Mindfulness as a resiliency strategy to cope with extreme empathy

Dr.  Joel Salinas has the ability to feel in his body what other people are feeling in theirs.  He thought this aptitude was normal- after all, it is normal for him and 1.6% of the population. Scientists who have researched this ability have labeled it a medical condition and called it called Mirror-touch synesthesia.  All of us have mirror neurons in our prefrontal cortext and other areas of the brain.  These mirror neurons mimic the feelings/sensations we see in others and we have a corresponding sense of them in our own bodies.  Just think of any movie or situation where someone is moved to tears.  Watching them be moved to tears causes tears to well up in our own eyes.  Those are mirror neurons at work.

On a daily basis, Dr. Salinas needs to grapple with his own experience and feel the experience and sensations of everyone else around him too.  He learned how to avoid being constantly overwhelmed by focusing on his breathing and staring at calm people.  Just another creative way to be mindful, and to remain resilient- in his case- in the face of relentless stimulation.  Read a fascinating article about his extreme empathy here.

About Elizabeth Sudler

As a senior manager in two national behavioral health insurance companies, I had P&L responsibility for large clinical and call centers. Predominantly my work has involved turnarounds and operational expansion to meet growth targets. I have consulted in vendor roles with multiple Fortune 500 companies on behavioral change management, and led hundreds of seminars on resilience and self-management topics using psychological principles from my training as a licensed psychotherapist.

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Elizabeth Sudler LCSW-R, ACC

Phone: 631-725-2923
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