Music to Regulate Emotions
What are emotions, how are they born and how can we learn to control them with the help of music?
According to research, we feel about 500 emotions a day, but most of them escape us because we are not able to recognize them, and even less to control them. Sometimes it also happens that our emotions turn against us, that they make us overestimate a stimulus leading us to have excessive reactions. Listening to music is not only a source of pleasure and a way to relax, it is a real therapy that allows us to get in touch with our emotions, to know them and learn how to control them. Yes, there is music to regulate emotions.
Using Music to Regulate Emotions
What are the emotions?
Emotions are instinctive responses that our organism uses to adapt to the environment around us. They manifest themselves through both physiological and behavioral changes. Let us think, for example, of changes in tone, expression or changes in heart rate and oxygenation in the blood.
When we receive from outside stimuli that we consider important, instinctively, in a fraction of a second, we evaluate them and prepare to respond in the way we consider to be most appropriate, that is more advantageous and useful for us according to those results that we believe our behavior may generate.
They are a kind of inner compass that orients and motivates our behavior, they give us information about the situations in which we come to find ourselves and influence those around us through the expressions and the ability of man to empathize.
How emotions are formed
As we have said, emotions are born in an instinctive way, that is, they are not dependent on our will or on our rational choice.
Not all of us, however, react in the same way to the same stimulus, which means that at the basis of the instinctive assessment we give to a certain situation, there are elements closely linked to our personal identity.
These elements are determined by our individual history, by the experiences we have made, by the fundamental features of our character, by our musical knowledge. In a nutshell, from our personality.
Is it possible to control emotions?
Can we choose how to react to a stimulus? Can we decide not to be indignant for a gratuitous offense or not to suffer for a disappointment? Can we control our emotions?
No, if by emotions we mean the instinctive response to an external stimulus. This is generated instantly and leaves us no room to intervene and change it.
But if we don’t like our reactions, if they cause us problems, or if we think they’re inadequate, and if we’re willing to engage in the longer term, we can work on that part of ourselves that generates emotions. That part which depends, as we have seen, on our personality.
How? Learning to look and evaluate our reactions and ourselves from another point of view. Focusing our attention on what are the causes that generate a certain behavior on our part and intervene to change it.
Music comes to our aid
Have you ever felt particularly sad? Or happy, angry, worried? And seek refuge in listening to a song that reflects your mood? Well, at that moment you used the content function of the music.
What is the containment function? It consists in the search to listen to songs already known with the aim of deepening a state of mind and evaluate it from a different perspective that offers an alternative to the contingent problem, allowing a greater detachment and a more rational approach. It also offers the possibility, real or presumed, to share one’s mood with others, thus feeling less alone.
Listening to someone who has experienced our own feelings and has decided to share them with us through his music, makes us identify with his experience, allowing us to deepen our experience at the same time thanks to the experience of confrontation that arises.
A function that we find to be extremely useful in adolescence, In a phase in which one’s own identity is still in formation, the certainties falter and the emotions are absolute and totalizing, the presence of a “symbolic friend” capable of understanding and sustaining, become fundamental. Through someone else’s experiences, you focus on your own, you find models that suggest the right answer to achieve your goals and a condition of serenity.
Music fosters emotional intelligence
Emotional intelligence is the ability to be aware of our states of mind, to contain negative emotions to get to have a positive approach to what surrounds us, both internally and in the relationship with others.
Music is often a useful means to encourage a process of introspection, which helps to confront oneself and one’s moods. It helps to face emotions without being overwhelmed. Like any form of art, it allows you to keep a certain detachment from your personal experience, to elaborate it by attenuating those aspects that turn out to be more painful.
We’re not all the same
The effect that listening to music produces on us also depends on how we relate to listening to music. From what we are involved in, from our sensitivity and ability to empathize, from the expectations we have and from the needs we more or less unconsciously try to satisfy through listening—all these determine how we use music to regulate emotions