The commonplace, contagious and curative nature of human emotions

emotional contagion

Emotionless is something we are never taught to be. Even when some of us might seemingly build up some sort of an immunity to the workings of the emotional, what we in fact are mastering is just the concealment of what and how we feel at the core of our heart. Naturally, with such easy surrender that we give away to this true blue feel of the human kind, it is certain that the working of emotions governs our lives in more ways than one. Very assertive in their expression in that they somehow play out through our body even when we try our best to supress the facade of their show is this nature of the emotions that we encounter as something we believe to be wholly our own. But the dynamics of what makes emotions the all pervasive range of characteristically human realisations that they are means that they are far more assertive in their manifestation than what we attribute them as. Often subconscious and ‘unfelt’, even when they affect indeed our entire existence at the moment, or even over extended periods of time are the workings of these emotions that throw wide open our vulnerabilities but not always in such extents that stem deeply and directly from within us. Instead, the onus of the work that our emotions come to embody surprisingly can rest also as effectively in the feelings of others, due to a mode of oft experienced social behavior referred to as emotional contagion.

As the very name suggests, emotional contagion is the experience of a phenomenon whereby we are affected by the emotional state of others, in such intensity that we indeed end up feeling much of what they do. And despite our non awareness of it, at least in the moment in which such ‘sharing’ takes place, the common experience of catching onto other’s feeling is not any rare an occurrence. Think of all the times you have ended up crying just by seeing your parents shed their tears or the beaming smile that plays out on your face without your knowledge every time you see your crush having a moment of ecstatic happiness or even those instances when the mere awareness of a foul mooded boss left you irritated and agitated in the midst of what otherwise had been the most pleasant of routine experiences for you and you will be surprised to know the rate at which we succumb to the intensity of the emotional airs of people around us. Of course the takeovers of the feels are more likely to occur when it is someone you know really well who is experiencing their particular moment in time but also availing to our really delicate awarenesses of the mind could be the anguished cry of some stranger or the flush of happiness that washes over you anytime you witness an earnest public proposal of love go all right which makes the contagious nature of emotions a truth more universal than any other.

It might come across as somewhat of an irony that the occurrence of such a state where emotions tend to spread and engulf also others not really concerned with them is almost always one that catches one unawares even when the accruing of it is itself dependent most crucially on the awareness of what is characterising the feelings of the individual from where it progresses as part of its contagious nature. That does not however rule out the possibility of emotions emphasising their work in contagion over other modes of human communication including also digital mediums of telecommunication like email and chats despite the notion to the contrary of how such means of non physical, non verbal connect fostered between individuals does not account always for the truest expression of the self. In such extensive premises therefore of its reckoning, it indeed is rather usual for emotions to easily permeate the ranges of physicality and establish its assertion across a rather wide realm of what makes up the human experience, making these mental cues of human(e) leanings a very interesting prospect through which sentiments and sensibilities pertaining to every individual existence can be affected.

And affect they do indeed, and not always in such consciousness that tends to be lesser than the norm of what constitutes the true human awareness of the happenings around them. So well know today is this aspect of what emotions can come to mean even when they aren’t exclusively one’s own that this very innate taking after the inner experiences of others have come to be exploited in conformity to what humans forever seek out opportunities for, making therefore for such cases of deliberate emotional manipulation directed to some ulterior end. Often practised in ‘healthy’ reiterations of it within the workplace by team leaders or managers to induce favourable outcomes out of their employees, as a very accepted professional mode of behavior, this explicit assertion of the potential hoarded by emotions as being contagious entities takes on therefore functional interpretations as well.

In such measures of how emotions can be directed to yield intended outcomes in the human world however opens up the contagious essence of the feels to much vulnerability. While being susceptible to the affect of the emotions of others is not necessarily a negative trait of humans or one that needs to be avoided in all circumstances, manifesting in fact as an essential consequence of harbouring the desired quality of empathy, the quality of it of being more than open to coercing tactics makes it also a case of some confoundedness. On one hand this capacity stemming from the all pervasive nature of emotions means therefore that it would pay for us to try and be as positive as possible through a major chunk of our encounters with others for the vibe to transmeate through them, which helps in asserting our personality as one that finds more favor among people. This would be especially helpful in building happy, healthy relationships of both the personal and professional kind since the innate human tendency is to gravitate towards such existences that have a certain air of positivity about them.

At the same time though, this capability of the human self to tweak the nature of emotional contagion to such effect that can be potentially disadvantageous for the person it is directed to means that we need to be continuously aware of what we are allowing to affect us. Even in circumstances that are not induced but that which makes ground for negativity to find its way to us through our interactions with say a perennially sad soul or a depressed individual, the working of emotional contagion means that we need to exercise some caution. In the first case what we can merely do is recognise the pattern of the behavior that is practised deliberately to elicit responses from us and thereby ignore such pursuits of which we can decipher very well a certain motive. Choosing our folks wisely or at best maintaining a distance from such people so as to not offer opportunities for talks of the emotion to seep into conversations are the conscious ways in which we can let emotional contagion perform its function in all its naturality. With anyway the contagious attribute of this theory essentially marking it as somewhat negative an assertion, it becomes all the more crucial to steer clear of such practices that validate such understandings of it to protect the concept from falling into misinterpretation and ourselves from plunging into negativity.

What however is not so feasible enough to suggest a walkaway from are such emotions that are contagious in such negativity that are very genuine experiences for the active perceivers of them as well. Particularly when it is some really close connection from whom this negative trail of emotions pertains to us, the right thing to do is not to severe our ties with them but instead help them also ditch such negative awareness of their own. It is in fact by engaging with a distressed partner or a gloomy sibling that we can protect them and also ourselves from the negative repertoire also encompassed by the diversive range of human emotions. The effort here is to dwell still on the contagious power that emotions are capable of but in such working of it that accounts for somewhat of a backward flow. By feeling their negativity and understanding the miserable experience that is making things difficult for them, we need to take it upon ourselves to make efforts to stay positive and in turn have our state of mind permeate into the inner reaches of their soul.

To such extents and in such standing, emotional contagion can also be practised as some sort of a therapy. Harnessing this social power embedded within the many an assertions across the spectrum of human emotions can therefore be a very mindful activity that which can open avenues for easing the complications arising out of the workings of the psyche in general. Even with the somewhat negative connotation of the contagious essence in which they rest, and also the fact that negative emotions are more easily transmitted as passive realisations, emotional contagion itself can in fact be a rather rewarding way of being more aware of the feels that make us human, allowing access to also such experiences of the mind and the heart which might elude us at times in their exclusivity. It manifests that age long human necessity of putting oneself in the shoes of others so that we can be better appreciative of our own existence while also being more receptive of the emotional range that characterise different individuals differently. From helping us emerge as beings nurturing greater empathy to rendering us capable of yielding a power dramatically influential, it is the contagious nature of emotions that can help also the human essence emerge as more commonplace in the world.