When we were little kids, we learned by doing. Imitation was key to our development. How many little girls get excited about trying on their moms heels and purses so that they can feel like a grown-up, just like their mothers? When we're in school, our teachers show us how to read and write by doing the actions for us first and then allowing us to imitate what they've done. Imitation has always been key to the human development.
When we learn by imitation, we're activating our 'mirror neurons'. These are the neurons in the brain that get fired up when our minds see someone else d oing something that we want to do. By watching them, we can imitate them, and by imitating them, we achieve the goal of doing the same action they're doing.
Now here's where it gets interesting.
Mirror neurons can also be used to counter what the person we're watching is doing. For example, suppose you're watching someone around you get very anxious and stressed. Innately, our brains want to copy them and communicate in an anxious and stressed way as well. However, we have the ability to do the exact opposite. In fact, when we respond to someone's stress with an insane level of calm, we actually obtain the power of controlling and calming the situation. Magic.
Think of it like this.
You know those days when you feel like you just look like crap? You just haven't slept well, your hairs not working out and you rushed out of the house without taking a proper look at your outfit and now you're really regretting it? We've all been there. But you know those REALLY special days when all of that happens but then you take a look at yourself in the mirror and at quick glance you realize, you actually don't look that bad. You were beating yourself up when really, there's a whole lot of potential in that woman staring back at you. All of a sudden, you feel happier and your mood completely changes. The reflection you see was the opposite of how you were feeling and it reverses your mood entirely.
That's how you can control the mirror neuron effect. When stress comes your way in any form, you can respond with an innate sense of calm, and immediately the person causing stress will step back and the situation will dissolve. And if for some reason, they don't, at least you're walking away feeling zen. #winning.