The Playlist Of Our Life

Music for many of us is a way to regulate our feelings, connect with others, return to center, celebrate, move, and express ourselves. Music can be used as a preventative measure to diminish the stressors coming toward us and can also be an intervention tool to apply when we are feeling uncomfortable.

Oftentimes music is handed down to us through our family, our culture, and our community. We hear the types of music around us that others play and as we grow we adjust and change our playlist to incorporate new sounds that resonate and discontinue old sounds that don’t serve. This is the process by which we design, prune, and shape the playlist of our lives.

Music could also, in this way, be a metaphor for the way we keep ourselves well with the thoughts and feelings we choose to experience. All of us are given a script of thoughts and feelings that we learn early on in our family of origin. Those are the thoughts/feelings that our guardians utilize through challenges and accomplishments. We watch those thoughts and feelings and try them on as we are growing up to engage in our world.

This cognitive emotional download for some of us is a perfect match. The anxiety we learned as a child serves us well to stay motivated through school. The anger is appropriate to protect us when we become a leader and take over a job role where people are unfair and unkind to one another. The value to serve the community based on the thought that we all should give back, makes us a dedicated and committed public servant. As we grow, we can base our development on a foundation of thoughts and emotions that support our life. 

Others of us, unfortunately, did not receive a helpful cognitive/emotional download. These are folks we know that were born with a temperament of resiliency but learned fear and insecurity from their family of origin and stay stuck through their life. Or the people that are born positive and then learn negative cognitive patterns from their family of origin and take that framework on, result in a life with less hope, motivation, and engagement.  These are the people that were raised around gospel but rap is the music that really speaks to their soul.

The most challenging part of this equation is that when we are not given the adequate playlist in feelings and thoughts, we have to learn them from others, later in life, after we have already developed large parts of our personality and life. This makes learning harder, more painful, less smooth because we have already adapted patterns. However, it makes the learning all the more important.  No moment is too late in life to begin the process of trying to design, prune, and shape our cognitive emotional playlist for a healthier and more engaged life.

  • Recognize the thoughts/feelings that you were given as a child in your family of origin that frame the way you perceive others, relationships, conflict, challenge and work.
  • Reflect and assess whether those thoughts/feelings serve you in your lifes’ engagement and experience.
  • If you would like to grow and develop a new playlist, watch other people who have different thoughts/feelings when facing challenges
  • Try on some other thoughts/feelings.  When the old ones pop up.  Gently put them aside and try on something else.  Monitor closely, how does the replacement process work?
  • Give yourself grace.  These are playlists that have been played, and played, and played and overplayed.  They take time to shift.  Notice your successes by celebrating them.  Be kind to yourself when you don’t hit the mark. 
  • Last note, (which might be too big of a bite to chew), sometimes changing a playlist means changing the people in our life.  

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