Empathy through Neurons

How many times you look at your beloved pet and said, “you look like you need to be stroked”? and then you went ahead and stoked it?

brain, think, communication

Unconsciously, you read into other beings with your mirror neurons or smart cells in your brain that allows you to understand others’ actions, intentions, and feelings. This is more apparent when you watch a movie and read through the actors’ feelings, cry with them, smile along, or experience fear.  The emotional thermometer is working all the time through these neurons. Naturally, you don’t need to think (he is experiencing anger and I need to show him that I understand how he feels, I will therefore say….), you don’t need all of that, all you need is to feel what others are feeling and mirror it inside you, shutting down thinking and focusing on perceiving the information you are getting as emotional messages. Others, on the other hand, will feel your empathy and respond to you by agreeing or telling you more. In coaching, that is what presence is all about in order to empathize with what these mirror neurons do. Moreover, research shows we mirror the behaviors we see, so if you look at a baby who smiles at you, you will smile back at them. So, you don’t need to even worry about the responses when you are listening and being there for your client. You will give the right physical response that they need to see and feel.

Nevertheless, we are also wired with ‘breaks’ that stops us from overreacting or indulging in others’ emotions. They work spontaneously as well with a delicate balance between the two: perceiving and reacting. But when this balance is disturbed in our brains by our past programming and the experiences we have, which have created fear or avoidance of emotions, we shut off the receptors automatically and our autopilot takes charge. This means we may not be able to mirror these emotions in a healthy productive way in fear of being caught up with them or other assumptions.

Knowing that we coach our clients to liberate themselves from these distortions and go back to their default so that they can interact with others on all emotional levels in a balanced and spontaneous way. In Coach your Thoughts and Emotions®, there is a great emphasis on the self-awareness process but that does not mean you stop yourself from being with others or interacting with them, it means you get to notice when you are doing that in a non-empathetic way. By examining your perceptions around a relationship, you come to identify your biases or assumptions that cause unnecessary breaks in your empathetic responses.

For reference read: ‘Are We Wired for Empathy?’

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