The Hidden Virus You Carry: Is it Spreading?
Do you get energized and feel inspired when you are listening to an upbeat and uplifting story?
Do you suddenly feel depressed when you hang around someone who is negative and unhappy?
Thoughts, attitudes and behaviors carry an energy that is indeed contagious. Without exchanging a word, our brains can sense and feel the emotions of the people and environment we are surrounded by. Not only can we feel this energetic tone caused by emotions–we can actually become “infected” by it.
There is an interconnected network of cells in our brains known as the Mirror Neuron System (MNS), discovered by neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzolatti and his colleagues at the University of Parma. These neurons work much like a mirror—reflecting the body language, facial expressions, and underlying emotional tone exuded from the people around you. These reflections then signal the same emotions and energetic expression in you.
This phenomenon known as “emotional contagion” is real and has been extensively studied by brain researchers.
While you can’t necessarily control the emotional energy transmitted to you from others, you can be more deliberate about monitoring your own.
The power of this knowledge spurs the following questions:
How aware are you of your own emotional states at any given time?
How intentional are you about monitoring the “tone” of your own energy?
How deliberate are you about protecting your energy?
What type of energy are the people you are surrounding yourself with exuding?
As leaders in organizations, partners, parents, friends, and community members, we are role models to others, whether we realize it or not. The emotional and energetic tone we transmit is picked up and contagious to those around us. In essence, you carry a virus that spreads to your co-workers, significant other, children, and friends. What is the resulting affliction of the virus you carry?
Here are three practices to help you be more intentional about your own emotional state and the tone of the energy you spread:
1. Set energetic intentions each day
When you start your day in a tizzy, rushing to get everything together for everyone and sitting in traffic, it is easy to become reactive and let yourself become frazzled. Instead of jumping out of bed unconsciously, practice setting an intention for your day as soon as you open your eyes in the morning. Reciting a few positive mantras such as “Today is going to be a great day”, “I am lucky to be alive”, and “I feel good” can actually put your brain into a positive attitude. While these affirmations can seem corny, they actually work if you practice them regularly.
2.Do frequent emotional check-ins
Rather than going throughout your day reacting and responding to the emotional energy tones around you, stop and monitor yourself. When you find yourself angry, frustrated, and distraught by being stuck in traffic, stop yourself and do an emotional check-in. Label the emotions you are feeling and ask yourself if this is what you want the tone of your day to be like for the rest of the day. The one thing we all have is the power to observe our own emotional state and to make a choice to calm ourselves down and change our own response.
3. Model the emotional energy you want around you
If your emotional energy is contagious, what environment are you setting for others? Are you yelling at your partner and/or children? Are you complaining about the work that you are tasked with at work? What example are you setting for those around you? Are you enthusiastic and upbeat or negative and pessimistic?
If you want to operate in a certain type of energetic field, then take the initiative to create it.
Energy is real. The energetic tone you set for yourself and those around you is powerful. Being more deliberate and intentional about your own emotional thermostat will go a long way in regulating the energetic temperature all around you.