What’s On Your Playlist?

black headphones on yellow background
Photo by Malte Wingen on Unsplash

I have to admit, I am slightly obsessed by music.  I love how music can be used to set a mood, to punctuate an emotion.  My music collection spans all genre’s and many eras.  One of my favorite things is to put my iPod on “Shuffle” and listen to the diversity of music.  Sometimes a song from my past will shuffle on.  The feelings that arise when I hear that old song can range from loving nostalgia to irritation to joy to a wince.  In that moment, I can choose to listen to the song, or press “next” and move to the next song.

My iPod is a good analogy for the messages that I send to myself.  We all have tracks that play in our minds.  Some of these tracks come from our early childhood experiences.  Some come from the constant bombardment of our culture, media, and often well-meaning friends and family with messages that something is not “right” or that we need to change something about ourselves (our bodies, our attitudes, or beliefs).

Often though, worse than the external messages, are the ones we send to ourselves that say things like, “I’m not worthy”, “I’m a failure”, “I’m such a mess”, or “It’s all my fault.” Are there instances you may have failed to reach a goal you’ve set for yourself?  Absolutely.  Are there things you have done that were your fault?  Absolutely.  Does this make you a “failure” as a person?  Absolutely NOT.

We may have our internal playlist set on an endless repeat and after a while, we don’t even notice the messages that are not supportive for the life we want to be living, but they are affecting us, our behaviors, our moods, and our relationships.  They may lead to feelings of depression or anxiety.

When we become aware of these types of messages, we can counter them with logic and truth.  But until we are aware, they simply shuffle in the background.  Even when we do become aware, they may be so ingrained that we have a hard time breaking free of the limits we put on ourselves because of these false messages.

It takes time to learn to replace those old messages.  To start to fill your personal playlist with new music.  In my own personal journey, I know even when I’ve thought I’ve permanently erased an old message, it sometimes returns when I’m challenged.  However, I’m now aware of the key messages that keep me from feeling vibrantly alive and choose when they show up on my “shuffle” to skip to the next song.    The truth is, some of these old ingrained messages will never actually go away.  But I can learn to add “music” to my library, i.e., create new self-affirming beliefs, that outnumber the old tracks, and find compassion for myself when the old songs show up in my shuffle.

So what’s on your playlist?  Perhaps it’s time to free yourself from the old tracks that are shuffling through your playlist and choose new music for your life.

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About Carrie Jameson, LCPC

Carrie Jameson joined the LifeWorks Psychotherapy team in May 2012. She trained at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and the Shalom Mountain Retreat Center in New York. Carrie is a member of the Illinois Mental Health Counseling Association (IMHCA), the American Counseling Association, the Community-Academic Consortium for Research on Alternative Sexualities (CARAS) and Kink & Poly Aware Chicago Therapists (KPACT).