Empathy and mirror neurons

For a long time science has tried to explain the extraordinary human capacity to understand what others feel or think, understand the intentions of others and how to react appropriately to others reactions.  The discovery of a brain system called “mirror neurons” revolutionized this theory. These neurons are activated when we perceive emotions or actions of others, providing the brain with the same information which generates our own emotions or actions.  We know what is feeling someone who laughs because, by seeing him, the same areas of the brain that are involved when we laugh are activated. In the same way, it is probable that observing a spider going up the arm of someone the situation does not make us indifferent.

But, what is empathy?

Empathy can be defined as that which helps us to exercise a good influence on the emotions of others, It allows us to feel others who we are in the same “tuning”. Arises as a conscious and unconscious signals, that can be very subtle or very obvious, causing that a person “like” other, whether known or not. It is certainly the key to create successful relationships, generating well-being in any area of our life.

Some people are emphatic naturally, but others are not. The last ones have a lower ability to activate their mirror neurons, they fail to connect with each other and therefore, the interaction is uncomfortable because they don’t know how to connect naturally with others. People who define themselves as little emphatic or not sociable, have not developed this skill and their own belief system has imposed them ideas such as: “I can not be sociable”,it is hard to be empathetic“, “I do not like socializing”, etc.; when we repeat ourselves this, we are unconsciously training our brains to be exactly as we do not want to be.

How do influence mirror neurons to empathy?

There is an important link between mirror neurons and empathy. Thanks to our powerful ability of imagination, we can understand the mental states of others by simulating them in our brain and feeling the same thing, this is called imitation. Different regions of the brain that contain these particular neurons, are connected with emotions (limbic system), which in turn is correlated to empathy. Meaning that, the more active are these regions, the more emphatic we are. Therefore, we have a greater propensity to create friendly links with others.

How can we develop our empathy?

Now we know that our level of empathy can be increased and -by having full knowledge of our physiology- we can consciously exercise this capability to use it in a natural way.

  • Imitation is one of the most effective techniques. To imitate a person than seems empathetic, we are exercising our mirror neurons and, at the same time, modeling our ability to empathize.
  • Listen with an open mind and without prejudices: pay attention to verbal, body language, tone of voice and facial expressions; in the feelings and reactions of the other. This allows expressing freely to grasp their feelings.
  • Develop the ability to identify what makes the other feeling rewarded in relation to its qualities or achievements, with this you capture his/her attention and, as a result, a better communication.
  • Before giving your opinion on a subject, make sure to have enough information and that the other person has told you everything he wanted to and that you’ve heard and interpreted correctly, both conscious and unconscious as well as the verbal and non-verbal message.
  • Keep a good predisposition to accept the differences you have with others, be tolerant and practice patience, in this sense, take care about your reaction in order to avoid transmitting a negative message. We don’t want the other person’s neurons to perceive this as unpleasant.

It is essential to educate our empathy and encourage the education of our children in this area. To put ourselves in the place of the others to understand what they need, should be a subject in any primary school. Knowing that we can apply this behavior in the personal field and also in the work environment throughout our entire life, surely, we will have the capacity to not only make healthy and fulfilling relationships, but also develop a path of success in all areas of our life.

Personal – work balance: Is it time to redirect my career?

Reconciling a better professional and personal life resembles us to a mountain too big to climb and at the same time, satisfy the needs that must be met. However, doing this, could be a real investment to long term if is carefully planned.

Now, when should we take this initiative? Possibly, when the idea of a calmer life starts to manifest in our minds or when the lack of balance between professional and personal life generates stress added to our jobs or family. A change at the professional level may be a way to redesign our life and make it more fulfilling and rewarding.

Most of the time, when the transition pathway identified is completely consistent with the personal and professional needs (even if you work is so hard), the stress is completely different, at least the perception is different. In other words, the obsession for work decreases, and therefore, we dispose more of our time and energy for the personal sphere.

In previous articles, we have talked about the importance of our decisions in our career building and we have reflex ourselves with affirmations such as: “I am very old (or very young) to change my career”

This time, I would like share you 3 tips that will help you in redirect your career in order to achieve a more balanced personal life:

1 – Check your drivers.

If the search of the balance between the professional and personal life is the only driver of change, then we can ensure that we have taken important steps forward. I say this because in order to successfully achieve change, it is essential that the new choice meets with all levels of your needs: environmental, behavioral, relational, in terms of capabilities, tasks, beliefs, values, needs, etc. This will ensure that the wish for change is real.

2- Accepts the loss of the past condition to increase your self-esteem.

Once we get certain hierarchical level within a company, for example, surely change will imply that the level of responsibilities decreases. This means, the acceptance of the loss of a status. For many of us, this condition is fundamental: we think that we need recognition of our accomplishments to feel ourselves valuable; this is just a reflection of a fragile self-esteem. As a result, the fear of the loss of this external recognition becomes an obstacle to change. On the contrary, to think that we will gain a balanced life, the internal recognition and the emotional inputs will be our self-esteem allies.

3 – Accept the loss of money by the well-being gain.

Another direct consequence of the career transition is the financial loss. However, we have to take into account that this well-being has a cost. The fall in revenues could be compensated by the benefits in terms of personal and family well-being.  Well, we have the key for doing a “temporary” loss if  we focus our efforts in some activity that redeems us in a economical well-being to medium or log term.

In recent years the world has changed and the professional transition is no longer a simply change of company. Any professional transition is a change that can be, either to move forward in our career, or perhaps –even more times that we can imagine- to disrupt what we used to do and to start something completely different. It is also an opportunity to learn, undertake new projects, and why not, to risk!.

Redirect our career is change, life itself is change, and many times change is an opportunity to improve ourselves.

Ultimate keys of success


Ultimate keys of success

Time is a wonderful gift that we have all received. Every person alive has time. Is the way we choose to spend it what makes us have different results from each other. One of the things that I have been told very often is that I am not a very patient person. I am one those who like to have everything done right away, who dreams about something and wants to see it materialized in the next minute. I am not good at all at waiting, and wasting time freaks me out. But living abroad, meeting people from all over the world, working on my own personal development and living tons of different experiences made me realize how wrong I am about “timing” sometimes and made me understand what are the real keys of success.

Focus your energy on the right career


Focus your energy on the right career

Did you know that most people spend only 5% of their time doing something they actually love! The average person spends 60% of the day working (which is why is essential to choose the right career), 20% sleeping, another 15% commuting and only 5% doing something they actually love. That 5% means everything for some people, especially for those who do not enjoy what they do for living. For many people it means not seeing their children growing up, not been able to keep healthy habits, not sharing with friends and family and in general not enjoying life.

These frightening statistics show that the average person barely has time to see his/her family, work out, read a book, go to the movies, have a hobby, etc. And if we are consistent with the metrics, it means that we only have 5% of the energy of the day to do the things we love on those 1.2 hours that left of the day.  It does not sound fair at all, does it?

Positive thinking and personal development


How positive thinking is related to personal development?

Positive thinking is the best practice that we can do when it comes to personal development and achievement. After 20 years of research and investigating the lives of the millionaires in America, Napoleon Hill reached to this conclusion: “We become what we think about most of the time”. There are many habits that the most successful people in the world apply to ensure their success, but certainly the most important one is having a positive thinking.