In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the science that proves fear and stress have a smell and it is contagious!
First a quick update:
The Breakup Test
Are you heartbroken, angry, lost, lonely, confused, depressed, hung up, or pining over your ex? Do you know how your ex is truly affecting you and do you want to benefit from personalize advice, action steps and revelations? Take my free breakup test and get your own personalized report.
Do Women Cheat More Than Men? – Survey
Men cite cheating by their partner as the number 1 reason for breaking up, while women cite cheating as number 5, according to new online survey of breakups. Research reveals that men cheat at higher rate than women (22% VS 14%), so why don’t women cite cheating as the number 1 reason for breaking up? Watch the video
Now, let’s talk about the science that proves fear and stress have a smell and it is contagious!
It was a hot, sunny afternoon and I was diving off the rocks into the rough ocean. When I got out of the water and climbed back on the rocks, my friend exclaimed how she was really afraid for me at first, and mentioned that I ignored her fear. I said, “Yes, I noticed your fear and I chose to ignore it because if I gave it attention, then I, too, would become afraid and then I wouldn’t end up diving off the rocks.”
I knew that fear is contagious. And it is contagious for 3 reasons.
1. Mirror Neurons
We all have the capacity to read other people’s faces and to know whether the other person is feeling sad, happy, angry, disgusted, surprised or afraid.
We are able to do this because of mirror neurons. Our brain reads what the other person is feeling by creating or mirroring that same emotion within us. So if you look at your friend who is sad you will actually feel his or her sadness. If you watch someone trip or slip and fall on their backside, you will instantly feel that same pain as if you just fell on your backside. We experience that phenomenon when we watch sports games.
Now imagine if you spend enough time around a constantly sad or fearful person: you will end up feeling sadness and fear over an extended period of time.
2. Alarm Pheromones – The Smell of Fear
The second reason that fear is contagious is because we can actually smell the fear. This is referred to as alarm pheromones. In 1938, Austrian ethologist Karl von Frisch discovered that the minnow fish would alert and alarm other minnows of danger by releasing a chemical detected by scent. Frisch referred to it as Schreckstoff (startle/shock matter.)
In 2008, researchers discovered that humans have the same ability to smell fear or danger, and when someone smells that danger, he or she responds with a heightened state of alert – the triggering of fear in the brain.
Lilianne Mujica-Parodi, a cognitive neuroscientist at Stony Brook University in New York did a study where she and her team took the sweat of skydivers who were experiencing fear, and they exposed that sweat to study volunteers who were not aware of what they were inhaling. She also exposed them to the sweat of people engaging in normal gym exercise. The smell of the sweat of the skydivers who were afraid triggered the alarm state in the volunteers (heightened their awareness of threat), while the sweat from the people working out had no impact on the volunteers.
Perhaps the most revealing part of the study is that the participants reacted and responded unconsciously to the smell of fear and danger.
In 1999, in another study, researchers found that volunteers could successfully identify samples of fearful sweat even though they couldn’t consciously smell any difference in the samples.
(Researchers have found that people on the high spectrum of Austism tend to respond in the opposite way with regards to social cues, reading faces and smelling fear and emotional stress.)
“There may be a hidden biological component to human social dynamics, in which emotional stress is quite literally ‘contagious”‘.
– Lilianne Mujica-Parodi
3. Thought & Imagination
The third way that fear and emotional stress become contagious is by thought & imagination.
Take the example of Julia. She is a pastry chef who loves to cook with really sour lemons. She pours all of the extremely sour lemon juice on her tongue, squeezing that really sour lemon drop by drop on her tongue…really tasting the tartness and feeling that tingling sensation of the sour and bitter lemons…
Did you begin to experience that taste as if you were actually pouring the lemon on your tongue?
Thoughts and imagination create emotions!
If you read a scary book or someone tells you a scary story you will experience the feeling of fear. Thus, if you choose to surround yourself with people who constantly express and experience fear or who constantly are under emotional stress, then you too, will experience those same emotions.
Is the reverse true?
If fear and emotional stress are contagious then, so too, are positive emotions. Thanks to mirror neurons you have the capacity to mirror what other people are feeling and therefore if you surround yourself with people who predominantly express positive emotions, then you too, will mirror those same emotions. If you choose to surround yourself with people who speak and demonstrate gratitude, empathy, compassion, forgiveness, excitement and passion for life, then you too, will also absorb those same emotions and mindsets.
Who are the 5 closest people to you? What are their predominant emotions? What are their predominant thoughts? What is their predominant mindset? Now do the same exercise for your former partner. Is there a pattern of the type of people with whom you surround yourself? Can you identify and recognize how those people impact you?
Remember, you become who you hang out with!
Choose clean air and avoid the harmful odor of fear!
If you need personal help to overcome fear or stress, book a one-on-one session with me.
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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”
Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist
Anointed “The Woman Expert” by WGN Chicago, Patrick Wanis PhD is a renowned Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert who developed SRTT therapy (Subconscious Rapid Transformation Technique) and is teaching it to other practitioners. Wanis’ clientele ranges from celebrities and CEOs to housewives and teenagers. CNN, BBC, FOX News, MSNBC & major news outlets worldwide consult Wanis for his expert insights and analysis on sexuality, human behavior and women’s issues. Wanis is the first person ever to do hypnotherapy on national TV – on the Montel Williams show.