It is clearly the most powerful tool used for expression. It doesn’t judge or discriminate, and there’s always a piece for you. This, of course, is music, which might be the greatest invention known to humans. Music has become an important part of society throughout the world as people use it to express themselves. All it takes is to listen to the very different and contrasting genres of music we have today. Each different type of genre conveys different meanings. Jazz is associated with relaxation, the blues with sorrow, and so on. Whatever instrument it may be, your voice, or a piano, you are expressing yourself.
Music provides a great source of communication. For example, if speech was the only form of communication, and there was no smiling, sign language, or music, life would prove to be very dull and unfulfilling. Most music has a purpose, in which the composer/performer is trying to relay a message to their audience. This is especially noticed on the radio, with song after song, each displaying its very own message. Some artists use lyrics in their songs to express explicit messages or to make people think about life and its various lessons.
Others want to inspire people, invoking the emotions within, while others are use their demeanor and emotions to relax their listeners. Many songs I have heard have accomplished their goal of seizing the listener. No other song I’ve been in touch with has taken hold of me like Billy Joel’s “Piano Man”. I believe it to be a classic song and never tire from listening to it. The magnificent and captivating vocals and the smooth flow of the piano brings a sense of happiness and joy about me that is incomparable.
Expressing yourself through music can help you keep in touch with how you are feeling. It can also release a lot of tension that you may be carrying around with you. Music can help prevent your feelings from bursting out in situations or ways that are embarrassing and inappropriate. This happens when people get out of touch with their feelings, something that music can help solve. Everyone needs some time to themselves to reflect on their feelings, which can easily be done while listening to music. Being able to express how you feel through music may help you make better decisions about what is right for you now.
Your feelings and expressions are closely associated with music. I personally don’t know of anything else (outside of first hand interaction with other human beings) that can affect me the way music does. You can either express the way you feel and get out of that trap, or you can just drown in your problems by playing the sorry blues. All my life I’ve been involved with music and I also realize that music is a difficult, but beautiful thing that people should take more time to appreciate. It is often overlooked as being unimportant, but I know how useful it can be in expressing oneself. In fact, in life, there’s nothing that makes me feel more at peace than music.
Most of us absolutely love music. We are compelled by it. We are provoked by it. We are moved by it. We are inspired by it. We feel connected to it. It reflects something profound about who we are and our experience of the world.
If I asked you to tell me your favorite bands, musicians, or genres, most of you could quickly reply with a list of beloved artists. Our favorite singers captivate us with lyrics that have powerful messages and sounds that touch us in some special way. In fact, most of us have playlists for just about every situation and emotion in life: a relaxed playlist for a low-key night at home; an energetic playlist for workouts; a somber playlist for contemplative moments; and an angry playlist that we reach for when we need to scream.
Given the emotionally charged nature of music, it can be an incredibly effective way to express ourselves and cope with challenging life circumstances. Because sometimes life is really hard. Really really hard. Whether it be conflict with family, ending a relationship, or experiencing trauma, we all have moments in which we are brought to our knees with pain, sadness, and confusion.
This is particularly true if you are actively working on being more honest with yourself. Self-deception, at the most basic level, is a protective mechanism: its role is to keep us safe and secure. Often unconsciously, lying to ourselves protects us from knowing truths that would temporarily harm our ego—our core sense of self. As we confront these truths, we are going to feel worse before we feel better. Feeling some discomfort is an inescapable part of the process of becoming more honest with ourselves.
In these tough life moments, music can be a constructive way to express who you are and what you are feeling. If you are feeling particularly sad about a reality in your life, listen to a song that connects you to that emotion. If you are anxious, turn up the volume in your living room and dance around. If you are angry, grab a pillow and hit is as hard as you can while listening to your favorite lyrics.
I am not suggesting that you use music to wallow in pain or negativity; that would not be positive for your mental health or for those around you. What I am suggesting is that when we are emotionally struggling, we often have a hard time expressing how we feel through words. The intellectual, verbal expression of feelings doesn't do justice to our experience of the emotion. Connecting to music is one effective way to become more honest about who you are, what you are really experiencing, and coping with negative emotion.
The Naked Truth is this: Whether we resonate with rap, classical, house, techno, country, alterative, heavy metal, or blues, music is an incredible vehicle for expressing emotions and capturing our internal experience of life. In times of strife or newly-discovered truths, use it to find your true voice. Perhaps you may want to write your own song, analyze the lyrics of a favorite artist, or play an instrument. Perhaps you will explore new genres that are foreign to you. The key is that music is a powerful vehicle for helping you become more aware and honest with yourself.
If you are looking for new music that you might connect to, I recently compiled a list of my personal favorites (http://choosehonesty.com/music/). To add your song to my list, send me a suggestion at https://www.facebook.com/choosehonesty?ref=hl or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.