Don’t listen to songs you don’t like


I had an illuminating conversation with my 19-year-old son.   I playfully asked him why it is that the songs that get stuck in our heads are usually the songs that we don’t like.  I was surprised to hear him say that that has never happened to him.

Then he said something quite profound:

“I don’t listen to songs I don’t like.”

Wow that sounds so ridiculously obvious.  Why hadn’t I thought of that?

I explained that I was watching American Idol the other night and one of the contestants sang a song that I really don’t like.

When I thought about this conversation afterwards, I asked myself why I listened to the song when I know that I really don’t like it.

Two answers came to mind.  First, I wanted to see how that contestant handled the song.  That is a curious reason, because if I really don’t like the song, then why do I care about how a contestant sang the song?

The second reason that came to mind is that it is part of the show and I was watching the show.  That would be a logical course of reasoning, especially if I was watching the show live, but I had recorded it on my DVR.  So I truly DID have a choice about whether I subjected myself to something that I don’t like.

I didn’t choose consciously and now I have been paying the price by having this incredibly annoying song replaying in my head for the past two days.

It occurs to me how similar this is to having thoughts replay in my head.  There is almost always a sound track running in the background of our mind.  The question is, “do we like it?”

As my son pointed out, we do have a choice about which songs we listen to.  And if we don’t want a song stuck in our heads, then all we need to do is not subject ourselves to that song.

By the same token, if we don’t want a negative stream of thoughts stuck in our heads, then we could make the wise choice not to listen to it in the first place!

Interestingly though, I think many of us think that we have to pay attention to what’s going on in our mind.   We give it a sense of seriousness, reality and stature that it doesn’t necessarily deserve.

We think that we are supposed to pay attention because that is what is being broadcast.  Kind of like the way that I was listening to that song because it’s”part of show”.  But just because something is being offered that doesn’t mean that we need to take it.

We may not be able to completely prevent our mind from broadcasting a particular thought pattern, but we absolutely have a choice of whether or not we tune into it.

My son’s words have stuck with me and I think that they will serve me for a long time to come.

It is like a playful mantra to remind myself that I DO have the power to choose what will be the soundtrack that plays in my head:


“I don’t listen to songs I don’t like.”


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