• Music for Difficult Times

    There’s a local paper rolled up in a rubber band
    One more sad story’s one more than I can stand
    Just once how I’d like to see the headline say
    “Not much to print today, can’t find nothin’ bad to say”, because

    Nobody robbed a liquor store on the lower part of town
    Nobody OD’ed, nobody burned a single buildin’ down
    Nobody fired a shot in anger, nobody had to die in vain
    We sure could use a little good news today

    ~Anne Murray, “A Little Good News”

    It’s Monday (that should be difficult enough on its’ own!).  Then you notice your car has a flat tire when you’re trying to leave for work.  And the math teacher calls to say your child has forgotten their homework 4 times so far, and the school year is only 3 weeks old.  Then gas prices jump 20 cents over the span of a few days.  And your boss over-reacts to a minor oversight.  You get into an argument with your significant other. And your best friend isn’t available to meet for happy hour to talk about it.  And the only people who seem to be calling you are telemarketers.

    We have a phrase in a group I run—

    It’s not the 100 things that get to you, it’s the 101st that finally breaks you.

    Everyone has difficult times.  We all struggle with disappointment and unmet expectations.  Because that’s just what happens in this experience called life.  Other people let us down.  And sometimes we let ourselves down.

    So what do we do?  How do we cope?  And how do we manage those difficult times when very little seems to be going right?  Because we need to do something before we hit wrong thing #101.

    Consider music.  For me, it’s one of the best coping mechanisms I have.  If I’ve got the blues, I listen to the blues.  If I’m frustrated, I listen to hard rock or drumming.  Need motivating?  Irish jigs or zydeco do the trick for me.  Sad? Nostalgic? Angry?  I’ve got music for those, too.  And I’ve got music for happy, positive, energetic times as well.

    Sometimes I listen to music that goes along with my mood or state of mind.  And when no one else is around to validate how I’m feeling, it’s nice in those times to listen to songs that acknowledge those feelings. (Show of hands—who else has listened to a sad love song a million times after a romantic breakup?)  But sometimes I get sick and tired of feeling sick and tired, and that’s when I listen to music that will help change how I’m feeling.

    So the next time you’re going through a difficult times, give music a try.  See if it helps!  And if you have questions about how music therapy can help you with a specific need, please ask.  I’m always happy to answer questions or share more!

    ~Stephanie Bolton, MA, MT-BC, FAMI

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