An anonymous quote featured on the inspirational Web site TinyBuddha.com states: “We all have problems. The way we solve them is what makes us different.” When life knocks you down, how can you pull yourself back up? What healthy coping mechanisms can you utilize to unleash the pain and heartache and rise from the ashes?
The dictionary defines “music” as: “an art of sound in time that expresses ideas or emotions in significant forms through the elements of rhythm, melody, harmony, and color.” Music has the power to transcend, the power to heal, and it can surely serve as a beneficial and creative outlet.
Rapper Eminem, who’s noted for his racy, explicit and brutally honest lyrics, has been through the mill and back, whether it’s his tumultuous relationship with his on-again-off-again girlfriend or his deep-seeded angst about a dark past.
“The Way I Am,” one of his early singles, illustrates his recognition of using his music as a form of catharsis.
And since birth I’ve been cursed with this curse to just curse
And just blurt this berserk and bizarre sh*t that works
And it sells and it helps in itself to relieve
All this tension dispensin these sentences
Gettin’ this stress that’s been eatin’ me recently off of this chest
Award-winning pop sensation Taylor Swift told Marie Claire magazine how her songwriting process channels her emotions and acts as a much-needed release.
“Everyone in my life knows whenever something happens, the only way it’s going to be over and finished and put to bed is if it’s written about. Right now, the number one priority in my life is figuring out how to process what I’m feeling and translate it into musical form,” she said.
My friend Sean Malcomson is also no stranger to the concept of therapeutically releasing skeletons through songwriting. After struggling through a period of drug addiction, an estranged relationship with his father, and living under the threat of being evicted from his Long Island home, he turned to rap music.
He began writing raps that he initially deemed “bitter and angry,” but as time moved on and he settled into his new life in New Jersey, yearning for a fresh start, he began to incorporate a positive outlook in his lyrics that helped to alleviate his distress. Described as a “mental flush,” transferring his thoughts into written form encouraged a coping avenue that was constructive and valuable.
Malcomson’s rap entitled “Dream” gives listeners a glimpse into an inner anxiety that we may all try to mend and reconcile every day:
To have a dream, is just really to see, look past the darkness of nightmares, sit back relax inhale and just breathe
And believe; give your own tortured mind a sense of reprieve. This is you, and you are me.
And this may not be as melodic or withholding as the song you once heard, but listen to these words and know that both life and love both hurt
And as sure as the birds who soar open up and chirp, given time, one day you’ll find, they both work.
“I think music in itself is healing,” renowned musician and singer-songwriter Billy Joel said. “It’s an explosive expression of humanity. It’s something we are all touched by. No matter what culture we’re from, everyone loves music.”
So grab the nearest set of headphones, or reach for that pen. We are all just a hop, skip and jump away from allowing music to boost our mental health.