How to Process Dark Emotions With Music Therapy
How listening to and creating music helped me process emotional trauma.
Though I was still learning what emotional trauma was, my body felt its presence. Last summer, I was processing wounds from a judgmental childhood. As I unraveled layers of conditioning, I realized just many expectations held me back. In the shower, these words came to me, “These days, I see clearly now. These days, I see all the ways you told me how.” I wrote the song “These Days,” which helped me feel through so much pain.
When we feel sad or angry, we often think we must stuff the unwelcome emotions deep down inside. This approach does not work long term. Feeling, exploring, and expressing those emotions helps us heal.
“Most of us think of ourselves as thinking creatures that feel, but we are actually feeling creatures that think,” said Jill Bolte Taylor, author of “My Stroke of Insight.”
This realization seems counter-productive in our technologically advanced, Western world. It’s not. When you continuously push aside your hurt feelings, those feelings eventually show up in a less-controlled way, i.e., when you overreact to a situation, release misdirected anger, or drown yourself in numbing bad habits.
I learned to connect with my emotions.
Writing is my primary creative outlet, my first line of defense for processing. However, music holds a special place in my heart because it helps me to feel more thoroughly. Singing especially feels intimate, empowering, and valuable.
Music helps you to connect with your emotions. By listening to what resonates and what does not, you will better understand even the most complex emotions. A well-written chorus can get straight to the point of your real feelings.
Kelly Clarkson’s performance of “Piece By Piece” on American Idol helped me to connect with painful emotions stored in my body. The song address abandonment and self-worth. Her music brought half the audience, the judges, and herself to tears.
The new Joker movie with Joaquin Pheonix* showed how powerful music could be for processing complex emotions. The moving orchestral music in the bathroom dance…