Sometimes we make our lives feel and sound like a broken record. We repeat the mantra in our heads over and over again, ‘why me, it isn’t fair’ and we just keep on scratching those old wounds. Those emotional wounds can become infected, and the negative contagion spreads to friends, family and all who come into contact with us. Like those irritating TV jingles that get stuck in your head and resist your efforts to ignore them, our problems are made worse by our focus on the problems.
We all have them, those theme songs running through our lives—just as in the movies. On the good days we can happily belt out, ‘we are the champions’ and feel that the world is at our feet. But when the bad days come we need to choose our theme songs wisely—like the film director who spends hours deciding on the most appropriate music for each scene.
I’m not suggesting that cheerfully singing, ‘raindrops keep falling on my head’ is enough to wipe away the pain of your latest failure or upset but the soundtrack you play in your mind does become the mantra of your life. If you are going to tell yourself a story, you might as well choose a good one. And choosing a decent tune to go with it certainly helps.
When I was a little younger and perhaps not so wise I decided to start a business. I didn’t know anyone in my particular line of business but, as they say, ignorance is bliss. Back then my theme song wasn’t just, ‘I will survive’ but more an ‘eye of the tigress’ style challenge to the world:
‘I love what I am doing.
I am doing something great
No obstacles can get in my way
I will succeed’.
And I did succeed. I started from scratch and I built a very successful business. I had chosen the right song to accompany my life journey and everything was going smoothly in my life.
Unfortunately, like any good movie, life includes the good, the bad and the ugly. My life turned a page after I made some poor business decisions. My business failed and my life fell apart. I started playing a new song:
‘You suck, suck suck,
I can’t believe you did such a dumb thing.
You will never accomplish anything again.
You are a failure’.
This music seemed to key into where I saw myself and so, like any good musician, I practiced and practiced the tune over and over. It became my new mantra, the new me. For several years, I wandered around, burdened by this mental dogma. As the Counting Crows’ ballad put it, I could no longer count on myself. I sank into deep depression, weighed down by guilt and shame. In those dark days, I was blind to the good around me and I could not see any light at the end of the tunnel. I could hear neither the warm and kind words from those who loved me, nor any words of comfort in my own inner voice. I was blind and deaf and gradually it dawned on me; it had been my choice.
It was my theme tune, my mantra of gloom that had cut me off from the land of the living. I had been existing in a nightmare of my own projection and every time I had replayed my soundtrack of failure, I had strengthened the prison walls of my dis-eased mind. Yes, I realized that it was my mind that was not at ease.
I began to see that the mind possesses enormous power to interpret what I see and to create a better version of myself and of the world around me. Our thoughts become our reality. And just as every successful marketing campaign plays on our mental images, I realized it was time I sold myself a new vision of my life.
Barry Manilow once sang, ‘I write the songs that make the whole world sing’ and now I wanted a new theme tune for my life. I wanted a song that would help me transcend the challenges of my life. Even more, I needed a song that would make me not only want to sing through life but to dance as well.
I chose a new song, a U2 song:
‘My past does not dictate my future
I have learned from my failures
I am grateful for my life
I am happy.’
Life is change but we can choose a song that takes everything life throws at us and helps us to become better, stronger people. We can write a new song for ourselves and what better place to start than, it’s a beautiful day. And don’t forget it.