This is about how we interact with our family and our colleagues..
There are many articles online about emotional contagion. What is it ? :
If we feel good we can make others feel better. If we feel bad we can make others feel worse. When we feel good we secrete positive hormones and when we feel bad we secrete negative ones: this contagion can even happen on a video call.
So we can have a positive impact on others, as long as we maintain our own well-being. This does not mean closing down negative emotions we might feel.. but having the self-awareness to manage those feelings – to express our own sadness or frustration without ‘dumping’ on others.
We need to look after ourselves first in order to be able to support others. We may choose to conceal our own negative feelings temporarily when dealing with a more vulnerable member of our family or work team who is struggling. It is also good to show our vulnerability to others, talk about our feelings, and enable them, in turn, to talk about their emotions. It is a choice.
Our interactions at home with our families, or our housemates, may be tough because we are not used to being shut in with each other all the time. If one person is not feeling good their emotions can infect the others around them. If we are conscious of this, we can shift our own interactions by managing our breathing, making eye contact, listening, a smile and touch, to tip things in a more positive direction.
In our family units we will have a common intention of wanting to get through this period intact .That will mean different things for each person in those units: how we use our time, what we do to look after ourselves and stay well, how we contribute to helping others and more. It is essential to try and have open conversations about what that means for each person, to build understanding and tolerance of each other. It takes good listening and the ability to not judge. This principal applies to people in teams at work too. We need to exercise a lot of compassion with each other and allow people as much autonomy as possible to decide for themselves.
It helps me to recognise that sad feelings can co-exist alongside more positive ones – it is really normal for us to feel angry, frustrated, sad, confused and lost in these uncertain times where loved ones may be at risk. We can ask ourselves what that more negative feeling is showing us. Part of surviving each day is making space to create positive feelings – pleasure at a beautiful film or piece of music, eating a lovely meal, having a good conversation with friends, hope for new opportunities appearing.
Other people may be experiencing worse things than we are, suffering more, but this does not mean our own experience is not valid – we all need compassion for each other. We each need space to feel our own version of events. We can use our power to ask others how they are and listen well. It is a mistake to assume we know what they are thinking or feeling – we need to listen, understand and remember what they say is important for them, though it may not be for us.
Compassion is tuning into these differences of points of view and maybe positively influencing the other person’s mood gently. These are skills we can develop and practice over time and which will serve us for life.