Are You Experiencing Someone Else’s Emotions?

Why do you think you feel bad when you see a poor miserable homeless man in the street? Apart from feeling guilty for not helping poor people there are still some sad emotions that you will experience upon seeing anybody who suffers.

Do you know why you experience these emotions? It’s because you experienced some of the man’s pain at the moment you saw him.

We humans usually absorb some of the emotions of the person we are watching or listening to and then experience a change in our own mood even though nothing bad has happened to us, personally.

Emotions are communicated to the people we deal with

Why do you think you feel scared in horror movies when you see actors feeling scared? It’s because their emotions were communicated to you through their gestures and facial expressions.

Why do you think we like confident people? Confident people transfer their emotions to us and make us feel relaxed and calm.

On the other hand people who are anxious unconsciously transfer to us some of their anxiety and this makes us feel uneasy around them.

I am sure you have experienced being with someone who is overly stressed and then ended up being stressed out,  too!! In short, emotions are communicated to us by the people we deal with whether we notice it or not.

Research has proven that the same neurons in the brain that are responsible for a certain emotion fire while someone empathizes with someone else. This means that relationship partners who have high levels of empathy experience the emotions of each other most of the time and that’s why they end up looking alike after a while.

Lots of people wonder why do intimate couples look alike and one of the theories that explains this phenomenon is that people who continuously get exposed to the same emotions start to look alike because emotions have impact on the face features on the long run.

This is also a very strong reason to find yourself a role model in your life so that you can learn from him. While watching your role model you will experience the same emotions he is experiencing and your personality will start to get closer to his personality.

Avoid the absorption of bad emotions

Lots of people experience a change in mood without knowing why and in many cases the change in mood Is just a result of absorbing someone else’s emotions. After knowing how emotions affect communication you should do the following in order to have a good mood:

  • Avoid negative people If possible: because they will unintentionally transfer their emotions to you
  • Keep an eye on your own emotions: So that you don’t confuse them with the emotions you absorb from other people
  • Act confident : When you act confidently people will feel relaxed around you and you will have better social relations

It was found that people who aren’t depressed start to experience depressive thoughts and emotions when they accompany depressed people for a long period of time!!

One of the theories that explains that transfer of emotions between people states that emotions are chemical reactions that take place inside the brain and the products of these chemical reactions results in heat that moves the air molecules and sends the emotions to near by people.

Of course I am not asking you to avoid a friend in need or someone who is in intense need for help but at least you should avoid all unnecessary interactions that could have a negative impact on your mood.

Lots of people who talk about happiness give very simple advices such as repeat positive affirmations or accept yourself but those people might have not noticed that human emotions are much more complex than that and that happiness can only achieved when you combine all parts of the puzzle. One part of the happiness puzzle is to avoid negative people, complete the rest of the puzzle and you will experience real happiness.

M.Farouk Radwan is a guest is Guest Blogger for Pickthebrain and the founder of 2KnowMyself.com – The Ultimate source for self understanding, with 9 Million visitors and counting!

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  • http://www.fawnmcmanigal.com Fawn

    Interesting post, Farouk.

    It is easy for us/me to adopt the emotions of those around us. In addition to your scientific approach, perhaps it is also a form of acceptance, like friends who overindulge together. When I was younger, I had a hard time remaining positive around negative people–not so much now.

    Are you also offering an explanation why people and their pets tend look alike: “people [and their pets] who continuously get exposed to the same emotions start to look alike?” . . . Cause I’ve been wondering about that.

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      yes it might be hard to stay positive around negative people, i am glad you can now do that

      as for pets, to be honest i don’t own one so i don’t know how it feels like
      thanks for your comment Fawn :)

      • Deidre

        I experience the same thing, I always feel negative around negative people as well, and I couldn’t not help feeling negative.

        But my father keeps forcing me to be positive, how can I stay positive if he is negative all the time?

  • http://www.taskbender.com Pk

    One way is to stop for a second and think about what we are thinking right now. i.e., being a witness to our thoughts and picking the right choice.

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      yes Pk, you are right
      certainly becoming more conscious of your emotions will help
      thanks for the addition :)

  • http://frombottomup.com/ Hulbert

    Great tips Farouk. People have certain energy fields in them that can transfer to other people. When we are around negative people, they will most likely transfer negative energy to us. When we are around positive people, they will most likely transfer positive energy to us. That’s why it’s important to choose who we hang around with, because they can deeply affect our mood without us knowing it.

