Wayne instantly felt his gut tighten when he saw the flash of terror flood his partner’s face in Bagdad. Then they both dove behind their vehicle. That fast reaction saved them.
It’s a miracle really. Not only can we observe and think about what another person is feeling; we can actually experience their feelings. So-called mirror neurons in our brain are connected to our limbic system. These neurons fire not only when we act, but when we watch others act.
Simple put, you can feel what another person is feeling. You can feel their intentions Giacomo Rizzolatti discovered.
And it happens fast. Within just 200 milliseconds of seeing someone’s face, beginning with his eyes, you are interpreting his feelings.
some researchers, we instinctively imitative what we see in others:
See fear = feel fear.
See joy = feel happier.
One qualifier to this astounding power, I’ve discovered as perhaps have you. We may feel another person’s fear or joy yet misinterpreted the specific reason that person feels it. That can lead to embarrassing or otherwise inept responses.
This effect has other upsides and downsides. It makes us human. We are instinctively imitative. When you turn around and see your daughter glowing as she walks down the wedding aisle, you probably feel her feelings.