Mirror, mirror, on them all


Leading by Nick Verron

In a recent blog post, I recognised the “social reflection” phenomenon. After watching the next documentary instalment from David Eagleman, I now know why this happens.

I’m sure everybody reading this has been in the following situation: a stranger smiles at you, and you can’t help but smile back. After finding out the reason behind this, I am absolutely fascinated!

This is because the human brain is always trying to understand what is around it. It is quite common that brains find their selves surrounded by like-minded creatures; the brain’s quest for understanding is no different when it comes to intricate social comprehension. To undertake this complex task, mirror neurons within the brain cause it to mimic expressions, “trying them on”. This is so you can experience this specific configuration of subtle facial expressions for yourself and better understand what they are intended to project. The same underlying principle relates to when we see people experience emotions, and is why we flinch, cry and smile etc at movies. Even though you know the people on the screen in front of you are acting, you can’t help but simulate what they’re feeling to understand them. This is empathy.

The brain is very good at avoiding pain. Therefore, it shies away from simulating potentially painful emotions it’s not prepared for. To block its automatic empathy, it dehumanises the potential source of pain. For instance, many brains will unconsciously dehumanise homeless people. It is manipulation of this mechanism which is the main purpose of propaganda. In extreme cases, empathy is blocked by dehumanisation on a wide scale, resulting in genocide.


I wish to see people who have just had an injury, live a better quality of life. This involves me leading by example. I have recently taken the first step in this, in acknowledging that my pride wouldn’t let me admit my self-image was governed by fear. Whenever I interacted with people, those that didn’t automatically dehumanise me (before being subjected to a painful simulation), would reflect my worry and self-consciousness. Until now, I had thought that all this negativity and subtly being treated as a “lesser being”, emanated from people around me. This strengthened my projected negativity, becoming an exponential vicious cycle. I understand now it was self-inflicted. To combat this, I need to give myself the following advice. These words are “one size fits all”, so apply to everyone who has problems to deal with:

No matter what you feel inside, face the world with a smile and truly believe you can achieve your dreams.

About Nick Verron

Lead Ambassador for the Royal Bucks

Posted on February 22, 2016, in My blog, Top Posts and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 56 Comments.

  1. Fascinating, Nick. I’ve downloaded those programmes and am looking forward to watching them.
    I love your ‘one size fits all’ quote.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your post made me think, Nick. You know about my mum. Sometimes I cry in front of her but mostly I try not be negative. To this day I’m not sure whether she knows who I am or what has happened to her but whenever I go in to see her in the care facility I always smile, I hold her hand, I look in the eyes and I tell her I love her. I don’t know if she knows but it’s all I can do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. so interesting and absolutely, yes!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Reblogged this on Musings on Life & Experience and commented:
    Nick Verron has some interesting findings.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Reblogged this on beyondtheflow and commented:
    I am always interested in how how the brain works and doesn’t work. Ever automatically smiled back at someone who smiles at you? This is why xx Rowena

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great advice Nick!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. That is fantastic, Nick! It makes so much sense. Yes, definitely let’s provoke other people’s brain to imitate a smile we sent out! I love that!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Reblogged this on Anita Dawes & Jaye Marie and commented:
    very well said Nick…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Wow really interesting about how the brain works. We really, meaning science, dont know the half of what the brain is capable of. Great words Nick thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Go on and achieve them all Nick.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I just finished the last of the brain series last night. I wish I hadn’t erased them, because I’d like to go back and re-watch, given some of your writings and your experience. I watched them from a detached sort of “isn’t that fascinating” perspective. But you have taken it so much farther. Thanks for opening my eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Isn’t the brain amazing! I’m so glad you’re learning all this, sharing it, and more so, using it to shape your life! That’s awesome. On the biological level it makes perfect sense, and yet there also seems to be something happening on a more esoteric level, the place where we manifest our own reality and experiences. You see that so clearly and what amazing, almost magical power that is. Keep smiling, keep creating 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • The last episode in his series explored this concept: manifesting our own realities. How in time our consciousness can be uploaded to a digital format, giving us everlasting life, enabling us to leave in virtual realities. He argues that when we are in a dream, we often cannot tell. How do we know that we have not already been uploaded, and what we deem as reality is actually a self-imposed virtual reality?

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great post, Nick. Yes, the brain is amazing!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. A great, educational post, Nick. Probably the basis for the saying “Smile and the world smiles with you..”

    Liked by 2 people

  15. Very Wise words, My friend.

    It aint rocket science…what you put out is what you’ll get back.

    Nicely done, Nick. 🙂🙃

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Excellent post Nick, it made me think on several levels. My hardest part myself is that I can’t always put on a genuine smile when I’m feeling crap (I have one of those faces that gives a lot away) and that is often reflected straight back to me from others! But at least when that happens, it reminds me to cheer up 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think I’m quite similar in that respect. I’m still learning how to put on a convincing mask, but more often than not failing miserably. But at least I now know what cues to look out for, to let me know this is happening!

      Liked by 1 person

  17. Great insight here Nick. I suppose that’s why they say ‘smile, it’s contagious’ 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Absolutely, Nick. People who are negative and constantly complaining live miserable unhappy lives. Who wants to waste the life we have feeling like that? You get out what you put in. I learned this on my journey with Carys, but I’m only human and lapse into negativity now and again. The difference is, now I’m aware of what I’m doing. . Practicing Reiki has
    helped enormously with feelings of positivity… how can you not feel positive with all that energy coursing through you? 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • I couldn’t agree more! I know what I should be doing, but my volatile emotions and reactions to life don’t often lets me do this. I too lapse into negativity, and have been heavily weighted towards this way of thinking. The biggest thing I’ve done to combat this recently, is to start scoring my mood, energy and how successful I believe my day has been. I rank these all out of 10, and where things would normally go under the radar, seeing these regular low numbers shows me that I have a problem to address.

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Wonderful advice Nick, and I practice smiling at strangers all the time.. Especially when I go walking.. Its often amusing to see strangers reactions, you can almost tell who will smile and say hello back to you and who will continue looking at the floor as if they haven’t seen you..

    You are definitely ” Being the Change you want to see in the World” Nick.. Keep up your awesome work on Self as well as others..
    We are works in Progress 🙂
    And May the smiles grow ever wider 🙂 😀
    Sue x


    • This is a topic which intrigues me. I believe I can tell a lot from somebody’s face, about how they will react socially amongst other things. On the documentary, they tried to quantify this. They found out that the brain unconsciously makes preconceptions about people simply by facial feature alignments. Have you ever stopped to analyse why you think you can tell? Is it that easily quantifiable? x

      Liked by 1 person

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