Make or break relationships this holiday season

Have you ever wondered why you cringe when you see another human being in distress either physically or emotionally?

Recently, I watched a Broncos player get steamrollered by another player; I instantly recoiled in my seat and groaned as if I were the one hit. The other day, I was watching a woman who had lost her child tearfully tell her story on TV; I wept for her situation even though I have never personally lost a child.  When working with clients one-on-one, I will be able to read an emotion around a situation they are describing before they verbally share how they felt about it.  We are created with an innate ability for empathy and compassion down to our neurology. 

We actually are biologically wired for empathetic responses along with the ability to read and respond to other people’s emotions. Mirror neurons were discovered in the 1990s by neuroscientist Giacomo Rizzzolatti. They imitate the actions and emotions of other people. They are brilliantly designed to help us empathize and understand along with learning. This is why we imitate positive or negative emotions that we ourselves observe in other people. Basically, we have the ability to evoke an emotional response in other people positive or negative.

This is a powerful insight worth our attention in that it reminds us of our ability to evoke feelings and emotions in those around us.  Your attitude will either create positive connection with those in your circle of influence or negate it and the choice is yours. How you choose to show up emotionally in a relationship literally impacts the connection you will experience…positive or negative. In NLP they refer to this as eliciting states of behavior, studies reveal that a positive emotional expression can lift negative energy put off by another human being.

The Grinch, a character created by Theodor Seuss Geisel, known as Dr. Seuss, was actually inspired by his own self-reflection during the holiday season, as he looked in the mirror and realized he didn’t want to steal the joy out of Christmas with a grumpy attitude.

During this holiday season, we are surrounded with an intention for more joy; love; forgiveness and random acts of kindness.  For many of us, this is an uplifting time that holds an incredible opportunity to realign our words, thoughts, deeds and actions with the person we desire to be in this world.  For others, it creates a painful reminder of what they don’t have in this life versus what they do have.  For many, this season evokes a deep sense of loneliness and despair, as they feel isolated from the experience of love, goodness and kindness.  This puts before us all an incredible opportunity to be love to those who feel unloved; kindness to those who have experienced cruelty; joy to those who experience despair; fellowship to those who experience loneliness. 

At the core of humanity, we have a deep need for positive connection and care, basically, to know that we matter.  Knowing that we actually have neurons dedicated to empathy and compassion, offers us an incredible opportunity to put that knowledge into action and make a positive impact in the lives of every human being we encounter in our daily life. 

When you feel that empathetic response towards someone in need and do not respond, you are actually moving against what you are created for: empathy and compassion. Too often, we keep it inside and do not allow this connective response to move us into positive action.  Authentic living and life satisfaction occurs when your beliefs, along with what you value most in this life, are aligned with your behavior.

If you want to experience more love in your relationships…be loving.  If you want to experience more kindness and respect…be kind and respectful; perhaps it’s more understanding, seek to understand.  Your attitude in relationships is either your closest friend or worst enemy and you get to choose it.  When you make your choice of response to the life and people that come before you, you will either ignite joy to the world or shut it down. 

Are you a Grinch that steals Christmas or one that restores it? The choice is yours and will make all the difference in the outcomes you experience in relationships you care about.

24 Hour Action Call: Make a conscious choice to show up with a positive attitude in every encounter you have with another human being. Smile, laugh, use encouraging words and explore kind, joyful responses. See how many negative encounters you can flip into the positive by choosing the response you would want to experience. Create a positive connection with someone today, or not, the choice is yours and backed by your biology.

Enjoy Stress Solutions University’s Holiday Gift to You: