Dealing With Drama
If you’ve ever wondered how an emotionally charged situation can escalate so quickly, where before you know it you find yourself caught up in the whirlwind and adding to the drama, the answer is at least in part mirror neurons. They seem to play an essential role in human life by letting us observe an emotional state in someone else and then take on that state ourselves. If you doubt whether this is possible just think about how you are instantly able to sense the mood of a room you enter, if it’s festive or somber for example, and how your own state of being quickly conforms to the general atmosphere without any conscious decision on your part.
The ability to take on the emotional state of someone else is necessary for empathy and allows for human connection, but the downside is that we can find ourselves saddled with emotions we don’t want to be feeling just by proxy. In a very real sense then, the easiest way to keep drama out of your life is to surround yourself with people who are relatively free of drama.
Sometimes this is impossible though, so really the best way to keep drama out of your life is to increase your mindfulness in order to quickly become aware of a change in your own emotional state so that you can decide whether this change originates from within you or is a response to a changed emotional state in someone else. Why let yourself be burdened by emotions that don’t belong to you? It’s quite absurd to allow the emotional volatility of another to upset your own equilibrium but if you don’t make the firm decision to be aware of the role mirror neurons play in your life it will continue to happen.
From a mindfulness perspective, you don’t have to try to stop your emotions from changing when they are influenced by your surroundings but you do want to become acutely aware of it happening in the moment, which will probably have a profound impact on how you react to the situation. You realize that allowing your mirror neurons to be the ones behind the steering wheel turns you into a parrot, sapping your human freedom. We don’t always get to decide how we are feeling but we always get to decide on the attitude we take towards how we’re feeling. The simple shift of saying to yourself “I’m noticing myself riled up and it’s probably due to my mirror neurons mimicking this other person’s emotional state” gives you a powerful tool against getting swept up in drama that you really want no part of.