Every day presents us with dozens of challenges to our inner peace and emotional well-being. At any moment, the unexpected can disrupt our lives. Some situations only tug at our hearts, while others can quickly trigger us to react in anger and upset. Whether we're faced with an irate boss, a tired and crabby spouse, or a whining child, our response determines the outcome of all communication.
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Think about that for a moment: we can influence the outcome of any situation by our response! This social intelligence skill is called emotional mirroring or resonance.
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall: Lessons from the Fairytale Snow White and the Magical Mirror
Even though Snow White did not get the answer that she was looking for, her mirror teaches us a valuable lesson.
Emotional mirroring for others—a magic mirror of sorts—is a worthwhile skill to learn. When we become an accurate mirror for the emotions of others we encounter, we are empowered to impact situations positively. Emotional mirroring holds the potential to singlehandedly decrease stress, increase joy, defuse tense circumstances, and create strong bridges to deepen all of your relationships. Accompanied by its twin sister, empathy, we create a safe space that is unmatched.
Emotional Intelligence begins with self-awareness and then unfolds as social awareness by extending compassion to others. Feeling understood is a human need, one that, if you meet through emotional mirroring, is powerfully healing. When a person experiences your nonjudgmental presence, it's as though they can relax into their more genuine self.
Related reading: "5 Ways to Use Empathy and Empathizing to Improve Any Relationship."
Below is a simple step-by-step process that gives you a template to practice in your life and relationships.
Steps to Help Others Feel Understood
STEP 1: Accept that emotion is not good or bad; it is just energy moving through us.
STEP 2: Realize that the person's emotion is not about you.
STEP 3: Make a decision to be open, nonjudgmental, and lovingly detached.
STEP 4: Identify the emotion—i.e., angry, sad, frustrated, happy, excited, etc.
STEP 5: As accurately as possible, mirror what the person is expressing and saying so they feel heard.
If you have difficulty following the above steps, it may indicate that you need to calm yourself before responding. Sometimes the experiences of others and their emotions can trigger emotions in us. Just like looking in a pond with ripples or waves, unprocessed emotions can create a distortion. Take care of yourself first.
When you respond, if the person's emotions don't dissipate, it may be a sign that you skipped one or more of the above steps. Check in with yourself, center in your heart and try again. Practice until you feel confident in being present and being a mirror to help others calm and return to their heart.
For an emotional intelligence course, check out our store. If you're interested in learning empathy, our self-coaching workbook is a perfect learning tool.