In this case, try clearing Trapped Emotions regularly, so you can keep your energy clean and upbeat.