Whose bad mood are you mirroring?

People who hang around together tend to vibe together. Moods and emotions are contagious. Your brain registers the emotional changes of people who are nearby, whether you are conscious of it or not.

Gary W. Lewandowski, Jr., in an article in Scientific American describes how the non-conscious mind mimics facial expressions of others. Mirror neurons record other people’s facial expressions and body movements and cause one to mirror the expression and posture. This triggers a similar emotional response.

When two people get together, who mirrors whom? In relationships of equality, it seems that moods would average out in most cases. My experience supports this notion.
Experience also tells me that relatively empathic people tend to mirror those with less empathy. And, it stands to reason that those with limited empathy are either not picking up emotional signals from others or ignoring those signals.

This can be bad news if you are regularly close to a controlling, manipulative, or even moody person with limited empathy. People with personality disorders that have little or no empathy tend to pair up with people who feel more empathy than the average.  So guess whose mood you end up reflecting?

Are you partnered with or related to a controlling or cranky person? Do you work for one? Take time away from them on a regular basis. Vamoose whenever they are in a horrid mood.   Most people can be cheered up, but if someone always drags you down, get out of Dodge!

If your boss is on the warpath, develop a sudden illness or a crisis to attend to.  If your angry husband needs therapy, have him call a professional.  Meanwhile, have some family crisis or work project that takes you out of his orbit for a while.  If your parent makes you feel blue, visit another time or at least get out of the room they’re in for a bit.

You might want to act as if they have a contagious disease, because…they do.

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4 Responses to “Whose bad mood are you mirroring?”


  1. 1 Praphai July 15, 2012 at 1:20 am

    Thanks for the way you explained & clarified some muddy, blurry, unsettling moods & feelings that I supposed most people have experienced, but don’t understand why… especially women who seemed to get stuck in such situation, because of their tendency to over-empathize with others…

  2. 2 Janet July 7, 2014 at 8:40 pm

    Wow, this paragraph is pleasant, my younger sister is analyzing these things, thus I
    am going to inform her.

  3. 3 isaacujvb.Skyrock.com July 26, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Awesome blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers?
    I’m planning to start my own site soon but I’m a little lost on everything.
    Would you recommend starting with a free platform like WordPress or go for a paid option? There are so many options
    out there that I’m completely confused .. Any ideas? Kudos!

    • 4 Ruth Wilson July 28, 2014 at 10:38 am

      Thanks. My advice would be start anywhere and write, write, write! Get a free blog. The price is right. You can always put it on a different platform later. Best wishes to you.


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