Yes, it’s true. I say it’s kind of a superpower. A superpower brought to you by your mirror neurons. Mirror neurons are specialized brain cells that exist in several areas of your brain. And you have them to thank for this powerful ability. Mirror neurons are a key component of “Theory of Mind,” the ability to understand and connect with others at an unconscious level.
Everyone has mirror neurons devoted to picking up on subtle cues from other people we encounter. When you are in the same physical space as another person or can see or hear them, your brain will send you clues about their thoughts, emotions, and intentions. And when you process those clues, you can feel what they feel.
Let’s say you’re watching a ball game on TV. As the QB falls back, his body language reveals he is uncertain, then suddenly you know he has chosen a receiver. How can you tell what a guy on TV is thinking, feeling, and planning? And how does your body know what he’s feeling is his body? Or how about when you sit in a theater and hear an infectious laugh from the audience? Makes me want to laugh every time. If you stand next to someone who is tense and frightened, your muscles might tighten and your heart race. If they are relaxed and calm, your body will be too. It’s happening when someone across the room suddently notices you and is interested, and you pick up on it.
And others can feel you too. Folks who encounter you when you are feeling sad, or mad, or happy, will feel it right along with you. It happens without thought, below consciousness, most of the time. Although now that you know about it, you will probably notice it happening often and can learn to become more aware of it. The power of mirror neurons is thought to be the basis of our empathy, intuition, or as I like to say, “vibes.”
We have a wonderous superpower that helps us to broadcast, receive, and interpret emotional signals. That helps us to connect with everyone around us, all the time, everywhere.