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      exactly right Hulbert, you just summarized the article in few words:) keep in touch

  • http://www.OptimisticJourney.com Jarrod@ Optimistic Journey

    It’s amazing how the mind works. It only takes like a second for someone’s emotions to be transferred onto us. Knowing we have this kind of power we should take into consideration the type of effect we have on other people be a light in this world.

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      yes i agree Jarrod and we should also educate our friends who think negatively about the dangers of negative thinking, thanks for commenting :)

  • http://www.craigharper.com.au/ Motivational Speaker – Craig Harper

    Hey Farouk.

    I agree with your point – Avoid negative people If possible

    I call these people Energy Vampires and their modus operandi is not to steal your blood but rather, your precious energy.
    Your life-force.
    Your mojo.
    To drain you emotionally and psychologically.
    To frustrate you with their repetitious, self-indulgent, attention-seeking diatribe.

    They are often bitter, angry and resentful…. and they want you to share their pain.
    They don’t want solutions, they want pity.
    They don’t want constructive feedback, they want attention.
    They don’t want to take responsibility, they want to blame and vent.
    They seem to revel in their own misery.
    Day in, day out.
    They have the same conversations about the same issues with the same people and produce the same result; no change.

    They major on minors.
    They bring others down.
    They have a gift for finding the negative.

    They are emotionally exhausting to be around.

    Stay Clear!

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      oh that’s detailed analysis
      i do agree with you that some of them do that for the sake of attention and that offering solutions wont do them any good

      based on your words i would suggest that we first try to help people and find out whether they are really stuck or whether they are doing it for attention, if the second case is true then avoidance should be the only option
      thank you for commenting, liked your analysis :)

  • http://sandyxuan.com sandy

    inspiring point, farouk :)

    like recently i saw one of apolo ohno’s interviews before the vancouver game. that time he was talking in such sparkling mood, smiling genuinely ( for me he really smiles) and conveying confident messages. i was very inspired by his positive emotions.

    i mostly love to be involved in others’ emotions, especially in positive ones. only experiencing my own emotions from my reality is not satisfying me enough ^_^ i enjoy trying to feel what i don’t feel myself from others, actively socializing with them and grow in conscious among the interaction.

    as said in the post, ” don’t confuse them with the emotions you absorb from other people “, though it might not be easy to stay that keen, i will see what i can do. i am gonna try my best to stay conscious in the chaos and enjoy the richful emotions around :)

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      hey Sandy
      that’s a really good thing, to feel people’s emotions and to try to help them if needed, the only point you should take off is not to catch an emotional cold :)
      thanks for the comment dear :)

  • Cristina

    Very good post! I truly enjoyed reading it. It made clear for me, in very simple sentences, things which I did not grasp fully before. Thank you!

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      really happy with your comment Cristina :) i hope i can always write things that you find interesting
      keep in touch :)

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  • http://www.thermalexposure.com Alex Williams

    Good post overall, but I take exception to this:

    “One of the theories that explains that transfer of emotions between people states that emotions are chemical reactions that take place inside the brain and the products of these chemical reactions results in heat that moves the air molecules and sends the emotions to near by people.”

    I sincerely doubt this is possible. If this were the case, then it would not explain your example of feeling frightened when you watch a scary movie. The emotions onscreen cannot be transferred as you suggest.

    Quite simply, we’re social (and therefore empathetic) creatures. Dogs and Cats are social creatures, too which is why we keep them as pets and often claim to know what they’re thinking. Subconsciously, we pick up on subtle queues. Our survival as a species has depended on it, and it’s therefore deeply ingrained.

    I also take issue with “Avoid negative people If possible.” While understandable advise, it encourages us to abandon others rather than try to help them. We can’t all be psychologists, but I think this is dangerous and sociopathic. We can be aware and sensitive of the psychological impact that negative people have on us, while at the same helping however we can.

    Some very dear people to me have been seriously depressed. I agree with the “energy vampire” premise, having experienced it many times first hand. However, nothing is more emotionally draining or tragic than when a friend or loved one ends his or her life.

    As social creatures it is our responsibility to help others, while being aware of our own thoughts. It’s not easy, but it benefits everyone.

    • Pol

      I totally agree with your comment, Alex. This emotion transfer must work both ways, so maybe we can transfer some positive energy to depressed friends, too.

