Over the years I’ve become geeky about neurological development and brain-wiring, and my absolute favorite wires are mirror neurons.

These lovely links allow us the capacity to feel and experience what others are feeling and experiencing – we are literally wired to understand and help each other.

Sometimes I feel like my brain is a house of mirrors because I have difficulty deciphering other people’s feelings from my own.

This is super uncomfortable. I’ve developed some ways of moving through the world in an effort to stay intact, but of course I get caught off guard sometimes, and BLAH, I have to feel this crap.

Sometimes it’s someone else’s, sometimes it’s my own, but either way I get thrown down the mountain and have to regain my footing as I climb back up. As I climb, the more awe I feel for how we are created.

Why would we have these mirror neurons if it weren’t to bind us and remind us of our shared humanity?

The experience of pain or the sense of unfairness leads to the compassion and empathy necessary to make real change.

But like all powerful things, it can be too much sometimes. To protect ourselves from pain, we numb it out or contribute to the struggle rather than work to eradicate it.

The shut down is completely understandable to me. I’ve felt it, I’ve done it. We all have.

My personal experience and experience with others has taught me that some of the most insensitive people today were probably the most sensitive when they were younger.

They could feel SO much, and without language, guidance, and understanding, they had to shut it down. They had to self protect to survive.

When the pain of our lives is too much, we stop feeling. We literally stop looking in our mirrors, our gifts become our challenges.

The challenge is lessened if we realize how normal we are. We are so many different things at once, and not all of those things are pretty.

We cannot always choose, and we cannot always be in control, but we are always capable of expanding and evolving.

We need to trust that we are OK. We need to tell each other we are OK. We need to look at each other and see our sameness.

We can practice self compassion alongside our pain. Instead of making sadness, anger, and fear negative, we can view them as connectors and redirecting arrows.

When we let our wiring go back to work, empathy takes the place of fear. The desire to comfort ourselves and others takes the place of our wanting to look the other way.

When we trust in our wiring, the world begins to take care of itself.

Cathy is author of the award-winning Living What You Want Your Kids to Learn: The Power of Self-Aware Parenting and host of Zen Parenting Radio.

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