Want to Change the People Around You?
LIES That Limit discusses culture – familial, racial, religious, regional, national, etc. – Each has its intended and unintentional impact in the way culture is passed on, not only through the rational, spoken messages we receive, but also through invisible, energetic exchanges. Now, I understand such transmissions to be the magical work of mirror neurons. Now, that’s cool!
Mirror neurons provide clues as to how culture is transmitted and why it’s so hard to change. Because we mimic what we see, we tend to keep doing what we see those around us doing. We imitate what we observe, making our behavior clearly and easily influenced by those around us. People who live together, work together, play together, hang out together begin to act, sound, feel and think alike. Our behavior tends to be a reflection of what we see. The same is so for those around us.
With every feeling you experience, every intention you hold, and every action you take, you’re having a significant affect on others. Your feelings, thoughts and behavior stimulate the same thoughts, feelings and behavior in those around you, through the action of their mirror neurons. They can read your thoughts, feelings and intentions. To extend the logic, the more consistently you engage in a certain behavior, carry a certain feeling and intention, the more likely you are to shape or contour – influence – the behavior of others.
At home, leading by example is more than a catch phrase or way to keep kids from behaving badly. Mirror neurons are another argument for walking the path you want your children to walk — which is infinitely more effective than, “do as I say.” Often you hear parents wonder, “Where on earth did she pick that up?” Now we know there’s a chemical reaction that shapes these behaviors. Actions you take that you don’t think your kids pick up on or that you might not be aware of are working their way into your children’s brains.
If you work in an organization – on a team or lead a group – you can positively affect the culture by maintaining a positive pattern of feeling, thought and behavior. Your consistent, repetitive behavior will impact the mirror neurons of those around you and they will, sooner or later, begin to reflect back to you what they’ve experienced.
To change the culture of your organization or your household, hold firm and stay the course. As Gandhi said, “Be the change you want to see…” and notice how others will eventually mirror back to you your beliefs and behavior.
Learn more about mirror neurons:
- “Cells That Read Minds” (New York Times)
- Giacomo Rizzolatti – Mirror Neurons (Go Cognitive)
- “The Mind’s Mirror” (American Psychological Association)