    • http://www.2knowmyself.com Farouk Radwan

      hey Alex
      your points make a lot of sense but let me explain what i meant in a clearer way

      1) as for the cinema example, emotions get transferred because the face features of the actor, his gestures force him to feel his emotions (in addition, the music and the scene setup pulls lots of emotional triggers that further intensifies the experince.

      i am not defending the first theory though, after all its just a theory and all what we care about is practice, if we can make use of the effect then who cares how it works

      2) if you saw my reply to Craig you will get what i meant, of course we should never abandon friends in need but we should become conscious not to get affected by the negative emotions and we should offer them help, if as craig said we found that those people are doing it just for attention then avoidance is the right ting to do

      happy with your comment because it extended the article in a useful way , thank you:)

      • http://www.thermalexposure.com Alex Williams

        Farouk,
        Thanks for the reply.

        I think I get your meaning. I just think rule number 1 can lead to socially irresponsible behavior. However, I’m certainly not advocating that people emotionally invest in people who are just desperate for attention.

        The statement: “Avoid negative people If possible: because they will unintentionally transfer their emotions to you” seems too harsh. Particularly, when the second rule seems sound: “Keep an eye on your own emotions”.

        Rather, It might be better said to “Limit exposure to negative people: they will unintentionally transfer their emotions to you”

        Best.

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  • Lorraine

    What a great article!!

  • Sudharsan

    Hi Farouk,
    Great article. Avoiding negative people – i think it means we are shying away from reality, becoz the one way or the the other we come across all forms of people with various emotions all times. These people can be very close to us or not close to us.

    Instead, if we stay positive & accept the reality that the world is surrounded by negative people and we move on… would it not help us in our all round development?

  • http://www.mypromdresses.co.uk/ prom gowns

    I would hope to be back tracking. Thanks for the great write-up.

  • http://www.asktallgirl.com/ lex girl

    Avoiding negative people sounds very useful but very hard to do.
    At least would be interesting to try.

  • ecyoj

    I was stopped at a light one evening and transfixed my eyes on a mail carrier who was crossing the street looking weary walking to his car. I immediately felt a heavy wave of emotion, I nearly had tears in my eyes thinking to myself, he must be tired from deliving mail.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_YYD62PO6GBAH4X5YDXCJ4CUHXE Liz Briggs

      It is said that empaths are very sensitive to other people’s emotions (perhaps you are one too?).  I know a few people whose EQ is zero or close to it, and they are definitely never affected  by such sights.  They just don’t internalise it.  On the other hand, empaths seem to internalise it too much.  So there is a quite a spectrum how different people are affected by other people’s high or low energy.
      Empaths need to protect themselves.  If only I’d known when I was younger…  Long term effects of negative energy can be devastating.

  • Pd

    The reason partners often look like each other is more to do with the well researched fact that people are attracted to others who look like them (as long as they are not immeadiate family). This has some unfortunate consequences in certain situations. For example, any one looking for a relative they have never met or known needs to know about the familial attraction phenomenom which can result in a woman finding their father irresistably attractive after meeting them for the first time having never met them or known of their father before. This can result in the two related people wishing they had not actually found each other due to the problems that result. A man who has been a sperm donor for a relatively long time would need to be very carefull about dealing with any young women they come across who become obviously strongly attracted to them and whom they also find extremely attractive.

    It also causes the people looking like their pets syndrome in two ways. The selective breeding of dogs for instance has been in some part driven by peoples desire to give dogs the looks and characteristics that they find attractive in people and consequently people pick dogs for pets depending on the looks and characteristics they find attractive in people which often results in them choosing dogs that have characteristics  and looks similar to themselves.

    Then there is the matter of chemical signatures, people emit organic volatile chemical molecules sometimes refered to as pheremones which appear to have specific effects on those around them, it may be that some people could cause various negative or positive effects incuding emotional response effects in people around them simply because they are emiting a particular set of pheremones at particular levels.

  • Stanislav_ivanov

    You say – “Avoid negative people” to be happy. Why then so many people who work with miserable and unhappy – like charity, red cross, etc. – are so happy? Why, others say, help poor and unhappy people to be happier? Like in Bible: you should visit ill and imprisoned.

