emotional contagion. noun. the tendency to feel and express emotions similar to and influenced by those of others; also, the phenomenon of one person’s negative thoughts or anxiety affecting another’s mood. It is less conscious and more automatic, while there are also the more cognitive, sophisticated, and “socially beneficial” processes of empathy and sympathy.
It’s the idea that we really can and do “catch” emotions from the people around us; their emotions will actually rub off on you. (See the paper on Emotional Contagion by Elaine Hatfield et. als. http://www.elainehatfield.com/ch50.pdf)
As social creatures it is essential to feel and bond with others. Problem is when they bring you down. And that started early, at home, when your family set your emotional “thermostat”. Were you instilled with the habits of Anxiety? Anger? Sadness and Depression? Shame and low Self Esteem? Once you spend a lot of time in these emotional vibratory patterns, you are easily triggered to return there again and again by people around you. It can seem that you are helpless and trapped by the troubled emotions of others.
Solutions? Awareness! Observe and discover:
– Know your “go to” emotional states. I facetiously call them our “favorite emotions” because we spend a lot of time with them.
– Then notice the influences that bring you into and back out of them. When, with whom, where and why you find yourself with those feelings?
– Equally important is to identify the preferred “positive” emotional states you have and would like to dwell in.
– List and find the people, places and activities that “trigger” you into these states, and hang out there! If that sounds simple, it is! By choosing your friends, environments, actions and thoughts that help you feel good, in this way you can “choose your mood”. It may take time to change habits, not to mention a job, but the improvement will follow incrementally with your choices.
Kundalini Yoga is the single most effective mood-changer that I have ever found. The teacher, the classroom, music, lighting all have an uplifting effect. Then the exercises change your vibration, allowing you to release negativity (sometimes by feeling it in the exercise), and access very positive feelings that simply come to you. In time you find that these “higher vibrations” are truly your natural defaults. (May take time to get there, but you can!)
The next step is to become a teacher. In this context I mean a person who, while able to feel and merge with others, is not pulled into negativity, despair or any other vibratory frequency unwillingly. Rather, you are able to hold and share a positive feeling that uplifts, or “raises the vibration” of the other person. Simply said, people feel better by being around you.
So Emotional Contagion is real, but you can learn to choose how you want to feel.