When my friend tells me her exiting news, I am super excited for her! When my sister is sad about a family member, I am sad with her. In situations like these, feeling what another person is feeling serves me well.
Feeling what the people around me are feeling is a natural human brain behavior.
It is called Mirroring Emotions.
It happens all the time. Once I start looking for it, I see it everywhere.
Sometimes it serves me, but often it hurts me.
I’ve noticed that my kids are often grumpy.
Why can’t they just be more happy?
I’m pretty grumpy about their grumpiness.
When my kids are grumpy, I have a choice to make. If I choose my natural tendency - to mirror them, but then I have to experience grumpiness, which is no fun for me.
Choosing to be happy would feel better, and who doesn’t want to feel happy?
How do I choose a different feeling than my children?
How do I stop mirroring when it doesn’t serve me?
I was once at the grocery store when a man cut in front of me in the checkout line. It was unbelievable! How could he possibly be so insensitive? So blind to the rest of the people around him? He was so incredibly rude!
As my brain made these observations, I become insensitive. I was blind to the person in front of me - blaming him and attacking him in my head. I was so rude to him! All of the things that I judged him for, I started doing.
There could be a reason for his rudeness that made it understandable or acceptable, but I could not see it through my judgement and anger.
Taking a step back from my thoughts about how people in grocery store lines “should” behave, I realized that if I want people around me to be kind, I must be kind. If I want people around me to think about the effects of their actions, I must think about the effects of my action of judging. If I want people to love others, I must also love this person.
I want to be what I want to see in the world.
I want to choose thoughts that make that possible.
Thinking “he is doing the best that he can” brings me back to peace. I don’t have to judge him. I don’t have to debate wether he was wrong and I am right. There is no debate. There is just another human being doing their best…
…just like me.
When my kids are grumpy, it is normal for me to be grumpy about their grumpiness, but it is not the best way.
Peace comes when I realize that it’s ok for them to be grumpy.
I love them even when they are grumpy.
They are having a hard time, but they are doing the best that they can.
And even myself, when I mirror negative emotions, I am human, and I am doing the best that I can.
We're all doing the best we can, and that is enough.
YOU are enough.