Musically speaking, what do we need now?
A very long time ago, a highly experienced therapist said one of the most insightful things to me. I think I was describing some difficulties in a friendship, knowing that there was some unwelcome confrontation ahead in all its permutations: friend and me, me and therapist and me versus me. I repeatedly backed down from the issues with “But he’s so kind and supportive in a crisis”. The therapist’s comment “Everyone is good in a crisis – but that is avoidance of the problems and is keeping you stuck” enabled me to confront the “me versus me” – and the longer term took care of itself.
Fast forward to today’s challenges. A lot of us have managed the Covid crisis with technology – Zoom, Teams, working from home and found creative solutions to our work. We have been patient in queues, helped others, shared friendly smiles on long walks and appreciated the small things at home and in our local communities. But now we are all returning partly, or fully, to work outside the home – whether that be in schools, offices or other workplaces. And, understandably, many are anxious. Deep down, many know that a workplace, in itself, is not “unsafe”, and what they are attributing to Covid, has in fact been there much longer. While Covid has been a catalyst for positive changes that were waiting to happen, it’s also been a scapegoat handed to us on a plate. Work relationships, team dynamics, performance anxiety, career unhappiness, work-life balance conflicts – are you really wondering why you are feeling worried or stressed? “Unsafe” about going back? After all, you were great in the crisis…. It’s you versus you.
So where does music come into all this? Music has unique properties – and can enable access to the emotions that lie behind all the complex explanations we give ourselves. It accesses the raw and archetypal which connects universally, and does not allow for the distraction by detail that words are so good at. By utilising this access through attentive listening to carefully chosen music with facilitated discussion – we can find our way to identifying our problems more accurately, talking with each other openly, and taking positive action. Now we can keep things in proportion and give them their correct authorship, and move on.