My kids sometimes ask what songs we’re listening to are about.
As a yoga teacher in a studio where we play a little of everything but a lot of top 40-type songs, I make playlists fairly often and test them by playing them while I cook, drive, or am doing things around the house. That in addition to the rest of the music I play means my kids hear a lot of different sounds.
So once in a while, one or more of them will ask, “What are they saying?”.
The majority of the time, the answer revolves around emotions – be it romantic love for a significant other, love for self-expression, or feelings focused in a more physical way – aka, wanting to get it on. “He wants her but she left him”, “They’re so in love”, “She has a crush on him”, etc., etc., etc…
The emotional essence of songs varies widely between the higher forms of pure, freely-given love and lower-based emotions mixed within the muddied waters of obsession, lust, arrogance, or even abuse. I’d guess 95% or more are expressions of the heart, self, and/or libido. Even Macklemore’s “Thrift Shop” is a recent example. It’s about freedom of expression in how to dress, but I think there’s even some hidden nostalgic love for Grandpa in there…
One of the primary themes I’ve been writing and thinking about lately is the idea of experiencing your life in entirety as a reflection of your inner self. Going with the thought that our lives are created both consciously and subconsciously by us and that we are ALWAYS drawing life to us or pushing it away in relation to our own inner vibrations (basically, the law of attraction), I applied that theory to the songs we listen to the most.
Start with your favorite songs – not just the songs you love for the beat or flow, but the ones you love for the lyrics, too. What are they saying? Are you listening to them with a sense of connection, but thinking that connection is to how they make you feel in relation to another person or an external experience?
What if you took that connection and turned it inward instead?
Here’s my basic thought: can you take the songs you’re pulled to the most and put yourself in both the role of the singer and the sung-to? Learning how to see yourself as the singer and subject requires you to expand your definition of love and get a little creative with how lyrics can apply inwardly. Obviously, not every single lyric line will work, but getting the gist of the song is the point.
The idea is to realize the reason you’re attracted to those songs stems from an unfulfilled need within you that the songs touch on. Not a need that necessarily or always requires anyone else to fix or fill, just your own attention on it. It’s super easy, though, to put it out there and onto someone else when we hear the soulful belting of a talented alto.
After all, that’s pretty much what we’re all taught from toddlerhood; anybody ever heard of Disney princesses? I don’t remember the part where Cinderella finds inner fulfillment all by herself. And for god’s sake, Snow White sang “Some Day My Prince Will Come”, but the reality is often that many evil queens and frogs get there first. Save yourself, sister! As much as you can. Then if that prince happens by later, maybe you can bring more of yourself to the relationship. Flex your strength, embrace your softness.
We need other people. Human relationships are one place we give and find love, companionship, laughter, support, and lessons for growth. But we can only evolve in relationships to the extent that all parties involved are internally evolved. Self love isn’t narcissism; narcissism represents a deep absence of self love, no matter how good someone is at pretending otherwise. We can only give the love we feel connected to inside ourselves, and while it’s a beautiful thing when someone else wakes love up within us, they didn’t put it there. It was there all along, waiting to be noticed by us.
When we are pulled to a song that mourns the loss of love or a love that “can never be”, taking those lyrics back into ourselves may mean coming to terms with several of our own issues including loneliness, abandonment, lack of courage/avoidance, lack of self worth, even so far as a fear of death (“What if I die before ever having real love?”). And as for those libido-based songs, maybe you do just need to get it on. If that’s the case, figure it out and be mindful; be careful where you aim that.
Love is often not about romance. When sung to yourself, who knew Adele’s “Someone Like You” could be about mourning the loss of the freedom of your youth? If you’re drawn to that song, it may be time to recapture the spirit of your inner child.
Music speaks to our hearts. Maybe we can allow the emotions that arise to be seen and felt at their point of origin – within us – rather than always put out upon someone else. I believe this is how we continually attract and are attracted to the “wrong” people; they aren’t “wrong”, they’re showing us a reflection of part of ourselves. If we’re open to the lessons that are waiting for us, maybe we’ll begin to see that the ideas of love we connect to externally are reflecting how we need to heal internally. And then maybe we can start that process.
Go through the lyrics of the love songs that speak to you again as if you are speaking to yourself, even if it feels uncomfortable at first. It often feels easier to say something nice to or about someone else, but really, that’s what we need to do for ourselves, too. Can you sing a love song to yourself…and mean it?