If you do, you are not alone. So many musicians are highly sensitive souls, and we are easily affected by all kinds of events, both external (from outside of us) and internal (from within us) – events which would not move other people in nearly the same way.
This heightened sensitivity is actually an asset – it’s what allows us to feel and express the intricate nuances of music in ways that others cannot. Sensitivity and depth of feeling is such a large part of what makes a great musician, so be glad you have it!
Unfortunately, many of us have been taught (explicitly or implicitly, by example) that feeling our emotions deeply is not safe; sometimes, we’ve even learned that there’s something wrong with us for being so sensitive; we’ve been told we must change. We may have been taught to suppress those emotions, by acting like nothing’s wrong when we feel that it is, or by “getting over it” before we’re ready. Or we may have been told we shouldn’t feel the way we do at all.
I’m here to tell you that YOU ARE FREE TO FEEL HOWEVER YOU FEEL. Go ahead and feel it. You MUST. Because if you don’t let yourself feel it, you will continue to suffer from the feeling – it won’t go away entirely until you’ve taken care of it. You may think you’ve ignored it sufficiently for it to disappear, but it will most likely stay lurking inside of you until the next time something triggers it, becoming an even stronger feeling next time. Or, you may become so hardened to your own feelings that you also become hardened to the emotions of your music.
If you aren’t moved by life, you won’t be moved by music; and if you aren’t moved by your music, nobody else will be moved much, either.
So what can you do about these unpleasant feelings that keep creeping up on you, accompanied by an army of negative thoughts?
What matters is how you respond to those thoughts and feelings. And that is YOUR choice alone. Nobody else’s.
Recognizing that you have negativity in you doesn’t make you less human – it makes you human. It’s normal. Where there is light, there are also shadows. Where there are shadows, there is light.
A normal human being is infinite and contains all possible emotions.
Let yourself REALLY FEEL the emotion. Dare to let go and FEEL IT. I’m not talking about acting on it. I’m talking about finding a safe place where you won’t be disturbed, and you can actually FEEL your emotion deeply. You might wish to write about it in a journal as you are witnessing yourself feeling the emotion, or you may just want to feel it.
If you don’t block the emotion by tensing your body in reaction to it, the feeling may pass through you surprisingly quickly, even within seconds or minutes sometimes, unless you start holding onto it. The goal is to allow the emotion to LIVE inside of you – shining the LIGHT of awareness on it (the darkness cannot survive in the light) – letting it MOVE within you and OUT of you.
Have this intention. Don’t try to get rid of it. Don’t try to change it. Don’t try to fix it. Don’t suppress it. Don’t fight it. Just leave it alone and watch it move through you.
Stay open like a thousand doors and windows so the sunlight can come into you and dispel the darkness, and so that the negativity can move out of you once it realizes it no longer has the power to disturb you, and it can no longer engage you in battle.
If you do this, it will leave. Everything changes. It WILL leave if your intention is clear, and you have the patience to wait.
If you fight it, if you hate it, if you want desperately for it to go, if you tighten in fear of it, it will stay until you give it its freedom to move through you and OUT of you.
Why is this so important for you to learn as a musician? Because if you don’t take care of these negative emotions, they will take over you, and they will pull you down. They will continue to make you depressed as they stay stuck inside of you, and/or you will feel anxious because you can’t make them go away, and you’ll be stuck in fear instead of love.
Working with your emotions in the way I’ve described is an act of LOVE towards yourself. It is all-inclusive. It is loving of yourself as a complete human being. And it is empowering, because you realize that you are free and huge and infinite and capable. You are bigger than the worst emotion you could possibly have. The proof? You can see it, feel it, and know that you “have” it. You “are not” it. Don’t identify yourself with it. The emotion is NOT YOU. It is a part of you, but you are so much more than that. BE the “so much more”!
Be the infinite loving Being that you are, which can grant freedom even to that within you that you dislike. Give yourself the freedom to be the way you are, with the intention – the strong wish – to be the infinite light, love, and goodness that is your true nature.
And if you have too much difficulty with the process I’ve described above, please see a medical or psychological professional who you can trust. This blogpost is NOT intended to diagnose or replace the very important role a medical or psychological professional could play in your life. You may need personalized, ongoing attention from such a professional. And some people find that prescription drugs to manage depression or anxiety are an essential tool in managing their condition.
Don’t be ashamed if that describes you! You are NOT alone. You are free to need those antidepressants or anti-anxiety drugs. You are free to use them or not. You are free to get extra help and support!!! Let the people who love to help others help you!
The point is that YOU ARE FREE and nobody can force you think or not think anything, do or not do anything, feel or not feel anything. NOBODY. You are completely responsible for your own mind, body, and emotional health. So accept the responsibility and take loving care of yourself so you can be the best person, and the best musician you can be.
Learning how to manage the intensity of our emotional experience is one of the most important things we humans need to learn. It’s not always easy. I think of it as a lifelong process – a constant exercise in self-awareness and clear intention. And life gives us constant opportunities to practice! Take up the challenge!
As a musician, learning how to let yourself FEEL DEEPLY without reacting to those feelings by stiffening, letting them move and flow through you, OUT AND INTO YOUR MUSIC in a healthy way, is absolutely essential to becoming the best, most powerful musician you can possibly be. There is no doubt about this.
You may even come to enjoy and look forward to the next opportunity you are presented with to put these ideas into practice! What would happen if instead of minimizing, supressing, ignoring, fighting, or running away from your experience of yourself having a negative emotion, you were to stop and fully experience yourself in the way I’ve described? What if you chose to be loving to your whole self instead of trying to be different from who you are in the moment? Without acting on the emotion, what if you chose to be FREE, and let IT move you and your music? I wonder what might happen…..don’t you?
I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comment section below! All blessings on your journey! 🙂
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