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By David, inspired by ALL One

Mirrors Mirrors all around,
what you See is what you Become
or
Monkey See, Monkey Do!

Purpose

Mirror neurons are specialized neurons in specific areas of the brain. Recently science has been able to measure the activity of those neurons, and they have found that for some human activities, certain neurons fire when a person performs an action.

They have also found that the same neurons fire

even if that person is simply WATCHING

another person doing the same activity!

Furthermore, the person watching (or hearing sometimes) another person actually mirrors some of those behaviors, quite possibly without even thinking about the consequences of the action. You mind mimics other people's behaviors and those behaviors (can) get programmed into you.

The purpose of this page is to help you realize that these scientific results can help you be aware of how much people around you can (or did) influence you in your life. It effects who you become (or became). Science has actually provided for the first time in history, scientific proof that human interactions with others does contribute to how we behave, think, or become. This proof is something that could only be hypothesized by professionals up until now.

Moving forward, this knowledge can influence us as to how important it is for you to choose the people you spend your time with (or watch through media). Similarly, since we are all role model for others, this knowledge can make us aware of how important it really is for us to "be a good example" to others.

Very briefly

Mirror neurons were first discovered when measuring the brain activity in monkeys, and later verified in humans.

Someone yaws, you yawn. Someone taps their foot, others start tapping their foot. You watch a World Series game, the Olympics, and they all provide you with great emotional thoughts. You can almost feel how the players feel. Sad movies make you feel sad. You see someone drinking a bottle of coke, and you may get thirsty, or crave it! Now these are oversimplified examples, and they were intended to just give you a "taste" of what they can influence. The list goes on.

It's also important to be aware that we learn from other role models besides just people we come in contact with. This includes both real and artificially created role models in media such as TV, internet, video games, pictures, and audio.

Now, if you don't already know, consider taking a look at how powerful newer lifelike virtual reality glasses have already proven to be (See: YouTube videos of V.R. glasses in therapy and Clinical Virtual Reality the Future of Therapy thriveglobal.com). Since lifelike virtual reality is working so well, wouldn't it also follow that our newer LARGER screen TV's with higher quality, and much more LIFELIKE display of people would prove to be more effective than ever in inducing our mirror neurons? It seems logical to me. For example, some experts believe that violent lifelike video games and TV may provide role models that actually promote violent acts in people (see The Potential Role of Mirror Neurons in the Contagion of Violence nih.gov).

Besides the fact that the actions observed of other people stimulate our mirror neurons causing us to "do" and "learn" things, I want to reiterate that:

Oftentimes we mimic or learn these actions
without even thinking about it.

This means that we can learn good (or bad) behaviors, without thinking about the fact that they are good or bad! Psychologists would say they bypass the critical-thought functions of the conscious mind and are programmed in the subconscious (also known as the unconscious) mind. (See also: Wiki). And it turns out that science has compared brain waves of adults to children up to age six, and they found that children's brain operates without the conscious mind, meaning they really are not actually even able to distinguish between right and wrong! (see healyourlife.com)

Science has also verified that other senses besides just watching a person, such as sound and smell, can affect our mirror neurons and associated processes.

If you google: mirror neurons you will see lots of great articles about them. One thing to note is that initially, professionals started thinking that mirror neurons may be the answer to so many questions, and some of those may prove to be incorrect in the future (see a page in Scientific American). However, the facts that our mirror neurons exist, that they are effected by outside influences, and that we may not even be "aware" that we are being influenced, still remains true.

Implications

Psychiatrists, doctors, and other professionals write that the recently discovered neuron mirrors provides scientific evidence to a piece of the puzzle that clearly helps to answer the question why people make some decisions that are not healthy decisions.

By observing "role models" such as parents, friends, other people,
and media (such as TV, video games, or virtual reality),
our mirror neurons and associated processes do affect what we become.

So I invite you to consider the following:

  • If people live around someone who drinks alcohol or smokes, are they more likely to drink or smoke?
  • If people watch negative TV such as news, or interact with negative people, are they more likely to become negative?
  • If people listen to people complain, are they more likely to become a complainer?

On the flip side of the coin:

  • If people surround themselves with mirrors who nurture their minds, bodies, and spirits, are they more likely to have a healthier mind, body and spirit?
  • If people have close friends who are positive, loving, and happy, are they more likely to become more positive, happy, and loving?
  • If people spend time with people who set life goals and take responsibility for their lives more likely to have richer, fuller lives?

Now realize that both lists could go on, and you may want to consider creating a list of ones that apply to your life, and adjust your mirrors accordingly. Also be aware that the mirrors that present stronger feelings or emotions, and mirrors that are repeatedly acting or saying something; be it helpful or harmful, will influence you more.

When I was searching for mirror neuron topics, I bumped into this excellent ted.com talk: "In our baby's illness, a life lesson." It talks about how mirror neurons are used in rehab their child, but as the video progresses, they talk about how they (the parents) realized they were the mirrors for their son. "We were looking at him as a problem." "Not from a positive perspective." "We realized that we had to become a better mirror for Mario."

Conclusion

While there are obviously lots of other "pieces of the puzzle", such as genetics, that potentially influence who we become, I think common sense or intuition can guide us to making better decisions. Without realizing it sometimes, other people's influence can distort those truths. There will always be both positive and negative people in our lives.

After learning about the science of mirror neurons, I've started to wonder if maybe our mirrors (our role models) effect our lives much more than many people typically think they do. It might help to answer some the puzzling questions such as "Why are children who grow up around negative alcoholic families still statistically more likely to become alcoholics as adults?"

If we are aware of the affects mirror neurons and associated processes have on us; we can make conscious decisions that can improve our lives and the lives of others. Smile, and those who see us smile are more likely to smile. When given the option, I invite you to consider choosing, when you can, a positive, loving, healthy environment, and mirroring the same for others.

Thank YOU for reading this!

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This page updated 06/07/18 04:36 PM