  • AnnaHunnyBelle

    Some people see this as a gift, not me. It’s a curse I’m stuck with… It’s getting the best of me.. it is true.. hanging around someone who has a depression- can lead you to having deppression symptoms… My ex was on a depression.. it was very hard on him… he hurt himself.. and so did I… I do not see this as a blessing at all.. when it all get too much- when I’m around too many people.. I almost feel like I’m gonna pass out.. some people get the good side of the blade; able to help and feel people but able to shut it out when you don’t want it..I’m stuck with the rusted side of the blade.. able to feel everything x100, at the same time.. people say- “oh, weell try this meditation shit” doesn’t do anything.. just letting people know it’s not all butterflies and sunshine.. may you luckily be free of this curse.. ~ Anna

  • ABC

    Could this work with actions as well? I went through a depression/insecurity phase and it resulted with starring at a friends crotch whenever i got high while i was in college. when i returned home i started to stare at peoples crotch while i wasnt high. then i got high with some old friends and my friends started to stare at my crotch. Then my dad started to stare at my crotch. And one time i starred at this cashiers crotch while i was paying for gas on a date and when i got in the car my date started to stare at my crotch and she did it every time we would met. I constantly taught about not starring at peoples crotches. Please Help. Im over it now though but some people that i approached about starring at my crotch say its all in my head and that they never did it, but i know im not trippin because a close friend told me he starred at my crotch. lol it sounds stupid but its True

  • ABC

    Could this work with actions as well? I went through a depression/insecurity phase and it resulted with starring at a friends crotch whenever i got high while i was in college. when i returned home i started to stare at peoples crotch while i wasnt high. then i got high with some old friends and my friends started to stare at my crotch. Then my dad started to stare at my crotch. And one time i starred at this cashiers crotch while i was paying for gas on a date and when i got in the car my date started to stare at my crotch and she did it every time we would met. I constantly taught about not starring at peoples crotches. Please Help. Im over it now though but some people that i approached about starring at my crotch say its all in my head and that they never did it, but i know im not trippin because a close friend told me he starred at my crotch. lol it sounds stupid but its True

  • ABC

    Could this work with actions as well? I went through a depression/insecurity phase and it resulted with starring at a friends crotch whenever i got high while i was in college. when i returned home i started to stare at peoples crotch while i wasnt high. then i got high with some old friends and my friends started to stare at my crotch. Then my dad started to stare at my crotch. And one time i starred at this cashiers crotch while i was paying for gas on a date and when i got in the car my date started to stare at my crotch and she did it every time we would met. I constantly taught about not starring at peoples crotches. Please Help. Im over it now though but some people that i approached about starring at my crotch say its all in my head and that they never did it, but i know im not trippin because a close friend told me he starred at my crotch. lol it sounds stupid but its True

  • ABC

    Could this work with actions as well? I went through a depression/insecurity phase and it resulted with starring at a friends crotch whenever i got high while i was in college. when i returned home i started to stare at peoples crotch while i wasnt high. then i got high with some old friends and my friends started to stare at my crotch. Then my dad started to stare at my crotch. And one time i starred at this cashiers crotch while i was paying for gas on a date and when i got in the car my date started to stare at my crotch and she did it every time we would met. I constantly taught about not starring at peoples crotches. Please Help. Im over it now though but some people that i approached about starring at my crotch say its all in my head and that they never did it, but i know im not trippin because a close friend told me he starred at my crotch. lol it sounds stupid but its True

  • ABC

    Could this work with actions as well? I went through a depression/insecurity phase and it resulted with starring at a friends crotch whenever i got high while i was in college. when i returned home i started to stare at peoples crotch while i wasnt high. then i got high with some old friends and my friends started to stare at my crotch. Then my dad started to stare at my crotch. And one time i starred at this cashiers crotch while i was paying for gas on a date and when i got in the car my date started to stare at my crotch and she did it every time we would met. I constantly taught about not starring at peoples crotches. Please Help. Im over it now though but some people that i approached about starring at my crotch say its all in my head and that they never did it, but i know im not trippin because a close friend told me he starred at my crotch. lol it sounds stupid but its True

  • Minerva334

    What about detachment?Aren’t we responsible for how we react to negative people?

  • Thor Eptg

    Is there a technical term for this phenomenon? I’d like to study it more.

  • Bmvsprasad

    Yes Absolutely i believe this theory because some how long back understand(not a great but to some extent) this phenomenon. While mingling with many i observed that we absorb feelings and emotions.
    Now i got the proof to it.

  • Bmvsprasad

    Yes i Absolutely beleive this theory.Some how long back i Understand(not a great but to some extent) this phenomenon.When mingle with many we absorb the emotions and feelings of others.I got proof.  More over , when people are in such a stuation,if we just remember the fact that emotions are contagious we will come back to normal state.I experienced many times. As soon as we realise we no longer feel the toughness in absorbed emotions.

  • Ra_chel45

    This is a really damaging idea. Reinforces stigma towards people who are ill and people who suffer from depression. And hardly any convincing evidence was used in this argument.